The retail box looks like something a pirate used to stash its plunder - it's not just the phone that's covered in gold, both the Bluetooth headset and the desktop charger are also painted gold. The other offering you might appreciate is the carrying pouch, which is made of soft white leather.
The desktop cradle doesn't do much since you could plug the charger directly into the phone. However, it does serve a vital function - it shows off the phone. It bears the Nokia logo proudly and when people see it sitting on your desk, there's little doubt what handset you have there in your pocket.
A nice touch on the desktop cradle is the translucent bottom. This lets some light pass through and creates a pleasing visual effect.
It also weighs a ton, but that gives it stability with help from the rubbery material on the bottom. You wouldn't want it to fall, would you? Plus, it makes it look like an Oscar statuette.
The Bluetooth headset is a natural choice over a regular wired one. It's not about the money, it's just that business suits and wires don't go together terribly well. The white leather pouch however is spot on, complementing the white leather on the phone.
The huge cleaning cloth, typical for the Artes, is also included. It's big enough to wipe your windshield with, completely over the top of course, but more is better, right?
Finally, there is a whole lot of paper and a CD with the required software for syncing you phone with a PC.
The Nokia 8800 Gold Arte measures 109 x 45.6 x 14.6 mm totaling a volume of 65cc, which is identical to its siblings. Actually, size and shape are pretty much set in stone for the whole 8800 Arte lineup.
It weighs 150 grams, same as the Carbon Arte, which is strange given that carbon fiber is supposed to save weight. Apparently, that only works for boats and racing cars, not mobile phones.
Nokia 8800 Gold Arte has virtually the same design as every other Arte out there. You could call it repetitive or maybe it's just that Nokia think the design is perfect and there's nothing to improve upon.
There's no alternative color versions of the Gold Arte - it's gold colored with white leather. Some choice in color at least for the leather would have been nice but we guess third-party stores might be happy to offer you alternatives.
The layout of controls on the Nokia 8800 Gold Arte isn't any different from the first three family members. The earpiece is dead center at the top of the front panel. Below it is the 2-inch OLED display, followed by the four main controls (two soft keys, Call and End key) and the D-pad. Those are all on the small side but not unforgivably so.
When the phone is closed the keypad is hidden under a leather-bound cover. Double-tapping it displays a digital or analogue clock on the phone screen, which is quite a convenient way of checking the time without having to unlock the keypad.
There are very few things to note on either side of the Nokia 8800 Gold Arte. The loudspeaker grill is on the right and there is a battery cover release button on either side. Even though the camera has autofocus, there's no dedicated shutter key in sight.
The power key, which can also be used for switching ringing profiles, is placed at the top of the phone. It's large size makes it easy to press even without turning the phone around to face you. Perhaps too easy since it's quite prone to accidental presses. This is most apparent when putting the phone in the carrying pouch. We inadvertently powered off the device on a couple of occasions, something that seems an issue with all the Artes.
The microUSB port is at the bottom of Nokia 8800 Gold Arte, right next to the mouthpiece. The microUSB is also used for connecting the charger, so there is one less aperture to spoil the fine gold-plated lines.
The back panel of the phone hosts the 3 megapixel autofocus camera lens, which doesn't have a flash of any kind. The Gold Arte was meant to be photographed not to take photos.
The battery cover gets removed by pressing the two release buttons on the sides of the phone and pulling it down. Under it you will find the 1000 mAh battery, which is supposed to last 300 hours in stand-by or 3 hours of talk time. Battery life is adequate for the class with performance identical to the previous Arte models.
There's not much to say about the design. It's a top-of-the-class handset and if something had to be said about the build quality - that would be worrying.
The high quality casing is a delight to look at and the gold certainly catches the eye. That is if you happen to like golden accessories as some would say it's over the top. The leather on the back and front earns high marks - it's warm to the touch making the phone very pleasant to hold. The handset is naturally quite heavy given the materials it's made of, but this simply adds to the overall air of quality it gives off.
It takes a little while to learn to slide the phone open without pressing any keys or getting too many fingerprints on the screen but once you get it right the sliding mechanism with its spot on spring-assisted action makes sliding smooth and natural. The display also manages to hide the fingerprints quite well.