Nokia N8 review: Hands-on with Symbian 3

Join us for a tour of Nokia's upcoming flagship phone, the N8. It's a phone that could help Nokia catch up with the smart-phone leaders

Update: Our full Nokia N8 review is now live

The N8 will be Nokia's first phone to run Symbian 3 . It's still a few months away from hitting the shops, but we've got our hands on the N8 for an early peek.

The phone was still in the throes of final software design, but we were able to ogle the new user interface. It's not hugely different from the interface we saw on the disappointing N97, but there are some changes that Nokia hopes will quell the complainers.

Two of our favourite improvements are the addition of multi-touch zoom in the browser, email and photo gallery, and nixing the double-tap that made moving around the phone feel rather slow.

The N8 will come with 16GB of built-in storage space and support up to 32GB more using a microSD card. Both the memory card and the SIM card slots are accessible from the outside -- although it's possible to get the back cover off with a screwdriver, Nokia doesn't recommend that users change the battery themselves.

Nokia is taking its sweet time with the N8, which we think is a great idea -- this is a good-looking phone with plenty of potential, and it needs a smooth, easy user interface to polish it off. Expect to find the N8 is shops sometime in the autumn. 

Rock around the clock

The N8's music player has had a revamp, and includes a Cover Flow-like feature when you hold it in landscape mode, exactly like iPhone. Nokia's also going to include its all-you-can-eat music service, Comes With Music , with the N8 in some countries. It hasn't confirmed yet if the UK will benefit from the music bonanza.

HDMI, my oh my

The N8 includes a mini HDMI out socket, and an adaptor so you can plug the phone into a normal-sized HDMI port on your TV. This should be handy for sharing photos and video that you've shot on the phone. You can also blast your music through your home-cinema speakers, turning the party in your pocket into an actual, life-sized party.

12-megapixels and counting

The N8 includes a 12-megapixel camera, which sticks out from the back of the phone slightly to give the lens some room to focus. This camera cabana also makes room for a xenon flash, which should do a much better job of freezing fast motion in low light than a basic LED photo light. An additional LED helps with the autofocus, but there's no light for use when you're shooting video.

The phone also has two microphones -- one on the bottom and one on the back, near the camera. The extra mic captures and cancels background noise, and does double duty as a stereo mic when your filming video. 

Say 'cheese'

We think that the N8's camera shows plenty of promise. Making more room for the lens and including a xenon flash are both welcome moves, and Nokia promises that the N8 will be more than just a massive pile of megapixels. We'll be taking the phone for a battery of tests when we have one that's ready for a full review.

Editing in-camera

The N8 includes plenty of editing options to get your photos looking the way you want them to, and the phone we looked at could already share them over email, MMS and Bluetooth. We hope that we'll see sharing over social networks like Flickr and Facebook on the final phone.

What will they think of next?

We've seen BBC iPlayer on mobiles, but there's much more telly we could be streaming to our littlest screen. Web TV could be the answer, if Nokia can convince the networks to let us have it.

Aluminium fox

The N8's case is made of anodised aluminium, and there are five colours to choose from, although the networks will have to choose which ones they're willing to sell. This is the green one, with black, blue, silver and orange also in the pipeline. The solid, metallic case feels like a massive improvement on plasticky phones like the Nokia X6 .

 

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