Nokia N8 smartphone gets 12-megapixel camera, new Symbian OS

Today the Finnish phonemaker took the wraps off the Symbian-powered Nokia N8, which it touted as a 'revolutionary' smart phone.

The Nokia N8 smartphone, which is powered by the Symbian OS. Nokia says the N8 will set new benchmarks in the cell phone game.

It's been a busy couple months for the smart phone market – system upgrades for the Apple iPhone, rumors of an iPhone 4G, a new BlackBerry Bold from the folks at RIM. Today, Nokia dove into the fray, releasing details for a smart phone called the Nokia N8, which should be available sometime late this summer. Nokia is touting the N8, which runs the latest iteration of the Symbian OS, as a "revolutionary" product, which could set new industry "benchmarks."

We're not sure we'd go that far, but the Nokia N8 sure is packing a lot of power under the hood. For starters, the phone, pictured at left, gets a 12-megapixel Carl Zeiss camera, a whopping upgrade over the 3 megapixel camera found on the Apple iPhone. (Read our standard disclaimer about megapixels.) The Weiss camera is also capable of shooting HD video; a second video camera on the front of N8, meanwhile, can be used for video calling.

Of course, as Daniel Ionescu of PC World points out, there is reason to be skeptical about the Nokia N8. "Nokia's real gamble," Mr. Ionescu writes, "is not with the N8 hardware, but with the operating system delivered on the device. The Symbian OS has been widely criticized for being sluggish, and lagging behind competitors like the iPhone or Google's Android OS."

Nokia reps seemed to attempt to preempt criticism of the Symbian in a blog post published earlier today. "There’s been a huge amount of work put into Symbian by the Symbian Foundation member companies, including Nokia itself," a Nokia employee wrote. "What we’ll see on the Nokia N8 will be a fresh, renewed experience."

The post pointed to the addition of the three customizable homescreens available on the N8 software, as well as Symbian's capacity for multitasking – Nokia said multiple programs can be run simultaneously. "The Nokia N8 sports a new visual task switcher so you can easily jump between open applications," the blog post read.

The Nokia N8 will work with the AT&T and T-Mobile networks in the US; an unlocked version of the phone should retail for about $500.

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