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Video: Nokia N8 Unboxing and First Impressions

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Nokia (s nok) may still sell the most handsets worldwide, but the company’s phone portfolio is under attack from Apple (s aapl), Google (s goog), Research In Motion (s rimm) and a host of others. After many years of using the Symbian S60 interface, Nokia is fighting back with new handsets running atop the Symbian^3 platform, which is optimized for touchscreen displays. The Nokia N8 is the first of four new phones to use Symbian^3, and although the phone was introduced in April, it just arrived for review. Here’s a brief unboxing to show what’s included with the N8, which is available in the U.S. for $549 for use on either T-Mobile’s or AT&T’s (s t) network.

Our detailed, full review of the phone and software will follow in the near future, but as far as the hardware goes, the N8 is likely the best phone Nokia has ever built. The aluminum device is well constructed and solidly made, even if some of the specifications lag behind current high-end smartphones from other manufacturers. There’s little doubt that the 12 megapixel camera sensor paired with Carl Zeiss optics make the N8 a contender to replace a point-and-shoot camera. However, as shown in the video, some initial quirks may limit Nokia’s ultimate success with the N8.

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21 Responses to “Video: Nokia N8 Unboxing and First Impressions”

  1. The most important thing on these devices is apps. So, Kevin I would suggest you not only review the phone but also review some apps that you you find useful on your iOS and Android devices. Is the variety and quality of apps in the Nokia platform comparable to the other two?

  2. Patrick

    Try having such great performance on such a power sipping hardware platform with Android on.. I saw few reviews that demoed web browser performance (the somewhat laggy but still good default browser and Opera Mini that is currently missing pinch2zoom capability). Dang, someone tested web browser on Acer Liquid (800 Mhz Snapdragon w/ Android 2.1) vs N8 web browser and it blows socks out of it.. just shows how optimized Symbian platform is. Symbian has a lot of quirks and it was a dead platform for me some time ago but seeing what N8 offers.. i’m ready to forgive few quirks it’s got for a really superb peace of hardware.

  3. kamuscasio

    the 2nd usb adapter is for the USB 0n the go feature.
    the first in any smartphone, i believe.

    try plugging in a memory stick or mass memory device (hard drive etc) directly to the n8.

    it can actually do that.

  4. @Olivier

    Yes, because WebOS really took the market by storm. Oh wait… no it didn’t. I don’t think you really know why people buy phones, do you?


    Does ‘massive fail’ equate to preorders numbering in seven figures? No, don’t think it does.

    Here’s the deal: The default browser is poor… but there’s a new one coming out in December and I can use Opera or Skyfire or a number of others in the meantime. The keyboard is also a bit iffy… but Swype is in the beta labs and will be out before year end.

    I expect the N8 to do very well, largely at the expense of HTC’s Android sets which, let’s face it, most people in Europe were only buying because there wasn’t a decent Nokia available. The iPhone will continue to sell well for now but is, frankly, a bit boring and sterile and ultimately is going to go the way of the RAZR. Sorry, too many people have it.

    In the US it’ll be different I suppose but everyone else will have moved on.

    Hail to the king baby. Hail to the king.

      • Dunno, I haven’t tried it yet. If it’s not for me I’m not getting it.

        My point is that a good UI alone isn’t enough. People buy phones for lots of reasons so news of Nokia’s demise is somewhat premature.

  5. Great review Kevin! Nokia, however, is a disappointment. The only device I’ve really liked from Nokia is the N900. This N8 is a joke and I predict massive fail from Nokia. The end.

  6. Olivier

    Nokia is doomed… Features are great but the overall quality of the entire package is not very attractive. Lots of bugs, screen seems to have delays. Far from being easy to use in my opinion. This is where Apple shines, followed by Google/HTC on Android. They could have followed a model like WebOS phones where parts of the phone responds to swipes, that may have prevented having this non attractive bar at the bottom….

  7. Great review. Thank you! Maybe you can show off the HDMI output and the USB on the GO in your full review. This phone is well ahead of the curve. I am waiting for mine to arrive in the mail

  8. Hello Kevin, nice unboxing and first impression!
    I am very curiouse about more information. That’s because I am searching for a very good camera phone (HTC Desire HD maybe Desire Z / Motorola XT720 / Nokia N8 are my favorites).
    But it would also be nice to see the browser with deactivated flash support. This would be much easier to compare it with e.g. the browser of the iPhone 4 or the Desire/Nexus One with Android 2.1 without flash, that slowed the device.
    I am also interested in using a mouse or a keyboard on this phone (thats, therefor the USB adapter is) – this would be exited, if you also plug a big screen on the HDMI port. Can you check that out?

    Have much fun with this nice toy!


    • stoli89

      The N8 has Bluetooth 3.0, so you can connect a BT keyboard and BT mouse simultaneously. It has HDMI out with Dolby surround, allowing you to view your display on the large screen while retaining home theater effects. You can also directly connect (via the included micro USB to USB cable) external flash memory or even external hard drives (require separate power supply). You can play HD movies off of an external drive and onto a HD TV using this device.

  9. Hi Kevin. Great video. About the browser, I recommend trying out Opera Mobile 10 which is available from the Ovi Store or from Opera website itself. There is a stable Opera Mobile 10 as well as a new 10.1 “beta 2” which gave really better javascript performance on benchmarks like Sun Spider on my current Symbian^1 phone. [Note that this is different from Opera Mini just in case you are not familiar with Symbian apps :) ]

    Looking forward to your full review.

  10. Ah the icons… I would point out that there are about 5-10,000 user themes you can download if they’re not your cup of tea. That said, they could have done with a refresh on the defaults.

    I tried to get one to play with at the weekend but they’re sold out and on backorder until at least 22 October because demand has been extremely high.

    Fundamentally the success of this phone depends on whether or not people value a slightly more intuitive UI and flashier displays over functionality. I think it’s going to come as a surprise just how many people care more for the latter than the former.

  11. Hi, just a quick reminder, that is not a second USB cable, that is a cable used for USB-OTG functionality in order to plug in USB flash, mouse or keyboard (maybe some other peripherals work, but no way for me to check). In essence, if they provide a better browser (current is not that good), you could use this as a nettop (plug lcd via hdmi and keyboard/mouse via USB). Best thing is you can still charge it as well (using 2mm charger, N8 also charges over micro-USB). Also, it is xenon flash.

  12. Great First Impressions.

    Thought I’d say that Swype which is in development for the N8 should allow full qwerty in portrait mode. I must say though I like the T9 style numberpad… once you’re used to it it allows you to enter text one handed really fast. They definitely should of allowed the user the option of choosing a qwerty keyboard or the numberpad.

  13. Graham Anton

    The specifications of the N8 should not be compared to other platforms.

    That’s because Symbian^3 consumes less resources to get the job done than other platforms do. So it will work well on half the processor power of competitors. That’s Symbian’s main advantage.

    So if you want the best camera in the handset business, combined with the longest battery durations, then the N8 will suit you.

    On the other hand, Microsoft has been getting all the publicity with its Windows Phone 7, which lacks copy-and-paste, and can’t get through half a day on a battery charge.

  14. Mike Cerm

    The hardware looks really nice. The build-quality, the array of buttons, and that awesome camera make me want this phone. But that OS, gah… Nokia hasn’t changed their default, system-wide font since at least the days when I had a 5120 (with its tiny, monochrome screen). It looks SO dated, especially on such nice hardware. It’s like firing up a brand new MacBook Pro, and seeing OS 9. It’s awful.

    I don’t know what it’s gonna take for Nokia to wake up. Their hardware is excellent, and deserves to have a modern OS. I understand why they don’t want to go Android, but at this point, I don’t think they have a choice.