Unfortunately, this stealth slider phone loses a lot of its allure and appeal once you open the phone. To reveal the keypad, you use the middle notch to push the screen upward; the sliding mechanism is smooth and snaps into place with a satisfying click. The keypad keeps the same attractive black and silver color scheme, but it's much too cramped and cryptic. There's a four-way navigation toggle with a center OK button below the screen, but the whole layout is so squished that we had to play close attention and meticulously press each directional key. Still, more often than not, we'd end up hitting the wrong button. For example, we frequently hit the 2 button when we were actually just trying to scroll down the menu.
Flanking the control pad are the Talk and End buttons, but it's not marked as such, and the two soft keys are actually two slivers located on the outer case. We were able to figure out the latter through just playing with the phone and referencing the user guide, but our first inclination was to hit the Talk and End buttons to access those functions; we often hit the End button and exited the menu completely when we meant to hit the right soft key just to back out of one submenu. The layout of the numerical buttons is marginally better, but the bottom row of keys is problematic, since they so closely border the outer case. Users with larger digits should definitely take the 8800 for a test-drive before purchasing it.
As far as the Nokia 8800's other controls and design features, there aren't too many to note. The camera lens is located at the top rear and is visible and active only when the phone is open. There's no flash or mirror for self-portraits, and a dedicated camera key is sorely missing. We had to dig through several menu layers (Menu, Media, and Camera) just to activate the camera. You can, however, customize the right soft key to be a shortcut to the camera or one of 26 other functions. There's a lone power button on the top of the handset, as well as two release buttons on the right and left spines to access the battery and SIM card slot, but good luck prying the cover off. The buttons are incredibly difficult to press, especially while trying to wrangle off the slippery cover. We also would have liked to see dedicated volume buttons.
On the upside, the Nokia 8800 comes packaged with a healthy set of accessories, including a wired headset, a desk stand/charger, a suede carry pouch, and a travel charger. Other enhancements are available for purchase, such as Bluetooth car kits for hands-free cell phone use.Although we aren't thrilled with its design, the Nokia 8800 offers a good helping of features. The phone-book size is limited by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts), with room in each entry for five numbers; e-mail, Web, and postal addresses; and notes. For caller-ID purposes, you can pair a contact with an image, a group ID, or one of 64 polyphonic ring tones; the phone also supports AAC and MP3 ring tones. For messaging fanatics, you can send text and multimedia messages, as well as instant messages and e-mail (SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4). The 8800 has the usual PIM functions, such as a calendar, a to-do list, a calculator, a countdown timer, and a stopwatch. The company also throws in a couple of extras: a translator, as well as the Mobile Wallet 2.0 application, which lets you store personal information--such as credit card numbers, receipts, and more--and can be password protected. Business users will be pleased to see the inclusion of integrated Bluetooth, a speakerphone, voice-memo support, and PC syncing with the Nokia PC Suite. There is also a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser with support for EDGE speeds.