I have been playing with the N8 for quite a while now (barely 48 hours) and I can assure you that I have been busy giving it a thorough checkup before writing this review. In a nutshell, I'm quite pleased with the N8's performance although there could be improvement. Let's start off with the handset itself.
The measurements of the N8 is unique and it holds on well for a person with a big palm. However, I do have reservations about the possibility of accidentally touching the camera lens. That would be the only problem. I would not have a problem with scratching the phone as I've managed to secure an original Nokia silicon cover for the N8. It's good as it does protect the phone well.
I'm pretty impressed with the device's hardware. Bluetooth is working fine, same goes to the 12MP digital camera. Usually I would not set the digital camera to 12MP but instead 9MP to avoid not being able to take wide angle pictures. I'm happy with the 3.5" AMOLED screen. I don't have much problem with it though. Overall, the hardware is good as I can play Need For Speed without any jerkiness.
As the Nokia N8 is equipped with Nokia's latest Symbian ^3 software, I don't feel anything different apart from the fact that there are three homescreens to choose from and there's the possibility of one using the weather widget on the homescreen! That's perfect as you could proceed with it in real time or offline. I'm pretty amazed with the new OS though.
The N8 comes with an inbuild 16GB internal storage with 512MB ROM and 256MB RAM. It is sufficient for anyone to store pictures, mp3 and etc. on the device itself. At this moment, I have ordered an additional 32GB microSD card from play.com which will be just fantastic!
The 12MP digital camera is pretty impressive and I do like it very much. It works under low light and you can adjust the pictures on the N8 itself! You do not need to use Adobe Photoshop to edit those pictures.
Charging the phone takes only around 1hour. It's great! The battery could last me for around one day with moderate usage. Nokia should have installed the 1500mAh battery on the N8 instead of the 1200mAh battery. Perhaps Nokia could do some improvement on their successor to the N8.
Best of all, the Vodafone signal on the N8 has achieved 4 bars on 3G!!! Thats superb compared to one 1bar on 3G on the Iphone 4! Perfect!!!
I don't like the customised Vodafone firmware on the N8. Perhaps it is something which I can't do anything about it as I do not want to void the warranty on the N8. With the Vodafone firmware installed, I could could not make a call using skype without freezing! Perhaps it is Skype's faulty and not Nokia's problem though. I've called Vodafone and they have not received any reports regarding the problem of freezing with Skype. Skype also does not want to take responsibility. Nokia said that they are doing their best and they have not come across this problem.
Solution: a soft reset (*7370#)
Besides this, the digital camera is still making too much noise while taking pictures. That is sad though... Nokia could have made it better in their later firmware update. Apart from that, I could not stop the red light from flashing even though I have enabled flash to be switched off. Is that something which Nokia engineers can improve on? I don't think having a red flashing light is a good idea though...
Another thing which Nokia could have improve on the N8 is the annoying WLAN taking precedent over 3G network. I was told that it is a Vodafone feature so I've managed to disengage the WLAN. I was told that it is a normal occurance unless I switch WLAN off.
I've installed F-Secure antivirus but beware that once you have installed, you would not be able to uninstall it!!! It is quite annoying because customers should have the ability to choose which software they want to install and which software they want to uninstall.
The Nokia PC Suite which I am using is working! At this moment, I am using version 126.96.36.199 and it works with the N8 via cable and also bluetooth! You will be able to use the latest Nokia Ovi Suite to sync your Ovi Maps onto the N8 via cable and also via bluetooth! Perfect but it is slow on the bluetooth (understandable). My two pennies worth is that use both PC Suite and the Ovi Map but not simultaneously. Connect your N8 via cable first before trying for bluetooth. After installing bluetooth on both Nokia Ovi and also PC Suite, Shut both PC Suite and Nokia Ovi down and restart your computer. After doing that, re-initiate the bluetooth link and you will be alright.
Update 1: Instead of using PC Suite version 188.8.131.52, you could use version 184.108.40.206. It will be able to recognise the mighty Nokia N8.
Only do a hard reset if you think that you need it (i.e. dead phone). It is safer to use a soft reset. Please make sure that you back up all your stuff before doing that. I have to tell you that both Nokia Ovi and PC Suite are NOT good in terms of backing up your stuff, so unlike the Apple iTunes. You still need to reinstall all your apps on your Symbian OS device manually, unlike the Apple iTunes where it will be done automaticall once you hit the 'sync' button.
I am NOT happy with the Ambient Light Sensor which is located just beside the front camera and the proximity light sensor. I do find that the screen will get too dark even though I'm in a dark room! However, if I were to increase the display brightness, I would have to direct the N8 onto a direct sunlight before the screen's brightness will increase. The in build display brightness does not have much effect at all so Nokia, please correct the problem!!!
Update 2: I have been using both Nokia Ovi Suite and also the old Nokia PC Suite without much of a problem. I have to say that the Nokia N8 is performing well at the moment. What I did was to do a soft reset in the beginning before installing and softwares.
I did have problems with Skype for Symbian ^3. It was not after an installation and an uninstallation and a few reinstallations which saw Skype is now fully functional without any crash. You do need to have patience though.