Why Nokia's beautiful N8 flagship phone is a let down

Why Nokia's beautiful N8 flagship phone is a let down
Rating
Overall:

Beautiful hardware, crammed with features, but the N8 is totally let down by Symbian. Read our review of Nokia's flagship phone

Performance:
5
Features & Design:
3
Value for Money:
3
Price
Price: $1078
> Pricing info
Specs
Price 1078
Screen size 3.5in
Screen resolution 640x360
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In the current era of iPhones, Desires and BlackBerrys it can be hard to remember that Nokia is still a dominant brand in the mobile phone market. Its latest, the N8, is a very determined effort by the Finnish company to product a flagship handset that can rival the mindshare of the likes of HTC and Apple. Sadly, the N8 falls short of these lofty goals.

Stylish looks
Out of the box, the N8 impresses instantly. The all-aluminium casing feels sturdy and well made, with the tapering ends offering a rather unusual design aesthetic that works well. The lack of the nigh-ubiquitious piano black finish means the phone won’t instantly become covered in fingerprints the moment you pick it up.

The screen is a bright 3.5in OLED panel with 360 x 640 resolution that looks truly great, even in bright light. The big drawcard – at least according to Nokia – is the 12-megapixel camera, complete with Xenon flash and image stabilisation.

Camera
Images taken with the N8 look incredibly crisp and colourful, leaving many competitors for dead. The flash does an excellent job too, avoiding the overbright white-out that some Xenon flashes can produce. The camera function is also quick to activate, thanks to the dedicated camera button on the side, making it easy to snap “shots of opportunity” as they arise.

As an added bonus, the handset will happily record video at 720p, and with an HDMI output you can be watching those home movies in no time at all. Still, we can’t help but feel that 12-megapixels is in the realm of overkill. It’s more than the average happy-snapper requires and it’ll be a long time before you can convince a photographer to only take a phone out with them.

Specs
While it may look great on a spec sheet, we’re not convinced it’s a genuine sales point for a phone.The N8 comes with an impressive 16GB of memory, plus micro SD support, an FM tuner for the radio buffs, Nokia’s own turn-by-turn navigation apps Ovi Maps, and the model we tested also came pre-loaded with Telstra’s usual suite of Sensis apps along with BigPond Movies, White and Yellow Pages and much more.

Battery and speed
Credit where credit is due, the battery life is easily the best we’ve seen for a long time, with over 60% of life still available after our usual 24-hour testing regimen. Considering many of the smartphones on the market struggle to last a day, this is nothing to be sneezed at.

Call quality was excellent and, once we’d located the button for bringing up the dial pad, locating and choosing contacts to call is a cinch. Additionally, the boot-up time is remarkable when compared to other phones, with under 10 seconds elapsing from hitting the on button to being able to make a call.

Confusing OS
Nokia has loaded the N8 with the latest version of Symbian – the unweildily entitled Symbian^3 – and sadly this is where the handset starts to fall down. In terms of responsiveness, the N8 is quite zippy to navigate and browser managed an impressive load time of 15 seconds for the test site, despite only scoring 33 out of 100 in the Acid3 standards test.

Ease of use, however, is not one of the high points, with very little about Symbian feeling natural or intuitive. The home screens seem cramped, with apps and widgets almost arbitrarily placed and no clear way to change them. Attempting to locate settings or even applications feels more like a treasure hunt and veers quickly into frustration.

This is exacerbated by the strange decision to include only one face button on the N8 (on the bottom left), relying on an ever-changing array of soft buttons for navigation, often with no clear way of heading back a step without having to return to the homepage and begin over from the beginning. For people familiar with Android or iOS, Symbian may seem absolutely impenetrable. 

Sadly, it’s this experience that completely lets down what is otherwise a truly impressive piece of hardware. Add in the underpopulated Ovi app store and the N8 is hard to recommend.

Source: Copyright © PC & Tech Authority. All rights reserved.

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See more about:  nokia  |  n8  |  smartphone  |  phone  |  symbian  |  qt  |  camera
 
 

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Comments: 14
hmmm
11 December 2010
This is yet again another lazy(i am being nice)
review.( and this below demonstrates why)
Its funny I was using an Ipad for the first time the other day and setup the email (who knows why I had to input the server ID and pswd 4 times) maybe it just randomly trys settings until one works(trust me after the first fail I double checked the setting each time)
so I sync my mail scroll down to an email and open the attached PDF. Well it was all fine to I tried to close the PDF. HMMM NO ICONS displayed HMMM lets try randomly tapping all over the screen, damn, press the button, DAMN closed the file AND the email and BACK TO HOME SCREEN
now please listen closely
"does this sound familiar?"

My ignorance of this product and basic usage is in no way a true reflection of its worth or usability
This applies to you, A more mature approach would be appreciated.
Heres what I did I asked a few people around me how to do this and with a bit of patience I figured it out.
If this seems a bit harsh then I would say not for a professional company reporting on technology.



Comment made about the PC & Tech Authority article:
Why Nokia's beautiful N8 flagship phone is a let down?
Beautiful hardware, crammed with features, but the N8 is totally let down by Symbian. Read our review of Nokia's flagship phone

What do you think? Join the discussion.
.:Cyb3rGlitch:.
11 December 2010
Sounded like a fair review to me, and it's consistent with the majority of reviews out there. Symbian is feature phone OS trying to hard to look smart.
Slatts
11 December 2010
I'm with cyber and Nic.

it sounds like a fine piece of gear let down by a confusing interface.

it can have the flashest camera, the brightest screen etc. but if the average user can't navigate it, it isn't going to catch on.

Sure hmmm, the blokes in the lab should be able to work out the menus, but the review isn't aimed at them.

hmmm
11 December 2010
@Slatts
First question Have you used one? I have I try a lot of new devices. the IPAD took as much time as the N8
I could say the same for the IPAD
if you are not familiar with apple then the same is true for his example.
"For people familiar with Android or iOS, Symbian may seem absolutely impenetrable."
Android and IOS are so new that the majority of people looking for a new phone most likely would have a symbian phone already.
as I said before maturity or at least the honesty to say you just dont like it!
.:Cyb3rGlitch:.
11 December 2010
What's not mature about what he wrote? It's honest and truthful.
Slatts
11 December 2010
hmmm wrote:
@Slatts
First question Have you used one? I have I try a lot of new devices. the IPAD took as much time as the N8


Well you have me there hmmm. I must confess to being a mobile phone Luddite.

My opinions on the subject are based on what I read on the interwebs.

I can see where opinions on an OS are to a degree subjective. It would appear that the reviewers opinion of the phones operating system is different from yours. As described in the review though, it doesn't sound intuitive to me.

It's fine to say that, with experience with the machine, the OS becomes familiar, but most people won't be to happy to climb the learning curve to become proficient with their shinny new toy.

hmmm
12 December 2010
"My opinions on the subject are based on what I read on the interwebs."
@Slatts (sorry but)Then You really dont have anything to add. Just preface everything with I heard I read. Also, the inference that there is this global learning curve? other than the new home screen
the rest is familiar to 70% of older phone owners(symbian). Again, think about the old tech out there? by the way as a luddite you would by nature be a symbian user. So more afraid of ios and android(the completely new tech). You may just be biased and using the term Luddite out of convience (yes thats easy too)

Here I will give you my reasons for not getting IOS/Android.
IOS
1.really poorly designed phone
2.not really a mobile device(50% of all owners I know have broken the screen 25 % cannot afford to replace it)
3. Poor reception (where I work I make calls inside everyone with the iphone have to go outside) this is 50% of its use overall.
4. Not an open platform
5.little to no customisation
6. most of the apps barely work (ie cardreader navigation)
Android
I have not had as much time with these as I would like
the only thing that stopped me from buying one was the sub-standard components used (not the touchscreen).
HTC with is poor choice of voice chip and poor camera.
Technically (other than screen and CPU) very old tech it is of course all these other components that define how the device will perform. The complete focus on a user talking/interfacing with a phone is inane. It is primarily a conduit for my communication needs, if it doesnt do that well? I would put it on my mantle and show it to my friends along with my fake Picasso.

My ideal phone would be
Built by Nokia (with Meego)
IU tweaked by Apple (with MS beating on steve the whole time about developer support) no I dont mean apps
I mean industry standards and the need to support all of them. this IS what users really want.





hmmm
12 December 2010
Sorry Guys the above comment is in reference to Apple
"The complete focus on a user talking/interfacing with a phone is inane. It is primarily a conduit for my communication needs, if it doesnt do that well? I would put it on my mantle and show it to my friends along with my fake Picasso."
So my point is... I am happy to spend a few hours learning a device that will not frustrate me for the next two years
hmmm
12 December 2010
@Cyber
"What's not mature about what he wrote? It's honest and truthful."
Cyber you miss the point...
Not directed at author
A child is honest and truthful yet immature.
Ignorance or lack of experience is not a mature basis for assessing somethings worth.

The comments I made about new tech ie IPAD
under that approach the IPaD would not be intuitive! and never would be as thats all that is presented. A more mature approach is to spend time learning both and then reflecting in its usage. Not, Mum its not doing what I want!
(yes N8 takes longer is has more options but rarely do I need to use them).
Apple is the Idiot-phone a crippled smartphone.
and no real multitasking (multiswap)
Android - I just wish they would steal Nokias HW engineers.
Slatts
12 December 2010
Hmmm, let's go back to the original post...

hmmm wrote:
This is yet again another lazy(i am being nice)
review.( and this below demonstrates why)
Its funny I was using an Ipad for the first time the other day and setup the email (who knows why I had to input the server ID and pswd 4 times) maybe it just randomly trys settings until one works(trust me after the first fail I double checked the setting each time)
so I sync my mail scroll down to an email and open the attached PDF. Well it was all fine to I tried to close the PDF. HMMM NO ICONS displayed HMMM lets try randomly tapping all over the screen, damn, press the button, DAMN closed the file AND the email and BACK TO HOME SCREEN
now please listen closely
"does this sound familiar?"


Your inability to get Email set up first go on your ipad and your inability to close a pdf file without having to fight your way back to the home screen somehow supports your statement that this is a lazy review?

I must be thick today. I don't see the connection.

As for my technical competence / maturity, Over the years I've taught myself to write fairly complex code in VBA (not record a macro and call it a program), write complex programs for various PLCs, fault find and fix hardware and software glitches in systems running OSs from 3.11 FWG through 95, 98, ME to XP and have a nodding acquaintance with a few distros of Linux.

All of this, I've picked up through trial ad error with no formal training.

I don't think your little phone thingy would present much of a problem for me in the medium term.

Now back to Nics review.

The reason that my and other forum contributors skills are in demand is that for most people, technology is a black art.

Even operating systems that flow logically from A to B to C tend to confuse the average user. Throw a little convolution into the OS and you'll quickly see the 80/20 rule degenerate to the 95/5 rule.

Here's, I think, the relevant passage from the review.

Would you mind picking it apart and showing how it constitutes lazy in your mind?

Nic Healey wrote:
Ease of use, however, is not one of the high points, with very little about Symbian feeling natural or intuitive. The home screens seem cramped, with apps and widgets almost arbitrarily placed and no clear way to change them. Attempting to locate settings or even applications feels more like a treasure hunt and veers quickly into frustration.

This is exacerbated by the strange decision to include only one face button on the N8 (on the bottom left), relying on an ever-changing array of soft buttons for navigation, often with no clear way of heading back a step without having to return to the homepage and begin over from the beginning. For people familiar with Android or iOS, Symbian may seem absolutely impenetrable.

Sadly, it’s this experience that completely lets down what is otherwise a truly impressive piece of hardware. Add in the underpopulated Ovi app store and the N8 is hard to recommend.




Edited by Slatts: 12/12/2010 05:06:33 PM
hmmm
12 December 2010
"Attempting to locate settings or even applications feels more like a treasure hunt and veers quickly into frustration."
This is the common statement by IOS and Android users, actually they probably would say the same thing about each other because it is not familiar to them.

finding apps
well menu=> applications -> select it
(or just customise your home screens)

The comment about maturity is in the content.
If you or anyone else is frustrated, it just means you dont understand what you are doing. yet somehow this is a valid mature comment. the world frustrates me sometimes but if you asked me to give my opinion on it that would not be my answer.
If I did you would look at me and say what a stupid worthless comment/answer.
hmmm
12 December 2010
"Your inability to get Email set up first go on your ipad and your inability to close a pdf file without having to fight your way back to the home screen somehow supports your statement that this is a lazy review?"
Nics comment
"often with no clear way of heading back a step without having to return to the homepage and begin over from the beginning."


It is a direct parrallel to the statement. It demonstrates that any OS that is new to someone the same issues occur. this is not unique. It is not particular to N8 or particularly outstanding.
noelhigg
12 December 2010
I have iphone4 and wish for an N8 the os micght be old but at least the phone will bluetooth to other devices, eg laptop or phones etc. Has a decent home screen and calander that will popup notices or appointments. As far as my experiences with both Nokia Symbian & Iphone os go, give me a Nokia with symbian any day!!!!!
IphoneX
13 December 2010
Hello 1st Let me say you review is about 50% right. I have tried the sony x10, I phone 3g in the past and the Nokia N8 is in my eyes 1000 times better. 1st off which is really important to me, is that I don't buy a piece a crap phone that breaks everytime you drop. Iphone shatters everytime. Sony X10 when dropped at my engagement party was embarasassing. The phone whole phone just flew apart battery, back piece, terrible. This will never happen with the N8. You can keep the phone in your pocket with your keys and you won't have to worry. You don't need to buy some bulky case to protect your phone because it's made solid like it should be.

The N8 has a video phone feature that most phones don't have. Not sure what your talking about having an over kill with a 12 MP camera. I never have to bring a camera out when i'm out anymore like I did in the past.

Software in the phone can be a tad better but it's not confusing if you use the phone and get use to it. You have to b a retard if you can't navigate through your N8 phone after time. So your comment about it be frustrating is because your use to what you use.

I've had my phone for about a month now and all I can say is it is a great phone with some things that i'd like to have fixed.

The phone is a great phone but if your use to the iphone 0r android it will be different to get use too but not long maybe a couple of days. Iphone are for kids and Nokia is for an Adult. You pick which one you want.
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