I have gone back and forth about the Nokia N8. In many respects, this is an excellent start to the bevy of Symbian^3 releases that we can expect from Nokia. It has a premium feel that and a polish that has been sorely needed from the Symbian side of this company’s offerings. The level of hardware is a nice baseline for what can be considered a mid-range handset.
However, I’m not totally sold, there are several UI gaffes in things such as system dialog menus, system fonts, and inconstant experiences with Ovi Maps (great) and Nokia Social (not so great). The N8 still feels like a device that was designed by teams that don’t communicate with one another, but unlike the N97, didn’t skim out things that were total deal breakers.
For traditional Symbian users, especially those of touchscreen devices, the N8 is probably the one you were looking for. It is polished, and very much an update from the S60v3 and non-touchscreen world. There is a learning curve, and certainly some questions about some of the default software, but the overall package should suffice for most.
For those coming from RIM or older Palm OS devices, there will be a familiarity, and also a few touches that make you feel that you didn’t leave everything you loved behind.
For those in the iPhone and Android world, the N8 is an upgrade in respect to travel needs (penta-band HSDPA) and camera facilities. The overall user experience feels more like Android OS 1.x than some of the more up-to-date offerings, and yet, you still don’t use the N8 and feel like you are missing much. Ironically enough, several people that I asked for their opinion about the N8 asked if it was a new Android model because much of the usability is the same. They had trouble with the deal in sliding screens on the home page, but other pieces felt about the same.
I find that the Nokia N8 is a solid model. I am looking to replace my X6 and the N8 slots right into its slot. It does everything the X6 should have done, but much smoother. My N97 isn’t so easy to get rid of. The quality of the on-screen keyboard of the N8 isn’t enough to sway me from the N97 despite the other benefits. I’d also miss the Active Notes application and some of the other applications I use which aren’t yet updated. That being said, I’d be interested in a Symbian^3 device that smooths some of the rough edges and adds a hardware keyboard (like the recently-announced Nokia E7).
At $550, the N8 is not exactly the easiest of purchases. Because it’s compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile, that hit on the price is a bit easier to swallow. And at the same time, there are better overall user experiences in mobile devices available for lower prices (on contract).
It is hard to say that the N8 is the best product that Nokia could have done here — yet it is a very solid one that many people would feel ultimately comfortable with. Given Nokia’s history of finding its stride, I think that the N8 is a good sign of things to come from both them and Symbian.
- Great-looking hardware
- Redesigned Symbian OS
- Penta-band 3G
- Amazing 12 megapixel camera
- Poorly-designed on-screen keyboard
- Below average web browser