Nokia N8: First impressions and successful 3rd party app testing
I arrived home yesterday early evening and found a lovely blue box on my desk. Nokia has been doing an excellent job with these latest Nseries device packages and I have enjoyed opening the N97, N97 mini, and N900 previously to this Nokia N8 that is now in my hands. The Nokia USA team sent out evaluation units to writers and it seemed to be a random allocation of colors. I was hoping to try out an orange one, but was still quite pleased to see a blue one had arrived since my pre-order unit is dark gray and I wanted something with some color to it. I have only spent a few hours with the N8, but already have LOTS of first impressions and wanted to get some thoughts out to you all here as I put the device through its paces over the next couple of weeks. Make sure to check out my thoughts below on 3rd party apps since there area a couple of surprises there and I haven’t seen people talking too much yet about support for 3rd party apps.
What can I say about the hardware other than it is fantastic! I just had the chance to hold the N8 for the first time at Nokia World and I hope everyone gets a chance to hold onto the device because it truly is an amazing piece of technology. The aluminum shell feels awesome in your hands and I love the way the buttons have a shiny beveled interior edge. The brushed silver Nokia Nseries on the back is cool and the camera enclosure seems well constructed. I LOVE that Nokia continues to use physical lock switches and never want to see another Nokia without one.
The blue color looks good with the two plastic end pieces having a slightly greener tint to them than the blue aluminum color. The display is beautiful and while it isn’t as high of a resolution as the iPhone 4 it is perfectly viewable and clear to me so I have no complaints.
The device feels smaller in my hands than I remember from Nokia World and I actually like that it is not nearly as huge as my HTC EVO 4G. It fits well in my hand and feels great.
As we all know Symbian^3 is not a revolutionary software update with a completely new user interface and for people like us that are used to the Symbian S60 interface I don’t think that is a bad thing. The three home screen panels and updated widgets are very good. I have 7 panels on my HTC EVO 4G, but honestly I only use two of them all the time so I believe three is just about the perfect number needed. I love that the contact widget now lets me place as many people on there as I want rather than limiting me to just four people.
I like the standard home screen where I can tap for the clock/alarm, wireless manager, profile switcher, and more without having to dive into menus like I do on iOS devices. It is more like Android, but even more efficient. It is also slick to have the ability for a different background image on each home screen panel and I like that they are continuous, unlike Android devices.
The default social networking apps seem to be fine, but like HTC and Motorola social apps the 3rd party apps are always better. Just go buy Gravity and don’t bother with the default apps.
The new email app is good so far and I cannot tell you how pleased I am that I finally have native threaded SMS that actually even looks great on a Nokia device. As a father of teens girls text messaging is essential for me and I cannot go back to a non-threaded experience.
Unfortunately, PIM looks to still have taken a back seat and the calendar is pretty worthless. I wish Nokia would have just included the one from the E73 at least and I would have been satisfied. The month and week views are basically useless views and someone at Nokia needs to take a hard look at how to get contacts and calendar right.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the Switch utility on Symbian/S60 ROCKS! I was able to bring over recent calls, text messages, bookmarks, and more from the E73 to the N8 in just a few minutes via Bluetooth.
3rd party apps
I am extremely pleased with the performance, design, and overall user interface of the new Ovi Store on the Nokia N8 and already started buying apps in the new store. This is how it should have launched last year and I hope people do give it another chance.
Here are a list of the 3rd party apps I now have loaded on the Nokia N8:
- Angry Birds Lite
- Galaxy on Fire
- OliveTree Bible Reader
- GT Racing (ROCKS on the N8!)
- JoikuSpot Premium
I will continue to discover and install more apps because that is what I like to do so if you have any recommendations feel free to shoot them my way.
I was worried after reading old reviews of prototype hardware that we would see low memory errors, but I had 11 of the highest resource apps I could find (included Gravity, camera app, web browser with full ZDNet site loading, Angry Birds, Galaxy on Fire, Ovi Store, music player, email app, phone dialer, Ovi Maps, and calendar) and I was able to jump between them with no problem at all using the slick new visual task manager. I think that worry was unfounded and I feel so much better about my purchase now.
I also loaded up about 80 songs and found that slick music player cover flow interface is as flawless as I saw at Nokia World. I loaded up a movie and also checked out the cool Tron trailer and now just need to find a kickstand for the N8 to enjoy movies on the go.
Lots more to look at
I haven’t even had the chance to use the camera much and that will be a major focus of at least one post and likely more since the camera is the piece of hardware that stands out among everything else. I also will continue to push the N8 with 3rd party apps and performance, try to get Swype loaded on board for portrait keyboard support, test out the video editor, use Ovi Maps, look for a podcatcher application, try connecting a USB drive, watch video out with the HDMI cable, test out the battery life, and so much more over the next few weeks.
I also have to do some MAJOR organizing of the menu and folders as this area is still a bit of a mess and could also use improvement. Please do post any questions you have for me as I take the N8 for a spin.