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printed October 31, 2014
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Review: Nokia N8

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Is It Your Type? Body The Three S's  

Screen

The N8 has a 3.5-inch OLED display, with 360 x 640 pixels. It is a good display, but it doesn't come close to matching some of the competition's larger, higher-resolution displays. If you hold the N8 close, you will see pixels and some rough edges, but at normal distance (~2 feet), images and icons look clean, with smooth edges. Colors are vibrant and rich, though the overall tone of the N8's themes and menus is muted. As for brightness, it performs very well indoors. No problems at all. Outdoors, it is on par with other OLED displays. On cloudy days, it was easy to see. On sunny days, it was easier to read than competing LCD screens. In direct sunlight, it was almost impossible to use. But the N8 is not alone in this respect.

Signal

Because the N8 has quad-band GSM/EDGE and penta-band 850/900/1700/1900/2100MHz UMTS/HSPA, I was able to test it on both AT&T's and T-Mobile's networks.

AT&T: The N8 performed quite well with AT&T's network in the NYC metro region. It always had three or four bars of signal (out of seven) and I had no problem with voice calls, messages or data. Everything arrived on time, with no delay. I didn't miss any calls, and didn't drop any. The N8 also survived the NJ vault test with flying colors. It outperformed other AT&T devices I had on hand at communicating with AT&T's network. In 3G speed tests, I was able to achieve an average download speed of 2.8Mbps.

T-Mobile: The N8 performed well on T-Mobile's network, but not as well on AT&T's. I did miss two calls, though the N8 didn't drop any on T-Mobile. Text messages and data worked admirably, with no perceived delays. The N8 showed, on average, two more bars in any given location on T-Mobile's network than it did on AT&T's, although signal strength doesn't always play a large role in real-world performance. Speed tests were slightly under AT&T's, and averaged 2.6Mbps.

Sound

Again, we tested phone call quality with both AT&T and T-Mobile. For both networks, earpiece and speakerphone volume were very good. Some users might wish both had just a little bit more juice, but the N8's volume will suffice.

Nokia has a great track record on call quality, and the N8 is no disappointment. Using both networks, the N8 sounded not just good, but fantastic. No echoes, no noise, no dropped volume or clipping -- just great phone calls. Honestly, I was stunned; the N8 is one of the best-sounding phones I have tested.

Battery

The N8's battery life is good, but it varies widely depending on how the device is used. One thing to avoid: using screen savers of any kind. Screen savers on the N8 run when the phone is asleep. Even with a simple clock floating around on the display, battery life is halved by using the screen savers. Skip 'em. GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth all play a role in battery life, too. Use them only when you need to. As for the networks, I didn't notice a discernible difference in battery life between T-Mobile and AT&T.

Otherwise, the N8 performs very well. Battery life easily surpasses a day and stretches well into the next. Being the cautious fellow that I am, I'd charge every night, but many users won't need to.

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