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Friday, April 22, 2011

The Nokia N8: First Impressions after 5 days of stress testing

Well, I've had the Nokia N8 for several days now, and toyed around with it quite a bit.


When I got the phone on Saturday, I've started toying around with it quite much. First thing I've noticed is that it had a branded TIM IT firmware. I've Googled around and found that Symbian^3 devices can't have their firmware changed simply by changing the product code and re-flashing the device --- the firmware needs to be changed by way of the Phoenix (as in, Phoenix Service Software). So I've started downloading the firmware to de-brand my device. First flashing failed, since the internal mass storage was corrupt (probably from a bad format), but the phone didn't die, so I managed to boot it up and, after formatting the mass storage, I managed to flash it successfully to the latest Nokia firmware, un-branded.

Next step were the settings, and getting used to the touchscreen. I'm coming from an N95, and a long line of Nokias before, so getting used to a touch interface is a damn pain. But I'm getting better at it as days go by.

After personalizing my phone and being comfortable with the way it looks and it sounds, I started looking for a way to hack my phone, which I finally did tonight. Until now, however, I had to manually sign all my applications with a custom-made certificate from my IMEI. Now that the phone's hacked, I can safely install any software without needing a certificate.

Other than that, the phone is behaving spectacularly. I can't say I am not impressed about this piece of work Nokia has put out. A 12 megapixel camera with a Xenon flash, with HD filming and the awesomeness of Symbian^3 --- all packed in a tiny but large enough touchscreen smartphone, with a 16 GB internal memory (and room for a 32 GB MicroSDHC expansion card).

The last thing I did tonight was to install some mods to my phone that allow me to take pictures at 100% JPEG quality, as in EYE CANDY, and film at 30 FPS in HD (25 FPS original, 720p), while the audio is being encoded at 256 kbps AAC (128 kbps original), but more on that later.


The 12 megapixel camera that the N8 is gifted with, along with the Carl Zeiss lens and a mechanical shutter and Xenon flash for taking pictures makes this the king of pictures in the smartphone segment. At the moment, there is no other phones that surpass the Nokia N8 in regards to taking pictures, and, as expected, this device has "served" some dedicated cameras (yeah, read about it here)

The quality of the pictures is stellar, even in low light, and the focusing is done very quickly. I only took pictures with the default 65%'ish quality setting, since the quality mod wasn't installed when I took the pictures, so, sadly, I will need to take some new pics to test out the camera properly with the new quality setting.

Here's some eye candy for all you picture lovers (click the thumbnails for an enlarged original version)


Note: the pictures were taken at a 9mpx resolution (4000 x 2248), since I've selected a 16:9 display ratio for my pictures (12mpx would be a 4:3 ratio, and I think I will go back to that with the new mod).

Video capturing

The Nokia N8 captures videos in 720p HD, at 25 frames per second, in the mp4 container, while using AAC at 128 kbps for sound. It has a secondary microphone for noise cancellation when filming, so the sound on the video is crispy and clear (most of the times, depends a lot on the amount of noise and the room that the shooting takes place).

After the mod I applied tonight, the N8 will capture in 720p HD at 30fps (up from 25fps), and encode audio at 256 kbps AAC (up from 128), while sacrificing a little bit of bandwidth in the video section, encoding only at 9000 kbps (down from 12000 --- this is what I've read it is/was, haven't really tested yet). Also, the mod adds a Continuous Auto-Focus for filming, very good if you're filming on the move or filming moving subjects.

I've uploaded some videos of a concert I was at, of course, before the damn 30fps patch, and shot in low light (in Club Flex Arad). It seems that when zooming in on low light conditions, there quality drops drastically, but that's understandable.

While I may have to test the phone's capabilities further, I'm pretty satisfied as how good a phone can really be. And this particular phone, or smartphone, is epic.

Final Thoughts

In-between Symbian^3 (which is very good, and a major update will come in the summer [Symbian Anna]), the 12 megapixel camera, HD filming, 16GB of internal memory (expandable with an extra 32GB), 720p native movie playback on the 3.5" scratch-proof touchscreen capable of displaying 16 million colors, and a HDMI port ready to transform any LCD/TV into a touchscreen, I stand in awe of how beautiful and good this masterpiece called the N8 can be.

Nokia really outdid themselves with this device, and I am glad I've made the choice of purchasing such a great smartphone. Even if Nokia has partnered up with Microsoft and is switching OS's (switching to manufacturing phones with the Windows Phone 7 OS), they said that they will continue to push out Symbian^3 devices in the future, for at least 2 years. Also, support for Symbian^3 will continue as the OS goes through it's life cycle (as all OS's do).

Out of all the phones I fiddled with, I give the Nokia N8 a HEARTY 8/10 on the smartphone scale, only problems of the phone being that Nokia with Symbian^3 is not quite where Apple is with iOS or Google is with Android (but incremental updates may push the OS further into the right direction --- but for example, a WiFi hotspot is still not possible, even with updates), and that the battery isn't quite on par with other smartphones on the market (but it's close, trust me).

To whoever wishes to buy a good multimedia smartphone, I recommend the Nokia N8 with all my heart, especially if that person wishes to take great pictures and/or record splendid HD videos. Please read the reviews if you don't trust me personally. One thing though: GSMArena.com didn't name it's N8 review "Director of Photography" for nothing. N8 has the crown.

Nokia N8 Full Phone Specifications
Nokia N8 "serving" another dedicated camera and another smartphone
Nokia N8: Director of Photography

- David aka. Tassadar over and out.


  1. Good review :) keep it up ( i'm reading it now )

  2. Sucks...get a fucking Android man....