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Nokia N8 – Light Impressions

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I’ve now had quite sometime playing around with the Nokia N8, enough time in my opinion to put out a post on how I think the handset will rank up to today’s expectations. Obviously the 12 Megapixel camera is going to the focus point of it, what else is there really that stands out other than that? Well design perhaps, it’s a bit like Marmite I guess, but not as severe as the “love it or hate it” scenario with Marmite.

Nokia N8 Light Impressions

Physical Design
My initial impressions when I saw the press pics and leaked ones too, was it looked very rugged and industrialized, which I guess it is. The bare screws adding to that look on the casing. The color choices are good I guess, my personal preference would say go for the black, and having handled one myself I can say it looks and feels good. The Orange one seems to be doing the rounds with developers – allegedly it’s a limited edition color. Colors and preferences aside, what I noticed most was the size of the N8 itself. The pictures didn’t do it justice, it is a lot smaller than it looks in the pictures. A lot more comfortable to hold it in comparison to my HTC Desire. But there are some design flaws.

Camera Lens + Speaker
The back of the phone has the camera lens, with the 12 Megapixel sensor, it’s clearly a great piece of tech, seems it’s the only way to have it built and have that bulge at the back. Doesn’t really look good, makes the phone sit at an awkward angle and will snag when taking in and out of pockets etc. The speakers are also behind this bulge, the speakers themselves are great, but when faced down, the sound is obstructed to being output. A look at the X6 and 5800xm easily shows where they should have been. But design constraints I assume have played their part in this.

Apart from these two obvious flaws in my eyes, the overall design is actually pretty impressive. A retro 70’s look, reminds me a bit of the Lamborghini Miura’s body. The screen is pretty good, and the overall feel of the handset actually pleasing to hold on to.

Camera Button
In one word. Amazing! I miss this dedicated camera button on my current handset. It just doesn’t feel natural to take pictures without one. Previous Nokia handsets did a great job switching the mentality to taking pictures with a camera button, and that feeling has been engraved permanently into my mind and body. I was surprised with the 2-step focus and shoot with the N8. There is now a clear 2 step action, unlike before where it was a feather touch sensitivity function, there is a downward physical press to focus and then more pressure to shoot. Totally feels awesome.

The N8 carries many of the usual bits of peripheral ports found on the X6 and XM handsets, SIM card port, SD port, MicroUSB port, which has been moved to the left side for some reason – perhaps to cater for the HDMI output? Whatever the reason, most of it is still very similar to previous X and XM handsets, so those fans and users will be comfortable with that.

Symbian ^3 (Symbian to be referred to from now on apparently) is what S60 5th Edition should have been. Had anyone at Nokia bothered to listen to some of us shouting at them, we would have told them a few simple things;

  • no double click
  • design for touch input
  • refresh the whole UI

Whilst it feels very much like the 1st has been achieved, the latter 2 points still aren’t perfect whilst the 3rd hasn’t been considered, and I don’t envisage it ever will.

Gone are the annoying double clicks, fixed are the connectivity issues, there have been tweaks made both behind the scenes and in front to make it a more touch friendly and orientated OS.

Symbian as expected by everyone, will be aimed at the masses, the developing markets to keep them familiar with the OS whilst upgrading and introducing them to more capable hardware. This is the main problem. Symbian now cannot and will not be in Nokia’s flagship high end devices. The basic fact is; Symbian looks very much like what it looked like when S60 5th edition was released. Going from my desire and trying to use it again, brought back painful memories. For now Symbian is fighting to tell everyone it’s changed and improved, but no one is willing to listen, why? Because it still looks and feels like what it was 3 years ago. It’s almost like Microsoft shouting about how Vista had improved since release, but the damage was done, and not until Win7 was presented did anyone believe that they might have actually fixed it.

I really hope Meego can come and solve this issue, I have minimal confidence Symbian can dig itself out of this scenario. Selling to the emerging markets and making tons of profit isn’t going to convince the high end market any different.

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