Symbian^3 matches up to Android and iOS, and trumps Windows Phone 7, by offering cut and paste for text – although the implementation is actually a bit weak. Swiping a digit over any editable text will highlight it for copying (the option to do so appearing as a menu item), but there’s neither any way to adjust that selection once made nor is it possible to select text in a web page or email, which is a massive shortcoming. There’s one exception to this norm; in the messaging application highlighting text will give a pop-up offering you the option to copy it. It’s an annoying inconsistency both in how this function is activated and in its availability.
The Nokia N8 somewhat makes up for this with its email support, although again there are niggles to accompany the positive aspects. So while Exchange support is present, only one account can be added at any one time. Ovi Mail, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and (oddly enough) BT Internet accounts can be added automatically, or you can opt to configure a POP or IMAP account manually. We had no issues syncing our mail, contacts and calendar with a Google Exchange account, with changes on a desktop browser and the N8 reflecting between each other as expected.
Nokia’s Ovi Maps proves a commendable alternative to Google and Bing’s mapping applications. The progressive zooming isn’t as slick as either of those two implementations, but Ovi’s promise of free for life satellite navigation isn’t just marketing, it’s a genuinely excellent out-of-the-box feature and one that we could envisage using as a replacement for a dedicated sat-nav. We’d probably even pay a few quid more to see Nokia bundle a car docking station with the N8 (or better still see a network swallow the cost and offer one as a value-add differentiator). We might also mention that we found the a-GPS chip in the N8 was able to lock on with almost prescient speed, even indoors.
Social media integration struck us as fairly weak, having experienced the integrated approach taken by Windows Phone 7. Facebook and Twitter access is present, with updates showing in a home screen widget, but there’s no way to pull contacts into your address book, and the apps themselves are pretty much just low-rent versions of these services websites anyway.
In fact the app ecosystem is the Nokia N8’s real weak spot at the moment. The Ovi Store is decidedly barren currently, with no guarantee that it’ll ever fill up with more than a few hundred naff versions of tic-tac-toe, or “flashlight” applications. Okay, it’s not quite that dire; we found Shazam, Spotify and Naughty Birds, to name just a few bigger names, and there are others promised in the near future, but it’s still a far cry from the iPhone App Store and Android Marketplace, both of which have thousands of great apps to download (and even more not worth looking at, admittedly).
Anyone who seriously wants their mobile phone camera to serve as a replacement for a dedicated compact shooter might well happily disregard all of the preceding. The unit in the N8, with its 12-megapixel sensor and f2.8, 28mm Carl Zeiss lens, really is stunningly good. Resolution may not tell the whole story, but we were really shocked at just how good images pulled from the N8 looked blown up on a large screen.