Not to long ago NOKIA Reigned Over Indian GSM Market with a Iron Hand. 8 out of 10 Phones in India were Nokia Make.
The next level of market is the mid-range, which too, saw entries from Samsung (Corby, Corby Pro), Sony Ericsson (C510, Xperia X8 mini). these became popular & started selling fast.
In the First & Second Quarter Nokia Introduced MANY (6600 Slide, E52) low-mid range phones in a desperate bid to woe back customers.. However most of the phones lacked the exciting factor of innovation. further Nokia Phones were beginning to be perceived as “Costlier Than they Should Be”. Hence market share plummeted further partly due to consumer opinions & partly because of Nokia’s apparent lack of commitment towards extensive innovation. Nokia DID try to innovate but it did so with Strongly set boundaries.
This was the time when Touch-Screens (Read Resistive & Capacitive) were costly & fragile (No Gorilla Glass)…
Nokia REALLY did not make much effort in the Touch-Screen. My guess is, because the non-touch-type itself were costly, introducing even costlier touch-screen was not a great idea. However, this view was not shared by Sony Ericsson (Xperia X1), OR Samsung (Star, Corby, Omnia HD i8190).
The Upper-End market was FAST seeing new & FULL Touch-based phones from Samsung & Sony Ericsson. Though SE phones could not achieve market penetration, Samsung found MANY takers for Corby (affordable Capacitive Screen) Star, Slightly expensive BUT Resistive :(. Samsung had maintained good features in ALL of the Price-Ranges. There was something for EVERYONE. Even the Latest CHAMP has become popular overnight.
By now people had used Resistive Screen & had been frustrated enough with the lack of precision. At this time Nokia Introduced 5800 Express Music, which rivalled in price & features with N73 at 3.2 MP Camera. Even the OS felt like it had always been meant for Non-Touch Phones, but was “scaled-up” for the Phone. Releasing their blunder, Nokia did try to curtail Price (by Reducing Features… Bad Move), by introducing Cheaper variants like 5230, 5233.
Now Nokia felt, it Should really step-up the Game & introduce a True-Touch Screen (Read Capacitive) Phone that we will blow away the competition & re-capture the Pride that Nokia once commanded.
ENTER Nokia N8.. It was first Announced way-back in APRIL 2010 & has become available (in limited countries as of date) only recently in October 2010. A delay of OVER 5 Months!!
The internals are encased in a svelte anodized Aluminium body Case.. which looks very professional & is a great mix of performance optimization & chic-look that Nokia has always been successful about. There are only few Standard Buttons like 2-Stage Camera Button (Soft-Press to auto-focus), “Crowned” (for “blind-operation”) Volume Rocker, rugged screen-locking slider with correctly resistant spring-operation.
Nokia N8 is the First Handset to Sport Symbian ^3. You ask what’s so special about this next iteration (or major release) of the Symbian..
For the “Layman” it is: Multi-touch, Multi-tasking, Flash-compatibility, Widgets, Social Address Books and a more “Sophisticated” (Nokia’s interfaces have always been deeply appreciated) look to the interface.
On the hardware front it Sports a 3.5” Capacitive, multi-touch AMOLED display promising a Display resolution of only 360 x 640 pixels!! At a time when Display resolution is usually in the range of: 480 x 800 pixels (That’s 65 Million Colours as against ONLY 16 Million Colours of Nokia’s N8). In “general language”, the screen won’t be crisp & colours will look somewhat dull/washed-out.
However, as Nokia has always stood-by its motto that Phones should “Last” for years Not months, the Screen is protected by the now-famous “Gorilla-Glass”, which is truly scratch, shock & Impact resistant. That said, the Glass (in practical life) did crack when dropped (accidently) on a corner from a height of over 4 Feet. But, the phone WILL withstand scratch attempts by whatever ELSE is in your pockets like Keys, coins etc. So that’s a huge relief.
Here’s a Short Video made by Corning Group (Which manufactures Gorilla Glass). Skip to the 40Sec Mark to really see the Wonder that is Gorilla Glass!
A brief Video shows the abuse that Nokia N8 Gorilla Glass can take:
The Processor is a ARM 11 680 MHz processor with 256MB RAM & 512MB ROM (at a time when 1GHz SnapDragon & Even Dual Core Tegra V2 are seen in the Phones & Tablets). However, N8 still manages to shine because of it’s “separate” Graphics Chip (Broadcom 2727 3D accelerator GPU) with supports Hardware acceleration. What this basically means, though the processor is almost 2/3rd of the new entrants, the phone Should Not Slow down during graphics-intensive Game-play.
The Highlight of the phone HAS to be the its 12MP Carl Zeiss Lens equipped Camera with Xenon Flash (a front VGA camera for Video Calling). The largest Mega Pixel Sensor (Agreed the SE Satio sports a 12.1 MP Camera & has proven to be an excellent image-taker). The camera in recent testing has proven a worthy adversary to any & all Phones who dared to stand. It even managed to shoot 720p Video with No glitches (other than the limits built-into by Nokia themselves). The Xenon Flash is very powerful for a Phone with a Camera. All this makes you wonder whether this is a Phone with a Camera OR a Camera with Phone Features!!
Personally I feel the Camera should have been protected by a mechanical slider shutter. But, the up-side is, when the phone is kept on the back-side, the Phone “rests” on the bottom Edge of the Camera-Bulge.
The rest of the line-up too, is both Standard (by today’s comparison) & noteworthy like: 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0 + A2DP, GPS (both Real and A-GPS), USB On-The-Go support, 16GB Built-in Memory & capacity to hold 32GB SDHSC / SDHXC Micro-SD Card, accelerometer for Screen auto-orientation & games. Nokia has even thrown in Light, Proximity and Magnetometer (Digital Compass) sensor & Most importantly a top-placed 3.5” Headphone-cum-mic Jack that means you can use ANY Standard head-phones (This has now been thankfully adopted across a large segment of phones & tablets).
Three interesting Features that stand out are:
a) The HDMI Out Port located at the Bottom (protected by a rubber strip). The phone is able to push 720p Video (with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound!!) to the large Screen LCD VERY EASILY!!. Please note, you will require a Home Theatre System to be able to hear Dolby Surround.
b) The SIM Card Slot (alongside Memory Card Slot) appears to be hot-swappable located on the OUTSIDE (left side) of the Phone! Both the Slots are protected by rigid plastic casing.
c) There’s an FM Transmitter inbuilt too. This is somewhat useful to push your music to the Car’s Stereo. Not a very important feature, but could be a nice way to add a large Music collection to the Car’s Music Library without having to carry any CDs / Cassettes
The BL-4D Battery is ONLY 1200mAh. Though this is a Large, it lasts only for about 2 days on active usage, (Not Bad). However, the phone does command a surprising 400 hr (That’s @1 Week) of Stand-by & Talk-Time worth 5-8 Hours. Though People will surely appreciate the battery while playing music on this phone as it is “rated” for upto 50 hours.
The Phone initially does feel a bit heavy (135g), but that lasts only for a few minutes & it can be because of the Aluminium Casing. The phone feels “Packed Solid”. The magic starts the moment you soft-press the Power Button located at the Top.
Though this is a large Phone, you can hold & handle it with one hand. However, it seems to me Nokia meant to have this phone operated by two hands. The Candy-Bar form factor is not very ergonomic, but still, it does not feel awkward to hold. The only button at the lower left bottom is the key to activate Menu & long-press brings up the current Open apps. There’s NO Green OR Red Button. Everything is on the Screen including the Contacts, Call, End etc… Somehow I felt the need for (touch-sensitive) Call/End Buttons. It’s a Phone first, isn’t it?
As with ALL Nokia Phones, the start-up does seem to take its time (It is recommended that you do not switch-off the phone regularly & unnecessarily). However, once the start-up is complete & all screens (there are Three Home Screens) have become operational, it actually feels like a breath of fresh air. The hand-swipe feels OK (Not in the same league as of Android). The animation is smooth. A long press on any screen brings up some sort of “tower” or “tiered” mode to add content like “Shortcuts” to apps, RSS feed, Bookmarks etc. My only grouch here is that the “Size” of the “Widgets” is fixed. You cannot alter the width or height. Android does offer “resizing” of the Widgets. But this is a minor Issue & users should be able to overlook this minor detail.
One of the good features that Nokia has spent a lot of time is the MAIL Client. Business Professionals will surely appreciate multiple account handling & the relative simplicity. Setting up the mail client too, is VERY Simple. Make Sure you have Edge (Phone Supports 3G too) enabled & activated & you are ready to go. One can also “Search” within the mails.
Though I personally NEVER enjoyed Physical QWERTY Keypad, for some, the presence or lack of the same is a deal-breaker. However, users need not worry as the on-screen keyboard, though not as versatile as SWYPE (could be made available later via update) or Android stock, still manages to get things done. Typing messages could have been faster & easier.
The Album-Cover flow is smooth & Music play-back excellent. The music never skips even during multi-tasking. There’s no innovation here. The video playback too is top-notch. You can either choose to watch on the 3.5inch screen or plug in a HDTV & be amazed by the picture & sound quality.
Game-play too, is fun when plugged into a LCD Screen. You can use the Phone as a Game-Pad. It’s too cool to describe.
The Long-Press of the Menu Key brings up the Current-open Apps in a clear small-window sized preview. This makes multi-tasking fun & easy. Earlier Phones only had small icons at the bottom left corner.
The Phones SHINES in the OVI Maps (Version 3.06), with, the Phone quickly locking on to the AGPS & fairly quickly on the GPS Satellites. The video below proves just how smooth the Pinch-to-zoom & Multi-Touch is on Nokia N8 (the Language is not English, but the video is good).
Pssst: The Layer Application which Samsung provides is really exciting, however, I think, it will require high speed mobile broadband to actually be effective & Mobile internet still is very costly in India.
The call quality is excellent. the Noise cancelling mic enabled a distortion free & crystal-clear conversation. You will truly enjoy talking on this phone. However, holding the phone to your ear for prolonged periods of time can get a bit strenuous. We will have to see how good the Video Calling is, once 3G hits India after Diwali. The Radio (Stereo with RDS) too, did not disappoint.
Those who have bought & used the earlier high-end N97 or N97 mini too, will surely feel, Nokia has made lot of efforts to improve upon their models.
1) 12 MP Camera (Image Size: 3-4.5 MB)
2) AMOLED Screen with acceptable performance even under the Sun
3) Huge Storage (16GB) out-of-the Box
4) Good Radio Reception
5) Smooth Multi-Touch
6) Removal of (most of) the annoyances of Previous Symbian Versions (Single tap & / or twice-tap uncertainty)
7) Good Lock on the GPS Satellites with features like Trip meter etc.
8 ) Ovi Maps
9) HDMI cable will be bundled.
10) Superb playback on Large-Screen LCD (with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound)
11) Penta-band GSM Chip: Will work in ANY Country
12) Integrates Qt (also known as Cross-Platform software development environment) out-of-the-box, allowing programmers to build custom made applications that should run smoothly
13) Available in groovy colours like: Orange, Blue, Black, Silver (Only three will be available PER Country!!??)
14) Bundled Headphones are excellent.
15) Excellent Flash Support.
16) Popular Audio-Video Codec Support (Audio: MP3/WMA/WAV/eAAC+| Video: DivX/XviD/MP4/H.264/H.263/WMV )
1) Phone feels mildly sluggish
2) Display is not crisp & limited Screen viewability angles
3) Heavily Locked-Down OS. One needs to “Sign” applications to use. (A biggest eye-sore of the Symbian User)
4) Poor Screen Resolution (handicap of Symbian)
5) No accessory or kick-stand to keep the handset inclined to watch movies.
6) No “Dock” provided with the bundle
7) Unfortunately, India is STILL being added into the OVI Maps. So DON’T expect turn-by-turn instructions instantly.
8) Very High Entry MSRP of INR 26-28 Thousand
Until recently, No one even thought of breaking open the Symbian OS. HyperX is a very brave soul who isn’t afraid to take on Symbian Devices. He has been working tirelessly on “improving” user-experiences on Symbian. He has done Wonders to the Samsung Omnia HD. His latest CUSTOM Firmware for the phone simply appears to be blazing on the very-old 600 MHz Processor.
Some of his Exploits for Nokia N8 can be found HERE
Just to show you how good HyperX’s Custom ROM (at present v8) is better than Stock ROM shipped with Omina HD i8190, check the Video Below (Skip to 1:55 mark):
Some of the Cons/Drawbacks/featurees in Nokia N8 that HyperX can work on:
1) Removal of Beep Sound during Recording a Call
2) Continuous Auto Focus (CAF) while shooting Video (esp. 720p).
3) Over-clocking (Can be really helpful but will surely drain battery)
4) Wide-Screen Aspect of 16:9 (Presently Phone has a measly 4:3)
The Phone STILL feels somewhat sluggish as compared to Iphone or even HTC legend/Hero Android. But, I know the reason is: Nokia has sacrificed processor requirement for better power management of Symbian 3. This is a risky way to boost Battery Performance as this can WILL have a negative impact on user-experience.
I can say this though: This phone will likely do well worldwide with all of the Nokia & S60 users Fan-boys out there, but Nokia has to start thinking ‘future’ rather that trying to patch up the ‘here and now’ !
So, is this “beast” worthy of buying? With a very High MSRP of 26 to 28 Thousand a phone which could have blown-away the competition had it launched about 5-6 months, it somehow feels under-developed. There could have been MANY improvements on the software front. The OS still feels in its nascent stage & still in development & trial-error OR hurriedly put together. The finger presses & swipes get the work done perfectly. There are almost none “accidently” swipes or presses. Screen is VERY responsive & accurate.
On the hardware front, only the screen size is a bit of a letdown. At a time when Screens Larger than 4 Inches are VERY Common, Nokia N8 has ONLY 3.5 Inches. However, Video Playback still superb mind-you. Nokia N8’s hardware is surely war-ready. N8 comes with whatever you can imagine in a high-end Phone.
So my advice is WAIT to see if Price Drops (Nokia’s Prices have surely shown correction to the delight of the consumers!!). However, if you DO DECIDE to take the plunge, you won’t regret & as Nokia has recently learnt the good ways of Pushing regular Software updates, this phone has the potential of bringing back some of Nokia’s Glory.
As always Nokia’s Advertising is Fantastic: Check out the ads below: