Nokia N8 Overview
The Nokia N8 was the company's flagship model for 2010, and is based around the Symbian^3 operating system, also known by the codename 'Anna'. The Symbian operating system is found only on Nokia phones, although it is no-longer developed in-house, as the company has transferred the OS to consulting and outsourcing firm Accenture. (Future Nokia products will use Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 OS, although Symbian is still being actively developed at the current time, with Symbian^3 products slated to receive the Symbian^4 / Belle update later this year, and support scheduled to continue at least through 2016.)
Compared to earlier releases of the Symbian OS, 'Anna' has improved home-screen scrolling, refreshed icons, a new portrait-mode virtual keyboard, a faster browser with updated UI, and an updated mapping application. When it ships, 'Belle' should bring a doubling of the number of home screens to six, the availability of freeform resizable widgets and a selection of widgets that toggle functions like the Bluetooth radio, as well as visual multitasking, improved nearfield communications, an overhauled lock screen, pulldown status / notification bar, and more.
In terms of size, the Nokia N8's anodized aluminum body is quite a bit smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S II which we just reviewed, but that's to be expected given the much smaller screen size. (The N8's AMOLED panel has a 3.5-inch diagonal, versus the 4.52-inch screen in the Galaxy S II.) Width and height are nearly identical to Apple's iPhone 4 and 4s models, the former of which we also reviewed recently. However, the N8, while not exactly bricklike, is quite a bit less slim than either of these smartphone competitors--some 30% thicker than the Samsung, and 40% thicker than the Apple models. The N8 does best the Apple phones ever so slightly on weight with battery installed, although surprisingly the Samsung leads the pack in this area by a slim margin, despite being the largest phone overall.
The Nokia N8's 3.5-inch display includes a capacitive touchscreen overlay, and has a resolution of 630 x 360 pixels, with a color depth of 24-bit (16.7 million colors). As you'd expect, the N8 is equipped with the usual array of sensors found on pretty much all smartphones, including an orientation sensor / accelerometer, compass, ambient light sensor, and a proximity sensor that detects when you're holding the phone to your ear.
Of course, the N8's photo and video capabilities are of the most interest to us here at the Imaging Resource, and while we haven't run this smartphone through our battery of tests yet, we do know the basics. The Nokia N8 has two cameras, and as is typical with most smartphones, the rear-facing camera has a far higher specification, with the front-facing camera being a low-res VGA (640 x 480 pixel) unit that's really intended only for video-calling. The rear camera has a total resolution of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels (12 megapixels), and that's derived from a 1/1.83-inch type CMOS image sensor, significantly larger than those found in most smartphones, and actually on par with those of many compact digicams. The N8's sensor sits behind a Carl Zeiss-branded fixed focal length, fixed aperture lens. The N8's lens has an actual focal length of 5.9mm, equivalent to 28mm on a 35mm film camera, and the fixed aperture is set at f/2.8. Since there's no optical zoom available, Nokia provides an optional 2x / 3x digital zoom, although this will obviously degrade image quality, since the missing data must be interpolated as with any digital zoom.
On the plus side, the N8's lens does include autofocusing capability with optional face detection and tracking functions, and there's both a Xenon flash strobe, and a red LED autofocus assist lamp. Macro focusing is possible to approximately four inches (10 cm), and the N8 uses a mechanical shutter mechanism for still imaging. There's no lens cover provided, but the N8's front lens element is said to be made of scratch-resistant glass. Although it clearly emphasises its imaging capabilities more than most smartphones, the N8 doesn't provide for features that are reasonably common in dedicated cameras, such as priority-mode or manual exposure control, or a raw file format. It does however allow manual control of ISO sensitivity, white balance, exposure compensation, color tone, sharpness, contrast, and flash, and provides a selection of scene modes that help the photographer tweak the look of images somewhat. Maximum ISO sensitivity is 800 equivalent, and exposure compensation is available within a +/- two EV range. There's also a self-timer function, and an optional grid overlay mode. Of course, other features typical on smartphones such as geotagging and automatic orientation are available here, too
As for video, the Nokia N8's rear camera can yield 720p high-def movie clips (1,280 x 720 pixels), at a rate of 25 frames per second, using H.264 / MPEG-4 encoding. Videos include 128Kbps, 48KHz AAC stereo audio. The N8 also has a reduced frame-rate low light video mode, and color tone is adjustable during videos too, not just stills. The front camera is again limited to a maximum of VGA output.
The Nokia N8 includes a generous 16GB of built-in memory, and via a MicroSD slot this can be increased by another 32GB, if desired. Connectivity includes Micro USB for transferring data to a PC (and also supporting USB charging), as well as a dedicated 2mm charger connector, HDMI high-def video output, 3.5mm audio jack, and both 802.11 b/g/n wifi and Bluetooth 3.0 networking capability. As for its cellular capability, the N8 supports GSM/EDGE at frequencies of 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, and W-CDMA at frequencies of 850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz, with auto switching between bands. The N8 also has a built-in stereo FM radio receiver with RDS capability, and an FM transmitter.
The Nokia N8's 1,200 mAh proprietary lithium-ion battery pack is said to yield 720 minutes of talk time or 390 hours of standby on GSM, or 350 minutes of talk / 400 hours of standby on W-CDMA. A fully-charged cell should also allow for 200 minutes of HD video capture.
List price for an unlocked Nokia N8 without a contract is $550 in US market, and street prices are currently (November 2011) around the $400 mark. Available colors are blue, green, grey, orange, pink, and silver.