The Nokia N8, a phone to look out for

I seldom really get excited about a phone. Maybe, except the iPhone which I have used for about a year.  I believe it is now about time to move to a better offering. That is if one exists. My choice phone is one that should have killer specifications in the hardware. And more importantly, it should also have a suave, impeccable and intuitive user interface. I believe that user interface makes up 70% of a phone. Like some people say, it is what you see that you get. The features complement the UI.

What then has engendered me towards gunning for the Nokia N8?

The Nokia N8, a phone to look out for 1

The hardware of the N8 along with its Multi-media monster features impresses me a lot, but at the same time, the software, especially the user interface dissatisfies me a little. With this compromise, could I still make the jump, and go for the N8? I don’t know that for sure, although I feel I will make my ultimate decision after it finally comes out! The Nokia N8 definitely has some cutting-edge features. These include USB-On-the-Go, wireless Keyboard syncing, multimedia features like the 12-megapixel camera and HDMI-out. Thereafter, the software appears stale with little modification from the omnipresent Symbian S60 UI platform.

I have to point out at this stage of this article that this article is not a hands-on experience, but from deep research on the internet inclusive of viewing of dozens of YouTube videos from Nokia’s site and also from third party Reviewers and videos on the web.

Size:  The N8 appears to be lightweight, measuring 0.5-inches thick. It would be good to compare this with the soon to be released iPhone 4 which I wish to choose from (The iPhone 4 is only 0.37 inches, making it thinner).

Screen Size: The face of the phone is quite plain as most, if not all touch screen phones are. What design could you put on a touch screen?  The front has a 3.5-inch 640-by-360-pixel display dominating its face with a single hardware button below it (just like the iPhone 4). This hardware button allows you to change from the homescreen and menu screen. It can also act as a task manager when held down to allow you to visualize all open applications. (the N8 display size is the same in size as the iPhone 4’s, but pixel density is much lower)

USB-On-The-Go: You can connect and view the contents of a USB flash drive or other phone from your Nokia N8. This is one of the first phones to incorporate this feature. I hope this feature becomes replicated in other phones. The iPhone 4 does not have this!

Wireless syncing with a Bluetooth keyboard: You can use a wireless keyboard to type on your N8. This feature is also present on the iPhone 4.

Third party applications: Of course Symbian OS has a lot of apps, but whether the specific Symbian OS ^ 3 device, the N8 would have a lot of third party apps at launch I cannot rightfully say now. This is in contrast with the iPhone 4 with acclaimed 200,000 and more apps. I believe third party apps have a big role to play in a smart phone’s usability!

Multimedia Features:

  1. Camera – The N8 has a rather large Carl Zeiss 12-megapixel camera with Xenon flash. Nokia claims the 12-megapixel snapper is the largest sensor on any phone and is reputed to take amazing photos. (In comparison, the iPhone 4 has only a 5 megapixel snapper with LED flash. The Nokia N8 trounces it here clearly).
  2. Front facing Camera – There is also a front-facing camera which will work for video calling. This is similar to the front facing camera on the iPhone 4. Apple calls their video calling feature, Facetime.
  3. 720p HD video Recording – Additionally, the N8 video is at the HD level, 720Pixels. This is laudable but not the first. The Apple iPhone 4 also has this function. While I couldn’t confirm the frame rate of the Nokia N8, the iPhone 4 has its own at 30 frames per second, which is herculean for a phone.
  4. HDMI out – Need I say this? The Nokia N8 has HDMI out which can transfer video and graphics to a screen at the HD format of 720P. Even the mighty iPhone 4 cannot attempt that! You can thus play High definition videos from your Nokia N8 phone to your LCD or Plasma TV and your Home Theatre!

User Interface: From the dozens of videos that I watched on the capabilities of the Nokia N8 on the web, the user interface was something that did not give me a WOW factor compared with the other features of the phone. I still prefer the slick operating structure of my tested iOS.

Some months ago Nokia indicated that they were revamping the Symbian user interface when they announced their new open source Symbian S^3 open source OS. I hoped then for a more modern looking and suave UI with good looking icons and major UI changes than what I saw in the YouTube videos of the N8’s UI.

The Symbian ^3 user interface resembles the previous version of Symbian to a large degree, although with a little added features here and there, along with some tweaks in some other places. Thank God Nokia informed Eldar Mutazin earlier in his disparaging review of the Nokia N8 that it was only a pre-production copy he reviewed. But then I failed to see dramatic changes in the UI of the N8 videos from recent videos on the web. Here is hoping that there would still be some more changes and revamping of the UI in the commercial copies of the Nokia N8.

Despite my gripes with the UI, there are still some obvious improvement over the previous versions of the Symbian 9.4, series 60 version 5 UI that is found in Nokia N97, Nokia 5800 and the likes. Examples of these improvements included in the N8 include:

  • Multi-touch gestures in the browser and photo gallery. There is nothing better than multi-touch technology in a touchscreen Smartphone to improve usability and dexterity.
  • Fewer taps required for navigation.
  • Simpler multitasking system.

Other Important Features;

Other areas in which Symbian phones top others apart from the Android OS devices is the value-added feature in the guise of their superb free navigation service; Ovi Maps. In my my opinion, Ovi maps rivals and even surpasses Google maps. This is expected to be loaded on the N8.

Conclusion:

As I always say and it always rings true, the test of a pudding is always in the eating. Whatever we do now would only be to analyze, forecast and predict the outlook of a yet-to-be-released product. The actual fact whether a phone would sell or would do well lies only after it is released into the market. And as such, I would have to wait for the release of the Nokia N8, and not just make my summation on this truly great phone from presumably early prototypes. Maybe then I’d see things in the UI that would endear it to me and perhaps surpass the expectations I have of its shortcomings. And I also know I may just have to spend more time with the N8 myself before making a good appraisal. Until then, the Nokia N8 remains a phone to watch.

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “The Nokia N8, a phone to look out for”

  1. Loading...
  2. Bravo.

    You are right about the user interface but we hope Symbian 3 (and symbian 4 ) will bring more fun to symbian.

    Nokia N8 frame rate is 25frames per second.

    Most people say Apple, Android, webOS, blackberry and Windows Phone 7 series UI are all still more intuitive than symbian.

  3. Incidentally, went phone hunting yesterday of the N8. I just to see it and have a feel. I thought I could, after seeing it in ‘flesh’ be emboldened to hand over my cash. Alas, after 2 hours of searching no phone shop I visited in Abuja had it in stock. I thought it was released already.

    I cant wait to have it reviewed; I mean properly reviewed Yomi style. On the surface it sure looks like a phone to die (wait) for.

  4. The N8 packs amazing features as already listed, but nothing tempting in my core areas of need:

    1. email
    2. web
    3. text input

    For me, everything else is extra. As far as mobiles are concerned, the N900 has little competition in this combination of areas.

    Still, I’m waiting for the N8 too. I certainly would love to review the N8 when it hits our shores. Anyone knows someone at Nokia (or one of the retailers) that we can talk to about a loan unit for review?

  5. @archie. The Nokia N8 is not released yet. That is why whatever version or video of it you see on the web now is only on a prototype version.

    Gsmarena.com suggests the 3rd quarter of this year (2010)for its release!

  6. @yomi. By text input, I know you mean a hardware side-sliding QWERTY keypad. You should try an on-screen keypad for a change. Life is all about variety.

  7. @Bayoabu Don’t mind Nokia they have refused to do a phone with 512 Ram, I believe they are trying to keep the price low, even N900 has 256MB too. But one thing you must also know is that these phones have dedicated processors for some other things like the Graphics etc.

    Nowadays you cant just measure power by RAM and default processors only.

  8. Seeing powerful smartphones with memory of up to 512 Megabytes, 1 gigahertz+ processors, usb- on- the-go {allowing, wireless full-keyboard usage}, hdmi-out {allowing you to explore the multimedia features to the full},- increasingly point to the future is headed – a replication of the shift from mainframes to the PC.

    Now, we are inexorably shifting from the era of PCs/laptops to that of monster smartphones and tablets.

    by the way, I wish people with unshakeable faith in hardware keyboard- would try out an application like the Dasur SlideIT or Swype – with an open mind.

    this mode of text entry is a real eye opener. it is so good and efficient that it is being licensed by a number of phone platforms.

    swype beta for Android has just been released
    to the public. see wapreview.com/blog/?p=7200

    they say, ‘ never say never’, but I will never ever go back to a non-touchscreen phone again. slide-input is too sweet! that is, unless voice recognition technology improves really drastically for physical text entry to be unnecessary.
    each time I think of the anticipated nokia n8, what comes to my mind is:

    Satzenbrau, the final word
    or
    end- of- discussion.

    I hope the nokia n8 will incorporate Near Field Communication {NFC} in the final product…

  9. You should try an on-screen keypad for a change.

    Who says I haven’t? Both the Samsung S8003 Jet which I used for 3 months, and my current device have onscreen keyboards.

    Life is all about variety.

    Variety is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. As such, variety gives us the opportunity to figure out what works better for us individually. You like Scrambled Eggs; enjoy it. Can you please let me enjoy my Pizza in peace?

    It is amusing that it is the same person who says “by the way, I wish people with unshakeable faith in hardware keyboard- would try out an application like the Dasur SlideIT or Swype – with an open mind” in one breath turns around to also say “I will never ever go back to a non-touchscreen phone again“.

    Let me respond to that by saying that I wish that people with unshakeable faith in onscreen text input would try out superb QWERTY keyboards like those on devices like the Nokia E90, Touch Pro 2, or Nokia N900 – with an open mind.

    Grow up. The world does not revolve around your preference. You can crusade for onscreen input all you like. It won’t change the fact that hardware QWERTY works better for people who do serious text input on their devices. Just to be sure, that excludes typing out comments on blogs and forums.

  10. @bayo,and bosun. I don’t think one really needs to bother about the ram since it’s 256mb. Thats enough to run your applications even if you don’t feel like closing any application you launch but i believe you know doing so drains your battery quick?

  11. @Yomi Adegboye. I get your drift. It is nice to know you’ve tried on screen keyboard. I agree with you completely that the hardware keyboard is better than on screen keyboard when it comes to typing. Especially for people that love the tactile feedback and when you’ve also gotten used to the keypad. My only problem though is that a QWERTY keypad adds more bulk (width and size) and weight to my handheld. This I think I should do without.

    If I must use a hardware keypad, perhaps I should try a wireless bluetooth/Wi-Fi keyboard. What you think?

  12. Afewgoodmen,

    Yes; that extra bulk is a real concern for some people. A wireless leyboard sounds interesting, but wouldn’t that mean carrying around two gadgets instead of one?

    Go ahead and give it a try. It just might be what works for you. I intend to try out one of those as soon as I can lay my hands on one – if only for the sake of the experience.

    Cheers.

  13. @computer 256MB is good but 512MB is better considering the fact that RAMs give you better playing ground i.e The whole UI and apps will always be fasted.

  14. Touch screens has revolutionized the way we interact with our smartphones and has certainly made navigation faster and more user friendly.
    But to be candid when it comes to composing a lengthy email or quick sms, a full qwerty four roll keyboard with its tactile feedback can never be overemphasized.
    But may be over time on touch screens and with the introduction of voice input and swype things might change.

  15. Nokia N8 must impress has it is been relied upon by many as the smartphone to bring back the juice to Symbian.

    A prominent fanboy for symbian/Nokia for years ‘Symbian-Guru’ shuts down, says Nokia is ‘losing hard’. You need to read the whole story @ http://www.symbian-guru.com/welcome/2010/07/symbian-guru-com-is-over.html

    To be candid these guys are not the first to quit and there comments are very valid.

    At least everybody accepts that Nokia N900 is a success.

Leave a Reply