But the Nokia N8 falls short when it comes to software and user experience - the downfall of previous Nokia N-Series phones we've reviewed.
In hand, the Nokia N8 feels lightweight, yet sturdy. It's slightly on the chunky side, measuring 113.5x59x12.9mm. The N8 will come in five colours: dark gray, silver white, green, blue and orange. The face of the phone is minimalist with the 3.5-inch 640-by-360-pixel display dominating its face with a single hardware button below it. This hardware button lets you switch between the homescreen and menu screen and when held down, shows you all of your open applications.
Nokia N8: Multimedia Monolith
The back of the Nokia N8 houses the rather large Carl Zeiss 12-megapixel camera and Xenon flash. That 12-megapixel snapper-the largest sensor on any phone according to Nokia-takes incredible photos, too. We took a few photos and were impressed how bright and natural colours looked and how sharp details appeared.
Additionally, there's a front-facing camera which ideally will work for video calling. Nokia said that while Fring and Qik apps do exist for the previous version of Symbian, they'll have to be rewritten for S^3.
The Nokia N8's camera also captures 720p HD video, which looked great on both the phone and played back on an HDTV. Yes, the N8 has HDMI out so you can play high definition videos from your phone to your home theatre. Even better, the HDMI adaptor is actually included in the box (unlike another HDMI-capable smartphones we can think of). Overall, the video-watching experience is brilliant on the N8. The phone not only supports HD quality video, but Dolby Digital surround sound as well. This is a boon for movie junkies and we hope that Nokia makes purchasing movies a simple process.
Nokia N8: Stale Software
We really dislike Symbian's typography. The boxy, small text just looks so late 1990s to me and simply isn't easy on the eyes. When Nokia announced the Symbian S^3 revamp, we had hoped for cleaner, more modern-looking typography and aesthetically pleasing icons. S^3 more or less looks the same as the previous version with some tweaks and added features here and there. The software also felt a bit slow, but according to Nokia, these particular demo review units were loaded with preproduction software. That's a relief, seeing as both the browser and social networking client crashed during our hands-on time.
There were a few features in the Nokia N8's software that didn't strike us as user-friendly. For example, unlike the iPhone OS, Android and webOS, you can't upload photos or videos to your social networks directly from the camera or gallery app. Instead, you must go into the dedicated Ovi social networking client, which aggregates your social networking accounts into a single app, to share your photos. Additionally, the on-screen keyboard felt too small and cramped - even more so than the native Android keyboard.
There are some improvements in S^3 from older versions of Symbian, such as multitouch in the browser and photo gallery, fewer taps required for navigation and a simpler multitasking system. And of course, Nokia's excellent, free navigation service Ovi Maps will be loaded on the phone.
The Nokia N8 will be available in the UK on carriers including Vodafone. Click here for the best deals on Nokia phones.
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