Nokia N8 Review: Nokia's New Flagshipby Mithun Chandrasekhar on January 12, 2011 1:00 AM EST
Now is not a good time to be Nokia. Once the king of the (smartphone) hill with an overwhelming majority of the smartphone market share, the lack of evolving to changing consumer demands in a fast enough manner has seen its smartphone share plummet. With Apple and Google thoroughly beating Nokia in its traditionally weak markets (North America for example), and taking the fight to its traditional strongholds (Europe and Asia), they don’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing things down. In fact, it almost seems too little too late for Nokia with the N8 and Symbian^3. Had the N8 launched at the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010, before the explosion of Android slate devices and the iPhone 4, the N8 would have clearly been the best smartphone with little competition.
But it’s not all so gloomy. Nokia still commands massive brand recall in a lot of major markets. And the N8-00 is a solid smartphone; hands-down the best mainstream phone Nokia has put forth to date (again, ignoring the outlier than N900 is). In fact, Nokia sells the N8-00 as a ‘mobile computer’ and while I’ve always thought of this as being a marketing gimmick for their Nseries devices, I am fairly convinced that the N8 actually befits this tag. With most definitely the best camera ever seen on a mobile phone, the N8 is a worthy replacement to basic point snf shoots. With excellent media handling capabilities, HDMI out and the very useful USB-To-Go capability, the N8 actually fulfills basic HTPC duties with no fuss. And Ovi Maps, a definitely capable replacement for dedicated navigation devices. As is clear from this review, Nokia has made sure to implement whatever features it has included in the N8, with great attention to detail. And thankfully this time, this attention to detail has also mostly translated to the software side of things…traditionally Nokia’s weakness.
Symbian^3 is a definite and marked improvement over the previous Series 60 5th Edition without any doubt. With Symbian^3, Nokia has finally entered the modern smartphone market and it makes a strong showing here. There still are issues that Nokia needs to fix ASAP—the browser, mail application and Ovi Store being the major ones. If Nokia executes on the continuous and ongoing incremental updates to the Symbian^3 platform that it has committed to, in a timely manner, we may finally have a Nokia device that we can recommend without any obvious compromises or flaws. And with one such update promised for the N8 sometime in Q1 2011, it may be the device to recommend, after the update.
As an interesting side note, the Nokia C7 is a cheaper alternative to the N8. If the top-notch camera in the N8 doesn’t pique your interest and you’re willing to forego half the storage (now 8GB), you will get everything else the N8 has to offer, potentially better battery life, plus NFC-support, for a decent amount less than the N8.