What does the internet think of the Nokia N8?

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The announcement of the Nokia N8 has certainly got the internet chattering, more than any other recent Nokia product launch. It’s not an out and out success, but that’s to be expected. No product in the real world can get 100% satisfaction on launch day, but it can get the buzz building from the time the press release goes public (or perhaps before - grrrrr). So what did the internet think of the N8? Lets find out.

The obvious place to start online is the Nokia Conversations blog coverage of the launch. There is obvious bias, but they’re rather proud of the N8 (as they should be) and it’s always interesting to see where companies launching a product want to steer the conversation and buzz to. In the case of the N8, it appears the big points the Finns would like us to discuss are the camera, both for still pictures and HD video (to the point of doing a separate and in-depth post on the camera, just as Steve has done here on AAS). And of course the tie in with all the Ovi Services, but that should be a given for every Nokia phone in the future.

Step outside the corporate walls and you find that the two destination sites in the US, having ran the spoiler story yesterday are saying little more than “here are the specs, they’re confirmed.” Engadget draw the direct comparison to the upcoming new iPhone while making no comment on the relative merits of each device. Meanwhile Gizmodo reckon that the launch today is awkward due to the timing, but are looking forward to getting their hands on it in a few months when it becomes officially available.

Mind you, Engadget editor Chris Ziegler asks if Nokia would like to run his idea for an advertising campaign - "The N8 is GR8" – and he’ll even give the Finnish marketing department that one for free.

I do have to raise an eyebrow when blogs that pounced on the leaks yesterday like a pack of hyenas then write that it’s all about managing expectations and competitive positioning.

In all the argument about the UI layer, are we forgetting everything else? Unwired reckon that no matter if Symbian^3 isn’t fresh or exciting, the price point and hardware in the N8 mean “[it] will be selling like hotcakes…except for the UI paradigm, Symbian^3 is a major improvement over S60 [Fifth Edition].”

European bloggers seem a bit more relaxed with the N8, such as The Next Web., although they are worried that the Symbian ^3 interface may be too similar to the Symbian ^1 interface. Personally I think that the UI changes will be mostly procedural (e.g. sorting out single and double taps, connection dialogs) so on a cursory glance it will feel the same, but at the same time it will all just work and be as intuitive as you would expect in a modern phone. Which also means those reviewers casting a cursory glance will say “nothing’s changed” and move on.

Those who work under the hood, in the guts of the OS, know different.

The memory management and true multi-tasking lead off Electronista’s thoughts on the N8, as well as the hardware that allows the flagship handset to use all five major 3G bands and 802.11n for Wi-fi connectivity and, perhaps rightly, points out the N8 will have an uphill struggle from a more competitive environment than in previous years.

UK journalist Chris Davis picks up that not only is this the first Symbian^3 handset, but it’s also the first to ship with Qt integration. That’s something also picked up on by Phone Report, who extrapolate that decision to highlight the potential portability of Qt apps between the Symbian ^3 and Meego (nee Maemo) platforms.

Electric Pig on the other hand has some more colourful language, going for the style angle and calling the N8 a looker. “That slinky touchscreen design has touches of the N97 about it, but with a few classier angles, and no kick-out keyboard.”

Davis actually carries on in an editorial wondering about Nokia’s strategy and where the current perception of “Nokia is failing” is coming from, and shoots down a lot of the commentary that arose from the review of the prototype that generated the spoiler stories yesterday: “[that review] mockingly described it as a “cosmetic” update, but to some extent that’s exactly what’s needed. Were the N8 running Android or webOS, we’d be drooling uncontrollably; instead, tech bloggers were falling over themselves to decry Nokia’s lack of direction on the basis of a single poor review (and of prototype hardware).” (and with early, pre-release software)

Oh and his answer to Nokia’s problems? Pin down the US carriers, perhaps by leveraging T-Mobile’s adoption of the 5230 Nuron.

Nokia N8 collection

FoneHome wins the prize for most innovative way to simply cut and paste the spec sheet with their Top Ten Things you need to know about the N8. Still, if it gets people thinking about the optimised 680MHz ARM11 processor, 720p HD video recording and HDMI option, rather than “look at the pretty icons moving around”, then it deserves that prize. And while Nokia DNA took a more traditional approach, it's always good to have a "just the facts" page as well as more colourful commentary.

Friend of All About Symbian (hmm...) Ewan McLeod ducks the issue completely by stating that “it boasts a specifications page about 8 screens long on my browser” before going on to talk about his excitement and anticipation for the device. It’s another nice mix of fact and commentary at Mobile Industry Review from my namesake. “I think the N8 experience may well surprise and delight. Will it be enough to persuade customers to turn away from a similarly priced iPhone or Android device? We shall see. There’s a lot of love in the room for Nokia.”

The Prodigal Fool hits the nail on the head, and notes that the N8 is all set to reprise the historic battles of the smartphone wars from all those years ago, although the skirmishes have started online already. Fool’s simple observation is that the N8 has the edge in capturing media and the hardware, while the fourth generation iPhone is likely to win from a software perspective.

Blogger C.J. also sums up the thoughts of many Nokia tech bloggers who have been holding off on buying a new smartphone to see what the N8 would deliver. From his perspective “Nokia finally announced the phone that might replace my aging N82.”

Speaking of blogs assassinating the Archduke Ferdinand, let’s end at Mashable. Their big concern? The fact that Symbian^3 has a caret in the name: “Every time I type Symbian^3, my faith in Nokia’s ability to create a great smartphone platform diminishes slightly… it’s an unwelcome guest in the name in the name of a mobile platform.”

Of course the N8 is going to be driving the news agenda for some time, not just on the rest of the internet, but here on All About Symbian as well. Expect more editorial on the N8 and Symbian^3 over the next week or so. This is a turning point for the Symbian ecosystem as well as Nokia's return to the high end. Will it work? Is it what we expected? All that and more, coming up on All About Symbian.

-- Ewan Spence, April 2010.

PS one thing I did notice – Nokia uploaded a lot of videos around the N8 to YouTube that were made public as the device was announced. Nokia Users have the complete collection, but do you know the one that everyone seemed to be using? The one that features hand freestyler Max Vlassenko. We can spot a trend when we have to…