Smartphone Review: Nokia N8

Through the development of increasingly sophisticated competition from the iPhone, Android and Blackberry, Nokia has been struggling recently to find it’s place in the phone market. In the 2nd quarter of 2011 both Apple and Samsung knocked Nokia from the top of the Smartphone sales worldwide chart.

Nokia’s fightback has already begun though and 2012 will see a partnership with Microsoft to launch a range of phones based on an ALL NEW Windows Operating system. Until these arrive we have the Nokia N8 and coming soon, the N9. We tested the N8 for a couple of weeks, here is our review of the phone.

n8 Review

The Nokia N8 looks great, and the 3.5-inch capacitive OLED screen is a good size, there is also a choice of colours (including a lovely new bright pink one). The buttons are solid and I like the way you can replace the sim and SD card without taking the battery out. It’s also built robustly enough to survive the rigours of day to day use without having to wrap it in cotton wool.

It’s strong points are founded in Nokia’s heritage, and making and receiving calls on this phone is top notch. Voice clarity is crystal clear, certainly one of the best out there, however there are some question marks when you want to do something else with the N8.

If you are not familiar with Nokia’s other phones or the Symbian 3 operating system, initially you are going to spend a lot of time pressing the screen trawling through menus, going back again, pressing the wrong icons and generally feeling frustrated.

There is a good help section, (in fact there is a link to it from virtually every menu) but the best operating systems require little (if any) references to the manual and work intuitively. For a relative newbie like me I had a tough time finding my way around quickly.

There are too many choices for my liking and a lot of the time 2 clicks are needed when only 1 could have been taken and some of the icons are confusing. One of my first phones was a Nokia, and it’s simple navigation was er.. simple, but that was before there were 100’s of features, on the N8 it feels like they have been shoe-horned in to overloaded OS.

Nokia n8 review

If you already have something like a Nokia S60, the learning curve will be much easier, but anyone coming from an Android or iPhone could find it frustrating to get to grips with.

I also had a hard time copying my existing numbers to the N8 from my computer. Their support advised me to use the ‘Sync’ App on my Mac to transfer the Vcards over but despite following the instructions to the letter it didn’t work.

One solution for this is to use the online Ovi Suite and upload your numbers, then sync, but there is no bulk upload function so if you have 100’s of numbers you are going to be there some time.

The solid web browser handles pinch, zoom etc, and while not especially fast looks good and handles flash reasonably well (unlike the iPhone). The Ovi Store is not going to give Apple or Android too many headaches, however there are good apps for most of the more common uses. Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter are there, so too is the excellent Ovi Maps, a free Sat Nav/GP’S guidance system that will give you directions when driving or walking.

A neat feature is the option to notify you by beep or vibration of a direction change from your pocket. This lets you keep the phone hidden and your hands warm, great for a cold day in Helsinki or a late night in Camberwell.

Text messaging and support for multiple email clients mean the N8 is quite capable of keeping you up to date away from the office. You can set them up individually or have a ‘stream’ of messages from more than one.

If you need the N8 for other ‘work’ stuff, OfficeSuite 5 is a ‘complete mobile office solution’ available allowing you to view edit and create Word, Excel and Powerpoint files straight from the phone (£17.99 from the Ovi Store). Worth checking out too is Quickoffice premier 6 (£8:00).

HDMI video out connection means you can shoot a full HD Movie on your N8, use the built in film editor to add titles and effects, make some popcorn, plug it into your HD TV and watch the results (see above). The picture quality is VERY good and puts most other mobile video to shame, (worth mentioning too is the excellent sound recording capabilities). The night mode is slightly jerky is reduced but overall one of the phones strong points.

Another scenario could be to copy a movies to your phone to take round a friends and watch on their TV (my daughter plugged it in to give us a demonstration of her Angry Birds prowess).

One word, brilliant. This is the best camera I have seen on a mobile bar none, pictures come out in focus, the colours good as apposed to the usual dull flat images common place on phones. The Xeon flash works well and after some experimentation You can also take pictures on the N8 up to a whopping 12mp, big enough to frame and hang on your wall.

Here is a video made by Nokia to show you some of the key features.

Great looks, feels solid, but complicated interface. Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft on a new OS also means the Symbian 3 operating system is a dead man walking (although Nokia promises support for a long time yet).

The Ovi App store is limited and a long way behind Apple and Android, BUT If you use your phone to actually speak to people, take photos or videos then don’t let the other shortcomings put you off. The N8 does these things brilliantly and it could be your perfect phone.

seven out of 10You can pick up an N8 for around £300 in the UK, or for less with a contract deal. For more info visit