Nokia N8 Preview

3. May 2010 at 15:34

Nokia N8 06 Nokia N8 Pictures

While Samsung, Motorola and HTC all announced new flagship devices during the Mobile World Congress 2010, Nokia relied on their Nokia N97 (mini) and the N900 and did not announced a new powerhouse. The media as well as Nokia-fan boys have been eager to see a new and fresh Nokia devices running Symbian^3 but Nokia really took its time but eventually, on the 27th of April, the N8 has been officially announced.

Features:

Nokia N8 Camera

Specwise, the N8 is equipped with pretty much everything a flagship device needs in 2010. The real excitement of this device is around the imaging capability. 12 megapixels with autofocus, Carl Zeiss optics, a Xenon flash, face recognition and a wide angle lens guarantee crystal clear images. Of course, megapixels don’t indicate how good a camera is. Though the N8 has the biggest sensor ever used in a phone, hence one can expect high quality results. And there is even more to it. Videos are recorded with 720p HD resolution at 25 frames per second which than can be playbacked via the HDMI port on your large TV set.

Nokia N8 HDMI

For a even better home theater experience the N8 is the first device to come equipped with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound.

As the camera lens is not protected we do hope that the lens is scratch resistant. Otherwise scratches on the lens may spoil the imaging experience tremendously. Here are some image samples  and one 720 video all taken with the N8 Prototype. They really look great!

Nokia N8 camera samples Nokia N8 camera samples Nokia N8 camera samples
Nokia N8 camera samples Nokia N8 camera samples Nokia N8 camera samples

These 12 megapixel images and the HD videos (one minute is roughly 60MB. The max filesize limit is 4GB, it comes from FAT32 filesystem) do need a lot of storage, therefore the Nokia N8 has 16GB of in-built storage space, expandable up to 48GB with a Micro SD card.

It goes without saying that the N8 features WiFI  b/g and even n standard, HSDPA and HSUPA, FM Transmitter, 5-band WCDMA, GPS along with A-GPS and Bluetooth 3.0. Of course the Nokia N8 comes with free global Ovi Maps walk and drive navigation, taking you where you want to be and showing you what want to see in over 70 countries worldwide. A 3.5 inch widescreen nHD (640 x 360 pixels) capacitive touch screen made of glass dominates the front. In order to deliver a more vibrant and  vivid image the N8 sports a AMOLED screen with 16 million colours. One key benefit of AMOLED technology is that it is  really power-saving. The question, however, is, why such a media consumption device has no higher resolution, especially since the Nokia N900 has 800 x 480 pixels. Content would look much sharper on a WVGA screen.

Apparently the biggest concerns are with the CPU as well as with the RAM which are both fine  but not mind blowing. While many devices are powered with 1GHZ  processor the N8 has ”only” an ARM 11 680 MHz processor coupled with graphics accelerator and 256MB RAM. However, yet we cannot judge whether this is disadvantage, especially since Symbian^3 adds demand paging to enhance the RAM. As soon as we get our hands on a N8 we will report on this one.

USB On-the-Go, which is also on board, should allow to plug in e.g a digital camera into the N8 to view the pictures on the 3.5inch screen or to  transfer large files easily to a memory stick. Instead of being an USB slave device it can now be a USB-host device.

Styling:

Nokia N8

It really seems as if the Nokia N8 is the start of a new era. Not only has it a new naming convention and is based on Symbian^3 but also it comes with a fresh new look. The N8 is a monoblock handset available in five different and trendy colours: Dark Grey, Silver White, Green, Blue, Orange. Also in terms of materials the N8 is outstanding compared to its presuccessors. The covers are made out of aluminium and the colors come with anodization process. With the new design there comes also a disadvantage:  the battery is non-user replaceable. For those using two batteries a day it will be truly disappointing.

By the way, the battery is a 1200mAh BL-4D. Previous devices like the N97 had a 1500mAh battery. Now, 1200mAh might be a little bit to weak for such a powerhouse.

The N8 does not follow the N97 when it comes to size. Quite the revere, it is surprisingly thin. In the following you can see the dimensions of the N8, N97 and the iPhone 3GS:

Nokia N97: 117.2 x 55.3 x 15.9 mm & 150 grams

Nokia N8: 113.5 x 59.1 x 12.9 mm & 135grams

Apple iPhone 3GS: 115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3mm & 135grams

What we can see is that the N8 is thin but also a little bit wide. Nonetheless it is compact, bearing in mind the 3.5-inch touchscreen and all the technology under the hood. It is clearly the handiest device of this trio.

Symbian^3:

Nokia N8

After previous handset of the Finnish manufacturer could not convice, Nokia updated the OS, especially in order not to loose too much ground to Android. The result is Symbian^3, in which all hopes of Nokia and Symbian lie. The Nokia N8 marks the global device debut of the new Symbian^3 software, featuring several major advancements:

  • Usability enhancements across the user interface, including single tap, multi-touch and support for gestures such as “pinch-to-zoom.”
  • Three personalizable homescreens on the Nokia N8, easily maneuvered through by a simple flick.
  • Faster and more responsive user interface with new 2D and 3D graphics architecture that takes full advantage of hardware acceleration
  • More efficient memory management allows more applications to run in parallel for a faster, more complete and efficient multi-tasking experience.

Also, applications have been redone. The e-mail-client is super easy to set up multiple accounts without knowing any server details. Works with Exchange. Displays HTML mails with nice fonts and pictures in place. Fast switching between mailboxes. Tap-and-hold for contextual options. A conversation view has been added as well.

Nokia N8

As mentioned before, multitouch has been added to the web-browser. Other than that the browser appears to be faster, smoother and without any lags (compared to the N97):



As Symbian^3 is not a revolution but rather a evolution of the slow and  not cutting edge S60 5th Edition UI, it remains to be seen whether Symbian^3 can deliver or whether it will, like S60 5th Edition, deter future users. For example there is no multitouch keyboard at this stage. Despite of being a consumption device, there is also no support for Divx/Xvid playback. Again, not a good start.

Gaming:

The new 2D and 3D graphics architecture is faster and takes full advantage of the hardware acceleration. Thus more advanced and graphic richer games can be developed. Together with the capacitive touchscreen there is a new way of controlling the game. The big question, however,  is whether developers will sit down and write games for Symbian instead for the iPhone or Android. A big gamechanger might be Nokia Qt. In the following video Asphalt 5, Angry Birds and Real Golf 2011 are demoed. It gives an good idea how capable the N8 is.


Qt:

The Nokia N8 is Nokia’s first device to be integrated with Qt, a software development environment that simplifies the development and makes it possible to build applications once and deploy across Symbian and other software platforms like Windows or Meego.  Nokia has also made the Nokia Qt SDK available, in its initial beta, to enable developers to start realizing the potential of Qt. Hence developers don’t need to concentrate on one specific OS but can use Qt to address several Operation System and million of handsets. It’s Nokia’s task to convince the developers to kick of with Qt as applications and games are more and more a key criteria. Thus far, many developers avoid Symbian or even changed from Symbian to another OS. This trend needs to be solved.

Price & Availability:

Nokia-N8-UnboxedThe price point of the N8 is not to forget. Before applicable taxes or subsidies the N8 is tagged at 370€. For Germany it would be about 490€ which is compared to prior flagship device from Nokia a good value. Compared the HTC Desire, a similar device, the Desire is cheaper than the N8 with its price tag of 490€. So, although Nokia pressed the price point down, it is still more expensive than some of its competitors.

According to Nokia the first N8 are expected in Q3 – starting in August. This might be a huge problem. At the time the N8 comes out there will be other devices competing with the N8. In the meantime Nokia needs to wait for the N8 to become a sucess. On the other hand side Nokia can work on the N8 and Symbian^3  to ensure that the product is perfect when it gets to the customers.

Verdict:

It was time for Nokia to announce the Nokia N8.  Nokia have been under major attack from Andoid and Apple and many long-time-Nokia-users have changed the sides. But here it is, the N8 – Nokia’s hope to solve the problems. It should bring Nokia back towards the high end of the smartphone market and I am sure it will. However, the question is how well? I do think it depends on the next iPhone or Android devices and how well users will accept the device. Also, Symbian^3 needs to be more attractive for developers to develop good application to make the platform then attractive for the end-user. As you could read through out the article, the N8 has many advantages and indeed many milestones such as the incredible camera, Dolby Digital Plus support or Bluetooh 3.0 . However, you also read that there might be problems with Symbian^3, the availability or the CPU. All in all it remains to be seen whether the N8 can deliver or not – it has the potential!