Nokia’s 8800 series of premium phones have become the weapon of choice for look-at-me Hoxtonite poseurs and City preeners. The original model was the ultimate in style over substance, and was soon followed by some wallet-busting successors – the feature-packed 8800 Sirocco and the 18-carat gold Sirocco Gold model, which cost £800 SIM-free. Ouch.
Not many of us mere plebs can afford such extravagance so Nokia has taken the 8800’s elegance and dumbed it down a smidge for the hoi polloi with its new handset, the 8600 Luna. Carphone Warehouse, who has bagged a six week exclusive, is giving the 8600 away free on £50 a month contract. But has this more affordable price tag made the 8600 just another low-grade 8800 wannabe?
Full metal jacket
Thankfully, the 8600 Luna is shot through with quality. It may forgo the 8800’s metallic finish for a shadowy, noir veneer, but it’s still mined brilliantly from stainless steel. Behind a new opaque but tough glass façade the keypad also nattily glows white.
The cold steel may be the soft touch variety but the 8600 is a meaty fellow, weighing around seven grams more than the Sirocco at a pocket sagging 143g. This weight may put some off, but it adds to its premium status and makes it feel almost bullet-proof.
Even better is the slide action. Thanks to the 8800’s greased ball-bearing glide – the best mechanism on the planet bar none – it’s incredibly slick, and has a satisfying snap on shutdown. The display also vastly improves on the Sirocco, bursting with 16-million colours, keen detail and a QVGA resolution.
Beneath the steel shell, Nokia’s infamously intuitive UI is present and correct, and the keypad is highly workable. However, memory allocation is the most glaring cock-up from Nokia, with only 128MB on board and no memory card slot. It may have got away with it if the music player wasn’t so advanced – it features a seven-band equaliser, and is backed up by Stereo Bluetooth. But both feel redundant when you can only listen to about three albums.
Its other media functions are also disappointing. The camera is a basic two-megapixel job with no flash or autofocus. Likewise the QCIF (176x144 pixel resolution) quality video recording is juddery but just about good enough for YouTube tomfoolery.
It’s also worth noting the 8600 is also the first Nokia handset to ditch its proprietary Pop Port connection for a standard mini USB but, even despite the absence of 3G, it still guzzled battery juice like a 4x4 on a school run. Heavy users will need a daily charge.
We can, nevertheless, forgive the 8600 these feature set indiscretions, and the fact that it lacks the 8800 Sircocco’s panache, for two reasons. Firstly, its steel-and-glass finish and peerless build quality mean it looks and feels like the dog’s cojones. And, more importantly, us regular punters can actually afford it.
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