Previewing the Nokia N8

Thanks to the Nokia India team, we were taken to Delhi last Friday to preview the upcoming Nokia N8 device before it is launched in India. Here’s a quick profile of the device along with snaps we were able to take of the N8 while we played around with it. If you want to take a look at a bigger version of these pictures, just click on them to get the bigger versions. Rather than go into a detailed list of features that the N8 provides, where’s what we felt were worth highlighting.

N8 Build Quality:

The phone itself is pretty sleek, not as thin as the Samsung Galaxy S, but pretty handy anyway. It didn’t feel plasticky like the Galaxy S, because there’s hardly any plastic here. The body of the phone is made of Anodized Aluminium, which is supposed to be very resistant to scratches. In fact, during the preview demo, a Nokia employee, did take out his car key and scratch up the back cover to the phone. After wiping it with a tissue, any sign of the torture quickly disappeared.  This along with the screen made of Corning’s Gorilla Glass make this device quite resistant to scratches and one tough cookie.

The Nokia N8 in India will come in four different colors – here’s a snap of the N8 in it’s various delicious flavors:

Connectivity

The N8 is quite a capable device in terms of connectivity. Here’s what stands out on the Nokia N8:

HDMI Output: It features a HDMI ouput, using which you can view HD video on your Home Theatre system. It also features DOLBY Surround Sound, so you don’t miss out on any of the surround sound quality while watching movies.

USB on the Go: Most mobile phones have a micro-usb connector these days for charging and PC connectivity. How may of you have tried connecting a USB thumb drive or an external hard disk to your phone? Did it work? Well the Nokia N8 can do just that. With it’s USB On-the-Go feature, you can connect your favourite external drive and watch movies or listen to music straight off the disk, instead of having to connect to a PC and transfer the files across. The Micro-USB to USB converter in the Retail pack will help you achieve that.

Apart from these two features that stand out, the N8 also supports these modes of connectivity Bluetooth, 3.5mm Audio connector, FM Radio and FM transmitter. You can charge this phone using both the micro-usb connector or the 2mm charging port at the bottom of the phone, so any handy Nokia charger should do for this phone.

Outstanding Camera

Apart from the camera being able to take  gigantic 12Megapixel pictures, the Nokia N8 is the first phone to feature a 12 MP phone with Carl Zeiss optics. Wait that’s not all, this phone also comes with a Xenon Flash which is way better than an LED flash for night time photos. This makes the phone stand apart from it’s competition at present. The camera supports face recognition, automatic red-eye removal, self-timer and autofocus features.

If that wasn’t enough, the N8 also captures videos in 720p High Definition resolutions, so what ever movies you take on the phone will look great on that HD TV in your living room. So no more of that pixellated videos you captured on the mobile during your vacations!

We did take a few sample pics and videos on the preview phones and they turned out pretty well. Unfortunately we couldn’t transfer any onto our PC during the event. If you are looking for samples of Photos and Videos taken on the N8, stay tuned and we’ll have a post on that soon.

Interfaces and Input

The Nokia N8 runs on the latest version of Symbian, called Symbian^3. Even though the Symbian OS has been getting a lot of flak lately for being outdated and sluggish, the phones which we took a look at didn’t show any of the sluggishness which was were evident online. There were a few improvements on the phone, for example the task manager on this phone was a good improvement over the older ones on Symbian phones, allowing uses to see a snap-shot of the running application and close it directly from taskmanager screen (check the screenshot above).

Even the hapic feedback while using the phone has been tweaked slightly to make it feel right. If you feel that the haptic feedback makes the phone feel like a game controller vibrating all the time, just shut it off in the options. 🙂

There are various keyboard layouts on this device as well. If you’re a QWERTY fan, the landscape keyboard mode is just for you.  T9 keyboard fans can use the portrait keyboard mode to use a keyboard layout which mimics the keypad of a regular phone.
Since I’m a big QWERTY fan, I took the landscape keyboard for a test drive, and it felt that the layout was quite comfortable for general use. The only drawback in this keyboard layout I felt was the placement of the backspace key in a location you’d least expect it ( in the last row, near the enter key). I kept hitting backspace instead of the enter key consistently. A few hours of use should be enough to fix that.

Multimedia playback

Being a part of Nokia’s N-Series phones, this phone does it’s part in delivering multi-media content at it’s best. Apart from the awesome camera specs, this device also has got an upgrade in the multimedia section thanks to Symbian^3. The media player get a cover flow view of your albums to surf through. The actual player itself is pretty standard, but you can transmit the songs you are playing over to your Car’s stereo system using the in-built FM Transmitter on the phone. Perfect for long rides and Roadtrips as long as you take a charger along.

Edit Videos on your Phone – The N8 comes with a Video Editor, thanks to Symbian^3,  which allows you to splice together video clips and pictures, add text titling and background music to the multi-media content on your phone. We just got a quick walk-through of the this functionality, but will need to take a detailed look to figure out how useful that is.

TV on your phone? A new feature which this phone will support during it’s India lauch will be something called the WebTV. This will allows users to watch streaming TV channels on their phone using WiFi or 3G connections. We didn’t get to see a demo of this feature, since the servers to support it are not yet up. But the Nokia India Folks said that it will be ready before the N8 actually launches here in India. This feature will include channels like National Geographic, CNN and a few more initially, including some local language channels as well. So keep a look out for this closer to the N8’s launch.

Size wise how does this phone stack up in terms of size? Here’s a snap of the N8 with some of the other phones. Here’s the N8 with the Samsung Wave, Galaxy S and the iPhone below:

And here’s the N8 with the others from the N-Series family:

What do we think?

The Nokia N8 does come with a few features up it’s sleeve, which does set it apart from most other devices like USB-to-Go, HDMI output and WebTV.  We do feel that it’s a good device, and with some minor tweaks, should do very well. The OS on the devices which we previewed was still pre-release, but all the nasty lags we saw in online videos were missing, which is a good thing. The camera’s picture and video quality  was pretty impressive from what we saw. Given the rumored 22-23,000 rupee price bracket when it launches, we feel that the N8 should do well for the features that it provides.

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