Review The N8 is Nokia’s first handset to use the revamped Symbian^3, and is a beautifully designed, high specification touchscreen phone. Compared to the Nokia X6 and the N97 – its touchscreen predecessors that I have reviewed – the N8 is considerably more responsive. On many occasions in the recent past, Nokia has not provided sufficient processing and memory to do the product justice, but this is not the case here.
Symbian smartie: Nokia's N8
It is worth noting, though, that since the first wave of reviews the N8 has become a better buy. Two weeks ago Nokia "future-proofed" the N8 somewhat: promising that the phone will receive updates that were scheduled for Symbian^4. Previously, there was no such guarantee, and the N8, as with other S^3 devices, looked a bit of an orphan.
The distinctive features on this phone are outstanding reception and call quality, high quality video playback to an HDMI TV (and pump out Dolby Digital Plus multichannel surround sound), the ability to hook up to USB flash drives and other USB devices, and most of all, its excellent camera. Great work has gone into the imaging system, but you'll need to put in some more to get the most of out of it.
I found two problems with the hardware. The phone has one main button, which is used to switch between the (legacy) applications menu and the home screens, and also switch between open apps (with a long press). However, this button is stiff and unresponsive, and its placement in the far bottom left hand corner means that it's awkward for both right and left handed users. It's beyond the radius of your right thumb when holding the phone normally in your right hand. This effectively means you need to use two hands, as I found I needed the left hand to balance it.
Disappointingly, too, the phone's crown jewel, the camera, faces the world with its lens unprotected, so N8 owners will be in the market for a case. Even so, build quality is outstanding, with a three-piece aluminium chassis. The battery is a BL-4D standard part that can be replaced in a few minutes. Here's a tear-down; to replace the battery you need to remove two screws with a Torx+ screwdriver.
For phone duties, its signal reception is way above par
Call quality and battery life are excellent. The N8 lacks noise cancellation on calls, but its radio stack performed better than any other smartphone, maintaining a stronger signal in two of my familiar "dead zones", and regaining signal strength quicker than rival devices.
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