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The new Nokia N8 touchscreen phone combines two major "firsts" for Nokia - it's the first Nokia to run the new Symbian^3 operating system, and the first Nokia to sport a 12 megapixel camera.
Perhaps it is appropriate that this fresh start for Nokia should come with a fresh new design - the N8 comes in a more angular design with a tapered top and tail that looks quite different from Nokia's current crop of devices which are mostly based on the 5800. Nokia have managed to avoid the dreaded black slabby look, partly through making the N8 an interesting shape.. and partly because there's no black version available (although there is a dark grey variant).
The most prominent feature of the N8 is the 3.5" 360 x 640 pixel capacitive OLED touchscreen display. The display isn't as high resolution as the 800 pixel wide panels found in some high-end rivals, it's worth bearing in mind that Nokia are pitching the N8 at just €370 before tax and subsidy, so it's nowhere near as expensive as an HTC Desire for example.
The 12 megapixel camera on the back has a Xenon flash, Carl Zeiss optics and can capture HD 720p video. Crucially, Nokia say that the N8 comes with a large sensor which rivals those found in compact digital cameras.. this is good news because in our view the megapixel count is not as important as the quality of the optics and the sensor.
Multimedia support is pretty good, the Nokia N8 can play back MPEG4, H.264, Real and Flash Video plus others, and also MP3, AAC, WMA and AMR audio. The N8 has an FM radio, and also a useful FM transmitter (where legal) that allows you to playback your audio connection on a standard FM radio without messing around with cables or Bluetooth.
Video capture is at up to 25 frames per second, and with HD capture resolutions and the high-quality optics then this sounds very promising. One novel feature with the N8 is the inclusion of an HDMI interface for HD TVs, in addition to the 3.5mm AV connector that can be used with "normal" TV sets and audio accessories.
This is a 3.5G device with support for all major UMTS bands. Maximum download speeds on HSDPA are 10.2 Mbps, with maximum upload speeds of 2.0 Mbps. The N8 also supports 802.11 b,g and n WiFi, making it one of only a few handsets that supports the faster 802.11n protocol.
Internal memory is a whopping 16GB, which should be enough for most users. There's also a microSD slot that can support cards up to 32GB, which might be handy if you intend to use the N8 for a lot of video capture or playback.
The Nokia N8 also includes GPS and a digital compass. Nokia bundle free navigation software with many of their devices, and the N8 is no exception. If used with a car mount, then the N8 would make a very capable satellite navigation device.
Of course, the hardware is only part of the story and the N8 is the very first handset to be announced that runs the new Symbian^3 operating system. Symbian^3 adds kinetic scrolling, multi touch support, pinch-to-zoom, 3D and 2D graphics acceleration and multiple homescreens, all combined with a very high degree of customization. Quite how good this will be in practice remains to be seen, but it's certainly a leap ahead from what Nokia have at the moment. Nokia have a video demonstration of the new OS here.
This is almost definitely the most sophisticated Symbian device to date, and when combined with the inclusion of the Qt software development environment for programmers it should effectively expand the capabilities of the Symbian platform. It is worth remembering though that Nokia's flagship device, the N900, does not run Symbian at all.. and we know that Nokia will follow the N900 up with another similar MeeGo-based device sometime later this year (perhaps called the Nokia N9).
Inevitably, there are a whole bunch of social networking applications built in, including support for Twitter and Facebook, plus popular webmail services and instant messaging clients. You could even go all "old school" and make a phone call if you wanted.
Although this device is primarily designed to be used with a finger, there is an optional capacitive stylus that can be used as well. This will ship as standard in some markets, probably China where it will be used with the N8's handwriting recognition system.
Physically, the Nokia N8 is fairly typical in size. It measures 114 x 59 x 13mm and weighs 135 grams. The 1200 mAh battery provides almost 6 hours talktime on 3G and 16 days standby time, or alternatively 7 hours of video playback or 50 hours of music.
Assuming that the operating system is finished in time, the Nokia N8 should ship during Q3 2010 in Dark Grey, Silver White, Green, Blue and Orange colours.
Nokia N8 Promo Video
In this preview the Nokia N8 is showcased by hand freestyler Max Vlassenko.. enjoy!
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