Hands On with the Nokia N8 and Acer Stream

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All cards have been revealed at the biggest European consumer electronics trade show — Samsung’s and Toshiba’s Android OS tablets are easily the most attractive novelties, with large crowds gathering around them since Friday, when the IFA trade show officially commenced.

Nokia N8 with Symbian^3In the meantime, I came across one of the more interesting devices at the T-Mobile booth: the Nokia N8, the company’s much anticipated smartphone which will come with the Symbian^3 operating system.

Although Nokia is expected to officially launch this phone in ten days’ time at the Nokia World 2010 event in London, thus announcing its comeback into the arena dominated by HTC, Samsung, Apple and others, I managed to test it today in Berlin.

Nokia N8 First Impressions
My first impressions of this smartphone were divided — the Nokia N8 has both good and bad features. 

It’s not a small device and comes with a 3.5-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, but it doesn’t seem too heavy when held. The reason behind this is its aluminum unibody. The HTC Legend is built in a similar fashion, but unlike this phone, Nokia N8’s battery cannot be replaced.

Nokia is the first manufacturer after Apple to have dared to create a device without a replaceable battery, but this could be a mixed blessing. True, the device is highly compact and feels natural when held, but its battery capacity of 1200 mAh (which is approximately 200 mAh less than what competitors’ smartphones have to offer) could be a problem, as the battery would lose power with time.

On the other hand, I were delighted with the 360 x 640 pixel screen, which is appropriate for a phone of such size. The display is very sharp and bright, while the multi-touch feature functions with precision and in due course.

Nokia N8 with Symbian^3In the favorable category is its exceptionally robust and convincing performance. This is particularly evident when the excellent web browser is used, which also supports Flash. The browser is fast enough, even though the phone includes only a 680 MHz processor, which is not the fastest one available.

Nokia N8’s biggest advantages are its multimedia features. Its 12 megapixel back-facing camera takes fantastic photographs — which are as sharp and vivid as if they were taken with a real compact camera. Furthermore, the image storing, editing and viewing software is fast and clear.

Even 700p high definition video clips come out solid, and given that the N8 comes with an HDMI hub, the device is also practical for watching HD clips on TV sets.

What has not made an impression is its software. Far more was expected from the latest version of the Symbian OS, especially when Google’s Android OS and Apple iOS along with the upcoming Microsoft Windows Phone 7 dictate entirely new trends. Symbian ^3 OS seems a bit dated, even to the point that the Nokia N8’s user interface is identical to the N97 model, which came out a year ago.

The homescreen can be filled out with widgets, while the main menu consists of icons which access applications — not enough to represent competition for modern platforms.

Acer StreamAltogether, this is an excellent phone, but not spectacular enough to put Nokia back in the game.

Acer Stream First Impressions
Away from the T-Mobile booth, I also came across interesting phones at the Acer booth, where I tested out the Acer Stream, which was first announced earlier this year.

It comes with a 3.7-inch AMOLED screen, a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and Android OS 2.1 with the Acer UI 4.0 user interface.

It is fast and its screen has excellent multi-touch features, but when compared to the competition, this phone has some catching up to do and does not seem to be as solid, modern and convincing.

 

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