Nokia's 8800 Arte is not a low cost mobile. SIM-free you are looking at anything from around £600 to more than £700 from the well-known outlets. For instance, while writing this review I found it for between £199.99 and £499.99 on O2 depending on your contract choice and for £209.99 to £399.99 on various Orange contracts.
Its near twin, the 8800 Arte Sapphire, is an even pricier option coming in at over £800 SIM-free. I can only surmise that the latter's leather trimmings and the real sapphire that sits at the centre of the navigation button are to blame for the hike, because inwardly the phones seem identical. As always, though, prices do vary wildly so it's worth shopping around if you simply must have that gemstone.
Both phones are powered by the S40 operating system. This means they are less sophisticated than some other Nokia handsets, and it is the design that you are paying all that dosh for. Oh, and a rather stylish Bluetooth headset, a desktop stand and a leather slipcase.
Whether the design and extras justify the price is up to you, of course. I'm not convinced, but then again both the 8800 Arte and the 8800 Arte Sapphire do have a rather nice minimalist look. I don't usually go for bronze but in this case the bronzing of the 8800 Sapphire Arte is eye catching, and the black of the 8800 Arte is, well, black which tends to make for a good, sleek look.
There is nothing on the front of the slider design apart from the screen and navigation key until a call comes in, or you open the slide. At this point two pairs of vertically stacked buttons light up. On the left the pair offers a softmenu and Call function and on the right they house a softmenu and End function.
There are no shortcut buttons around the edges of these handsets. Instead the black of the Arte and the bronze of the Arte Sapphire are complemented by a band of silver all around the edge. This picks up horizontal silver banding on the front and back of the casing. With no side buttons you access the camera from the main menu and adjust the volume using the navigation button.
In an interesting first, you can mute the phone when a call is coming in simply by turning it face down on the table. That is great psychology: ‘No, I don't want to talk to you, and actually I don't even want to see that you are calling'.