Nokia 8800 Arte Review

Nokia 8800Nokia’s luxurious series has a long history starting way back in 1996, when Nokia 8810 was launched on the market. The first high-end handset that started this series, Nokia 8810, made quite an impression by starring in “Matrix” featuring Keanu Reeves. Remember the ‘banana phone’ that Keanu used in the scene where he encountered the Agents for the first time? Well, even if the real phone didn’t slide with the help of a spring (that was added only for the movie), Nokia 8810 was one of the first handsets to feature a slider form factor. Nokia walked a long path from 1996 to 2008, and is now in position to offer one of the most expensive handset series on the market. The portfolio of this Premium series includes no less than 21 handsets of candybar and slide form. The latest addition to the series is Nokia 8800 Arte, featuring soft-slide stainless steel cover, which became the main characteristic of Nokia’s luxurious series.

Announced in November 2007, Nokia 8800 Arte was launched one month later, in December 2007. There are two available versions of the slider: Nokia 8800 Arte and Nokia 8800 Sapphire Arte, but both are ridiculously expensive: $1,350 USD, and $1,600 USD respectively.

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Nokia has the richest fanbase in the world. For these people, nothing is too expensive and, when it comes to a Nokia handset, the functions of the phone come last. What can be more ‘rewarding’ than knowing that you have one of the most expensive and good-looking phones on the planet? The stainless steel that was used to cover Nokia 8800 Arte was previously successfully entered back in 2005, when Nokia 8800 was launched. Besides for protections reasons, the choice that Nokia made when using stainless steel was an aesthetic one. The compound used at manufacture assures the user that his phone will stand out in a crowd. Style and luxury blend together in 8800 Arte’s design to offer the owner the certainty that he will not fail to impress when showing off his phone. Other than that, I see no reason to spend so much money for a phone that offers functions that you can have at much less than half of its price.

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Nokia 8800 Arte is a heavy phone, but those that have experience with previous models are used to it, so the weight of 150 grams is not a big deal. The exact size of the phone is 109 x 45.6 x 14.6 mm, partially the same as in the whole series.

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In terms of functionality, users should know that no external buttons have been embedded into the handset this time, and Nokia 8800 Arte only features a microUSB port on the bottom part. There are also two large keys placed on both sides of the slider (left and right) that help the user pull out the back cover, but they must be pressed simultaneously. Everything that covers the phone is made from stainless steel, except for the small display that features the same scratch resistant glass that has been added to previous models too. This sapphire glass features the hardness of sapphire, which is extremely high (9 on a scale from 1 to 10) and is only second to diamond. This also explains why watch crystals made of sapphire have a very good mechanical strength, wear and weather resistance.

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In all fairness, I believe that anyone intending to break the phone would probably manage to do it by smashing it into a wall. Personally, I used the phone for almost a month, and the only thing I noticed was that the paint from the cover can be scratched, revealing the color of the stainless steel, which is kind of annoying. Anyway, that can happen only if users are repeatedly keeping the phone next to some hard and sharp objects. Plus, you can easily protect the slider by keeping it inside the leather bag that comes in the sales package. The sliding mechanism is really sturdy, no matter what you do with the phone, you’ll have trouble sliding it. That’s because you don’t have any grips to help your thumb open the phone like Nokia 8800 or 8600 Luna had. But that can easily be solved by keeping your thumbs near the surface of the display, because it is not a fingerprint magnet anymore. That’s a big relief, as previous models had to be cleaned very often.

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One of the downsides of the phone in terms of design is the small keypad. Keys are too small and crowded, and it takes a long time to get used to it. I know there are people that say that it’s not true, but see the pictures we took and you’ll notice that the 2 Euro coin doesn’t quite fit over the keypad. Now look at your fingers and try to imagine how small or large the keys are. I tell you, they are clearly smaller than those of the previous models. Even with the phone closed, users will be able to answer to an incoming call thanks to the soft keys placed on the left and right of the big D-pad. These are not that visible until the phone rings. Anyway, another downside is the fact that the slider lacks a secondary camera for videocalls, despite featuring 3G technology. Instead, you can notice from the pictures that, above the display, left of the earpiece, there’s a light sensor. Also, on top of the handset there’s the power button that can also be used to change the profile of the phone.

The back cover of the slider comes with a 3.15 Megapixel camera, which features autofocus and video recording functions, but lacks flash capabilities. Everything looks extremely smooth and shiny in terms of design, which gives it a note of mystery and seduction. Nokia 8800 Arte is only available in black but, if you like brown, you can grab the

‘advanced’ version – Nokia 8800 Sapphire Arte, which is a bit more pricey. All in all, if it wasn’t for the very cool design and high quality materials, people wouldn’t buy the 8.8xx series handsets, so it’s a 9 in terms of design for this piece of jewelry.

Display and Camera

Nokia 8800 Arte features 2” OLED TFT display that supports 16 Million colors and a nice 240×320 pixels resolution. The screen is very well protected by the sapphire mix glass and offers an incredible experience to the users. If you didn’t know that Nokia is making very good 16M colors compatible displays, not is the time to experience it. Pictures, images and wallpapers look amazing on this piece of the art screen. Unfortunately, the display has no uses outdoors in strong sunlight. You can check out the results of the benchmarks, although I believe these are not so important when it comes to a luxury device.

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The 3.15 Megapixel camera is definitely an improvement from the previous models. I guess fans complained about the low quality camera modules embedded in older models, as it seems that Nokia took care of it. Anyway, let’s not be too hasty and judge only by the number of the megapixels. First of all, users will be able to notice that the camera has no protection whatsoever. There are no protective lenses covering it and it was placed so users would be able to take pictures even with the phone closed.

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The interface of the camera is poor in options and only features Effects (Greyscale, Sepia and Negative), White balance (Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent and Horizon), Night mode and Landscape mode. Save for the first two, the Night mode and the Landscape modes are pretty useless. The camera lacks any flash capabilities, so any night pictures are out of the question, even with the Night mode implemented. The Landscape mode offers owners the possibility to take pictures while the phone is kept in a landscape position. That will only make it harder for users to take pictures, as the phone also lacks a dedicated camera button and pushing the large D-pad button while in landscape mode is a real pain. The highest resolution available for snapshots is 2048×1536 pixels, which is the standard for these 3 Megapixel camera modules.

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From the sample pictures below, you’ll be able to conclude how good Nokia’s 8800 Arte camera is. Even when used in good light conditions, pictures are still full of noise, not to mention that those made in poor light will be almost useless. Most pictures lack one color too much and look oversaturated in one part of the color spectrum. Besides snapshots, users can record 15fps clips, which are captured in 3GP format. Length of the clips is only limited by the free memory available. Don’t get me wrong, the 3.15 Megapixel camera is a big step ahead for these luxury models, but it cannot be compared to other 3 Megapixel cameraphones such as Sony Ericsson or even Samsung.

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Menu and Software

Nokia 8800 Arte runs on a S40 5th Edition interface, which is the latest user-interface coming from Nokia. Nothing surprising here, as all of its predecessors lacked a powerful operating system. If you were expecting something new, then you’ll be disappointed as Nokia 8800 Arte maintains the same standard user-interface. Still, there are two functions that are new for Nokia and that have been implemented into 8800 Arte slider.

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The first one is called ‘Turn-to-mute’ and is very cool for busy people that want to skip an incoming call, but prefer to let the phone ring instead of simply rejecting it. How does it work? It’s very simple: when you’re receiving a call, you can opt to mute the phone turning the slider upside down. Note that if you have your phone on Silent profile it will stop vibrating when you turn it upside down. Another cool feature enables you to see the time on your display even when it is in standby mode. All you have to do is to double tap the screen and it will show you a cool analog or digital watch. Nokia’s integrated browser didn’t change either, but you might want to use Opera Mini for faster and smoother browsing.

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WidSets applications have also been integrated, also a Size converter application and a basic Dictionary (quick multilingual translations). Other useful applications include: Yahoo! Go, Alarm clock, Calendar, To-do list, Notes, Calculator, Countdown timer, World Clock and Stopwatch. The menu is fully customizable and you can designate any MP3, MIDI, AAC file or even a clip as ringtone. The six pre-installed themes fully contribute to the seductive aura of the phone.

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It seems rather strange that Nokia decided to add 3G technology to 8800 Arte slider, but forgot to put in a secondary camera that would’ve helped with videocalls. I believe that people buying this phone won’t need the high data transfer speed that the UMTS standard offers. Besides 3G technology, the user can take advantage of the GPRS (Class 10) or EDGE (Class 10, up to 236.8 kbps). Data transfer tests revealed above average results when using the EDGE technology (137 Kbit/s download and 59 Kbit/s upload) or UMTS band (294 Kbit/s download and 82 Kbit/s upload).

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The phone also features Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support for those that intend to use the BH-803 Bluetooth headset included in the sales package. Synchronization with PC is possible through the proprietary microUSB port, but don’t forget to install the software that comes with the phone beforehand.

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In terms of messaging, the phone accepts standard text messages, MMS, flash and sound messages, as well as emails. Yahoo! Go is also present, so you can check your email box, or you can take advantage of some of the cool features that the service made available by Yahoo! has to offer.

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The triband (GSM 900 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900) network compatible bar has a good GSM signal reception. UMTS signal reception is also above average, which seems to have become standard for Nokia handsets as of lately. The sound is very good in quality at both ends, but rather low. I suggest using the Bluetooth headset if you are in a noisy environment.

Processor and Memory

Nokia 8800 Arte is powered by an ARM9 family processor running at speeds of up to 127 Mhz. This is pretty standard for Nokia’s Premium series and users will not experience any lags when using Java applications, nor lockups whatsoever.

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The slider embeds 1GB user free internal memory, which cannot be expanded as the phone lacks a microSD slot card. This may be a little annoying, but 1GB for a Premium phone is pretty cool to have, especially since you won’t be using it to store too many pictures, clips or music.

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The integrated MP3 player looks very cool and is compatible with MP3, MIDI, AAC, AAC+ and WMA formats. The included BH-803 Bluetooth headset enables users to take advantage of the supported A2DP profile.

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Even if the player is poor in settings (Equalizer and Stereo widening), at least its looks can be changed with another skin to better suit the user. Sound quality is average, but a little bit low and using another wireless headphones is out of the question, as the slider only features a single microUSB port.

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Unfortunately, there is no radio this time (Nokia 8600 Luna had this function), but at least you get a better multimedia experience. The phone also features a video player that is compatible with the 3GP and MP4 formats. Videos can be played in fullscreen mode to improve the video watching experience.

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The 1000 mAh Li-Ion battery has an officially stated life expectancy of 300 hours in standby and about 3 hours in talk time mode. What we got was 2 days of use: 30 minutes calls per day, 5 minutes Internet navigation everyday. This might be a serious issue for those who intend to buy this phone.

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I’m pretty sure that owners will want to use the phone as much as possible, even if just for showing off, and 2-3 hours of talking time is too low. To ‘sweeten the pill’, Nokia 8800 Arte features a very cool dock charger that illuminates, much like the one embedded in Sirocco’s Edition sales package.

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Nothing can change the fact that Nokia 8.8xx series will sell very well on the handset market. Even if prices are lowering for older models, new ones are taking their place and, with just a few improvements, they are taking their toll on our pockets. These phones will always be exquisite and expensive no matter how high or low their functionality is. Why? Simply because they are targeted for people that favor looks over functionality. Nokia 8800 Arte is not a common phone for common people, so it is much more suited for those extravagant enough to pay the high price it comes at.

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The Good

There’s no way that we can compare Nokia 8800 Arte with other handsets, unless it’s those that have been included in the 8.8xx series. And, if we do that, we can say that Nokia 8800 Arte is definitely an improvement compared to its predecessors (8800 and 8600 Luna models). Adding 3G technology and improving the camera module will certainly satisfy most of the fans of the series. The slider features an exceptional design, which seduces the buyer at a first glance. Nothing will stay in the way of Nokia 8800 Arte, unless the Finnish giant is preparing another surprise for us.

The Bad

Even with the improvements mentioned above, Nokia 8800 Arte proves to be overpriced in terms of functionality. It lacks a secondary camera, microSD slot card and camera module is below average. Furthermore, it has a short battery lifespan and it is almost useless outdoors in bright sunlight.

Sales package

Nokia 8800 Arte handset
Nokia Battery BL-4U
Nokia Travel Charger AC-6
Nokia Connectivity Cable CA-101
Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-803
Nokia Desk Stand DT-19
Nokia Carrying Case CP-212
CD-ROM with Nokia PC Suite software
User guide
Nokia 8800 Arte story booklet Nokia 8800 Arte Review



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