Nokia N8: 20 things I love and 5 things I don’t

Nokia N8: 20 things I love and 5 things I don'tAs you know my own dark gray Nokia N8 arrived yesterday and I am still working on full review for you all. I am at the tail end of finishing up my upcoming Windows Phone 7 Companion book though so my time is very limited and I have to put the paying job above the hobby work 😉 I have been spending a lot of time with the Nokia N8 though and am getting lots of questions that I am trying to respond to. Make sure to check out the Definitive Nokia N8 Guide page for a collection of posts and links to N8 coverage here and from elsewhere.

So now that I have had a couple of weeks with the Nokia N8, I have some pros and cons that I wanted to share with you all. Keep in mind that details on some of these issues will earn their own full post or a place in my full review too.

20 Things I LOVE

  1. The camera ROCKS! This is pretty obvious if you have read all the coverage online and I continue to be impressed with the video recording capability and still camera quality. With the N8, I find no need to take a dedicated pocket digital camera or camcorder. I do still take my DLSR for super still photos, of course.
  2. Hardware construction is fantastic. The two N8 devices I have tested are rock solid with great buttons, covers, and attention to detail in the construction.
  3. The display is excellent. It may not be the highest resolution display on the market, but it is bright, clear, has vibrant colors, and is very viewable in full sunlight.
  4. Threaded SMS is finally here. As a father of 2 teenage daughters and one approaching those teen years, I NEED to be able to keep track of the conversations being carried out via SMS. I am so glad to finally see it in a Nokia device natively.
  5. The task manager is slick. I used to use Handy Taskman, but I actually find the new Symbian^3 task manager to do just fine with helping me switch applications and so far I haven’t found the need to manage running applications manually.
  6. Media player cover flow is fun. Now that I have my Zune subscription content up and running on my N8, I find I am using it as my main music player. The media player album art selector interface is super fast and lots of fun to scroll through.
  7. Three customizable home screens are nice to have. I have an Android device with 7 home screens and honestly only ever use up to 3 so having these with their continuous wrap around layout is quite nice. I like that we can customize the background of each to have a different image too.
  8. Custom organization still present. I personally like using Symbian devices because I have full control over how I want my launcher screen to be organized. I create custom folders and organize my applications to be most efficient for me and love that this is still present on the N8.
  9. The Ovi Store is finally good. I will have a full post on this with screenshots and my take on it, but I am relieved to finally see the Ovi Store at a place where I am buying apps from it without a problem.
  10. Gravity rocks on the N8! I could likely live with the default Symbian^3 OS and a single application on my device and that would be Gravity. I use it for Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, and Foursquare so I get four apps in one with a fantastic user interface and capabilities that make it easily worth $10 price.
  11. Penta-band 3G data. I have yet to see ANY other manufacturer achieve this and think Nokia deserves more attention for this revolutionary feat.
  12. The main home screen is extremely useful with the areas to tap to manage the clock, wireless connection, profiles, etc.
  13. The battery goes and goes and goes.
  14. HDMI port. It is very handy to take photos and video and then easily show them to family and friends using the HDMI port and cable.
  15. The clock and date that show up when the display is off is extremely useful  and doesn’t seem to use any battery power.
  16. RF reception and call quality continue to ROCK on the N8! Great job here Nokia.
  17. The FM transmitter is handy. I enjoy listening to podcasts and with the FM transmitter I have been able to do so in seconds with good sound quality.
  18. Ovi Maps. I am using the latest 3.06 beta on the N8 and it performs well and looks great on the N8.
  19. Dual charging capability. I like that I can charge via the microUSB port or the standard 2mm Nokia charging port.  Nokia users likely have a few of the 2mm chargers lying around so being able to still use them is a nice option.
  20. Lock switch. The physical lock switches are great for quickly locking and unlocking the display and I like the one with ridges used on the N8.

As happy as I am with my $611 purchase (although I would rather have the orange one) everything is not perfect on the N8. I know that many of my cons that I list below can be and are planned to be fixed with updates, but I still want to mention them before you go out and buy your device.

5 Things I DON’T

  1. Nokia email client on the N8 is not very good. While there are some improvements in the Nokia email client and at first I was pleased,the more I use it the more issues I find. For example, the fonts are inconsistent across accounts so sometime they are huge and sometimes you have to squint, you can’t send email using Global Address Lookup searches in Exchange, and you cannot respond to any calendar invites.
  2. Keyboard implementation blows: Wow, the keyboard experience is really bad on the N8. I don’t mind the full landscape keyboard itself and have gotten quite fast at entering text. However, the prediction/correction is virtually non-existent, there is no portrait QWERTY or half-QWERTY, and there are too many steps to enter text with the keyboard. I really hate when the keyboard opens up and takes you completely out of the app so you have no association with the app and for apps like Twitter you can easily enter more text than is allowed in a field. UPDATE: Check out my new post on how to make the QWERTY keyboard perform MUCH better.
  3. The vibration is not very strong. I work in a quiet office environment and have to leave my phones on silent vibration mode. With the N8 I never feel or “hear” the vibration even when the N8 is sitting on my bare desktop.
  4. Where is the sharing? One thing that was nice about Symbian^1 and S60 was the ability to share pictures out to different services with ease. I do now have PixelPipe that I am trying, but don’t know why Nokia took this away.
  5. No Nokia Podcasting? I am a huge fan of podcasts and came to rely on the Nokia Podcasting application to download them right onto the device. This is missing on the N8 so I have had to result to using a Symbian^3 podcatcher that still needs quite a bit of work.

What do you like or dislike about the Nokia N8? I am sure I can come up with more for each list as I continue to use the device daily.


49 Comments to Nokia N8: 20 things I love and 5 things I don’t

Bas Heetebrij
October 13, 2010

Good summary, Matt. Just a few comments from myself:

I am sure the battery is ok, but I have to say that when I have IM on the whole day – just as on my Nexus One – the battery lasts the same as on my Nexus One. Not impressed, though also not disappointed.

I dislike the Web browser quite a bit. In comparison to Android and Maemo 5 it really is very poor. I doubt that the revamped browser that Nokia will bring out later this year (hopefully) will be much better. Opera Mobile is available, but that doesn’t solve the problem.

Third party software support is still an issue for me. Besides Gravity, what other good twitter client is there? On Android I can at least think of 4 very good clients (tweetdeck, seesmic, Twidroyd, Touiteur). This is quite indicative of the support Symbian is getting. Will Symbian 3 get support for Evernote, Audible, Remember the Milk, Dropbox, Kindle, etc? I somehow doubt it and this is a serious problem.

I do like the N8, though, and am still thinking of keeping it over the Nexus One (though I have not decided yet). I particularly like, the size and build of the hardware, the key lock switch, the camera (and quickness with which you can launch it), Gravity (not really an N8 feature, but makes or breaks the device for me), Ovi Maps, the 3 home screens, the screen’s brightness and the Power Saving mode.

Also, once Pixelpipe is installed, there is no better phone for sharing media. On Android I am incapable of uploading a video of 100+ Mb as it just stops in the middle. In the week I have had the N8, I have shared more videos and pics than in the 3 months I have been on Android.

October 13, 2010

Thanks for the rundown Matthew… But could you elaborate on the keyboard experience?! I mean I’m slightly torn between waiting for the E7 or just buying the N8, and your post could make all the difference? Is it responsive? Is there no 12 button keyboard in portrait mode?

October 13, 2010

Matthew, you cannot really accept/decline meeting request? Olders MfE versions have no problem with this.

October 13, 2010

Thanks for the excellent work Matthew. Currently have the N900, want the N8 but really worried about the keyboard. Could you give some more details about text entry?

October 13, 2010

Thanks for the list!
Couldn’t resist to respond to one of the downsides: “The vibration is not very strong.” If I understand it correctly, it works fine if you hold the phone or have it in your pocket, but not when sitting on your desk. If so, than I think it’s one seriously nice implemented feature. The vibration is not meant to make any noise, so I Nokia has managed to make it silent when it should be than that should be a big plus.
You could always use the one beep to make a subtle sound. 😉

October 13, 2010

Does any1 have a solution to the horrific keyboard problem? I even installed swype from S60 v5 and it didnt work.

October 13, 2010

I’ve actually come to prefer the portrait mode T9 input, which is how I am typing this, as a matter of fact. Doubt that will work for most US customers, which never really got comfortable with T9.
One solution to the keyboard problem is to use an external bluetooth keyboard. I connected my old stowaway the other day and it works really well. All text inputs can be edited in-place and you can even switch between tasks from the keyboard.

October 13, 2010

Nokia Email blows, that’s why I’ve been using LCG Profimail for years.

Looking for swype to be available for n8 soon as I love it on my htc desire.

I love podcasting, so will be looking for an alternative asap if symbian podcatcher isn’t that good.

I pick my trial n8 up tomorrow so will let you know how I’m getting on?

October 13, 2010

Thanks for this great article. I was wondering if I should switch back to Nokia from Android, yet your article showed me why that would be a mistake. While I want the camera, I don’t want it so much that I am willing to give up a good mail client (they killed Mail for Exchange???); a responsive and practical keyboard; and the ability to share images right from the device through the Sharing App. All three are especially important and are deal breakers for me.

Now I know the keyboard issue will be addressed with the E7. Let’s hope they put MfE and Sharing back into the device or I fear I may not return to Nokia for quite some time.

Matthew Miller
October 13, 2010

Gerrymoth, you will be happy to know that ProfiMail seems to work like a charm on the N8. I am going to give the trial a go and see if it works for me. I think I will try RoadSync out next to see if that takes care of my Exchange needs too. You really shouldn’t have to use 3rd party clients for basic functions like email though and I see why people are not attracted to the Symbian platform at this time.

Sleeper Service
October 13, 2010

Nokia should just make a deal to include PixelPipe with the default firmware. Gravity, too. They’re both essential anyway, and Nokia’s not providing anything better.

[…] Miller has brought us some more of his thoughts on the Nokia N8, this time in a very handy and concise ‘Things I like, things I don’t like’ […]

Aniket Vasishth
October 13, 2010

To add to the like “Things I don’t like”
Loudspeaker has been placed really at bad place and if phone left on the table with low decent ringtone sound, it might be possible that you won’t hear your phone ringing. SO you always need to put your phone upside down, and may be coz of this Nokia gave us Gorilla screen 😛

Nik Rolls
October 13, 2010

@Bas: Those apps certainly should be on the way from Nokia, but bear in mind that it’s more up to the developer to put the minimal effort into porting them to Qt (which is actually really simple; trust me, I’m a developer). All it requires is the education about the sheer sales and geographical potential that the Ovi Store offers to convince them.

@Lloyd: The N8 has full Mail for Exchange support, so you won’t be left wanting there. I’m finding the mail application great as it offers full folder and HTML support just like in the latest Eseries S60v3 devices, as well as working with the tap-and-hold system built into Symbian^3. I also find that because the screen is capacitive I can type quicker and with less errors on the on-screen keyboard than I can on a physical QWERTY keyboard, even something like the N900 or N97 mini.

Disclaimer: I work for Nokia, but everything I say is my own opinion.

October 14, 2010

hey M Miller a question…

I’ve seen some videos showing that USB-on-the-go feature but always reading from the USB sticks.. what about writing to the USB sticks? is that possible?

[…] I wrote a post listing the 20 things I love and 5 things I don’t in regards to the Nokia N8. I personally love the fact that Nokia personnel reached out to me […]

Nik Rolls
October 14, 2010

@hhallian: Yes, you can do both. It pops up just like a memory card. It also works for USB Hard Drives (as long as they are externally powered).

October 14, 2010

Excellent site and article, your highlighting the use of the Zune pass was what tipped the scales for me to buy a Nokia N8 (along with the Amazon Video On-Demand support). I have had mixed results with the battery thus far, but I am trying to be more diligent about power saving. You’ve highlighted a lot of the things I love, but I want to add something else I find frustrating.

The seeming inability to shuffle music by artist is a killer for me. You can obviously shuffle by album, but without creating a playlist for each artist, it seems that there is no shuffle by artist. The cover flow is sharper and more intuitive than the iPhone’s (imho), but unless there is a decent 3rd party music player available, I will remain a little miffed at such an obvious oversight.

(Stateside owner of a BlackBerry Bold, iPhone 3GS, and now a Nokia N8)

Matthew Miller
October 14, 2010

Ryan, I never thought of that, but you are correct. You can shuffle by album, genre, or the entire library, but not for a specific artist. Yes, that would be a nice feature to have.

October 14, 2010

You comments on the keyboard and the mail app are spot on. Same reason I tried an X6 and returned it after a couple of days.

When replying to a message, you want context. Taking you out of the original app, and covering half the screen with a keyboard is a total productivity killer.

At least my n900 has a sep. keyboard :)

Seriously, Nokia should take a page from the likes of RIM/blackberry. Those devices are email processing machines and make the current Symbian interface look clunky and painful to use.

Love my n900 but also admit that I can get through pure email/text messages much more quickly on my lowly Blackberry 8520.

Thanks for posting an excellent review!

michael kagan
October 14, 2010

Really liked your list on the N8. I own a E73 mode and realy love but was looking to get a more powerful device and was really considering the N8 but you say the is a problem with the keyboard and the brower is the pits? I was looking at other devices as well like the Blackberry storm 2 or a Windows device for Chrismas present to myself and mad the N8 did not do as well as I exspected. Maybe Nokia will fix those 2 problems because they are serious problems for me and would make me buy another brand of phone.

Matthew Miller
October 14, 2010

Michael, check out my new post on the keyboard that makes it MUCH better. The web browser WILL be updated by Nokia and that is a for sure update that should hopefully be coming in November. In the meantime you can always use Opera Mini or Opera Mobile too. I would NEVER buy the BB Storm as the display and text entry is a nightmare. Windows Phone should have good devices, but I am still quite happy with the N8 and getting more pleased with it the more I use and tweak it.

October 14, 2010

You forgot to add no custom equalizers, and poor web browser UI and iffy performance to the list of things you don’t like. Heck, I can come up with a list of 10 things I don’t like. I’m hoping that Nokia is working hard to address all of them.

October 14, 2010

What in the world is wrong with my n8 that I am not able to get past 12 hours battery life out of this thing???

I mean today I did a little web surfing a bunch of texting and thats about it…I took it off the charger at 7am and here I am at 4:15pm with 30%! I have taken off AccuWeather, the lock screen clock and the breathing light. I have the brightness set to half, Bluetooth off, WiFi off and excellent 3g coverage so no seeking signal.

With all the reports I have heard on battery life and how great it is so far I am not impressed at all. The iPhone 4 which has lost 20% today while listening to music all day long and surfing the web also. A few text hear and there. My G2 and Vibrant also seem to get better battery life.

October 15, 2010

Whoa. how do you get your zune subscription to work on this phone? Also, can I do that with other nokia phones too? This is a deal maker for me.

October 16, 2010
  1. No Nokia Podcasting?

Matthew, I noticed there are some podcasts in Ovi store. You just download them and press listen right a way.

Or it will be downloaded in your music library so you can listen them with Your Music player after library refresh, just press selection – and press podcasts…

October 16, 2010

That podcast comes to Your home screens Music widget too where You can play it.

October 17, 2010

the ringtone sound is not good

October 17, 2010

What I dislike? Eldar, because he is a complete loser. Great post btw hahaha

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December 17, 2010

Just my 2p’s worth.

Love the new phone but could use a few tweaks mostly what have been mentioned before.

  1. No portrait qwerty keyboard, heard whispers that an update is on the way to fix this though.

  2. Music player needs an overhaul, no gapless playing, album and artist need separating, no quick access to player controls when phone is locked (though you can use the controls on the headphones so not a biggie).

  3. Email client feels clunky

  4. Facebook app doesn’t include chat support

  5. No way to look at GPS receiver strength

  6. Battery life could be better but again I’m rarely away from home long enough without being able to charge it to need to worry anyway

Apart from those I love it. Took it on a 300 mile round trip using the GPS hooked up to the power socket under the seat of my bike and attached to my bluetooth helmet and it didn’t complain once and didn’t even lose the GPS signal.

December 28, 2010

Hey, thanks for such a wonderful post. I really like it.

The keyboard really blows in N8, could have been better.

But once you take a picture/video and looks at the quality, you forget everything else. One heck of a camera.

Rest of the stuffs are normal I guess. good screen, sturdy device, some really nice functionality. Although I really don’t like the camera making clicking sound.

Thanks for the post and keep us posted. :)

January 23, 2011

Nik Rolls commented ” The N8 has full Mail for Exchange support, so you won’t be left wanting there. I’m finding the mail application great as it offers full folder and HTML support”. I have just purchased a N8 and am having difficulty getting images displayed in emails. The images are just a link…doesn’t show as a complete HTML page. Is this a setting on the N8 phone, or my works Exchange Server?

Any help appreciated…

January 30, 2011

If you never had iPhone still better to buy cheap Chinese phone than nokian8.
But don’t buy n8 if you ever had iPhone . That will be your worse day of the week.

James Tweed
March 21, 2011

The tiny vibrate drives me crazy! It’s a large phone so not always in my pocket but EVEN when it is I still rarely feel it vibrate! I am constantly missing messages and unintentionally driving people crazy as they think I now just ignore them. Is there any hint that we may get an update to resolve this?

Mrc Hallsworth
March 24, 2011

I have just one question, can you copy text while on a web page like you can in opera?

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