- Looks fantastic, solid user interface, bright, clear and crisp display, sturdy build and solid sliding action
- Very expensive, only a SVGA camera, quite heavy, no memory expansion slot, mono headphones, cramped and uncomfortable keypad
The 8800 is a ridiculously expensive mobile handset for what it offers, but it looks absolutely fantastic. If you like to stand out in the crowd, then this phone is definitely for you.
Price$ 1,599.00 (AUD)
The Nokia 8800 is an outstanding looking mobile phone that will appeal to those who are fashion conscious and want to stand out from the crowd. But be prepared to pay a small fortune for its distinct looks.
Right from the moment we received the Nokia 8800 packaging and quickly opened the box, it was clear that this phone is all about style. The 8800 is simply stunning and is a masterpiece of industrial design. The phone is built from stainless steel and finished in a brushed silver casing which looks fantastic, but unfortunately is highly prone to smudging and fingerprints. Overall, the slim 8800 is a delight to cup in your hand, although it is a little heavy considering the size of the unit.
The 8800 uses a unique sliding mechanism which operates effortlessly. Unlike many other slider models, the 8800 only requires a small nudge to slip it open and build quality is superb. It does feel heavy when sliding open, but this only adds to the sophisticated look and feel of the phone. Nokia has included a small piece of metal with tiny holes for grip to help slide open the 8800. Wedged between the two selection buttons, the handy grip looks quite like a button itself and it did take us a while to stop trying to press it whenever we had to select an option from the phones menu interface. The rear of the 8800 is a fully removable battery cover, which we found extremely difficult to remove. Users are required to squeeze together the catches on each side of the phone, whilst at the same time trying to slide down the cover to remove it. It requires a stern amount of strength and we were disappointed, especially considering the rest of the external parts were top quality. Somewhat unusually, Nokia has included two batteries in the sales package, but you won't have much fun swapping them over.
The 208 x 208 display on the 8800 is terrific and was bright and clear in all lighting conditions. In particular, the viewing angle of the screen was first-rate, probably the best we've seen on any mobile to date. The surrounding area of the display is a metallic chrome mirror like surface which looks great, but we found it impossible to keep free of fingerprints. This was the same story for the rear of the screen when the phone is slid open, with the area surrounding the camera attracting plenty of smudges and marks and this detracts from the solid look of the phone.
The biggest turn off for us was the 8800's keypad. We must say, it looks nice and blends in quite well with the rest of the phone, but that's as far as the positives go. The keys are incredibly small, cramped and very uncomfortable to use, especially for messaging. We found ourselves pressing multiple buttons at various stages of use and those with large fingers would be advised to steer well clear. In particular, the 4-way navigational key is way too small - even our pinky finger was too big to comfortably press it without bumping the directional pad keys. The selection keys, which are the only buttons part of the top slider section, were the only welcome relief to a disappointing control system, feeling comfortable and responsive for most part.
Equally as disappointing as the keypad was the camera on the 8800 - a paltry 0.5 megapixel SVGA number with no light or flash. Why Nokia would choose not to put a mega pixel camera on a phone which costs a small fortune is unknown, but nonetheless, we weren't happy and we doubt anyone else will be either. When you consider that most new handsets have a 1.3 or 2.0 megapixel camera, the omission is even more mystifying. The 8800 camera is lacking in any substantial options, with images ranging from 120 x 144 to 800 x 600 in size and the ability to select three quality modes (High, Normal, Basic). The camera is also capable of recording video, but the quality is poor and more for novelty value than anything else.
Nokia has retained their famous Series 40 menu system on the 8800. A total of nine menu options are present, and you simply use the directional pad to scroll up and down the menu. A coloured, animated picture greets you with every menu selection, combined with bold and vivid text to ensure you know exactly what you're looking for. Alternatively, you can change the menu system to a more conventional 3 x 3 grid, which may suit some people better. The 8800 includes 64MB of internal memory and surprisingly, there is no memory expansion slot. For this price, we expected this to be standard and this may force people to look elsewhere. In terms of multimedia support, the 8800 offers MP3 and AAC playback and also has an FM radio. To use the radio you will need the included earphones, as this acts as the antenna. Unfortunately, the headset is mono, not stereo and this is simply flabbergasting. A unit at this high price point deserves better and we can't think of a single reason why stereo headphones wouldn't be standard.
Other features include support for Java, PIM support, Wallet, a Currency converter, World Clock and a 1000-name phonebook with multiple number entries per contact. The 8800 also supports MMS, standard SMS and e-mail messaging and of course, T9 predictive text input is offered. We liked the language translator which can be used to translate single words. There are three Java games installed on the phone (Street Race, Golf Tour, Chess) and they can be played via SMS and Bluetooth.
The battery can be charged through either the supplied AC adapter or the included desktop charging cradle. The cradle, just like the 8800, is finished with brushed silver and looks absolutely fantastic. It even includes a stunning glowing blue light around its base, which slowly flickers on and off when the unit is plugged into power. The cradle has a slot for both the 8800 and the spare battery, but they can't be charged at the same time, which is quite strange. Battery life on the 8800 was fairly average, rated at 2 hours and 40 minutes of talk time and 200 hours of standby. During testing, the battery lasted about three days, which is respectable.
Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.
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