Nokia N8 review: Director of photography
A solid phonebook
The Nokia N8 comes with a fully functional phonebook, which can easily be synced with your exchange account. Symbian has been offering users virtually unlimited phonebook capacity and excellent contact management for quite some time. Now it is starting to add some social network integration too.
Contacts can be freely ordered by first or last name. You can also set whether the contacts from the SIM card, the phone memory and the service numbers will get displayed.
Selecting some of your contacts as favorites moves them to the top of the displayed list. This saves you quite a lot of scrolling.
Editing a contact offers a great variety of preset fields and you can replicate each of them as many times as you like.
You can assign personal ringtones and videos to individual contacts. If you prefer, you may group your contacts and give each group a specific ringtone.
A really nice touch when editing a contact details is the option to enter their address by picking it on a map.
The social network integration includes Facebook and Twitter, which should be fine for the vast majority of users. However you will need to go through an extra step to check out your contact’s status and then another one to see their profile. We agree it might have created a mess if that was all added to the already lengthy phonebook profile but one of those extra steps is probably a bit too much.
Telephony: smart dial and everything
We didn't experience any problems with the in-call performance of Nokia N8. Reception levels are good on both ends of calls, the earpiece is loud enough and there were no interferences whatsoever. The built-in secondary microphone is used for active noise-cancellation so calls are loud and clear even in noisy environments.
Voice dialing is available on the N8 and gets activated by pressing and holding the call key on the home screen. It is fully speaker-independent and as far as we can tell performs greatly, recognizing all the names we threw at it.
In noisier environments though, its effectiveness might suffer. Also bear in mind that if you have multiple numbers assigned to a contact, the system will dial either the default number or the first in the list.
Smart dialing is also here, practical as ever. You just punch in a few letters from the desired contact’s name and select it from the list that comes up to initiate a call.
The final option for starting a call is by using one of the widgets available for your homescreen. It allows you to insert your favorite contacts and enter their profiles without going through the phonebook.
You can mute an incoming call by simply flipping the phone over. That same trick also works for snoozing your alarm clock.
Thanks to the proximity sensor the screen turns off automatically when you pick up the phone up to your cheek during a call.
After we saw how solidly the N8 did in the telephony department, we also put it through its paces in our traditional loudspeaker test. The handset did quite well there too, snatching a Very good mark meaning it should be loud enough for every situation. More info on the test, as well as other results can be found here
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
|Apple iPhone 4||65.1||60.3||66.2|
|Samsung I9000 Galaxy S||66.6||65.9||66.6|
|Nokia N8||75.8||66.2||82.7||Very Good|
Messaging department is well covered, save for the keyboard
The Nokia N8 can easily cater for all your messaging needs, but chances are you will find the virtual keyboard rather annoying. It’s not so much the QWERTY keyboard per se as it’s large and comfortable but the fact that it opens in a separate screen with a dedicated text box. Plus there’s no multi-touch support here so very fast typing is bound to lead to more errors than usually.
Update, 24.08.2011: We updated the phone to Symbian Anna - check out our impressions of the new keyboard on Page 10.
And these nuisances are not reserved for the messaging department – it’s the way the keyboards function throughout the whole UI.
Back to the essence of messaging, your short messages all arrive in a common inbox. If you like, you can also get them sorted in a threaded manner as conversations.
The Nokia N8 relies on a message editor that is common for all the types of messages. Stuff like a character counter in SMS go without saying.
If you insert some multimedia content the message is automatically transformed into an MMS. If you type an email address as a recipient, the message turns into an email. In both cases the character counter turns into a data counter showing kilobytes instead of characters.
The Nokia N8 email client allowed us to setup our Gmail account quite easily, while getting it to sync with an Exchange ActiveSync server took a couple of tries. Still in most cases all you will need is to enter is your username and password and you will be good to go in no time.
Multiple email accounts and various security protocols are supported, so you can bet almost any mail service will run trouble-free on your Nokia N8.
Messages can be sorted by various criteria such as date, sender, subject, priority or even by attachments, searching is available as well.
The client can download headers only or entire messages, and can be set to automatically check mail at a given interval. A nice feature allows you to schedule sending email next time an internet connection is available. This can save you some data traffic charges since you can use the next available WLAN connection instead.
There is also support for attachments, signatures and basically everything you would normally need on a mobile device.