Nokia N8 Review: Noah's First Impressions

Noah Kravitz
 from  Oakland, CA
| October 4, 2010

Last Friday I received Nokia's new flagship multimedia device, the N8. Powered by the Symbian^3 operating system and armed with a 12 megapixel Carl Zeiss camera with HD video capture, the N8 is something of a stepping stone between Nokia's Symbian past and MeeGo future. Is N8 the best cameraphone in the world, and will its camera be enough to draw users back to the Nokia/Symbian fold?

I posted a few photo samples here and an Aaron uploaded an HD video sample here. Meantime, some first impressions of the device:

  • The N8 feels good in hand - smaller than the current wave of smartphones with 3.8" + display, and smaller than Apple's iPhone 4, as well. N8's anodized aluminum body feels solid, its display is very sharp and bright, and I like that the phone comes in colors.
  • One thing I don't like about the phone's feel is the way it handles touch-input vibrations. There's something odd about the system/build quality that makes it feel like the device is physically moving when it gives me haptic feedback. So, you know, I turned haptic feedback off.
  • Performance has been okay so far. Symbian^3 feels long in the tooth and I'm not so keen on Nokia's virtual QWERTY boards, but the device is responsive enough, for the most part.
  • Neat trick: Hook the N8 up to a large display via HDMI and the entire phone UI is replicated on screen. This means that you can use the device to power presentations, Web browsing sessions and multimedia playback on a big display - unlike some recent Android devices that offer very, very limited HDMI-out capabilities.
  • Despite the fact that our review loaner came with a proprietary Nokia AC adapter, I was able to charge the N8 via USB. I took another company's USB-based charger and ran it from the phone to a wall outlet and it worked. I have no idea if Nokia endorses such behavior or not, but I suppose I could look it up in the owner's manual.
  • The user interface flips orientation when you rotate the phone itself. That might sound like an obvious trick, but try it on an iPhone or touch-only Android device. Not as common as you thought, eh?
  • Yup, there's a front-facing camera.
  • Yup, there's penta-band GSM compatibility, which means AT&T and T-Mobile in the US.

Much more on the N8 in the coming days. Stay tuned!

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