Skip to main content

Nokia N8 review

If you don't want to go down the Apple route for a smartphone then this Nokia is a good alternative, but it's not the best out there Tested at £440

Our Verdict

Okay, but there's nothing attractive about the Symbian interface. Should be better

For

  • Quality build
  • AMOLED screen
  • HD camera
  • cohesive sound
  • Flash support for web

Against

  • Patchy operating system
  • thinness in the treble
  • average video quality

There was a time when some of the biggest players in mobile telephony, such as Samsung and Sony Ericsson were fully paid-up members of the Symbian club.

But, the arrival of more glamorous, attractive alternatives has meant that they've now jumped ship, leaving owners Nokia with quite a job on its hands.

It's fair to say that recent Nokia phones have failed to recapture former glories – but their flagship smartphone, the N8, has the most recent chance to turn the tide.

Well-built and well-specified
The phone's appearance and specification are both promising.

This is a well-made handset, and it feels extremely comfortable when sat in the palm of your hand.

There's a 3.5in AMOLED display, a 12MP camera with fancy Carl Zeiss optics, the ability to record video at 720p and playback through a mini-HDMI output (an adaptor is supplied in the box) as well as Dolby Digital Plus support.

Nokia even has its own iTunes Store equivalent, the Ovi Store. It's enough, but still struggles in terms of quality and quantity of music, video and app content.

There's also a lack of style and sophistication when compared with the very modern-looking iTunes Store or the Zune Marketplace.

As you try to access content and programmes on the phone, it's soon apparent that the Symbian^3 operating system is going to struggle here.

It's a real mixed bag: the phone's home screen appears cluttered with Apps, while its response to finger commands is no match for the smoothness and fluidity of rivals.

You can access BBC's iPlayer with the touch of one icon, but the handset is almost too keen to jump there. At other times (when inputting a phone number, for example) it can be irritatingly slow. It all adds up to a slightly disorienting user experience, compared to its rivals.

When you do finally access iPlayer's video stream, picture quality isn't too bad. The AMOLED screen shows rich, lucid colours and detail levels are okay.

Admittedly, the screen's resolution (640 x 360) is low compared with its peers, so the best in crispness and definition can be found elsewhere.

Decent sound, but a touch thin
Nokia supplies its own headphones with a built-in mic and media controls, which is nice, but sonically they're not up to much – and we found it hard to secure a decent fit.

With new headphones fed into the phone's 3.5mm jack, the N8 reveals a confident, cohesive sound when faced with various genres of music, but there's a trace of thinness and brightness in the treble that soon comes to the fore.

The N8 has a few decent features, but there are too many flaws to give the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S any meaningful competition.

Both the operating system and multimedia performance drag it down into mediocrity.

See all our smartphone reviews

Follow whathifi.com on Twittter

Join whathifi.com on Facebook

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


Read more about how we test