Review: Travelling With The Nokia N8

Almost whole of last week I was in Dublin for the first ever MeeGo Conference (more on the conference later) and had with me the N8 as my primary device. I was also carrying the Samsung Galaxy S as a side phone. While back home, the way I use both devices is that my main SIM remains in the N8, while a 3G SIM is placed in the Galaxy S for data purposes only.

All through the flight I was debating where to put the local SIM I bought in Dublin in the N8 or the Galaxy S. To help decide, I made a list of priorities – battery life, followed by camera, navigation and Twitter of course to help live blog the event. At that point the N8 with its 12 MP camera, promise of better battery life, Ovi Maps and Gravity virtually because the only choice.

Review: Travelling With The Nokia N8

(Aviva Stadium Dublin, Taken With The N8’s Panorama App)

At the airport I found out that the only SIM the retailer had was an O2 with 50 MB of data a day, not a lot obviously. But since the only other choice was getting a data only Vodafone SIM, I preferred having the voice capabilities of the O2.

It is at this point that I started to realise how efficient the Symbian operating system is, and how Nokia makes incredibly data frugal devices. For browsing, I turned off the images in the browser and downloaded Opera Mini and because of this I had virtually consumed no data at all despite all the browing, Facebook and Foursquare activity on the one hour ride to the hotel. Here is my tweet appreciating that.

Once at the hotel, Gravity with its super low data consumption and images turned off mode was helping me keep in touch with people at the MeeGo Conference and follow updates. Next, I decided to head out and look at the city a little. Since it was my first time in Dublin, I had no clue of where everything was and needless to say it was time for some Ovi Maps action. Fortunately, I had pre-loaded Ireland before I flew out so navigation was not going to blow a hole in my pocket. If I had been using the Galaxy S with Google Maps, I would have run out of the day’s data limit by the time I got home that evening.

The thing about having Ovi Maps handy is that even if you are not driving or walking, you can still keep track of where you are within the bus and that way help predict the stop you need to get off at. The N8 even within the bus, and not necessarily near the windows, had no problems keeping a fix and informing of my whereabouts. That one feature alone, made me glad.

While I was checking out the city, I was of course taking nicely Geo-tagged images. A good thing about the N8’s camera is that you can take a picture, hit the camera button and its again ready to fire away, but if you don’t want to take another shot then and there, you can simply lock the device with the dedicated switch and the camera goes into standby, ready to spring into action the moment you unlock. This is much faster than having to relaunch the camera everytime and is a great way to take pictures while exploring a city with no hit on the battery life.

Guinness Storehouse Dublin

(Geo-Tagged upload to Flickr)

While at the conference there was WIFI, so I do admit using TweetDeck on the Galaxy S because its honestly a wonderful app. But when it came to Twitpicking or uploading pictures to Facebook, I did find myself going back to the N8, not just because of the camera but because Gravity has a pretty solid image upload section and PixelPipe is a great way upload quickly and fast to multiple destinations.

On the day before I had to fly back, I met with a friend in Dublin and he was showing me around in his car. Having an FM transmitter meant that I was playing all my favorite tunes and he thus got a taste of the latest trends in music back home.

Last, how can I forget the battery life on the N8. It kept going throughout the day despite all the above activities that I mentioned, I feat very few smartphones of today can boast of. Infact, on Day 2 of the conference I even forgot to put it on charge before I slept but come 6AM the next morning, the alarm was still ringing. Lifesaver. Add to that the speed at which it charges, and you can feel pretty confident about not running out of juice.

Despite all the Facebooking, Tweeting, image uploads (when the WIFI broke), browsing, email and navigation, not once did I run over the 50 MB limit and this is where I think the N8 really shone. Plus travel is mostly about content creation and that again is one of the N8’s strengths. With the new browser and portrait QWERTY options coming in PR 2.0 next year, I can only see the N8 going from strength to strength.

When you travel is the time when things like a shiny UI take a backseat and the core functionality of a device comes out. If on such a day your current device makes you feel handicapped, then perhaps its time to look at something else.

Looking for more in-depth coverage on the N8’s individual features?

Still have questions? Let me know in the comments section below.

6 thoughts on “Review: Travelling With The Nokia N8”

  1. Thanks for a pretty interesting read! Just one question, can you download voices in advance as well for navigation in addition to the maps?

  2. Hi Simran, sure. You can download voice sets in many different languages from within the same desktop Map Loader. There are different versions for the same language, both male and female for some languages. Plus you can even use your own voice with the app ‘Own Voice’ Ovi Store.

  3. Wow! That’s pretty cool and almost making me thinking of buying the N8 but will stick with my N900 for now.

  4. Thanks for an excellent step-by-step breakdown of what to expect out of the N8 in a travel mode. I use the sport-tracker app in my N8 for the ultimate exercise companion and furthermore just love the feature whereas I can upload the photos I took while underway to the server.

  5. I bought nokia n8 and really this is something which one must have ….. but i faced the problem of software held 3 times in 2 weeks and this thing is letting me think to go for another one …. can anyone point out the reason ….is it due to some application or its something with it…?

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