Being a a mobile phone junkie, I’m patiently awaiting the sale of Nokia’s next flagship device, the Nokia N8.  More importantly I am waiting for user input on usability and performance to help me decide if this device will be my next mobile phone.

Nokia N8

I tend to use these devices in such a demanding way that it is mandatory for a feature set of my strictest requirements be met. The potential of the N8 is there to be my all-in-one device. But as you may know, many of the long-time  supporters like Ricky Cadden ( are now dropping Nokia/Symbian devices for Android based ones because of disappointing performance in previous flasgships like the Nokia N97. With any hope Nokia have learned their lesson and have corrected many of the issues.

I too, as a long time Nokia supporter am on the edge of dropping the brand all together and moving on. Possibly with an Android device as well. For now I’ll be crossing my fingers so stick around as I explore some of the features that I will be looking for and explain how I will be using them.

I decided to take the plunge after reading many bad reviews of the Nokia N97 and went ahead and purchased it anyway. As much as I’ve wanted this device to be everything I needed it to be, sadly it was not. There are too many short comings. Out of memory issues, slow performance, the list goes on. I find myself constantly going back and forth between my wonderful N95-4 8GB. For now the N97 stays in my pocket.

Assuming everything works as advertised there are a few concerns with the N8, which are the lack of hardware keyboard, the 25fps 720p video recording and the same old Symbian operating system (although its “revamped” to Symbian ^3).

The N8 meets and exceeds my requriements in a mobile with the Quad band  GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900/ HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 2100 /1900 bands ( I can use his on AT&T or T-Mobile in the United States), HDMI and composite output, USB host feature (usb-on-the-go), 12MP camera with XENON flash (1/1.83” sensor size), 720p HD recording, capacitive touchscreen, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 A2DP, SMS Threaded View and multi-touch.

Potential Mini-Computer Outputted to TV via HDMI

Nokia N8 using Bluetooth keyboard

Nokia N8 using Bluetooth keyboard

As Myriam Joire suggested in one of the Engadget Mobile podcasts, you could potentially turn the N8 into a mini-mobile computer by using a bluetooth keyboard, a nice webkit browser and outputting all that either by composite or HDMI to an HDTV or monitor (watch the video) not to mention watching movies and video clips.

For people like me that are always on the go and need to administer different websites, this makes perfect sense and is a sound solution. Provided that it all works smoothly of course. The problem with this setup is that I would have to lug around a usb keyboard, the bundled HDMI out cables and a charger. It still beats taking a laptop or netbook with me since the components would be potentially lighter and pocketable. One of the reasons why I put up with the sluggishness of the N97 is due to the fact that it has a hardware keyboard.

SSH Client (PuTTY)

PuTTy for Symbian

PuTTy for Symbian

When you’re really “on the go” and someone calls you about server administration troubles you could load up PuTTy for Symbian and take care of business. I can’t tell you how many times the N97 has come in handy in that respect. This is possible in any Symbian device but he full hardware keyboard leaves you with the entire screen to work with. I have tried to SSH via an iPhone before and I have to say that the on-screen keyboard takes up about 75% of the screen. Which is obviously not good. Again, not sure how I feel about this  on the N8 yet since I will have to carry a bluetooth keyboard at all times and worry about yet another device. Not only that, I’m sure previous version of the software will have to be updated for Symbian ^3.

Look Ma No Wires! Bluetooth Tethering

In the cases where I must carry a laptop/netbook and there is no reliable access to WiFi. I could use internet tethering via bluetooth. The Nokia N8 supports Bluetooth 3.0 which my laptop/netbook won’t be able to take advantage of because the 2.0 Bluetooth modules. Never the less I expect the N8 to support this feature much like previous iterations of N series phones.

12MP Camera (1/1.83” sensor size) XENON Flash and 720p Video@25fps LED light

Nokia N8 Sample Picture

Nokia is attempting to reclaim their innovative status via the 12MP camera. So far the samples that have been released and untouched have been pretty amazing. The video on the other hand while having the ability to record at 720p will only do so at 25fps. The phone will also have the ability to edit videos on the spot.

Sample N8 Video

LED Torch Feature

Going back to the days of the Sony Ericsson K750i and W850i, one of the coolest features of these phones had to be the ability to use the built-in LED light as a “torch.” My current N97 has this feature with an application called PhoneTorchOne less item to carry is always a good thing. This feature comes in handy at movie theaters or even in the middle of the night. If you’re like me and your phone is attached to your 24/7, chances are in a blackout I’ll be able to find my phone faster than a flash light.

USB on-the-go

Essentially the device has a USB host feature, you will be able to plugin in via provided cable a USB hard drive/thumb drive and transfer files between the phone. If it works flawlessly, I can see a lot of potential. Say you take a video at a convention that you must share with your partners. Its not efficient to upload since it would take too long, no laptop is handy to copy it over. But if you had a flash drive, you hook it up to the cable and transfer said video.

WiFi b/g/n with UpnP

I’m sure most of you probably don’t run linux streaming media servers at home. But  in case you did, you could take advantage of UPnP to stream your stored media anywhere in your home. The phone is WiFi “N” ready to use with the newest routers out there.

Well it is true. Most of the “requirements” I have listed are aimed to a tiny niche audience. Fact of the matter is that the N8 will not be for the masses like the iPhone 4.  Symbian although re-worked from the ground up is not for everyone. Especially for new users coming from interfaces like the iPhone. I would go as far as to say that it is not very user friendly.

As much as I like the specs of the device I am not convinced until I see reviews post-release. Many of us loyal Nokia fans have been disappointed before as was the case with the N97. I just hope that they have learned from their mistakes and make Nokia rise again with the N8. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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