14 Days of N8: Review & Final Thoughts

Cet article est une traduction anglaise de l’entrée suivante: 14 jours de N8: Banc d’essai et conclusion


All good things come to an end.

I was sad about having to say goodbye to the Nokia N8. In two weeks, I’ve grown accustomed to the beast. In the same way one experiences a various spectrum of emotions when acquiring a new pet, the time spent with N8 has been a mix of quiet appreciation, frustration, admiration and love… But before I go further with my this « new puppy » metaphor, let’s review what the innards of the N8 have to offer

Nokia N8

  • ARM11 processor, clocked at 680MHz, coupled with a Broadcom graphics co-processor
  • RAM: 256 Mb
  • Internal memory: 512 Mb + microSD expansion slot
  • 3.5″ capacitive AMOLED screen with a resolution of 640×360 pixels (a resolution known as nHD)
  • OS: Symbian^3 (soon to be updated to Symbian Anna)
  • Pentaband 3G cellular and quadband for GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks
  • 12 megapixels camera with a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens. Maximum aperture  f./2.8

Quite a respectable little set of specifications right there. The camera, of course, was my main salivating point when I first read about the N8. Having watched The Commuter and seen sample photos, I was simply dying to get my hands on that smartphone and use it. I consider myself quite lucky of having had it with me these past few weeks, the phone’s camera bringing surprise after surprise. It really is that awesome. So are the phone’s multimedia chops. It seems the N8 is able to playback any video file thrown its way. No conversion needed, unlike certain other smartphones (do you hear that, Apple?). The music player is also that versatile. Despite its utilitarian appearance, the player is immensely powerful.

That last sentence describes pretty well the Symbian^3 user interface. Symbian^3 is, by all means, not a beauty queen. Rather, Symbian^3 is the shy girl sitting in the back row in physics class. Kinda cute but rather introverted, she constantly stays very down to earth and inconspicuous. She doesn’t wear make-up, never wears her hair up, but, by golly!, she can calculate a curve faster than anyone else. Same for Symbian (minus the curve calculation part). The whole user interface stays a bit beige, very utilitarian. But Symbian does pretty much everything and it does it with aplomb.

Now, let’s get back to the camera. It. Is. Incredible. I’ve been very rapidly taken by the quality of the images it produces. Constantly sharp and precise, photographs from the N8 have nothing to envy to dedicated compact cameras. It’s that good. Impressive for such a small smartphone. Impressive for any smartphone, at that. The camera of the iPhone 4, that I used to view as impressive, seems very pedestrian now.

The Nokia N8 is a connectivity monster. It has integrated GPS which, when combined with the brilliant Nokia Maps (the navigation software formerly known as Ovi Maps), offers turn by turn navigation as well as downloadable maps for free, forever. It also features an FM transmitter to, you guessed it, transmit music to FM receivers. Using the supplied USB-On-The-Go dongle, the Nokia N8 can play host to USB keydrives, keyboards and mice, memory card readers, etc. An easy task then to transfer files to and from the N8 without using a computer. The N8 also has an HDMI port in order to play multimedia king on a big screen TV. Impressive.

Almost everything about the N8 is impressive. The screen is beautifully bright, the colours are saturated and simply pop out, the industrial design of the handset is pure genius, the autonomy between charges is simply breathtaking (I only had to charge the N8 three times in 2 weeks!). The N8 is a connectivity buffet and a possibility magnet. It BEGS to be used to do something creative or entertaining. The only (and I really mean ONLY) point where the user experience breaks down is through the user interface. Symbian^3 seems to have a knack for always adding a couple extra steps to accomplish simple tasks. Unfortunate really. Text entry is cumbersome (why a second pop up screen just for text entry?), messaging can be a bit confusing at times. Thankfully, Symbian Anna should address those issues and make the experience an even more satisfying one.

This is why I talked about my honeymoon with the N8 as akin to acquiring a new puppy. At first, I was smitten by the handset’s many possibilities, by its incredible multimedia abilities and its devastating charm. After many days of using the Nokia N8 as both my main camera and smartphone, I’ve experienced frustration, followed by an acceptation of the handset’s quirks and odd ends. I’ve decided to enjoy it for what it is, not for what I wish it were. Only there could I finally grasp a better understanding of the beast. Sure, if you only take the UI and then make a head-on comparison to iOS or Android, the N8 is bound to fail. But as a whole, it’s so so much more than the sum of it’s parts. For having a camera like the N8 has in my pocket at all times, I’m more than willing to accept UI oddities.

In conclusion, I’ve decided to give the completely arbitrary note of 80% to the Nokia N8. Superb machine, flawless fit and finish, incredible multimedia performance, let down only by a few peculiar Symbian quirks.

boxov loves:

  • The camera. O. M. G.!
  • The FM transmitter. Genius idea
  • The sturdiness of the handset
  • The brilliant industrial design

boxov doesn’t love:

  • Symbian^3’s knack for constantly making simple stuff more complicated
  • The lack of a fast and efficient email client built-in
  • The virtual keyboard

The Nokia N8 is available in Canada through Rogers.

See: All the shots from the 14 days of N8 project on digital/analog Imagerie

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A propos danybuteau

Dany Buteau, aka danybuteau Éducateur spécialisé de formation, passionné de la photographie, il trouve son bonheur au travers de projets personnels de type D.I.Y. Que ce soit en numérique ou sur pellicule, avec lui tout est sujet à être photographié. Danydémontre un grand intérêt pour la photographie noir et blanc et les nuages en général. Avec Boxov il souhaite faire profiter ses connaissances et ses expériences avec d'autres photographes, tant professionnels qu'amateurs. Pour lui la photo est synonyme de plaisir et de partage.

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