Introducing the first Symbian^3 device, Nokia N8

Nokia N8

The Symbian Foundation's 100% open source mobile operating system Symbian^3 has officially made its debut today on the new Nokia N8 handset.

Unlike Google's Android, which launched on a mid-range smartphone in late 2008, Symbian^3 is being ushered into the market on a device with cutting-edge equipment.

The N8 is built from a single piece of anodized aluminum and has a 3.5" (640 x 360) OLED touchscreen. It has a 12 megapixel camera with 28mm wide-angle Karl Zeiss optics, a xenon flash, and the ability to capture 720p HD (16:9, 25 fps H.264/MPEG-4) video. There is also a forward-facing VGA camera for video calling.

It has 16 GB of internal memory, and a MicroSD slot with support for cards up to 32 GB in size.

In terms of wireless standards, the Nokia N8 supports quad-band GSM and WCDMA 850/900/1700/1900/2100, Wi-Fi with support for 802.11n, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS and A-GPS receivers, and an FM radio/transmitter.

Physical I/O on the device includes Micro USB with support for USB on-the-go (a.k.a., phone-to-phone connections) HDMI, and a 3.5mm AV jack. It also includes an accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light detector, and magnetic compass.

Despite all of the top-notch accessories, Nokia tells us that the N8 is based on an ARM1176 680Mhz CPU. It's by no means a weak foundation for Symbian^3, but it's not quite up to the latest gigahertz-level ARM processors being employed by other high-end smartphone manufacturers.

"The raw numbers in the processing power should not be compared as such," Nokia told us today. "There are optional ways to achieve great performance and user experience. Alongside the main processor, Nokia N8 features a graphics accelerator which has significant effect on perceived experience. The overall hardware system and graphics performance coupled with Symbian^3 software will be comparable or better in comparison to other leading solutions on the market."

The N8 will be available for €370 in the third quarter of this year, reflecting Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo's statements last week that the company "will not ship [Symbian^3] before the quality meets the end user's needs and demands."

However, Nokia's video preview today shows a bit of what users can expect from Symbian^3 when the N8 is released later this year, including a three-screen home screen layout with drag-and-drop personalization, multitouch, 3D gaming and a unified social networking and Ovi service interface.

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