Initial Look at the N8 Hardware

by Simon LR

It’s no surprise that The Fanatics have the N8. We went to Nokia World. We did the whole “look at us with these shiny new devices” thing. Well, we’re back and we’re taking a look at the N8.

First and foremost, thanks to the gorgeous people at WOMWorld/Nokia for getting a review unit out to me. The N8 I received is dark grey and it sure is wicked sleek.

It ships in a very thin box with the regular raised/embossed logo and adorned with shiny branding. Flipping it over, you’ve got all the pertinent information and hardware buzzwords printed on the outside.

Inside, as always, the device sits on top in all it’s glory. While Nokia is very well known for shipping all of the required accessories and other little nice amenities and, still, the N8 includes cables and adapters that most manufacturers skimp on, but doesn’t include the regular slip case or screen cloth that previous boxes had, rest assured – only those who regularly purchase unlocked Nokia devices will notice this.

And we have the N8, itself;

Amazingly built. Anodize aluminum. Laser cut. Single slab sealed design. The N8 feels like the quality kit it is.

The height and width of the device, coupled with the slippery back – make for holding onto the N8 a real chore. As many with many Nokia devices, it does feel that it can take a dropping and keep on rocking. The Corning-made Gorilla Glass, solid slab of aluminum and what seems to be high-impact polystyrene caps, for absorbing the brunt of drops, provide a real confident feeling about tossing this device around.

Rolling the N8 in your hand, you’ll immediately feel the camera bulge. It’s not intrusive, but it is powerfully pronounced and justified so. Sporting a 12 megapixel 1/1.83” sensor behind an industry-proven Carl Zeiss lens and ionized Xenon flash, you can leave your point-and-shoot at home from now on.

Due to the sealed design of the N8, the microsd card and SIM slot are covered by hard plastic doors. At the top, we have a door to cover the HDMI (type C) port, the 3.5mm jack-in and power/profile toggle button.

The right side has the volume rocker, lock slider switch and the two-stage camera key – which is absolutely the best dual-press camera key that I have EVER used. I’m a stickler for detail and really appreciate the angled-cut ports in the aluminum casing for the right-side keys. It’s when engineers and designers work together wonderfully and produce perfection.

Nothing is without slight niggles, so I’ll tell you what I dislike about the hardware. The menu key. That’s it. One button. One major annoyance, however.

I would have much preferred to see the menu key in the center of the device, ala E7. It’s not ergonomic at all being placed very so far down on the outskirts of the device. In all honesty, I would actually prefer to have a key on the side that acts at the menu key, opposing the lock slider. Left or right-handed, if you’re holding the device, your thumb or peter-pointer is hovering directly over it. Just makes sense to me.

The other reason I dislike the menu key? The LED used for notification.

It is not bright enough. It does not grab your attention unless it’s absolute pitch darkness. The amount of light given off is a pittance, not to mention the fact that it’s a white LED. I’m going to go as far as to say, it’s the worst of all Nokia devices that have this feature. The E7 has the same design and I can only hope it stops there, and the N9 continues from where the N900 left off with a completely programmable RGB LED.

I’ve always been a huge fan of everything that goes into the design and building of a Nokia device. For the most part, it’s just laid out properly (and yes, I like the off-set spacebar of devices gone by). The materials used are of the highest quality and nobody can contest the durability or reliability of a Nokia phone.

Like many other devices nowadays, the N8 is essentially a housing wrapped around a 3.5” screen, some buttons on the side, some ports on the bottom and a camera on the back – yet, it manages to stand out and shine brighter than its counterparts.

Okay, so the hardware is bold and beautiful. How does the software fare? Stay tuned while I vigorously put the N8 through the paces and see how it all turns out.

If you can’t wait for the second part of my review, you can pick up your own from Amazon for $549. Unlocked and full penta-band 3G support means no worrying about a carrier or unlock code!

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  • Anonymous

    Nope… mine isnt weak. Its quite a bright LED white but I know what you mean… its a bit small. I can see it breathing now tho in a fluorescent lighting nightmare of an office. 😉

  • Mike Macias

    That’s good to hear. I hope @SimonLR’s weak #N8 LED notification is a rare case. @kypeli also says his is very bright so that’s good to hear. I should have my N8 next week so hopefully my LED is nice and bright!

    Great pics Simon! I hope that dark grey is the color I get. Looking forward to the next part of your review.

  • Mike Macias

    Hi CJ! Is your N8 LED notification highly visible in a bright room? That’s what I care about. I need it to catch my eye from a few feet away. Also… does it pulsate fast or is it slow breathing when you get a message?

  • Siraj Soft

    In My silver N8 its too bright I think the darker color makes problem :-/

  • Mike Macias

    Thanks for the info guys! Interesting that this #N8 notification LED brightness dilemma is hit or miss. I wonder if this is going to become an issue. I guess it will if we make it an issue. Haven’t seen many complaints yet so we’ll see if more come forward.

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  • Mike Macias

    Thanks for the video. My work computer doesn’t have quicktime installed so i can’t see the video. I’ll check it out tonight!

  • Clinton Jeff

    The one on my Orange Trial unit is a bit like simon’s but only a slight bit brighter lol.

  • Clinton Jeff

    Oh it’s not visible at all in a bright room. It wont catch your eye at all, like previous Nokia’s. In a really dark room tho, it just might. Again this is all based on my Orange N8 review unit sooo..

  • Anonymous

    This vid is the breathing in an office, in standby… Cant say its going to particularly grab your attention.. guess it all depends on the angle the phone is at etc etc. Could definitely be better if there was more space on it… but its quite a vivid bright LED white.

    Vid was done thru the X6 and it looks a bit different when compared against the recent N8 vids 😉

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