Note: I have recently upgraded my phone with Symbian Anna so I am updating this post with new and updated apps and feature list which I am now using.

Update: I have upgraded to Lumia 925.

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As most of the regular readers of my blog already know, I was using a Nokia N79 since December 2008. However, change is inevitable so I had to move on. With Nokia N8 I couldn’t resist buying a solid offering from Nokia in terms of camera & video quality. My primary requirement in a phone is camera & video.

This post is not a review of Nokia N8 as if you want to read that then you can check GSMArena’s review or Slashgear’s review. For a detailed hardware analysis and review, check out Anandtech’s review.

With my X-mini

Some of my friends asked me why I am not buying a Windows Mobile 7, Android or iPhone. Well, although people will not agree but these are the reasons I decided to purchase a Nokia Symbian device…

  • Easily available service in India: Nokia has a strong market in India. There service centres are also easily available and the devices are easy to service. iFixit gave Nokia N8 8/10 in ease of repair.
  • Value for money and resale value: Nokia phones cost less compared to other brands here and usually more value for money. They are also easy to resale.

 

  • Familiar OS: Symbian^3 is a evolution of Symbian S60 v5 found in Nokia N97, X6 etc which results in a familiar OS to what I have already used in the past.

 

 

  • Strong build: Nokia N8 is made of anodized aluminium. It is as tough as it can get. After using N8 in a demo session, I was sold on its durability. Plastic  body does makes the phone lite but Nokia N8 isn’t heavy either at only 135gm. My N79 was 100 gm. & just a few millimetres short.

 

 

  • Camera: Nokia N8 has a 12 MP camera with the biggest image sensor which means more light can be captured at one time which enhances the quality of pictures. 12 MP is huge size which isn’t even required in regular cases but inclusion of Xenon flash is why I opted for Nokia N8. After using my N79 in night or low light conditions, I realized the importance of Xenon flash like what Nokia had in Nokia N82. In regular life, most of the pictures we take are insides rooms or buildings with tube lights so having a Xenon flash helps a lot there. On a well lit outdoor environment a 5MP camera of N79 also provides good quality. On top of that Nokia N8 supports video recording at 720p HD. This makes N8 a long term purchase. You can check some Nokia N8 Sample pictures I took in New Delhi under various condition.

 

 

  • Efficiency: Symbian is a mature OS. The app development is native code using Carbide.C++ or Qt unlike Android which uses a Java Virtual machine. Due to this Symbian^3 is able to use the resources of the phone in a better way compared to other devices.

 

 

Things Nokia needs to improve in Symbian^3.

  • Symbian Anna has a new web browser compared to old Symbian^3, but it still needs changes compared to Opera Mobile or Safari Mobile to compete in the market. An update to the rendering engine is coming with Symbian Belle

 

  • Reduce the menus further.

 

 

  • Create a “Nokia certified apps” market.

 

 

  • The inbuilt Social networking features need change. The twitter app is not good enough. The Facebook app is a web Widget, which they should change to a native Qt.

 

 

The apps which I use with my Nokia N8 on the desktop PC & in the phone are…

1. Nokia OVI Suite is a must for any Nokia phone user. Using Ovi Suite, I can send & receive SMS from the computer itself over Bluetooth, edit contacts, sync songs & download map data easily.

You can also use it to play songs purchased from Ovi Music Store although this store is about to be shut down. Once your PC is authorised to play the DRM locked music, you can also play it in any media player in your PC.

For Music sync Windows Media Player will do just fine. It can also sync files purchased from the Ovi Music store.

2. Nokia Ovi maps is free with lifetime voice guided navigation but it has limited utility if you don’t have a vehicle. This comes bundled with your phone.

You can also use Google Maps, however it is not very optimised for Symbian’s UI guidelines.

3. Nokia has given the Symbian Web browser a much needed overhaul with Symbian Anna. However, even if you don’t like the default then you can use other browsers like Opera Mini & Opera Mobile.

4. I use Nokia Ovi chat for Google Talk.

5. For personal expense management I use Toshl. It’s free version is good enough for casual users.

6. Using Vectir I am able control my PC over a Bluetooth connection & control Windows Media Player, Media centre, Desktop etc. There is no need to buy a Windows Media Centre remote now.

7. For Twitter I prefer Gravity.

8. For Facebook, I use fMobi which I helped in designing.

9. To save links for reading later, you can subscribe to Readitlater. You can use your desktop web browser to add any web page to your ReadItLater list and then you can read it in your Nokia N8 using SymPaper.

This app removed all the unnecessary images, ads etc from the webpage and gives you a simple, easy to read text only content.

10. For reading RSS feeds which you have synced with Google Reader, you can use gNewsReader. I am helping with the UI design of this app too with Yogeshwar.

11. For checking into places with Foursquare, I am 4squick. An amazingly designed application.

12. Use Best screensnap for taking screenshot of your Nokia N8. This way you can share how your N8 looks like with others. This is equivalent to Print Screen features in PCs.

13. MeeToDo is an upcoming To Do list application for Symbian. It is not yet complete though.

14. You should use Swype. It eases typing on a touch screen phone a lot.

Nokia N8 as a portable media player

Nokia N8 is made with Windows 7 in mind. Not only it is supported by Windows 7 device stage, it is also automatically identified in Windows Media Player due to which syncing songs with full album art is very easy.

Windows 7 taskbar icon for Nokia N8

Nokia N8 Device stage

Video Features

Nokia N8 supports DivX/xVid format so now there is no need to convert most of the videos downloaded from torrents. If you sync videos then Windows Media Player in Windows 7 will also automatically convert the videos for you. If you want to edit a video & then convert for your phone then you can simply use Windows Live Movie Maker. You can use the following settings as a reference…

  • Keep the aspect ratio same, but reduce the resolution to 640X360.
  • Video bit rate should be 1 Mbps.
  • Keep the frame rate as original.
  • Audio = 128 kbps unless the source has lower bit rate.

On a separate note, I recommend buying a good graphics card if you have a desktop or if you have a laptop then making sure you have proper graphic card drivers installed to enable either nVidia CUDA or AMD Stream depending on your graphics card’s brand. This helps a lot during video conversion.