The Nokia N8 has been out for a week or so, but reviewers for major sites have had their units for around 2 weeks, so we’re starting to see reviews pop up all over the Internet. I’ve done my best to read as many of these reviews as I can. Since I have yet to see the N8 in person, or hold one for myself, I’m in a unique position, and I want to take advantage of that. In reading these reviews across various sites with differing degrees of bias (all reviewers have bias), I’ve noticed a few key things that I hope Nokia has also picked up on:
1. Everyone wonders why it doesn’t have a portrait QWERTY keyboard. Every smartphone platform now – from iPhone to Android to BlackBerry, even WebOS – has a portrait QWERTY keyboard, be it onscreen or hardware. It’s just the way we prefer to input text nowadays. The Nokia N8 doesn’t have a portrait QWERTY keyboard, and that’s a huge complaint in most of the reviews, and with good reason. Another common complaint is that the alphanumeric keypad that takes its place on the N8 covers the entire display, which can be frustrating when filling in forms and such.
What’s sad is that Nokia had a solution to this on their first touchscreen Symbian-powered smartphone, the 5800 XpressMusic. This keyboard (seen below on the left) was an option in addition to the alphanumeric, and as a bonus, had an option for the user to simply drag the keyboard around on the display – easily moving it out of the way if necessary. Unfortunately, it was nearly unanimously hated on by users, which is why it’s not available on any of Nokia’s other touchscreen Symbian-powered smartphones.
What’s sad is that if Nokia had listened closer, they would have heard that people liked the keyboard, but the funky slanted lines separating the keys made it nearly impossible to really use – either with a stylus or a fingertip. Had Nokia simply changed the layout of the keys to something more user-friendly, like the HTC keyboard (seen above on the right), for instance, they could have killed two birds with one stone, and easily corrected a serious issue plaguing their new handset in its first reviews.
2. The Ovi Store isn’t pre-installed. I’m sure someone on the Ovi team has a really logical and sound explanation for this, but the fact is, it doesn’t matter. When every other smartphone on the planet comes with its respective app store pre-installed, it’s a complete joke for Nokia to require users to download and install (old-school-style) the Ovi Store on their brand-new N8.
3. The N8 doesn’t have Share Online built-in. Share Online debuted several years ago as a built-in solution for sharing your media (pictures, videos, etc) with online destinations. Last I checked, out of the box you could use Share Online to upload content to Vox (now a discontinued service), Flickr, and Ovi Share. Flickr integration’s not bad, and a recent entrant to the Symbian field, Pixelpipe, quickly came along to offer plugins for every service you could think of. It’s interesting that almost none of the reviews specifically mention that Share Online is missing, only that there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to share your media with any online destinations.
Today, even free featurephones support uploads to YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and more, so it’s completely absurd that Nokia would remove the barebones offering that it had to upload photos and videos to these destinations from its brand-new smartphone. Very few of the reviews that I’ve read mentioned Pixelpipe, which has put together a fantastic solution, especially built for the N8. If Nokia had been smart, they would have pre-installed Pixelpipe on the N8 and then boasted about it from every rooftop (or just bought the company, either way).
Of course, the different reviews have more specific niggles and pain-points here and there, but these are three of the most common ticks that I see mentioned against the Nokia N8 in reviews that I’ve read. What’s sad is that all of these are simple software fixes that could probably have been addressed in a matter of a week that would have eliminated the three most common issues that people find.
Obviously, fixing these would not have made the Nokia N8 an ‘iPhone Killer’ or ‘DROID Killer’ or whatever you want to kill, but it would have made the experience so much better. For many folks, the Nokia N8 is the first real smartphone from Nokia since the N95. It’s sad to see Nokia failing to execute on such minute details.
Also, this doesn’t make the Nokia N8 a complete fail or anything like that. It’s just a lack of attention these little details that gets the company in trouble on most of its new products and prevents Nokia devices from getting rave reviews.