There are some very good smartphones available today, but as I continue to evaluate various models and hear about the latest ones, such as the Google Nexus S, I get frustrated by the best devices always leaving something out. I doubt we will ever reach smartphone perfection and no single device will ever satisfy all of us, but if you take an honest look at the specifications and functions across the smartphone world at the moment the Nokia N8 may actually be the closest thing to perfection available today.
As I stated in my earlier hands-on article, existing Symbian fans will love the Nokia N8 while people who have used iOS, webOS, and Android devices may not like the Symbian operating system. Given that the operating system people prefer is highly subjective to what you are used to and what you need to do with a device, let's take a look at the hardware specifications and functionality outside of the user interface to see why the Nokia N8 stands out above the rest.
There is a TON packed into the Nokia N8 and these specs and features listed here are just those that are above and beyond what we see in other devices today:
- Penta-band 3G wireless radio: You can use the N8 on T-Mobile, AT&T, and other carriers around the world (850/900/1700/1900 & 2100 MHz frequencies supported) and currently only the latest Nokia Symbian ^3 devices have this capability.
- Bluetooth 3.0
- 12 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and largest sensor found in a camera phone. A Xenon flash is also found to make photographs look fantastic with 720p video capture that includes fabulous zoom capability.
- Dual microphones for audio recording quality
- HDMI port with FULL TV out of everything on the device
- USB on-the-go so you can connect USB flash drives, hard drives, and other peripherals
- Aluminum body in five stylish colors
- Free Ovi Maps with offline navigation and maps for countries around the world. I never travel to a foreign country without a Nokia device preloaded with maps so I can navigate offline with no data plan required.
- FM radio and FM transmitter: Once you have an FM transmitter in your phone you realize how awesome it is to listen to podcasts and your music in the car and at home without any wires.
You might find one or two of these specs in a device, but the Nokia N8 includes ALL of them in a single device that is available for just $549 in a SIM-unlocked manner with NO contract obligation. You can regularly find it popping up on Dell.com for $449 too. I am also a fan of the 3.5 inch OLED display that is fully usable in sunlight. You also cannot beat Nokia for RF reception and phone calls are crystal clear with the phone not dropping calls like so many now just expect with the latest smartphones. I also like that I have 16GB internal with the ability to add a 32GB microSD card.
There are also some hidden features in the Nokia N8 that Nokia never tells you about and these include the ability to use your Zune Pass subscription music and view Amazon Video On Demand movies and TV shows right on the Nokia N8.
The one specification that doesn't appear to lead the pack, on paper at least, is the 680 MHz processor. Today's high end smartphones sport 1 GHz processors, but I honestly have not seen any lag in my N8 and the processor has not been an issue. The processor performance is highly dependent on the rest of the hardware and the operating system. Also, keep in mind the N8 has a graphics processor that takes some of the heavy lifting off of the main phone processor.
The N8 also does not support the newest HSPA+ data networks. It does very well with 3G though and the fact that you are not limited by any carrier offsets the faster data speeds, IMHO.
My wife used my orange Nokia N8 for a couple of days and told me to get her one so she is now sporting a blue N8 and is extremely happy with the device. It isn't perfect, primarily due to some lacking OS issues (portrait QWERTY for one), but as I listed above the hardware supports so much and there really is nothing lacking from a hardware and functionality viewpoint.