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Nokia N8: The First 24 Hours

Ms. Jen, in one sentence please tell us what you think about the Nokia N8:
“Love it.”
Yesterday at the end of the Nokia Developer Day at CTIA in San Francisco, the developers attending were given a laptop bag with a t-shirt, a usb key loaded with the Nokia developer tools, and a Nokia N8. I enjoyed the Nokia Developer day, of which I will write about tomorrow, as there was a lot of good information about native mobile app development with the QT framework & C++, as well as mobile app user experience, WRT widget development using HTML/CSS/Javascript web technologies and Java for S40. The Nokia N8 was a fabulous addition to an already good day.
Here are my first impressions as a photographer, developer, designer, and mobilista in a bit more detail:
1) The Nokia N8 is smaller than I thought or remembered. I did see a few in the wild in May and along with all the promotional photos, I thought/remembered it would be the size of an iPhone in width, but have been pleasantly surprised that it has a huge screen but is still small enough to fit in my little hands comfortably.
2) The screen is amazing and is even better than amazing in strong sunlight. Today at 11am, I sat on a bench on the edge of the San Francisco bay in front of the Ferry Building and was able to check into my flight on Virgin America with my sunglasses on! Yes, the screen, in strong sunlight with sunglasses on was very visible.
3) Which leads me to point #3, hello fabulous amazing Nokia N8 mobile web browser, you KICK SERIOUS BOOTAY. The N8’s browser even kicks the Nokia N900’s bootay, as I am able to blog to this blog’s regular admin area which is heavy in javascript/AJAX that even makes the Nokia N900 gack. I was able to check into my flight this afternoon on the regular Virgin America website, which is heavy in flash & javascript, with the javascript fly down menus overlaying the flash promotional area and the N8’s mobile web browser cleared the hurdle with flying colors and did not send be the promo parts of the website but to check in. Hello, Hot Stuff.
4) Symbian ^3 & all touch screen. Anyone who reads my Twitter or this blog knows that I am pretty agnostic about Symbian and not a big all/only touch screen fan, as I do like my buttons. But the Nokia N8 is the first mobile I have met that does not have me yearning heavily to the point of frustration for a keypad or a qwerty keyboard. To that end, while I would like a little more haptic feedback while typing on the virtual on screen keyboard, I am happy with the layout of the keyboard. Honestly, it would be nice to have a mashup of the best of capacitive with the best of resistive touchscreens, but the N8’s capacitive touch screen is working for me.
I know that lots of folk have called for Nokia to send Symbian to the dustbin of mobile history, I do think the Symbian and Nokia folks have done a very good to great job of iterating the Symbian S60 5th edition that was on the Nokia N97 into a very usable and yet still familiar Symbian ^3. I have only had a few struggles to find where a function would be and for the most part everything is just so much easier on the N8’s OS than on the N97.
5) My only real complaint is that I wish all messaging and all music functions were under one app/folder for each major idea. I would like my email and sms to be in the same folder/silo, as previous editions of Symbian, and not separated out into two different silos. Messaging is messaging, what technology and how long the message is should not matter to the user when tapping an icon. Once I have tapped the icon and am in the app, then I can choose if I want texting or one of my email accounts.
The same goes with Music. I would like one icon for the home screen that then opens a folder/silo where I can find the music player and radio, rather than a bunch of different icons and activities.
6) The hardware build is lovely. The aluminum body feels smooth and organic rather than cold & metal. I love the big screen. I would further love to flip up (twack!) the screen and reveal a physical qwerty keyboard, but I am told I will have to wait for that. And I am darned glad for the gorilla glass front, as my neighbor now has a shattered iPhone 4 front screen due to a gravity storm. Say what you would like about Nokia, but they do make great mobile hardware.
7) Last but not least, the camera is fantastic. Not good. Not decent. Not even great, but fantastic. If you see ‘bad’ N8 photos, blame the person pushing the shutter button not the N8.
Please look at the unretouched, though resized with the on board editor, sunset photo in the post before this. I purposely set the camera to the highest setting of 12 megapixels and have been just astounded at what a point & shoot camera phone delivers in terms of color, clarity, and color accuracy. The era of crappy camera phone photos is now over.
I would like to publicly thank Damian Dinning and the whole Nseries team, as well as the camera team, for making a truly revolutionary camera phone. Damian and the team’s quest for excellence is highly evident. As a photographer who wants my camera with me wherever I go, I am very, very pleased.
In closing, I am not just excited for the camera, but also to develop apps for the N8. I have ideas, now I just need some time and there is that small matter to learning how to use PySide, the python bindings for QT. Thank you to Nokia for the lovely Developer Day and the Nokia N8 for the developers.

3 Responses to “Nokia N8: The First 24 Hours”

  1. Randall Graves

    You are the only person so far who thinks the N8’s default browser is at all decent. Most reviews, even on Nokia fansites, recommend Opera Mobile until the revamped browser gets released.

  2. Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen

    Hello Randall,
    I must want my mobile browsers to do something that other users don’t want to do and that is that I need it to handle a tricky javascript/css set of modal windows on a web app that most mobile browsers can’t do, including the iPhone’s beloved browser & Opera Mini.
    My use case is very specific, so for me the N8 browser rocks, but it may not for others.