(Ooops – just noticed this sitting in a text document and realised I never posted it. #KateFail)
I gave my first impressions of the N8 when it was new in my hands and I was having a first little play with it. I hoped to be fair, give it a chance before I made up my mind on it, but a little over a week later, I’m quite sure that my initial instinct was correct. I do not like this phone.
You may have heard my Audioboo rant about it, recorded in frustration as I returned home from the Radio Festival. Since then I’ve persevered, or at least tried to, and here’s my final verdict.
The N8, for all its flashy hardware, and quality camera, is perhaps the most dissatisfying piece of tech I’ve ever laid my hands on. In my previous post I put in the caveat that I’m an iPhone/HTC Desire veteran, and I’ll restate that for context now, but really it is irrelevant. This phone is just user-unfriendly. End of.
I was criticised on Twitter for calling the user interface counter-intuitive. My point was that having used Apple and Android interfaces, the software seemed to make simple actions overly complicated, their retort (other than calling me a “pathetic looser” sic) was to tell me that the Symbian OS is older than either Apple of Android, and thus it would be the equivalent of using Linux and then saying that Windows is counter-intuitive. Well, perhaps if you used Linux before Windows, you would find Windows counter-intuitive, so I’m not entirely sure what the point was. In my mind it just begs the question “if you’ve been doing this for longer than anyone else why haven’t you come up with a friendly interface yet?”. Especially with Apple and Android now flooding the market, you’d think that Nokia would want to put up a good fight with their newest flagship phone and raise their game somewhat. All in all it is disappointing.
Sitting in a pub attempting simple tasks on this phone in the presence of Chris Applegate (@qwghlm) prompted him to suggest it was like watching this classic video from The Onion. (Warning: swears). Not a good sign.
So here’s the thing. I’m reasonably tech-savvy, and with a brief walk through from James Whatley (@whatleydude) I thought I’d be all set and ready to go. But there are so many menus, so many options to click through, so many demands for passwords that this doesn’t make it easy to do things rapidly. Add in the numeric keypad (unless you tilt the phone sideways for a qwerty keyboard) and it doesn’t take long to feel frustrated.
I’ve ranted about why I don’t like the phone, and I’ve always thought that you should give constructive criticism, so here’s my list of things that I would do to improve the Nokia N8.
- Have at least the option (if not the default) of a qwerty keyboard while in portrait mode
- Phone detects when a home network is in range, but doesn’t constantly try to connect to it when you’re out on the move
- Status messages about wireless networks prevented from popped down from the top of the screen and covering the text/tweet you’re sending
- Ability to see signal strength and battery life even when using apps (these seem to be covered up in the apps that I have used)
- A better web-browser
- A much better Twitter app (why do I need to sign into the Ovi store every time, and put in my password too?)
- Move the main menu button to the middle of the phone, to help left-handed users
- Make the phone itself look a bit sexier (find some way to minimise the bump of the camera lens for example)
- Have a screen sensor that switches off the touch screen when you hold it close to your face – to prevent you putting people on hold, cutting them off, or dial entirely new numbers whilst you’re on the phone
- Improve the email app so that it automatically updates in the background – perhaps there is a way to do this, but it wasn’t immediately obvious – like so many things
Basically, the way I use a phone these days, means that the following things are of the greatest importance to me:
It works as a phone/ability to text
Fast simple access to Twitter, with an easy-to-use keyboard for tapping messages out quickly
Good email client
Ability to record audio (due to the nature of my work, I realise this is less of a priority for most people).
I want a phone that is fast, responsive, and easy to use. I regularly find myself doing several things at once, and taking five minutes just to send a single tweet (as it was taking on the N8) just doesn’t fit with that lifestyle.