We had to be harsh with the Nokia N8, judging it the greatest touchscreen phone Nokia's ever made, but still not good enough to take on the smart phone competition. Three stars. But Nokia fans didn't like seeing us spank the object of their affection. We love our commenters and treasure every word that drops from their keyboards, so we decided it was only fair to respond to some of the feeback about our review of Nokia's current flagship phone.
We decided to pull out some of our favourite N8 comments and user reviews and shine the giant CNET UK light of truthiness on them. Needless to say, we hope you'll let us know in the comments what you think of our selection. Mad props to everyone who took the time to respond to our coverage.
First, we have to give a shout-out to Mark Anderson, who's been keeping us honest with his trenchant and forthright feedback on many of our N8 stories. On our full review, Mark said we hadn't reviewed enough of the phone's features, adding, "the solutions to all your niggles are common knowledge."
We're sorry we can't review every feature -- we try to focus on what's most important about each phone, without using up all the paper on the Internet. The sad fact is, the longer we use the N8, the less we like it. Far from learning to love Symbian 3 as we get used to it, we've run out of patience with its excessive error messages, myriad of menus, and boring-looking homescreen widgets. With our N8 as broken in as our favourite teddy, we think it's lucky to have walked away with the three stars it did get.
And although it's true that you can tweak the N8's settings to change the menu from a grid to a list, for example, or install skins that change the UI, we don't think a phone should require fixing straight out of the box.
Mark also reminded us that, "A mobile phone should be 'mobile' -- in that it doesn't spend most of its life tethered to a wall socket -- and a 'phone' - in that it makes calls regardless of how you hold it or where you are if there's a reasonable signal. The rest is good too, but that's a mobile phone's core competencies."
Truer words were never spoken. The N8 does make calls and has very good battery life for a smart phone. The iPhone, by comparison, is rubbish in both departments, and we've laid the beats on it for that very reason. But using the N8 is about as much fun as poking your finger into a pencil sharpener, so even if the pencil sharpener has fantastic call quality and battery life, we don't want it.
picconiv submitted this user review: "If you, like me, don't care about Facebook and Twitter, use the phone like a normal person (calls, text, taking the odd picture, a bit of browsing, and GPS navigation) this is the right mobile for you too."
If you don't care about smart-phone features, we don't know why you'd pay smart phone prices. Just go for a good feature phone like the Sony Ericsson W995 Walkman. The Nokia E72 is another we rated highly, particularly if you love Nokia's free sat-nav feature, Ovi Maps.
Dan Chiriac gave the N8 five stars in his user review, despite saying that he doesn't own the phone yet. He asks: "I wonder how could CNET rate Nokia X6 better than N8?"
There are a couple of reasons why the X6 got a higher rating than the N8. The first is it came out in December 2009, and in the lightning-fast world of mobile phones, things have moved on. Each phone is compared to its contemporaries, and if they've improved more, the phone won't score as well. Some great, affordable smart phones have come out in 2010 and the N8 is taking them on.
Secondly, the X6 is a feature phone and is much cheaper than the N8. Phones are scored compared to similar phones -- we don't pit a cheap pay as you go phone against the iPhone or HTC Desire HD, but we did ask the N8 to take on that fight. That's why it came out battered and bruised. We do prefer the N8 to the X6, but it's not comparing like with like.
Tim Cooper is another five-star rater for his non-existent N8, and he says we're taking down Nokia like a lion taking down a sick gazelle: "Nokia might be taking in water, but please will you tech blogs quit putting your foot on their head and holding them under. Give them time to get a breath, you may still be surprised."
We agree Nokia could certainly surprise us with some awesome stuff -- and we hope it does. It's made some iconic phones, it has heaps of talent, and things can turn around faster than a ballerina in the mobile market. But we're not going to write a puff piece on the N8 because we like Nokia. We have to review each phone as if we were recommending it to our best friend and spending our own hard-earned dosh.
They say don't feed the trolls, but we could couldn't resist popping under the bridge for some time with our more creative commenters.
silvercat13 says, on our video review, "You don't want it because you are from UK and you would never be able to say that people from EU has delivered a phone which represent the most complete package."
Despite our insistence on singing 'God Save the Queen' at hourly intervals and wearing Union Jack underpants, we don't hold the N8's provenance against it. In fact, we're huge Finland fans -- not only because of their ability to ski and shoot, but for Nokia's adorably straight-talking, speeding-fine-record-breaking former executives. Also, I'm Canadian.
Anonymous on the same page calls us unbalanced and unfair, and adds, "N8 is not perfect (like ANY other phone), but it is good enough for those who want what it has to offer."
That could literally be the review for every phone in the world. Since that would put us out of a job, we'll stick with producing full reviews instead of a pop-up window with this message.
Anonymous reacted to our coverage of a blog that's covering the N8's failures so graphically it's giving us PTSD flashbacks about using the phone. We've edited the rest of the comments for spelling and grammar, but since we don't speak this person's language, we've left it alone.
"i you all jerks have to think about IF YOU EVEN can ma nice toothpick by yourself, rather than making so much comments about handmade things. when you guys ever learn to appreciate other for trying to their best and give best to the world, nobody is perfect and nothing is perfect in this world."
That's not true. We once made a log cabin out of popsicle sticks that won 'best log cabin in Miss Johnson's year 4 class 1985'. Also, the N8 is not handmade, unless you count the hands of 4,000 people in Beijing.
The prolific anonymous also commented on the same story, saying, "I wouldn't mind buying it from you, if you are so desperate to dispose of it. Call me: +2348037993853."
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