I USE A NOKIA N8 as my primary phone for several important reasons when compared to both Apple and Android handsets. Regular visitors to my blog know I spent most of 2010 with a SonyEricsson Xperia X10 as my main phone. Besides the X10 Android phone, I'm also putting iOS4 to good use in my daily life. But the phone that I trust to snap the best images, record the highest quality audio, handle textual conversations, alert me when push mail arrives, take calls, listen on IM and manage an extensive list of contacts is the Nokia N8. I doubt that my faith in the N8 will convert anybody back from either the iPhone or Android ecosystems because the world has gone very app-heavy this year and Nokia's Ovi Store is a weak entry in the space. Plus, the N8 isn't designed from the ground up to be a touchscreen device because Symbian isn't optimised for a tap-and-do operation. However, Nokia does some other functions better than anyone else and as it turns out, I need those functions more than I need the latest new touchscreen application. Let me explain.
I need a phone as a creative tool.
Because my primary need for a high-end mobile phone is to create content through a lens and through modified line-in cables, I really have just the Nokia N8 to consider. My needs are not those of the masses, so I doubt many people are roaming around town looking for cameras in mobile phone shops. The 12 megapixel Carl Zeiss autofocus camera on the N8 is stunning. I've made a few videos with the camera as well, impressed that its HD quality surpasses the standard fare that I've seen produced by iPhone owners. Plus, the phone's YouTube uploader is remarkably fast and Qik performs with better stability than I get on my iOS4 iPod Touch. This phone is a creative multimedia lecturer's dream.
I need intelligent contact management.
With more than 600 contacts inside my Nokia phone, it's no easy task transferring from one phone to the other. Nokia makes contact transfer a piece of cake. I can also back up my contacts to Ovi online. And many of my contacts are already associated to Ovi maps, meaning that I can tell my phone to go to homes, restaurants, hotels, and airports since those common destinations have address fields in their contact records. Knowing that I can give taxi drivers very accurate back seat advice has saved me a few bob in several international destinations.
Customisable smart screens.
The home screen of the N8 takes what I put onto it. I can tap things like the name of the profile that the phone is using and quickly modify the ring tone and general operation of the phone. I've read plenty of criticism about the outdated look and counter-intuitive menu management of Symbian and I know that's a fair point because mobile phone user interfaces have moved into a brave new world of icons, pinch actions, and three fingered taps. I use all those actions and objects on Apple and Android gear now but since I grew up on Symbian and feel at home using toggle switches in light aircraft, I think in a counter-intuitive way. That said, it's very easy to convert the N8 home screen to display the most relevant information, applications or actions and then dive directly into them with a single tap. With an iPhone, I normally have to swipe-to-find (no big deal) but that often takes as long as two taps to launch something deep in the S^3 menu system.
The N8 runs all day and all night for me. Compare that to white power cords that you see scampering around whenever a plane disembarks from an international destination. The N8's alarm clock doesn't mysteriously forget daylight savings time. The N8 powers off network access and doesn't keep sucking down ad traffic or pinging the cloud with location data like many Android phones. It behaves and that translates into one charge to get all-day all-night usage patterns for me.
I resent not being able to send lecture notes, audio tracks and video tutorials via Bluetooth from iOS handsets. For students who cannot download work away from our third level campus, I have hours of learning material ready to send via Bluetooth from my N8. I can also pull out the 32GB Micro SD card and drop information onto my phone through a laptop's card reader. These instant file transfer moments have increased the speed and sophistication of collaboration with students we are training to produce billable hours in the smart economy. We also teach Dropbox, Evernote and Simplenote as ways of exchanging information but those cloud-based solutions fall over in remote parts of Tipperary where some of our student bedsits are below ground level. It's handy to have a local copy because effective cloud operations means having consistent always-on 3G service and I don't have that in my own home.
I need my phones to last a minimum of three years. It's easy finding people who bought an iPhone and want to shift it a year later. Never-ending enhancements to operating systems mean iOS devices start running slower within two years. Watching dozens of college students, I have seen the disappointment of cracked screens and wet phones. Although the N8 is also prone to these kinds of environmental hazards, its build quality is more robust than thinner phones. I have to consider build quality because in my everyday use, I have already dropped the N8 onto concrete once, onto tile twice and given it three carpet bounces. It just keeps working and that gives me the confidence to think that in 2013 I can hand the phone down to a young child or to her grandparents.
In the meantime, I'm a happy camper, using the Nokia N8 as my primary phone.