Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte is equipped with a 2" 16M-color OLED display of QVGA resolution. The OLED technology is superior to LCD as far as picture quality is concerned. Contrast and brightness are incomparably better. OLED displays are also thinner and less power-hungry, which makes their usage in mobile phones all the more reasonable.
There are, however, a couple of things bothering us about the display of the Carbon Arte. For one, sunlight legibility is quite discouraging, making the phone near useless outside on a bright sunny day.
The second problem is the 2-inch diagonal which we find inadequate on even midrange phones. The high cost of OLED screens at this stage was hardly the problem here and we can't help ourselves but regret the choice Nokia made with the Arte series display size.
The keypad of Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte is much to our taste, with decently-sized keys and terraced layout. Typing would've been perfect save for the inadequate room for the top (or bottom depending on your typing manner) row of buttons. The slider simply doesn't open enough to allow the those rows of keys to be used effortlessly. Having in mind though, that Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte is hardly targeting heavy texters, its keypad is more than acceptable.
The backlighting of the phone is also top notch: strong and even, it makes the phone look as good in the dark as in bright daylight.
If you expected miracles from Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte software department you will probably end up disappointed. It is perfectly identical to the original Arte and that's why this software part of the review might be familiar to you if you have been keeping track.
The standby screen displays the pre-selected wallpaper plus signal strength, battery status and time in the top bar. Beneath the top bar are the operator logo and the date. The bottom bar is reserved for the labels of the functions assigned to the center of the navigation key and the two context keys. The center of the navigation key opens the main menu, while the context keys can be assigned a function of your choice. The font on the main display can be of any color.
You can also turn active standby on. It consists of several parts that can be edited or relocated to suit the user's preferences. In the most common case, the top area is reserved for instant access to favorite functions indicated by their respective icons. The central area provides instant access to the music player.
At the very bottom events from the calendar are displayed set for the current day. A cool feature here, that even Nokia smartphones do not have, is the possibility to add a note to the active stand-by. The two soft keys' functionality can also be altered if necessary.
The main menu in Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte can be visualized in four different ways: a grid of icons with or without captions, a list of items, and tabs. While each of them has its pros and cons our personal choice remains the typical grid view with legends. If you prefer more icons to appear simultaneously, you can go for the grid view without text, as it displays a 4 x 3 icons grid.
The icons of the main menu can be freely reordered to suit the user's taste. An interesting thing to note here is that the Opera Mini browser, the calculator and the WidSets application can be found directly in the main menu. They are also featured in the applications folder so, basically, you can access them from wherever you prefer. Probably these three were considered important enough to place in the main menu for quicker access.
The submenus follow no consistent pattern. Some items have captions, others do not. In certain cases, you will even be able to see the selected item described in small font, so you will not need to step further into another menu level. As usual, the menu items are intuitively accessible through keypad shortcuts.
The color background of the entire menu, as well as the wallpaper on the display, can be easily modified by applying one of the pre-installed themes.
The menu responds quickly, without lagging or holdups. This is the case with basically any S40 device nowadays and we wouldn't expect any less from the Carbon Arte. Also, there were no halts or unexpected restarts for the time of our review.
Heavy on looks inside out, the Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte comes with six preinstalled themes. All of them are quite up to the task with their conservative styling. You can of course download additional themes, which are available all over the internet. There are even some that produce sounds on certain events, such as opening or closing the slider.
There are as many as five predefined ringing profiles on Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte, plus a Flight mode, which turns off all transceivers on the device. That number should be enough to have you covered in practically any circumstances. The flight mode can turn out very convenient if you decide to use your phone as an MP3 player and it can be used without a SIM card inserted.