Nokia N8 – first thoughts

By on September 23, 2010
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Destined for greatness or another iPhone competitor left in the dust?

So yesterday was the pre-launch event for the Nokia N8 in Dubai, and Tbreak was obviously on hand to find out whether Nokia’s flagship smartphone has a chance against the iPhone and other HTC phones. The very short answer is: probably not.

What the N8 represents is the pinnacle of Nokia’s highest-end hardware complimented by the brand spanking new Symbian^3 OS. Apart from some UI improvements and slight touchups here and there, the biggest addition to Symbian^3 is that it’s finally catching up to iOS 4 and Android.

The home screens are fully customizable with any apps you download from the Ovi Store along with Twitter, Facebook and RenRen feeds. Accelerometer allows you to play games and view things from both horizontal and vertical orientations and the capacitive touchscreen allows for pinch zoom and other fun touch interface gestures that we’ve experienced before. That said, Nokia does bring its own unique flavor to the smartphone table.

First off is the On Demand Web TV which includes channels like E!, BBC, etc. What Nokia has done for the region is also provide local channels. Immediately after launch for instance, Al Jazeera will be available along with BBC Arabic. Other localized apps include one for Dubizzle that’s currently getting ready for launch as well. And then there’s the free satellite navigation system from Ovi Maps for instant access in the car or on foot.

Besides the OS functionality, the N8 also packs a lot of hardware inside its anodized aluminum shell. Underneath the 3.5” 360×640 screen lies 16GB onboard memory, a Carl Zeiss 12mp camera with Xenon flash that’s capable of recording HD video (720p) at 25fps. These videos can be played back on an HDTV through a mini-HDMI connector on the top, also providing Dolby Digital audio out.

Once again, the specs and OS functionality sound great on paper, but with the little hands-on time I had with the N8 during the event, the overall experience left much to be desired. The phone felt sluggish at times with touch responses often lagging or not registering at all. The Ovi Store also loaded up slow at times, although that could’ve been the overloaded Wi-Fi at the event. It’s just that I never felt the N8 provided something truly revolutionary, I’ve seen all of this before, and in many cases done better. Still, this is just a new product and the units at the event were supposedly prototypes. We’ll have a proper review for the N8 when it’s officially released next month, hopefully Nokia will have cleared up the few kinks before then.


About

From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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