Nokia 8800 / 8801 review
As soon as I touched the 8800, I realized that this is not a phone like any other. The first uniqueness of the phone is that its shell is almost entirely made of stainless steel except the top part of the back cover. Manufacturing it out of metal of course has increased the weight dramatically (134 grams), but ones you put the phone in your hand it feels extremely comfortable. Making it from steel was the right decision if it had been molded from a less heavy metal like aluminum or titanium alloy, the sense of durability created by the weights would have been lost. As with most stainless steel surfaces, the 8800 is susceptible to fingerprints when touched. The other important question was is the case scratch resistant? During my tests, I tried various sharp metal objects like keys, and staplers but I could not leave any visible scratch mark very impressive!
The only two keys functional when the 8800 is closed are the two in the front.
Special manufacturing technique such as Metal Injection Molding which is a process for forming objects, by heating the molding material to a fluid state and injecting it into a mold, were used to create them. Right between them is a non-functional key, which is pushed or pulled to erect/retract the phone. The whole key is perforated in tiny holes to make is slip-resistant.
Right above the keys starts the glass that covers the display. Here again Nokia engineers have used not regular glass, but special scratch resistant crystal usually used in higher-end watches. Even thought it is not Sapphire (the most expansive scratch-resistant glass), it still offers great protection against scratches.
Turning the phone over reveals almost ¾ of stainless steel back with the rest made of black plastic. I would have preferred the have 100% stainless steel phone, but I assume Nokia introduced some plastic to level the phone's weight. Another special technique called chemical etching was used to engrave the Nokia logo on the back cover. The model I had for this review was an early sample, so the back cover opening mechanism was not working properly (Nokia notified me of that). On the regular production units, you will have to gently squeeze the two push buttons located on each side of the headset to slide the cover open.
Under it is the SIM card holder, the cable connector and the new BL-5X Li-Ion 600 MAh battery. Due to the high counterfeit rate of batteries, Nokia started to put a special hologram sticker on its new batteries. The sticker also features a serial number, which can be authenticated online. The process actually allows you to authenticate battery only ones after that you will get an error message that someone else has already authenticated the battery.
To make the sliding action as easy and smooth as possible, Nokia utilized a bi-stable spring mechanism and stainless steel ball bearings. Because of the bistable (having two stable positions) design, the keypad slides in and out after you've pushed/pulled it about ½ of the way. The usage of ball bearings has made the sliding very smooth. What I didn't like (personal preference, not a design flaw) was when you close the slide, it makes a loud metal-on-metal knocking sound.
The phone's keypad is one of the few elements that in my opinion need to be improved. I have to note again that the device I had was a pre-production unit and some of the keys were almost not operable (like #3). The keypad starts with the TALK / END keys and a 5-way directional key-pad. The TALK/END keys are large and easily pressed, but the 5-way pad is way too small and very inconvenient. Since I got the phone I struggle to find the best way to press it, but even after several weeks of use, I am still not accustomed to it.
The actual keys are made of some type of plastic, which somewhat (at least for me) ruins the whole stainless steel experience. It would have been better if the keys were actually made also from some type of metal like aluminum. As I mentioned previously, some of the keys of my device are very hard to press. By very I mean REALLY hard. I am sure this is due to the pre-production nature of my unit. The rest of the keys are somewhat better, but still not very easy to press. Pressing any of the keys on the last row is not easy also the stainless steel cover is just below them and I had to use my nail to press them the thumb would only reach the keys above them.
The backlighting of the keypad is white and visible very well in all conditions.
When the phone is closed, both functional keys are not functioning. All you can do is to switch the profiles if you press the power button. Nevertheless, the phone has s key-guard function and also annoyingly asks me every time I close it if I want to lock the keypad. Lock it because ?
Since there the phone lacks any side-keys, the volume adjustment is done via the navi keys and unless you are very experienced with the phone, during conversation you will have to peek at the keypad to find the navi pad.
Behind the scratch-resistant glass is the 208 x 208, TFT display capable of showing up to 262,000 colors. Given the small dimensions of the phone, I think Nokia have chosen the perfect screen size. The brightness, contrast and colors are just immaculate and well visible in all lighting conditions.
The 8800 comes equipped with a SVGA 800 x 600 pixel resolution camera or about 0.5 mega pixels. Currently, this is the only phone that I know of that has such camera all the rest are eight 0.3 mega pixel one (VGA) or at least 1 mega pixel. The camera is positioned on the back of the slider and thus is protected when the phone is closed.
The power connector and headset jack are located on the bottom of the phone. Unfortunately, Nokia has decided not to include stereo sound support, so for the MP3-holics, you will have to listen in mono. Stereo playback is supported though via Bluetooth.