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Nokia N8 hands on

Today I finally got a chance to play with the Nokia N8. I got to use prototype hardware (still labeled C0) running early software (not even pre-release).

In short, I’m definitely impressed. But I’m still concerned that the N8 will not be able to compete with iOS and Android devices when it’s launched later this summer.

Read on for my thoughts…

The hardware

Let’s get one thing out of the way: the hardware is fantastic. There’s absolutely no doubt that Nokia knows how to build top-spec phones, and when it wants to, top-quality hardware. The N8, even in prototype form, showcases the best fit, finish, and materials of any Nseries device to date.

The device is slim and light yet solid. The body and most buttons/covers are made of machined and anodized aluminum – only the plastic endcaps look and feel out of place.

The glass capacitive OLED display is beautiful and responsive. The features are impressive – 12 MP HD camera, penta-band 3G (including AWS for T-Mobile USA), WiFi b/g/n, HDMI output, USB On-The-Go!

The only N8 available for me to handle was the green one, which is not a particularly flattering color for this phone. The blue version I saw looked more attractive.

The software

Unfortunately, my time with the software was pretty limited, but what I saw surprised me by being fast and slick. It’s clear that the user interface makes extensive use of hardware acceleration and that the user experience is a significant improvement over S60v5.

But will Symbian^3 be able to compete with iOS and Android? I’m not convinced. Despite multitouch support and streamlined controls, it’s still Symbian at the core. For users familiar with Symbian like myself, that’s fine, but for new users I think the learning curve is still too steep…

The camera

I was only able to test the camera indoors, and in poor conditions, but I’m extremely pleased with the results: the N8 outperformed my point-and-shoot camera, with less noise and more detail.

Matthew Bennett was kind enough to pose for this shot, taken with the flash in auto mode – check out the awesome low-light performance. With the flash turned on, it’s pure xenon magic :)

In terms of HD video recording, the N8 promises 720p at a consistent 25 fps, and I was able to confirm this claim after some brief testing. And the icing on the cake? The shutter button feels wonderful.

The verdict

Fantastic hardware, promising software, and an unrivaled camera – that sums up the Nokia N8 at this point in time. Still, I’d prefer to see MeeGo on this device.

Take a look at my pictures (slide show) and my video of the N8:

Here are a couple things I forgot to mention in the video:
– There’s a standard Nokia power connector on the bottom endcap (in addition to USB charging)
– There’s multitouch support on the capacitive screen (pinch-to-zoom in the browser, maps, and gallery)

Still craving more? Here’s another preview. Thanks to Nokia Blogger Relations for inviting me, and to Dolby for hosting the event.

12 thoughts on “Nokia N8 hands on Leave a comment

  1. Great post! I think this device its great but alot of people are going to be afraid of buying this device unlock when the iphone 4 and other phones are around the corner and N9. Im willing to pay maybe 350 to 400 at launch but I wouldnt get it 3 months later if I know something better its coming. I used to pay 500 for nokias but as the time passes and US gets better phones its hard to pay 400 and up and I dont mind staying In t-mobile for another 2 years when I know im not gonna pay att twice as much for data. But Im really tempted to get this device

  2. tnkgrl, i am like you, a long-time s60 devotee. can you bottom line it–is this a device i would be happy with or disappointed with if purchased this 3rd Q 2010?
    put aside any “symbian is old/high learning curve” arguments and as just an s60 user to s60 user, would you recommend it?

    • Ask me again once it’s out and I’ve used it for a while. It looks good so far, but so did the N97 prototype I played with months before launch, and look how that turned out.

  3. The reason that profiles didn’t show up might be because, I dunno, you didn’t press the profile button. Its the one next to the clock not above it. The “offline” above the clock is for the network providers name.
    I’m sure you know all this but it kinda bugged me that you said that it didn’t work and “blamed” the software for it when it was you own faul-

    • Yes, I made a mistake. Frankly, I didn’t have much time to form an opinion about the software – only time will tell. I was impressed with the hardware, and I’m looking forward to the final product.

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