capsule review

Nokia 8801

At a Glance
  • Nokia 8801 Cell Phone (GSM, Bluetooth, 0.5MP, 64MB)

    PCWorld Rating

    This luxury cell phone offers an impressive design and good battery life, but it doesn't come cheap.

Weighing nearly 5 ounces, the Nokia 8801 is one of the heavier standard cell phones we've tested. And at $600 (as of 8/4/06, with a two-year contract from T-Mobile), it's also one of the most expensive. However, the extra weight gives the 8801 a sturdy, solid feel that many cheaper phones lack.

The slider-style phone is made of stainless steel and has a brushed-aluminum exterior that lends to its streamlined, space-age appearance. It looks more like a device that Star Trek's Scotty would use, rather than a cell phone. In fact, the phone is so sleek that a few people I showed it to couldn't figure out how to open it.

When closed, the 8801 is only slightly longer than a credit card. When opened, it measures 4.2 inches long by 1.8 inches wide by 0.7 inches thick. Even at a relatively hefty 4.8 ounces, the 8801 is very comfortable to hold next to your ear.

The 8801 offers impressive sound quality and good talk-time battery life. It lasted 7 hours, 23 minutes in our lab tests, significantly longer than the vendor-stated talk time of just 3 hours. It also includes a speakerphone and Bluetooth-headset support for hands-free operation. In my experience, though, using the Bluetooth functionality (both for talking into a headset and for connecting the phone to my PC) proved very taxing on the battery.

The 8801 is packed full of features, including instant messaging and SMS, a camera, an MP3 player, an FM radio (only with a headset), and a beautiful 1.75-inch, 265,000-color screen. The 8801 does not have any expandable memory options, but does have 64MB of storage built into the phone for your videos, pictures, and MP3s.

Despite its great look and numerous features, I wasn't nearly as impressed with the overall usability of the phone. Like the rest of the handset, the keypad is well made--it's laser cut and has a gentle feel. Unfortunately, it's very little, and the bottom row of number keys is set too close to the housing, which can make typing difficult. The 8801 also includes a four-way navigation button for scrolling through menus, but it's also quite small and can be frustrating to use.

The 0.5-megapixel camera takes adequate snapshots but lacks a dedicated access button. Like many cell phone cameras, this one suffers from a disappointing shutter lag, so capturing moving subjects is hard.

Overall, the 8801's physical design is well done, and the handset is very pleasant to use. This phone is like an expensive gold watch: A cheap digital watch will tell you the time, but not with the same class. If you're buying this phone solely for its looks, you'll likely enjoy it. But if you're in the market for a more affordable device, you'll find many that work just as well as the pricey 8801 does.

Greg Adler

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This luxury cell phone offers an impressive design and good battery life, but it doesn't come cheap.

    Pros

    • Offers impressive sound quality
    • Brushed-aluminum case feels solid

    Cons

    • Keypad is difficult to use
    • Camera is difficult to access
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