The Nokia 8800 Arte looks and feels like a phone that knows what it wants. Building on the original 8800 with high-end materials, it sets its no-nonsense sights on the luxury end of the market. We gave this handset some lip to test its level of commitment.
The Nokia 8800 Arte is available from Orange and Carphone Warehouse for around £200 on a monthly contract.
There are different kinds of weightiness in mobiles: there's the reassuring weight of quality or that huge lump in your pocket. If there's one thing about the Nokia 8800 Arte that hits you the second you take it out of its superfluous box, it's the handset's build quality. The Nokia 8800 Arte is heavy, but it makes you feel like you've got something that'll last. It's a shame that this kind of build quality is increasingly becoming a rare thing to find.
The keypad emerges from the handset when you slide it upwards. Similar in keypad and screen to the original 8800, we're not enamoured of its functionality, but it does add flair. We found the keypad easy to use as all the keys are raised, making them easier to find.
Still, for such an expensive phone, we expected something more flashy. Not the encrusted- with-diamonds kind of flashy, but the look of the Arte isn't really that special. In fact, on a dark night, you'd be hard pressed to notice anything that 'premium' about the Arte, but some may argue that high quality products aren't about flash.
Its price is certainly premium and we expected the best features available. Instead, we were frazzled by the Arte's offerings. For instance, there's a 3.2-megapixel camera, but no flash. Kiss those romantic, candle-lit photos goodbye. You won't be able to see anything unless the curtains catch on fire. Also, there's Web browsing over 3G, but a relatively small screen, so compared to something like the N95, it doesn't really lend itself to surfing.
Then there's the somewhat bizarre set of functions, such as the ability to mute a call by turning the handset face down. Why not use a mute button? Equally unnecessary is the ability to display an analogue clock by tapping the screen twice. You could just look at the start screen clock in the top right corner.
The final raised eyebrow arches towards the Arte's memory. You get 1GB onboard, but there's no option to expand, a feature found on many cheaper handsets. This is where form wins over function -- even if you do store music and photos on it, it's not really set up to be a media-centric phone. There's no 3.5mm headphone jack, for example.
Free from distortion and muffling, the Arte's audio quality is fine for the atmosphere of a civilised cocktail party, but won't do you any favours at a crowded gig. It's not very loud, but at least it won't damage your hearing any more. In a car, we recommend you use a Bluetooth headset to get the most out of your hands-free calls.
You won't be taking any clear pictures at the party or in the club, unless all the house lights are up. Photos in low-light show noticeable blurring, but with 3.2 megapixels, brighter shots will be acceptable for MMS and small prints.
We didn't find that we used the Web browser or music player much, which helped maintain battery life. With moderate use, the phone held a charge for over two days. Nokia quotes 300 hours standby time and 3 hours talk time.
For such an expensive handset, we expected something special. Overall, we were disappointed. Using premium materials is always a good thing, but it should really be followed by premium features; frankly, we don't think the Arte has them. The Nokia 8800 Arte may have no-nonsense aspirations, but it's just not very sensible.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday