In Financial Express, Press

Nokia’s latest salvo in the smartphone segment was recently unveiled in Singapore and I was amongst the first people in the world to touch and play around with it. Here’s my in-depth review of the phone that’s directly pitted against the Google Nexus One and even the iPhone.

The Nokia N8 introduces a 12 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, Xenon flash and a large sensor that rivals those found in compact digital cameras. I have used the Nokia N82 which has a 5 MP camera and I was super impressed with the photos. So, I have very high respect for Carl Zeiss and Xenon combination. Expect very good photos from this phone.

The N8 is the world’s first smartphone to incorporate Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound technology. The folks at Nokia demonstrated it and I have to say that it offers a home theatre experience. The inclusion of Dolby Digital Plus in the Nokia N8 brings a new dimension to the capabilities of the smartphone, transforming it into an HD mobile entertainment device, which can output high definition content with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 channel surround sound to HD-ready TVs and home theatre systems.

Powered by Symbian ^3, the Nokia N8 supports gestures such as flick scrolling and pinch-zoom and offers multiple, personalisable homescreens which can be loaded with apps from Ovi Store. Honestly, all this is nothing new. The biggest negative factor that will weigh down the N8 is its operating system. Symbian ^3 does not match up to the iOS4 (in iPhones) or Android. The positive thing to note is that Symbian ^3 is a stop-gap solution, just as Windows Mobile 6.5 was for Windows Phone 7. A lot of hope rests on Symbian 4 which is expected to be way better.

The music player is quite nice. Its powerful 1GHz CPU along with a dedicated Graphics Processing Unit means that the music plays seamlessly and is quick to respond. Add that to the unique and amazing feature called ‘Nokia Comes with Music’ which lets you access a whole truck full of music tracks. It has both 2D and 3D graphics acceleration that should make it feel at home while using graphics heavy mobile games.

There’s even sufficient space for you to fill up your music. The Nokia N8 has 16 GB of in-built storage space, expandable up to 48 GB with a Micro SD card. Large files can be easily transferred to a memory stick with the USB On-the-Go.

I was quite impressed with the performance of N900 and it looks like the goodness of memory management also gets reflected on the N8. This means that you can use multiple applications at the same time without feeling the lag.

Nokia is offering developers a new platform to innovate on. The Nokia N8 comes integrated with Qt, a software development environment that simplifies the development and makes it possible to build applications once and deploy across Symbian and other software platforms. Nokia has also made it simple to use Nokia Qt SDK available in its initial beta, to enable developers to start realising the potential of Qt. The N8 is also Nokia’s first handset that’s integrated with Qt.

The touchscreen is capacitive which means that its quick to respond to your finger touches. It measures 3.5 inches diagonally and has a resolution of 640 x 360 pixels. Nokia announced that the cost of N8 is 370 Euros before taxes. This is around Rs 21,000 which is quite competitively priced. Nokia N8 has taken some positive steps forward in the smartphone segment even though its rivals are increasingly raising the bar higher.