Nokia N8 – Blast from the Past


I am back with yet another edition of Blast from the Past. For those who don’t know about this, what I basically do is Revisit some of the most iconic smartphones of the past, and try to review them . For this week’s Blast from the Past, I am going just a few years back, and reviving one of the most amazing phones to ever grace this planet. The phone for this week’s Blast form the past is none other than the Nokia N8.

nokia-n8-quintcolors-lgIn 2010, Nokia found themselves in a bit of a spot, with zero hits in the flagship department. The Android OS was just picking up, and in order for Nokia to keep their share of pie intact, they desperately needed a device that would finally give them a victory in the profitable Flagship domain. Thats when they came up with the N8. In that time frame, Nokia had been taken for granted when it came to the budget phones, and even the mid range. However , the majority of the public started to feel that the Royal Blood had run out of Nokia’s Flagship Lineup.

When Nokia released the N8, they felt that they had finally found a cure for their flagship illness. Nokia went all out and fit the N8 with arguably, the best hardware of its time. It was so good, that even the most critical of experts was forced to give this device a look. Nokia those days, never really stressed on things like netbook grade processing power or truck loads of RAM or the sort. Rather, they focussed on giving Users something different with each device. So while the world was working towards making their devices into workhorses, Nokia believed that the N8 wasn’t just a workhorse. Rather, it was a Fire Breathing Dragon of a device with an industry leading camera , HDMI and USB on-the-go ( popularly called OTG ).

When it came to the software, the Finnish engineers didn’t make the switch to Android . Rather , they backed their home grown Symbian OS, and claimed that it was indeed, the most resource effective mobile operating System in the World. Though this had been proven in the past, it was still left to be seen how the new Symbian ^ 3 would run on the in-built processor.

While the Finns were basking in their own Paradise where Symbian was the best, the harsh truth was that, Symbian was not able to stand up to iOS and Android, let alone beat them. But that never troubled Nokia one bit. Nokia believed that the N8 was not another phone that was to be fed to the likes of iPhone 4 or Galaxy S. The N8 was meant to bring out the business benefits of a smartphone.

Did the N8 justify Nokia’s claims ?

Lets go back in time and Find out –

  • Design and Display – The N8 did seem a bit big for the size of its screen, But it was, by no means a huge slab that pushed the limits of comfortable handling. The 135g weight wasn’t a design flaw, but rather, it added to the solid feel of the device. The N8 was not sleek and sexy like a Jaguar, rather, you could say that it had the sophistication of a Monster Truck. But the N8 was not in the market to fool around –  It wanted to be the ultimate tool of mobile domination.Nokia-N8-770Sleek aluminum on the sides and the back and a large AMOLED touchscreen up front – There was nothing to dislike about the N8. It was truly, the eye candy of Metal phone fanatics. The front panel of the Nokia N8 was mostly taken by the 3.5” AMOLED display of nHD resolution. Tapered sides and sloping top and bottom make the handset quite comfortable to handle, both portrait and landscape. Back then, the ultra thin Bezel concept had not picked up traction, so the N8 was rather a bit too heavy when it came to bezels.The previous few iterations of Nokia’s flagship absolutely tanked the sunlight legibility test. However, with the N8, Nokia got that right as well. The resolution was the standard Nokia resolution of  360 X 640 pixels. When you stack up these numbers against the then competition, that is IPhone 4 and Galaxy S, you will see that the N8 display had almost 45 % less pixels the best Android displays of the time (854 x 480 pixels) and just over a third of the iPhone 4 pixel count (960 x 640 pixels).Overall, the N8 was a solid device, at least in terms of Design and overall display. The handset was built to last and Nokia had demonstrated the sturdiness of the aluminum shell on several occasions. The N8 was neither impressively slim, nor delicately crafted. Just the opposite actually – It was a solid tool, a little rough perhaps, but sturdy and reliable.
  • Connectivity – The N8 came with a huge array of local as well as network connectivity features.For starters, all kinds of network connectivity options were at your disposal – GPRS, EDGE and 3G with HSPA (10.2 Mbps HSDPA and 2.0 Mbps HSUPA). The GSM/EDGE networking came  in quad-band flavor and the 3G covers all the five bands available worldwide – 850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz. This was probably the first Penta Band Phone in existance at the time.The USB is version 2.0, with the standard microUSB port capable of charging the phones besides transferring data. The OTG feature worked like a charm, though the N8 didn’t seem to comply with Wireless card readers and phones come other brands.Bluetooth connectivity was version 3.0 and came with  A2DP stereo Bluetooth support.
  • Camera – The 12 megapixel snapper at the back of the Nokia N8 was one of the main reasons for it to be the most popular handset in the world at the time. Nokia had built a lot of hype about the great shots the N8 produced, and to top it off, they even did some homework and fit it with the biggest sensor a mobile phone had seen (stretching to 1/1.83″ inches). The larger sensor surface clearly benefit its low-light capabilities and dynamic range to a great extent. The Nokia N8 also came with a mechanical shutter, a powerful xenon flash, a 28mm wide-angle lens and a front glass element made out of hardened glass. The built-in ND filter compensated for the lack of variable aperture in those extremely bright conditions when you just couldn’t  increase the shooting speed any more.All in all, With great dynamic range and excellent low-light performance, lots of resolved detail, geometrically perfect lens and, pleasant, but not overdone colors, the Finnish flagship left no doubt as to who was the boss in case of Mobile photography. The only possible areas where Nokia could have improved were the User interface and Flash photography results.
  • Battery – The Nokia N8 was powered by a 1200 mAh LI-Ion BL-4D battery that was reportedly quoted at up to 400 hours of stand-by or up to 12 and a half hours of talk time. When you saw this kind of battery rating 5 years back, it was godly, and you could easily juice out a minimum of two days on a single charge.

The Nokia N8 was the best Nokia had to offer back then. Had the phone released a few years before its 2010 release, the World would have crowned this device the ‘ Best in the World’ . However, when the N8 actually came out in 2010, Nokia was’t the same formidable force and had pinned all their hopes on the N8 to stay afloat. Though the N8 didn’t disappoint, it still wasn’t the best out there, and very soon, it had been overshadowed by the overpowering might of Android phones. When the competition got too much, the N8 bailed and thus end its legacy.

This is it for this week’s Blast from the Past. Stay tuned for more Blasts from the past in the coming weeks. If you want me to handle one of your favorite Vintage Phones, do let me know by leaving a comment below or contacting me personally.


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