Posted in: Mobile software, Symbian

We update Nokia N8 to Belle and take it for a quick spin [VIDEO]

Belle was a huge jump forward in usability for the OS formerly known as Symbian. Now, older models that launched with the tired Symbian^3 and spent some time with Anna can finally join their newer brethren.

We have a freshly updated Nokia N8 and we took it for a quick spin on video. There’s not much we haven’t covered in our Belle review, but it’s interesting to see how the latest version handles on the old hardware.

Perhaps we should begin with a few words about the update. It weighs in at around 300MB and you’ll need to hook up your phone to a computer running Nokia Suite (3.3 or later) to install it. After that it’s a straight forward process, you can watch this step by step video tutorial.

Anyway, here’s the Nokia N8 running Belle.

Everything runs pretty smoothly – you can almost forget that you’re working with a single 680MHz processor with 256MB RAM. Actually, if you compare this video with the one we shot for Symbian Anna (on the exact same N8 unit), you’ll see how much better the browser handles – there’s practically no visible redrawing when panning.


Nokia Belle brings refined browser UI

We tried running a few benchmarks and they both showed modest improvements. BrowserMark went from 21K to 25K, while Acid3 went 2 points over the 91/100 score that Anna gets on the N8.

The camera also got a performance boost in Belle, it can now shoot 720p videos at 30fps. The Nokia N8 has been doing that for a while with a bespoke update, but the others were shooting 720p@25fps videos until now. What they won’t get is the continuous autofocus – they use fixed-focus camera modules.


Video camera interface

Unfortunately, we don’t have another Nokia on hand to test the video recording, but video framerate on the N8 is a steady 30fps and the other phones should be able to match it.

The Belle phones will get several nice apps from Microsoft – OneNote and Lync. Details on that will be available soon.

So, can Belle breathe new life in these old smartphones? If you have one already, then certainly. But getting a new one with Belle out of the box (those have been out for a couple of weeks) is only justifiable if you really want the N8′s excellent camera, otherwise one of the Nokias that were born with Belle (700, 701, 603) are a better pick.

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