back to article Nokia N8 smartphone

The N8 is Nokia’s first handset to use the revamped Symbian^3, and is a beautifully designed, high specification touchscreen phone. Compared to the Nokia X6 and the N97 – its touchscreen predecessors that I have reviewed – the N8 is considerably more responsive. On many occasions in the recent past, Nokia has not provided …

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Whaaa?

"Where's Plane Finder - where you can point to a passing plane and read off its ADS-B information? Where's the point and tap astronomy apps?"

I don't think I'm stretching too far to say that neither app will make or break a platform.

However, lovely though this phone is, I want to see what Symbian^4 looks like before I even consider buying a Nokia.

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Anonymous Coward

But..

Having had an android for a few months, I miss them!

Yeah, it's not make or break as the quality of camera, music, calls etc way outshines, but it's the only real disappointment with the N8 that it's missing these type of interesting novelty apps which are more than kids toys.

Can someone make an android emulator please? .. be the ideal phone then.

Well, as long as someone sorts it out so it connects to different wifi's properly!!

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Stop

Ha!!!! he said symbian^4

Have you not heard, Symbian^4 is dead. Anything that was going to be in Symbian^4 is being released for Symbian^3.

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Dejavu?

Here we go again.

Thanks Nokia for repeating the same mistake again and again.

Very nice hardware - absolutely awful UI.

You'd think someone who works for them would have been able to have a quiet word with someone important by now?

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If the incremental changes to S^3 include working out the UI...

... Then we might be on to a winner.

Unfortunately first impressions count, not incremental updates a year down the line.

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Stop

Think I'll stick with my E71

It does the job. Not prettily though.

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Oops

So, it won't even lie flat on the desk ? Geez...

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Linux

What I'd really like

Is a Nokia built Android phone.

Nokia's hardware has always been good but the UI has alway been poor.

It'll never happen but I can dream can't I

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How dare you use the penguin icon...

...when mentioning Googleware?

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Linux

Like it or not....

....Tux is now Google's bitch.

Fortunately the offspring from the unholy union is both good and numerous.

GJC

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Anonymous Coward

Nope

The offspring is rather like some mutant babies that ate human flesh from a very bad B-series horror flick I saw once...

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RKS
Gates Halo

Need help

"You can't place a shortcut to a person"

You can by adding the Favourite widget to the home screen. You can then add up to 10 people to this list and the widget multiple times - one for work, one for family etc. You can also open your contact list and long press on individuals and mark them favourite - this will bring them to the top of your list whenever you write a message or open contacts again. The only problem is that you can't organise your favourite in any order you might like - only in the order that you added them to your favourites.

"you can't drop applications wherever you like."

You can to a certain extent by adding the Shortcut widget, but then you HAVE to select 4 apps to use. But putting individual app shortcuts is not possible.

"You can't set a shortcut to activate a particular setting, either"

You can for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Sip, to different menu shortcuts. Which one do you want that is missing?

"it won't use the spacebar to accept suggestions unless you change another setting"

Really, how? I have been looking for this and can't find it anywhere. Using the right arrow to accept the work and then hitting spacebar is a poor design.

"E-mail now uses Nokia's server-side Intellisync software, but for obvious reasons of security (Nokia knows your passwords) I didn't test this extensively."

This can be bypassed. If you reject the terms and conditions right at the end of the email account set-up the emails won't go anywhere near Nokia's servers. This also helps because you can send attachments larger than 2MB in size the latter imposes.

There are other fiddly little problems to the ones you mention in this article. In many menus if scroll to the bottom item and select it when you go back the phone automatically takes you back to the top of the list. Notes and files of this type cannot be scroll without first selecting and marking all the text. I can customise my home screen by long pressing the screen, but I can't do the same when inside menus. Why? Instead I have to click on options and then organise. I then can list the items in alphabetical order - instead you have to move each individual icon to the location you prefer.

Mail for Exchange crashes on replying when using Gmail. IMAP email doesn't work as push email, so if your settings are set to retrieve soonest the app won't work until you open it. These things have been smoothed out over years by Nokia so why they should stop working properly is anyone's guess.

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JDX
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Alert

Good "works as a phone" functionality

Nice to know the phone works well as a phone.

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FAIL

Nokia solved the shitty UI problem

by NOT firing anyone involved with the UI design, but firing everyone else instead.

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Remember back in 2007...

When you slated the Apple for having a non-removable battery, and yet you let Nokia doing it slide.

(If a torx screwdriver is required, it's basically non-removable. The Reg said so itself in the Macbook Air review.)

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Different type of Torx

The Torx screws in the Macbook Air are very unusual, I'd not seen them before.

On the other hand, any electronic engineer worth his salt has a T5 or T6 sitting around somewhere at home. They're pretty easy to get a hold of, not the case for the Air's flower screws.

I considered this phone as I've had to replace 2 phones recently, but knowing that Meego is on the horizon has made me reluctant. It's Android (+a cheapo Nokia symbian thingy for work phone) for me.

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Looks great

I'd love to buy one, but really can't justify it as I can't get a moblie (let alone 3g) signal where I live, which isn't in the a**e end of nowhere either.

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To be fair, I haven't read the review...

...I stopped at the first photo, thought, "It looks like half a Razr!" and promptly walked away.

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Gorgeous piece of kit, now if they just......

.....put a proper smart phone os it it with a modern ui I will buy one.

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Happy

PS @ Gorgeous piece......

Being quite serious, I have always had a lot of respect for Nokia's hardware. I currently own HTC's Wildfire and am very pleased with the phone (in the context of the price and the fact that it is an entry level phone) and have absolutely nothing against Android at all. What I am really pissed off with is the fact that all the producers who build Androids are _very_ bloody slow to upgrade and because they will not release to full-price customers until their buddies (read the telcos) have further pissed around with the os and released it to contract customers. Poor mugs like me end up right at the back of the queue. I am still waiting for Froyo and we are now well into Q4? I will be in the market for a high-end towards the middle/ende of next year and my choice is almost certainly going to be between something like the N8 but with "Meego" or something from Samsung or HTC with WP7 (given that MS will be running the updates to all phones and only if "SP1" fixes a couple of issues - cut n' paste and so on that already have been discussed to death here so I won't bore everybody by enumerating them).

I look forward to next year. It is a pity, the N8 really is a lovely phone and I would be _very_ tempted right now if they had got the OS and the UI sorted. In fact if they managed that next year _and_ did a version with a physical keyboard I would be in pig heaven!

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Give it a year

Looks nice on paper, but I'll wait a year to see if it's more reliable than my crappy N95 8GB before I'd even consider another Nokia.

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RKS
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@Tom Chiverton 1

"So, it won't even lie flat on the desk ? Geez..."

In fact it does. It's very slightly raised at the back (approx 2mm) but you can very comfortably use it on a desk or table.

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Stop

What about Acrobat reader?

Is it still the shi**y, pay £8 that everyone else gets for free, Acrobat Reader LE?

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Not bad

But it looks like they've been looking at electric shavers to get some design ideas.

It's a pretty functional device, but battery capacity looks smaller than competitors, probably why the CPU is running at around 600Mhz instead of the usual 1Ghz these days.

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RKS
Black Helicopters

@Giles Jones: Not bad

Processor speeds are not important, it's what they do that is important. The CPU is underclocked, the OS is very resource functional (always has been) and has a separate GPU for the intensive graphics. Battery life for me is about 2-3 days on a charge - push email is on 7am till midnight on 2 accounts, browsing the web, telephone calls and music in the morning and evening. So I am very pleased. There some faults but hope they fix them soon.

I always wonder why some of the tech people reviewing this mobile phone constantly rubbish the processor for being clocked slower than the competition. Remember the days when the Apple OS was always said to be better and more resource efficient than Windows and hence the slower processors? Remember also that almost all video and photo editing used to be done on Macs for that very reason? Short memories....

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Blue N8

@Andrew Orlowski

Is the blue one really that bad looking?

I especially ordered a blue one even though I've got to wait an extra 3 or 4 weeks.

Obviously, I haven't seen it in the metal but based on all the pics I've seen, the blue N8 looks really cool!

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Anonymous Coward

Compareing CPU sizes is pointless...

Android apps are written in Java and run on a virtual machine on a stripped down Linux, an OS designed for servers. While Symbian apps are written in C++ running natively on an OS designed for low power devices. For graphics intensive apps the N8 also has a dedicated graphics co-processor to take on the load.

You need to compare how long the phones last between charges and if they run the apps you need as an accepable speed.

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"...designed for servers..."? Really?

I was under the impression that Linus designed Linux to run on a fairly old x86 desktop so that he could play with a Unix type OS cheaply?

That pedantry aside though I agree -- the processor on this phone is only running an OS designed for minimal processor overhead from the outset so it is probably well worth the "performance hit" which will probably not be seen to get slightly better battery life.

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Anonymous Coward

u-g-l-y

Am I the only person who, from the first time I saw it weeks ago, thinks this is a right munter? I'd use one, but with a paper bag over my head.

As for Plane Finder: anyone wonder how them pesky terrierists were going to know when to speed-dial their laser printer over New York? Too much information sometimes really is, you know, too much.

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It's about more than the phone

It seems that I'll have to use Ovi Suite if I upgrade to the N8 from my E72, and that's a no-go for a start.

Ovi Suite just doesn't work.

My particular favourite feature is that it will silently connect to the Internet via my phone's bluetooth connection, even when I'm connected by wire or Wifi.

That and the fact that automatic syncing is pretty much impossible.

I've just cancelled my N8 order.

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Pint

Video

The native support for MKV, DivX and Xvid is worth mentioning - my N8 has played every standard def .avi video I'v loaded onto it, something only my old Cowon has been able to manage.

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Can I

install any crapware I wrote without requiring some shitty permissions from Nokia?

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Probably yes

but you become responsible if it messes with your phone or data

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Nope, you can't.

At least not without requesting a developers certificate and then self-signing the applications. Its a fairly sensible choice and does (to some extent) cut down on the level of piracy.

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FAIL

Nokia clusterfuck

This phone is full of bugs and design problems that were identified by testers inside Nokia months ago, yet all these errors are set to the magic 'ignored'. If you're lucky you'll get a 'no business case' as well meaning, in my eyes, can't be fucked or too incompetant to fix without seriously making the already shaky monolith of crapware that this thing runs even more unstable.

The hilarious discussions between users of the N8 over something so simple as the font needing a spruce up or the icons needing a redesign masks the fact that its easier in nokia to kill ideas than get on board and make a difference.

The scary truth is that symbian and its virus of middle managers have infected all of Nokia (most of my fellow workers suddenly becoming symbian device people 6months ago) and its gonna be a long hard fight for Elop to clean out the roaches.

Anon because I still have some time to serve before escape !

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Grenade

Here is hoping...

...that Elop wants and can clean out the parasites infecting Nokia just like Jobs did when he came back to Apple. Somehow I am not sure, Elop doesn't strike me as a revolutionary.

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Linux

Nokia Hardware, brilliant, software... just crap

I have to agree with the review writers remarks regarding the hard and software...

I am myself the (proud?) owner of the N900, which in hardware terms is potentially an iPhone killer, but in regards to the software and the marketing, it'ts just a bad chinese copy.

the N900 has pretty much everything th iPhone has (well except for iPhone 4 the glass screen and the capacitive touchscreen)

But from HSPA 10.2/2.0, to a 3dim accelometer, high resolution screen, qwerty keyboard etc, but the software is just in shambles.

so much so, that I am probably going to move away from nokia, and that even though I have been a loyal nokia user for the past 15 years.

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well i like it...sod you lot

its a phone... but it takes very good pictures , plays music and videos.

If i wanted google to run my life i would have bought an andriod phone and handed my soul over.

As an n93 user ( yes i had one of them ) i got frustrated with the wifi and video playback that the htc's and wm can do im their sleep.

But having moved back to a nokia with the n8 , i like it the wifi ismucch improved ane video playback amd audio quality is great.

Now i just need to get used to this on screen keyboard

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I love the phone

In a couple of hours I had it configured just the way I like it...I am fussy!

3 screens of widgets and apps (who cares if the old menu is there?)

In reading all the above comments which I would like to thank everyone for....

If you havent used one then ask a question about you concerns not the mindless regurgitation of other individuals gripes/bias.

Hey it makes calls all the time doesnt break when you drop it. There was one reviewer who dropped it 3 metres onto concrete with barely a scratch(tiny ones) and kept going.

Its got Flash and it works great....

would you buy a computer that didnt support flash?

Anyway on the whole I am happy with the phone and would recommend it.

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Random musings ...

Just started a new job and received an N8 as a company mobile last week. Random musings ...

In general, I'd say the review is pretty accurate. The first time I handled an N8 was when I opened the box. Have to say it looks a lot better in the (gun) metal than the various images I'd seen on the web.

I'm coming back to Nokia after about 9 months using a Motorola Milestone (before that I had an E51+E52 for a few years) The on-screen keyboard on the Milestone was so good that I'd happily have chosen my next Android phone without a physical keyboard. I'm really struggling with the N8 qwerty keyboard - can't seem to get any degree of accuracy. Hoping I will get used to it (or the firmware will be tweaked) soon. The numeric keyboard actually works fairly well - makes more sense to me than having a cramped qwerty keyboard in portrait mode.

OS navigation is better than I remember from the E52, but I still find myself hunting for the right place to change settings, and that's as a veteran Symbian user. On the Milestone, things were nearly always exactly where I expected.

All of the above, I can live with. The thing I really missed on day one was the ability to synch my contacts / calendar with the google (without resorting to cludgy workarounds) . After a couple of days tinkering, another downside is the lack of decent apps. Nokia could do with throwing some of their cash at 3rd party developers to help them catchup in the apps market.

Apps wishlist :

Some software to handle N8 to PC video calls

Evernote client

Decent weather app (that works)

Ebay app

On the plus side : call quality; camera, media playback are all excellent. And it's great to have Gravity back ! Oh and the battery seems to last about 30% longer than the Milestone.

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