Sunday, 13 June 2010

Nokia N8 Announced: Symbian^3 and a Huge Camera

Nokia dropped the 12 megapixel shooting N8 today.

Nokia dropped the 12 megapixel shooting N8 today.

It’s official: The Nokia N8 is official. It’s a 12 megapixel full touch-screen shooter running the latest and greatest Symbian^3 and crammed chock full of other features. But is it enough of a phone for Nokia to make a comeback? More inside.

The specs on the N8 look good, at least on paper. The camera’s a big part of that. As previously mentioned, it’s 12 megapixels, and features Carl Zeiss optics, 720p HD video recording, xenon flash, HDMI out, and support for a number of popular video formats. And Dolby Digital Plus Surround Sound thrown in for good measure. There’s 16 gigabytes of onboard memory, which is somewhat of a surprise – I thought Nokia would have pushed for 32 gigabytes especially considering the 720op video. You do get support for 32 more gigabytes of microSD memory, however.

The other draw on the N8 is the introduction of Symbian^3. I’m still slightly disappointed that the N8 Home screens look exactly like Symbian Fifth Edition, complete with those oldschool Symbian Options/Call buttons on the bottom of the screen, but Symbian^3 is still , one giant step for previous Symbian users.

The screen is a 3.5 inch capacitive display, capable of multi-touch and pinch gestures. Now where have I heard that before?

The Nokia N8 has most of the nifty features that come in Nokia’s other smartphones. And by that I mean GPS/A-GPS, WLAN, decent battery life (12 hours GSM, 5.80 hours WCDMA), Micro-USB, Bluetooth 3.0, and Drive + Walk navigation via Nokia’s Ovi Maps application. Another nice feature: every band of WCDMA you could ever want or need (850/900/1700/1900/2100) in one phone. Well-played, Nokia, at least on that front.

And now, finally, we come full circle to the original question. Is it enough of a phone for Nokia to make a comeback?

My personal, honest answer is no. And there’s a couple reasons for that.

1. The N8 is absolutely, positively not a great-looking phone. I don’t like the look. It actually reminds me of an LG phone, the Dare (on Verizon) which I snuck into the picture above. Or a Sidekick. Except it doesn’t slide.

2. Symbian^3 has a lot of going for it – multi-touch, support for gestures like pinch-to-zoom, multiple homescreens, 2D/3D graphics acceleration, one-click connectivity (all of these are on the Symbian^3 feature page). But none of these are new. In fact, they’re just a copy and paste of some features from a certain other phone OS. You can’t win battles in a smartphone war if you don’t bring something innovative to the table.

3. The main reason why I don’t like to use my phone as a camera or video recorder is simple: it kills the battery. And having a dead phone makes me feel disconnected, naked. So I wouldn’t even really take the chance if I can help it. And personally I’d rather carry around a very good camera, rather than a very good integrated phone camera. Essentially this negates whatever advantage having a 12 megapixel camera would have. For me.

Am I like everyone else out there? Absolutely not. But I don’t see enough reasons for someone to really, really want this phone, despite the almost-ludicrous feature set.

The Nokia N8 is coming in Q3 2010 and will retail for 370 euros ($490 USD).

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