Yes, everything you've heard about the N8's camera being the best ever camera on a phone is true.
The Nokia N8 marks a pivotal moment in the Finnish phone manufacturer's story. While Nokia undoubtedly dominates over the low-end phones segment in most Asian markets, it has lost ground in markets where high-end smartphones and premium phones hold sway. At one time, Nokia's N-series of phones were the last word when it came to high-end phones but things have changed since the days of the N95. There has been the emergence of touchscreen phones that sport extremely usable user-interfaces, the emergence of the Android mobile OS on devices small and large and of course the emergence of the Apple iPhone.
Nokia first persisted with non-touchscreen devices as we saw with phones such as the N79, the N85 and the hugely disappointing N96. When they finally realized that touch was the way to go for mobile interfaces, we got the 5800 XpressMusic first, and then later the N97 and the X6, all phones that ran the Symbian^1 OS with the Series 60 UI. While, the S60 devices grew in popularity and Nokia sold plenty of them, it was clear that the combination of the UI and the OS was miles behind what other phone manufacturers had achieved with other operating systems and UIs. However, till very recently Nokia has been content taking cautious steps forward, tweaking and testing rather than making revolutionary changes as can be seen in the X6 smartphone that was launched this year. While the X6 was released with the latest version of the S60 UI and was the first touchscreen device from Nokia with a capacitive display, there wasn't all that new that the X6 brought to the table.
The homescreen that welcomes you to the new Symbian^3 OS.
This brings me to the Nokia N8. In all the markets in which Nokia matters, the pre-release hype that has surrounded the N8 has been deafening (of which we are also guilty). However, the crazy amount of anticipation that has surrounded the N8 has made it sure that more often than not, people will feel disappointed by what all the N8 can't do than feel exhilarated by what all it can. And quite honestly, over the couple of days that I have used the N8 as my primary phone, I have shared that feeling. Yes, the Symbian^3 OS feels a lot more usable than Symbian^1 and the 12MP camera puts all other phone cameras to shame.
The Nokia N8's 12MP camera uses a Carl Zeiss lens and is complemented by a Xenon flash.
But in the time period between when I first laid my hands on the Nokia N8 and when I wrote the final words of this review, the Nokia amazed me and frustrated me in parts and like any other review, this review is a testament to that.