Home / Mobile / Mobile Phone / Nokia N8 / Camera and Conclusions

Nokia N8 - Camera and Conclusions

By Hugo Jobling



Our Score:


Photos looked sharp and detailed, with the automatic exposure and white balance controls doing a commendable job of delivering natural-looking images with well-saturated, but natural looking, colours. The two-stage shutter button is a much, much better actuation trigger than a touchscreen control. We also loved the powerful Xenon flash, which did a great job of lighting up low light and night shots, even if it does drain the battery rather quickly.

Video is on par with other HD-capable mobile phones, but isn’t going to blow you away. The 25fps framerate limit means fast-moving objects have a juddery look to them, but the 720p resolution does capture plenty of detail, and image quality is subject to the same compliments as stills. Plus, the N8 has the added advantage of being able to output its video recordings directly to a TV via its HDMI port, which is rather useful.

We’re really not sure why sharing options are limited to email or Bluetooth, as pictures this good really do warrant being uploaded to Facebook or Flickr, so we would hope that becomes an option in a future update. There are a few post-processing options, including red eye removal, resizing and cropping of images, and a bunch of gimmicky effects (adding text, drawing, and adding ‘frames’ to name a few), but we’d leave editing for a computer where you’ll get much more professional-looking results – the on-phone software really isn’t that fun or easy to use.

The disheartening combination of great hardware and sub-par, if not outright terrible, software plagues the Nokia N8. Considering the same money, on the same tariff, can net you an HTC Wildfire (which offers a superior operating system to Symbian^3 in hardware that, while nothing like as polished as the Nokia N8, is still very nice), we really can’t see many customers opting for the Finnish option. It's an even worse story SIM-free, where the N8 will run you about £400, dangerously close to the iPhone 3GS; and you know it's a bad sign when last-generation hardware is a compelling alternative to your current offering.

If the Nokia N8 had launched a year ago, when Android was suffering much more from its lack of polish, the iPhone 4 was still to come, and Windows Phone 7 was months away from launching, we’d probably have found the failings of Symbian^3 much easier to tolerate, in exchange for the N8’s truly impeccable hardware. Sadly, the competition has moved on from the baseline which the N8 meets, but doesn’t exceed. We’re sorry Nokia, but if this is your only effort at sticking around in the smartphone market, you might as well start packing your bags.


Disappointing is the word that springs to our minds the most when using, and describing the Nokia N8. It’s disappointing that Symbian^3 lacks so much in so many areas, disappointing that it has taken the N8 so long to arrive, disappointing that such beautifully constructed hardware, with such well-considered specs, should be lumbered with an operating system that would have felt second-rate a year ago.

If you’ve never used an iPhone, Windows Phone 7, or Android handset, don’t think you will and won’t be stuck watching users constantly, by all means go into a shop and try out a Nokia N8 – the hardware may well win you over, it’s that well made. But if you’re likely to be in a position to compare it to another smartphone platform, you’d have to be crazy to consider Symbian^3, and therefore the Nokia N8, as an alternative.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


November 23, 2010, 4:07 pm

Seems like Nokia have missed the boat again. As a long tie Nokia user, ( currently using an N97 Mini,and love it) i am finding it harder and harder to look at my next phone coming from Nokia. I was thinking of an N8. Having used both an I phone and android handsets i see little reason to stick with Nokia. Dated software and lack of compatibility. Something else to note is the customer service from Nokia, not good is the best i can manage. Such a shame

Neil B

November 23, 2010, 4:24 pm

What a strange review, so many good points in there but you fail to mention those in your summary or reflect them in your scores. Incidentally, the FM transmitter is a genius inclusion and one of the many reasons why I keep upgrading to Nokia devices.

Digital Fury

November 23, 2010, 4:43 pm

It's their money to burn and their reputation to waste. I do wonder however, how many such crappy units will Nokia's Management, employees and shareholders continue to unleash on us, before realising that they are incapable of making a competitive smartphone.

It might not be sexy or glorious, but they know however how to make mass-market cheapo units for 3rd world markets though.


November 23, 2010, 4:45 pm

I think you have become too biased against Nokia. As long as Nokia truly gets behind this phone and provides regular software updates to iron out the wrinkles this could become a very good phone. You haven't spoken about battery life which N is traditionally very good at. And I agree with the Blackberry guy who has said "I have a website for that". Most of the apps I have seen on iphone can easily be provided by a web site. And does iphone have apps like Joikuspot? Wifi tethering is a big deal in the glam phones but old N has been doing it for years. And you can't have it both ways. "Ovi hasn't got anything useful" then "you can download Opera for it" (but for some reason you don't want to). Oh and it has a great camera but you don't show the photos. And at least the media player can download podcasts etc direct without going through itunes. Oh and it has free downloadable maps for everywhere.

I guess I should thank you that because of one sided reviews like this when my E71 comes up for renewal I will be able to get the N8 for £20 a month with a huge package of minutes and data. As i said earlier please Nokia, don't lose interest in this phone and put out another 10 devices - keep working on it.


November 23, 2010, 5:00 pm

Totally agree with everything here, the N8 is like buying a Bugatti Veyron, but replacing the £20,000 seats with a go kart seat. It's just stupid.

However, the one point which you are 9000% wrong on is the FM transmitter. This is a fantistic option. As someone who has a N78 and N79, I cannot imagine living without one. Why the iphone et al don't have one built in is ludicrous. Oh wait, they want to see it as an extra! Unless you drive a Range Rover or read Max Power, then chances are you don't have bluetooth or a dock in your car. This works perfectly instead. Ok, so you can keep a £20 transmitter in your car, but it's just so as easy. It's also great for hijacking the radio in the gym or in other places. Have you ever had a 4am taxi ride home from a club where everyone is tired, only to get everyone's spirits sky high once again by starting a singalong to Ring of Fire or American Pie? I think not. If you had an fm transmitter built into you phone you would have had this experience 100 times by now.


November 23, 2010, 5:02 pm

This is VERY strange review ... You read mostly good things about the phone in the review - hardware is very good, OS is snappy, camera is excellent, battery is good - but you get a score of 6/10... The opposite of the HTC Desire HD, for which you read the review and nothing strikes you as being good but the score is 10/10 ...


November 23, 2010, 5:17 pm

Had the opportunity to play on one of these for a little while about a week ago and the review just about summed up my impressions perfectly. Lovely hardware (although for some reason I kept wanting to slide the screen up to get to a non-existant landscape keyboard) but the OS just isn't good enough and considering what else is on the market right now you'd have to either REALLY want the hardware or be a die-hard Symbian user to go for an N8. Which is a shame because, and this is of course just IMO, Nokia are the only company making hardware that directly compared to Apple at the moment. They really do need MeeGo to be ready (and good) very soon if they want to play at the high end.


November 23, 2010, 5:20 pm

@Neil B "Incidentally, the FM transmitter is a genius inclusion". I thought so too (easy way to dock the phone to any car stereo).


November 23, 2010, 5:37 pm

This phone should have had a 800x480 (or 854x480) screen and come with either Maemo or Meego. Why they decided to lump it with such a piss-poor screen resolution and woefully out-dated software is a mystery!


November 23, 2010, 5:53 pm

4/10 for performance & value? Really?!

I think that that is way too harsh. The performance isn't that bad, just awkward at times whilst not exactly being cutting edge! But it will get the job done. And the value proposition is very good in my view, especially with that camera. Funnily enough for me, it's the hardware that I think is over rated a touch, too many nasty plastic fold out covers and that camera stick out too far.

But yeah, on the whole, compared to the leading handsets & OS's - it's another 'miss by a country mile' effort from Nokia. But i'll still get one, just because it's a Nokia :)


November 23, 2010, 6:04 pm

"Despite its 680MHz CPU having a clock speed that sounds somewhat meagre compared to the 1GHz processors turning up in most contemporary smartphones (even considering the separate Broadcom graphics processor), the Nokia N8 operates swiftly. The key to this is Symbian^3, the latest Nokia operating system, which is (allegedly) much more efficient that the likes of iOS, Windows Phone 7, or Android."

This kind of feels at odds with your rating of 4 for performance. What exactly are you basing that on? UI transitions? The browser? The keyboard? Given that call quality and battery life are excellent this seems to jar a little.

Full disclosure: I have an N8 and I think you're spot on about a few things. The browser, whilst adequate, is poor in comparison to the iPhone's and those used by the high end Android sets. The keyboard should be an overlay, not full screen. The portrait QWERTY should at least be an option although, frankly, portrait typing for me is always one handed so less of an issue.

Can't say I've had a problem with the screen resolution but then I use Opera, not the stock browser. Also, regarding apps, the two I think it's missing are Dropbox and Evernote. What are the ones you guys miss?

The screen transition complaints I don't really get. It's designed to do that - switch to power saving mode and it moves instantly. The reason it's there is to stop accidentally flipping a screen when you're, say, scrolling through the contacts carousel. It's getting removed in the firmware update anyway so a moot point I suppose.

I'd also echo the comments about the FM transmitter. Switch on, turn on radio in car, job done. No cables, no proprietary adapters, no mess. An incredibly useful feature.

So, fair enough, I get what you're saying - well except the performance I suppose - but here's the thing: Nokia have already committed to releasing a new browser, new keyboard and software updates by early 2011 (February apparently). I've seen a video of the alphas on Jay's My Nokia Blog and they look the business.

So, if these improvements come out in few months, take away the UI issues - and what you appear to have issues with is the UI, not the OS (no guys, they're not the same: the OS is the bit that allows the N8 to do all the same things a Desire does on a much weaker GPU) then should a company that has, by your own admission, made excellent hardware and has a lot of great features, pack up and go home?

Yes, disappointing is the word but it's not Nokia I'm disappointed in, guys.


November 23, 2010, 6:15 pm

Apologies for taking this discussion off topic but is there any chance of the Nokia X3-02being reviewed at some point? I saw one the other day at my local Orange Shop and on the surface it looks a little beauty.


November 23, 2010, 6:35 pm


You'll not be surprised if I disagree. There seems to be an assumption that people who use Nokia phones actually haven't tried out the opposition's products.

For example, I think the iPhone 4 is an excellent device... unless you want to make a phone call, load it from anywhere except iTunes or send anything by Bluetooth. I think the HTC Desire is also an excellent device... unless you want enough battery to make a phone call at chucking out time. Or, come to think of it, tea time.

The focus here is on software and because of that I think you've skimped over some of the key functions of a mobile phone - being mobile (i.e. not tethered to a wall socket) and actually reliably making calls. Something that the opposition don't do well at all.

To use the Sleeper car analogy: Using an N^8 is like using a Lotus Exige. It's raw, powerful and exhilarating but if you don't know what you're doing it'll have you. Using an iPhone or a Desire is like using an Exige but having the fun stripped out of it by adding airbags and ABS a sereo and a drinks holder. :)


November 23, 2010, 6:39 pm

Be aware Hugo that the Wilfire can be had for around or under £200 sim free now.

Maybe you meant the Desire instead in your comparison, which is the same price sim-free to the N* now in the review.

Also, you mistakenly mentioned it doesn't dig into your fingers like the iphone 5? Pretty sure that doesn't exist yet mate. :P


November 23, 2010, 7:45 pm


The performance score I've marked down more because of how the device performs rather than how fast. What the N8 can do it does pretty quickly, but it's often clunky and frustrating to accomplish simple tasks. Even something as simple as the keyboard's return key not working as 'enter' for input fields becomes incredibly the annoying the 20th time it fails to work. The ability to hold for a context menu is useful, but (like WP7) you have to try it and see, because it's not universal (it would be good for copy and paste, for example).

The home screen widgets are a great idea, but the low resolution of the screen coupled with their limited size means you barely get any information in them - a 140 character tweet won't even squeeze in. And I do believe I pointed out that as a phone for making phone calls the N8 excels, and similarly praised the battery life, which indeed excellent. I've not had any problems with battery life or making calls on my iPhone 4, though (although I do know folks who have).

You're right, its the UI that's the issue, not the OS, I guess I could have made that clearer. WP7, iOS and Android all have 'smoother' UIs (screen transitions, for example, move with your finger on iOS, not after it as on Symbian^3, which feels counter-intuitive - the swipe should be an action, not an instruction).

I think your analogy is flawed; but rolling with it: if the N8 is an Exige, then remember you wouldn't use an Exige every day because in the real world it's horribly impractical, for all that it looks awesome on paper.

speedyg2010 - The Wildfire is cheaper and better, why is that not a good comparison?

And no, I'm not mistaken, you're misreading. I mean that whoever is designing the iPhone 5 could learn a lesson; it's too late to change the iPhone 4.

In other news: it's amazing how I can write a 3,200 word review and still apparently not cover everything I wanted/needed to say.


November 23, 2010, 8:29 pm


Yup. I agree with what you're saying although I still think you're being overly harsh. The enter key is the green tick, not the return key (which is a carriage return rather than input confirmation). The transitions just feels like a 'so what?' to me. As for the screen, Gravity works fine with Tweets so not sure what the issue is here.

That said, the keyboard is one of three main areas of weakness - the other two being the browser and the connectivity settings - which is a shame because, like you mention, the predictive text on the landscape QWERTY is actually very good.

It is indeed the UI that's the problem, or more specifically parts of the UI. The browser is overly complicated (as a note to anyone who has an N8, for the love of God download Opera unless you really need to see Flash. Seriously) and has poor rendering, the keyboard is very good but needs to be overlay, not full screen and the general presentation could be better (anyone using an S^3 device should use Symbian's 'Fresh' Theme as it's much nicer). As I've mentioned the good news is that they are all being addressed by firmware in early 2011.

Which is kind of what's important to me. You can't improve hardware post release, software is easy to upgrade (iOS 4 and Froyo being examples). I guess that's what I think's being missed here.


November 23, 2010, 9:07 pm

You just marked this down to get your view/comment count up for ad impressions.

It backfired (partially) with me, I didn't bother reading the article (it's obvious what you're going to say) - so just looked at the score on page1 and the comments.


Anyway, poor Nokia, they need the radical refresh route MS took. Meego better hurry up and sort everything; or just accept defeat and stick Android on it.

Mad Iguana

November 23, 2010, 10:19 pm

Have to agree with the guy who said that this reads as the exact opposite of the Desire HD review; that's not to say that the review was invalid any more than the Desire HD review was invalid (I don't think either one was, for the record).

But it looks odd to see the generally-positive review with very low scores, just as it seemed odd to see the generally-negative Desire HD review with very high scores.

And if the only issues were with the Browser, transitions, lack of qwerty keyboard in portrait mode and the input box moving off screen, then it seems that the score is remarkably low.

Of those, only the 4th would really bother me.

I own an N97 mini, so I'm declaring my interest here, and, for the record, I hate the portrait qwerty on my wife's iPhone (despite the rest of the phone being pretty nifty in its own way); I use Opera Mobile and would continue to do so (and don't say that having to download a browser is a bad thing - you can't do that and also criticise Ovi Store for not having the hundred thousand apps or whatever that the App Store has, especially when those are often just replicating functionality that is built into Nokias).

And transitions? Well they're eye candy and I can't imagine the lack of them or sluggishness of them bothering me. I could be wrong there, of course.

I may have misunderstood the negatives in your review, in which case, I will have received a false impression of the phone (as with the Desire HD), because the words do not match the score very well.

There are lots of things I dislike on the N97 Mini, but no phone is perfect; I dislike a hell of a lot more about the wife's iPhone, and TR would have had me believe that was a perfect phone when it came out.

My point has kinda fizzled out now, but, er, horses for courses I guess.


November 23, 2010, 10:31 pm

Very biased review. The pro-Apple anti-Nokia sentiment on this website is becoming too extreme and your smartphone reviews are losing that professional feel they used to have. As a current iOS and (recent) past Symbian user, I do think iOS is slicker than Symbian, but probably Nokia hardware is superior, and that should balance things out to some extent. Please bring objectivity and consistency back into your reviews.


November 24, 2010, 12:46 am

Out of all the high-end smartphones out there, the Nokia N8 seems to be the only one with a battery life that can last 2 days or more, whereas from what I read around the web, most people with an HTC desire or a galaxy S have to charge every day or else deactivate most features ridiculously.. this is complete deal breaker for me and a reason alone to make me consider the N8 despite the little software shortcomings that should be adressed soon to some extent. So this review for me doesn't really make a lot of sense specially comparing it with the reviews of the other 2 phones.


November 24, 2010, 1:27 am

@Hugo: The Wildfire isn't the best comparison because it was meant as a cut-down version of the Desire, wheras the N8 is the Nokia flagship in the range ahead of the C6 and C8, like the Desire, which is why I thought that was a better alternative but that's just my opinion. I think personally the Wildfire isn't as cheap as it could be esp. with the advent of the Orange San Francisco and ZTE possibly selling its phone to other operators is arguably the best value Android phone on a budget by a long way.

I doubt the iphone5 will take any cue from other clever manufacturer designs due to it's inferiority complex to others Apple have. I expect something that would make the HTC Legend look very ordinary and mundane but possibly knife thin edges and uncomfortable and slippery sides.

Maybe they'll sell special igloves to handle them? :)

P.S any chance of a video review soon, or is that Ed's domain for phones?


November 24, 2010, 2:58 am

@speedyg2012: I'll hopefully get to shoot one next week when I get back to the office.


November 24, 2010, 4:01 am

@ Hugo and Sleeper. Your car analogies, whilst amusing, are wrong.

I drive an iPhone4 car. It's the height of luxury, goes like a train and is, in truth, far too glamourous for me. But its boot is the size of the wife's handbag. The wife, on the other hand drives an N8. A slightly clonky 4x4 that can do absolutely anything and go anywhere. Fortunately she lets me use it.

It's horses for courses of course, but the last time I bought a phone it was the 4x4 type. And so it will be next time, because unlike the car, I doubt the wife will let me borrow her phone whenever I want to do anything useful.

By the way, the review was very informative, and even made me laugh, so a job well done. I'm afraid that the scores give the impression that Hugo is as bad a picking phones as I am at picking cars.

Hans Gruber

November 24, 2010, 7:14 am

Is that your pink 'My Little Pony', Hugo? Bwahahahaha.

I agree with the overriding sentiment in the comments section, that, after reading the entire review carefully your scoring did not add up. That's why people are universally critical of your reasoning, not because they haven't read the article. You're fundamentally saying the N8 is a good phone throughout the review then seemingly slamming it for not offering as good an experience as either an Apple or Google alternative.

We appreciate you make good mention of current issues with its awkward and unrefined text input system and bemoan the lack or quality of current third party application support but these issues don't balance out your choice in rating the phone 4/10 for performance by a long shot. Anyone comparing the written content of the review to the final ratings can see that they don't add up.

Though your review was comprehensive and well balanced in scope, in style it was poorly written. Many of the statements you've made would match George Bush at his best for sheer disjointed grammar and back to front logic. Despite re-reading them a number of times they still didn't make sense to me.

I'm not having a go at you, Hugo/TR, just pointing out that despite the article being very useful as it is it's extremely far from being polished and of a professional publishing standard though it was definitely comprehensive in scope (if not in consistency of intelligibility). Just compare this piece to that of other regular (external) contributors here to see the difference. Even the commenters here make more of an effort to check what they've written it seems.

This review takes Trusted Reviews' lack of proof reading and evidence of editing to new lows. I'm not saying everything has to be immaculately written but you could at least make more of an effort. This article is just sloppy. And I blame the editor for that. It'd be nice to see an improvement on the horizon. Sorry to be a grammar nazi - I know it's fundamentally the content that counts and you people at TR do well in informing us of the products and developments out there - but c'mon sort it out, you'd get a serious telling off if you submitted this anywhere but the internet. I think your readers deserve a little better and it's time you addressed this long standing issue.

As for your earlier (now retracted) Porsche 911 analogy, Hugo, I think it would have been better to argue that the N8 drove poorly despite great power under the bonnet. And that is more of a usability issue in this instance so maybe it'd be a better idea to bring that rating criterion (for Usability) back to mobile smart/phones rather than having separate performance categories for software and hardware? Lastly, I think your earlier (now removed) comment ought to have remained where it was as we users don't have the choice of editing/deleting what we write if we later decide we'd like to change or take back what we've written.


November 24, 2010, 9:59 am

@Hugo - Wow...I'm not even sure where to begin. Feels like I could write a 3,200 word comment and still have more to say. I'll try to keep it a little shorter though...

I knew before I even looked at the review that you (TR) weren't going to give the N8 very high scores. Over time it's become very clear how biased you are towards Apple's and HTC's smartphones, and how much TR dislikes any smartphone higher up from Nokia's range. I was still a bit surprised at just how low the scores were, but even more surprised by the fact that you (Hugo) had written the review. I enjoy reading your reviews about headphones and other things MP3, but I expect to read smartphone reviews written by Ed, particularly the ones concerning flagship models. Especially since you (Hugo) don't seem to have written a mobile phone review in several months. I don't know if Ed would have scored the N8 differently, but now the review has even less credibility.

(on a side note: Did you even read through your review? I found half a dozen mistakes/typos on the first page alone, and almost a dozen more in the rest of the review...)

In your review you mention how much you like the N8's design, making it even sound like it's better designed than the iPhone 4. Yet it gets the exact same score for design as the iPhone.

Then you go on to list a lot of the useful features on the N8, many of which can't be found on any other smartphone. Yet you still only give it a score of 8/10 for Features, when the iPhone 4 gets 10/10.

You give the impression that all of these unique features work the way they should, you say that battery life proved excellent, that the N8 operates swiftly and that you didn't notice any problems with speed or responsiveness. Yet you give the N8 a shameful 4/10 for Performance, while the iPhone 4 gets another 10/10.

I don't know why you compare the Nokia N8 to HTC's Wildfire and the iPhone 3GS, when it's Nokia's flagship model and clearly aimed at the iPhone 4 and HTC Desire etc.. The N8 costs £100 less than the 16GB iPhone 4 and £200 less than the 32GB version, yet you can add a 32GB microSD card to the N8 and give it a total of 48GB! And it'll still only cost as much as the 16GB iPhone 4 and £100 less than the 32GB version. But again, you gave the feature-packed N8 an undeserved 4/10 for Value, while the iPhone 4 got 7/10.

The first 3(!) pages of your review seemed very positive overall, as you mentioned the N8's excellent battery life, impressive speakers, great call quality, the unique HDMI and USB connectivity and the stunningly good camera with Xenon flash. All of which are lacking to some extent on the iPhone 4. But because you had some issues with the N8's UI, mostly things that can and probably will be improved through firmware updates, you felt it was appropriate to give the N8 6/10 Overall, while the iPhone 4 still gets 9/10.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, you (TR) put WAY too much emphasis on the software/UI, and not enough on the features/hardware.

A lot of the "problems" with the Nokia N8 can be fixed through updates, while no amount of updates or apps are ever going to give the iPhone 4 the same connectivity, the same quality camera or speakers, a Xenon flash, a microSD card slot, etc..

As many others have said, the FM transmitter is also a great feature on the N8, and not as useless as you seem to think.

And just to be clear: no, I don't own a Nokia N8, I haven't even tried one. But yes, I will be getting one soon as my next phone.

By the way, it's called ANGRY Birds, not Naughty Birds. They've probably read as many of your reviews as I have...

Disappointing is the word that springs to mind when reading reviews like this on TrustedReviews.com. Maybe you should change the name of the site to just Reviews.com...

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