Posted by Mike Evans in Nokia on May 31, 2010

Nokia lovers are in for a treat as a not only is the new Nokia N8, its flagship feature phone,set for launch on August 25th, but we’ve also got a sneak peek of it in action.

This is important not only to get a feel for what the new phone looks like,, but also beuase the N8 id the first phone to feature Symbian^3 – a brand new upgrade to Nokia’s mobile OS, which has to go head to head with the iPhone (version 4 of which is due out sometime in July), and Android (which has just seen version 2.2 go live).

Symbian has been lagging badly in the smartphone stakes ever since the iPhone arrived back in 2007. Has Symbian^3 caught up and finally given Nokia the OS they need to compete? Let’s find out after the jump.

Nokia N8 Symbian 3 phone
The Nokia N8 is a great looking phone, and with its 12 megapixel camera, GPS, super-fast HSDPA and all the rest, it’s as feature packed as you’d expect from a phone in 2010. It’s certainly the equal of the Sony Ericsson Vivaz, for example, at least in terms of features.

In fact, the Vivaz will be the N8’s competition, as it too runs Symbian (albeit the previous version of Symbian), and has similar features such as a 12 megapixel camera. This may be the N8’s saving grace, as it means Nokia can pitch it as a camera phone that’s not designed to take on the smartphones – which, unfortunately, it won’t be able to.

The reason? Symbian^3 is a big disapointment! Check out the video below. Note how similar it is to existing versions of Symbian. It looks just like your average Nokia phone. That’s not a bad thing, but compare it to an iPhoone, a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 or an HTC Desire, as it looks just like a phone from last century!

Symbian’s fonts, its pop up dialog boxes, its overall look and feel – it’s all there, and it’s all so 2005! There’s no animations or transitions between interface elements and screens – there aren’t even any decent looking icons!

Indeed, the “new” email client that’s proudly shown off in the video looks no different from the mesaging client I used on my Nokia E90 Communicator that I bought in 2007.

The N8 does have some advantages. Nokia’s Ovi Maps, for example, is a first class navigation app, and is completely free. The browser is also pretty good, and runs Flash too.

As for the features, Nokia’s cameras have alwys been pretty special and with 12 megapixels, the N8 should continue this trend.

But this brings me back to the Vivaz, which the N8 will so clearly be competing with. The Vivaz is a great camera phone from Sony Ericsson with the emphasis placed firmly on features, not on smartphone qualities such as apps and a great user interface. For that, Sony Ericsson has the Xperia X10, which uses Android and has a super-slick new user interace that blows Symbian^3 away.

But Nokia? They’ve got the N8, which will compete with the X10 head to head – but they’ve got absolutely nothing in their armoury to take on the likes of the iPhone or Android. And I get the feeling, if they don’t bite the bullet and use someone else’s OS soon, like Sony Ericsson did with Android, they’re going to be paying for it dearly, as they clearly seem unable to deliver the goods themselves.

We’ll have a full Nokia N8 review soon, in which I hope I’m pleasantly surprised. Until then, I’ll still be waiting for news of Symbian^4, which simply has to offer a step change improvement in user experience if Nokia isn’t to face some serous challenges ahead . The world is moving further and further into the age of the smartphone, and it seems to be leaving Nokia behind.

[Source: Pocket-Lint]