Nokia N8 Review

Even a hotshot camera can’t save Nokia’s N8 from a warmed-over OS, uncharacteristically cheap build quality and slow processor.
Even a hotshot camera can’t save Nokia’s N8 from a warmed-over OS, uncharacteristically cheap build quality and slow processor.
Even a hotshot camera can’t save Nokia’s N8 from a warmed-over OS, uncharacteristically cheap build quality and slow processor.

Highs

  • Vivid 3.5 inch AMOLED touchscreen
  • 720p video capture with HDMI output
  • 12-megapixel camera is fantastic
  • 16GB internal memory

Lows

  • $500 price tag
  • No battery access
  • Slow processor lags sometimes
  • Symbian v3 OS can't compete with Android or iOS
  • Poor built-in Web browser
  • No vertical QWERTY keyboard

DT Editors' Rating

nokia n8 reviewMultimedia

The N8 has a beautiful 360 x 640 AMOLED multi-touch display. Video is gorgeous playing on the device and the mini HDMI slot easily lets you hook the phone straight into an HDTV. Even better, a full-size HDMI adapter is included in the box.

Finding content to play on this powerful phone is more difficult. There is a YouTube app, and the radio works well enough, but Nokia’s Ovi Store has a limited selection of videos and podcasts to download. The phone comes with Web TV, but its selection is also painfully limited. Our device came loaded with CNN, E! Online, National Geographic, and Paramount movie trailers. On the Ovi Store, you can download a few more channels like Al Jazeera, Bollywood, and India Today. Clips in available channels are low resolution, and choppy. Hopefully these issues will be ironed out in the coming months.

Sound Quality

Since the Ovi Music Store is not yet open, we connected the phone via USB to Windows 7, which recognized the phone instantly and allowed us to load songs with the Windows Media Player – a nice touch, though not everything transferred with correct album info or art, which could be a Windows or Nokia problem, perhaps both. Sound quality from the one speaker on the back of the N8 is pretty standard. Few phones offer great external sound, but Nokia didn’t skimp.

Call quality is solid with earphones and without. We had no trouble adjusting the volume of calls or hearing others, who all reported that voices came in quite clearly on T-Mobile’s network.

nokia n8 reviewPhone Functionality

The bottom of the home screen has a dedicated call bumper button. On the calling page, the number pad is smaller than many phones, which is odd since about a third of the screen up top is unused black space, but it works well enough. Texting is not so fun. The vertical keyboard is not QWERTY like most phones of this type. Instead, it has a telephone keypad, meaning that you’ll be back texting much like you did on your flip phone some years back. The horizontal keyboard is QWERTY, luckily, though the buttons are on the small side. Recent calls and contacts have their own apps and can be found on the default home screen. They are also buried somewhere in the apps menu, should you care to hunt them down.

Web

With Symbian comes Symbian’s web browser. Not only is it difficult and inconsistent to use, it doesn’t load pages well, either. Many Websites with mobile-optimized versions (like Digital Trends) did not load correctly in the N8 browser. Other sites would not load at all, or stopped midway through the process. Typing URLs using a vertical telephone keypad was also a tedious exercise. If you have the N8, we recommend downloading Opera Mobile from the Ovi App Store. It is a night and day improvement over the built-in browser. Opera also includes its own vertical QWERTY keyboard. Problems solved.

Web-based widgets were also sluggish to update their stats. Sometimes, we would have to enter a widget to get it to display fresh tweets or stories. This is likely an OS issue, not a Web issue, but it is annoying.

Camera

The N8 comes equipped with some fancy camera technology. At 12 megapixels, it’s a step above the 5-to-8-megapixels that most current smartphones offer, but that’s not all it has cooking. The phone has a second, front-facing VGA camera, auto-focus, a xenon flash, and Carl Zeiss optics. Carl Zeiss AG is a German optical company that is mostly associated with high-end optical lenses. Nokia signed a deal with the optics company in 2005.

The camera handles most lighting conditions well, and takes crisp, clear photos. The flash is also one of, if not the best, flashes on a mobile phone, meaning that it actually does its job. (Using the flash does tend to wash out the image a bit, but not badly.) Without the flash, the camera does a great job reducing graininess in poorly lit areas. Outdoors, it works wonderfully. The only trouble we had was with two different kinds of light sources in the same room, but multiple light sources still pose a problem for the best cameras. Sometimes the little things count, too: Nokia’s camera “snap” sound is, by far, our favorite of any handset manufacturer.

Video quality is equally good for a smartphone. The phone can record at 720p and videos look good displaying at 720p. No complaints.

Battery Life

The N8 has average battery life. Call time on a single charge is a little over five hours and standby time is supposedly up to 17 days. With moderate use, you’ll have to charge the phone every night, but it shouldn’t drain before the day is up. Our device did seem to discharge faster than expected on standby. Without interruption, it died after about a week, though it wasn’t quite at full charge when we left it.

Conclusion

We often root for the underdog, and hoped Nokia was ready to re-enter the big leagues, but the N8 isn’t the device that will help the Finnish handset maker stand up to the Android invasion or Apple’s persistent threat from the iPhone. Four years ago, the N8 would have been a game changer. Today, even though features like its camera are amazing, it’s still a relic of the past. At $500, it’s an expensive relic at that.

Highs:

  • Vivid 3.5 inch AMOLED touchscreen
  • 720p video capture with HDMI output
  • 12-megapixel camera is fantastic
  • 16GB internal memory

Lows:

  • $500 price tag
  • No battery access
  • Slow processor lags sometimes
  • Symbian v3 OS can’t compete with Android or iOS
  • Poor built-in Web browser
  • No vertical QWERTY keyboard

Page 2 of 2

12
Mobile

Rekindled yet again, Nokia’s next-gen phones offer more than just nostalgia

HMD Global, a startup that designs and builds Nokia Android smartphones, wants to put the Nokia brand name back “where it belongs.” It helps that it’s made up of ex-Nokia employees. We go behind the scenes to see how HMD formed.
Mobile

Join the Apple club with our complete guide to switching from Android to iOS

If Android simply isn’t cutting it for you anymore, then you might be considering Apple’s warm embrace. Here’s how to make the switch from Android to iOS without losing your contacts, sleep, or hair!
Mobile

The Motorola Razr may return as a foldable phone — for $1,500

The Motorola Razr V3 is one of the world's most iconic phones, and it could be making a stylistic return in the form of a foldable Motorola smartphone -- but it may cost around $1,500. Is the nostalgia worth it?
Mobile

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best cheap phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget smartphones.
Mobile

5G phones make a lot of promises. Here’s what to really expect

There has been a lot of marketing copy expounding the potential benefits of 5G networks, but a lot less on the practical implications of 5G smartphones. There's a reason for that.
Wearables

Lack of regulation means wearables aren’t held accountable for health claims

As fitness trackers become more like health monitors, some physicians are concerned they can lead to over-diagnosis of non-existent problems. It’s already happening with wearable baby monitors.
Mobile

Razer’s Wireless Charger will turn your desk into gamer heaven

The Razer Wireless Charger adds colorful flair to your desk or bedside table. It works with any phone that supports Qi wireless charging -- with some quirks -- but is it worth the high price tag? We take a look.
Mobile

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.
Business

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Mobile

Windows 10 Mobile is dead: Switch to iOS or Android, Microsoft says

A Microsoft support page detailed the company's plans to end support for Windows 10 Mobile in less than a year. Users with devices powered by the platform are suggested to switch to iOS or Android devices.
Mobile

How to use iOS 12’s Passwords and Accounts tool to autofill passwords

Keeping track of all your passwords and accounts can be a real chore. If you use an iPhone with iOS 12, then you don't have to. Here's how to use iOS 12's own password manager to autofill passwords.
Computing

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!
Gaming

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!