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Nokia N8 – review & giveaway

For some strange reason my husband loves the fact that I am not entirely lost when it comes to technology. He has taken to calling me Technologiewunderchen, which translates into little tech miracle (and is completely exaggerated). When Nokia asked if I wanted to test their latest smartphone N8, Big M was therefore more than excited and pointed out that I had not done a tech review ever since the Wiki Digital Camera, which had gotten me into all sorts of tech fail troubles. I was set on declining, but Big M’s sad face made me give the tech reviewing business another chance.

It turned out that Nokia pulled out all the stops, sending a gigantic box from New York via Fedex. It was soon revealed that the phone’s extravagant packaging was to blame for weight and size. Maybe Big M was right and this might be a fun product to test after all.

The Good stuff first

The casing is nice, solid and has a matt black finish. It is not as stylish as an iPhone, but feels solid and up to the pressures of everyday MetMum life.

The camera is amazing. At 12 Mega Pixel it is better than many small compact cameras. The set up is easy, the flash strong.

There is a built-in sat nav, which you will only get into an iPhone by buying an app (e.g. TomTom app for ca. £60). The sat nave works a treat; you can link it with Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor etc. A quirky but cool feature is that there are lots of different voice packs to choose from, i.e. you get to choose the style of guidance, there is anything from a sexy Australian guy, a Drill Sargent to a 5-year-old girl. Luckily my car has sat nav, and for walking around the iPhone Google Maps integration is sufficient. But if you are looking for a sat nav phone this might be great.

The phone comes with lots of cables and syncs with a Mac. Since I love my MacBook Pro I could not live with a phone that doesn’t. The synchronization works well, but takes a bit of time to set up. You need iSync, which any Mac has, and a (free) plug in from Nokia’s site. You also need a separate Nokia Multimedia Transfer programme, which is also free on Nokia’s site. So it is a bit of a palaver and takes some determination, but once it is set up it works well.

The not so good stuff

The interface and interface design seems surprisingly old school. Especially the pre-installed browser feels like something from the DOS days sort off early 80s. There is a progress bar and a KB count down that make you feel like you have to do a bit of programming yourself.

The phone locks itself and crashes. I was expecting that if anything the Nokia would be the fastest and most stable phone around, given Nokia’s background. It is not. I never really understood what I did to make it crash, but it did and showed cryptic error messages at that. iPhones used to do a bit of that but I found my iPhone 4 to be much more stable than the N8.

Anything web is difficult. The standard browser is very poor, the way it displays my blog is terrible, everything looks small, hard to read and unattractive. It is not surprising that iPhone users are online so much more than all other smartphone users. Downloading the Opera Mobile Browser made the experience much better, but still not on par with the iPhone browser experience.

Nokia’s App Shop is sadly enough still much poorer than Apple’s and Androids App shop. There are some very quirky African and Asian Applications – probably because of the popularity of Nokia and Symbian (the phones’ operating system) phones. I use Apps for two reasons a) to keep little L entertained b) for a choice of Twitter, Facebook and Skype Apps. On both counts the Nokia’s App store could not compete.

In general, the phone could be smarter. Many functions require many more clicks than necessary, I will not bore you with details, but other phones show how about 30% of all the clicks on the phone should not be necessary. A funny example of the lack in user friendliness is that the sign up to a Nokia account uses a charking. The problem is that the input box and the picture are on two separate pages making it a bit of a brain training to put in the right combination.

Other little annoying things: I have downloaded a Absolute radios App to be able to listen to the radio on the phone, but rather than fade out as soon as something else happens on the phone this app keeps playing. I therefore managed to listen to Tears for Fears on Absolute Radio and speak to a guy calling from HSBC at the same time.

So, Nokia N8, you have not won me over. In my verdict, I am joining the Nokia shareholders and say: try harder, Nokia!

If you want to give the N8 a try (especially if you are looking for a great camera and/or sat nav), leave a comment and enter the giveaway draw by 9 March 2011. The phone has been very gently used during the course of two weeks only.

30 Comments

  1. Hi there, found your blog via Tots 100!

    Great informative write-up…. I am soaking up any info possible on a variety of phones at the moment so this is very timely for me as I am on the look out for a new phone. You see, the zero button on my phone is no longer working. That warrants my quest, right?!!

    xx Jazzy

  2. Alex says

    Good write up! Would still like one though 🙂

  3. I am working in a DOS IBM PC DELL company and have tried all different kind of phones that are compatible with these systems. Since I work in PR and the results of my effort tend to end up on websites, I have tried all different phones trying to be like the iphone. Currently: HTC desire. Quite good (if it worked). I think the best bet is Android/ Samsung if you have no iphone. But I have one (the private me). And I love it.

  4. Congratulations for the review, it’s very interesting and made me want to try this great device.
    Currently I use an old Nokia that I’d like to change and N8 would be a great substitute. Fingers crossed. Cheers from Italy,two years ago I visited London and I love it.

    Marco

  5. My first camera phone was a Nokia, and I loved it,so please enter me. Your review was very well written. You explained things so that even I understood most of it. Trust me that’s saying a lot! Little tech miracle to be sure.

  6. Hi! I’d love to win it because of the camera, as I’m so weird I always carry the normal camera with me in case something deserves a photo…
    Thanks,
    Marta

  7. This was a great review and thanks for being honest! You don’t have to enter me though because I’m happy with iPhone 🙂

  8. Solid review and since I was swinging by anyway figured i should enter. Although it might be hard to prise me away from my Blackberry!

  9. Big M says

    Well done, you make me proud to be Technologiewunderchen’s husband! I just met a guy selling the worlds first fully electronic wood chopper! I feel another tech review coming…..

  10. @Big M: Fully electronic wood chopper? How long have you been sitting on the beach for today?

  11. Good information – thanks for sharing. It helps to have the latest news on the latest gadgets out there. We’re doing an iPhone pilot at work right now and I’m hoping I’ll be part of the expanded pilot. Love cool technology!

  12. Great review. Count me into the draw on the camera front alone. And the fact that any phone has to be better than my current one!

  13. I like the honest you are hehe, good review,I just love it because that camera 12mpx+xenon+hd+ just amazing for a mobile.also i saw fews blog where new ui is coming to symbian.

    Thanks!

  14. Hannah says

    Great review! Please count me in on the draw 🙂

  15. Reena says

    Thanks for the review! Have spent all morning trying to decide which phone to go for when my contact expires in a few days so this was very helpful!

  16. Charlotte says

    Interesting review! I’m a die hard apple fan but my family are all Nokia lovers,Having never owned a Nokia I’m not familiar with what they are usually like but has assumed from all the hype that they must be very close to our lovely little iPhones. Although…12megpix camera on a mobile and satnav….WANT!!! Lol
    Please enter me for the giveaway 🙂

  17. Ella Munns says

    Great review. I currently use a blackberry but have fallen out of love with it recently. Have always been much happier with Nokias! Would love to be entered into giveaway. Thanks x

  18. I could handle a little Tears for Fears background music!
    (and I’m totally jealous of your tech savy-ness)

  19. kerry says

    What a detailed review, I have been reading your site and your a true inspiration to me starting my own blog =)

  20. Hey look at you little Technologiewunderchen! Ok I had to copy and paste that one. I am sticking to Apple, actually my whole world revolves around Apple and the only thing missing to my happiness is a MacBook!!!! No other phone does it like an iphone. Yes you can say it, I am sad but nevermind 🙂 xx

  21. Great, honest review. I’d love to win this for my mum who has a really old nokia brick and the slooooowest internet connection on her more than 10 year old computer…..this would be a vast improvement for her!!!

  22. Helen says

    Hi please enter me in the giveaway – would make my nearly 18 yr old brother very happy!

  23. I would love to win the N8, it is the phone I have wanted for ages. I wanted to get an N8 in November when it was time to move to a smart phone and got talked into a cheaper plan and free phone – HTC wildfire – I hate it! It is back at the manufacturers again for the second time as it constantly crashes.

    Please consider me, I need a decent camera back too.

    Thanks Mich x
    @michelletwinmum

  24. nice review!, i would like to have it as my pocket camera, i cant always carry my dslr.

  25. James says

    PLEASE! PLEASE I would love an n8 to replace my ageing Nokia N86. I love cameraphones.

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