Hands on with the £950 Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte

Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte sits at the top end of Nokia 8800 range and I was lucky enough to have a hands on with one. On paper it’s almost identical to the Nokia 8800 Arte and Sapphire Arte, with the exception of 4GB of onboard memory.

Looking at the handset, it’s quite sparse; Nokia have kept the number of buttons to a minimum. On the top is a single chromed power button. The bottom has as single microUSB socket in the middle, whilst the right hand side has a slit for the loudspeaker. On both sides are two almost flush battery cover catches to slide the back off. The back of the phone has just the 3.2 mega-pixel camera (covered by glass). The front ½ of the phone is dominated by the display, with a small section for the D pad, two soft keys and answer/end buttons. Both “turn to silence” and “tap for time” features on the original 8800 Arte are present and work identically, and virtually all the options/features are identical on between the 8800 Arte range.

Where the 8800 Carbon Arte differs from the other models is the materials used in the casing. Nokia have kept the scratch resistant screen, but have made the casing with titanium and carbon fibre inserts. The chassis and external case is still made from stainless steel, but the visible front and back are made with titanium inserts welded into the stainless steel case. Two large solid carbon fibre panels are fitted into the front and back. One of the panels is on the rear battery cover while the second is fitted to the front slide cover.

At 150g the handset has a “solid” reassuring feeling reinforcing the precision feeling. The use of titanium and carbon fibre makes the 8800 Arte Carbon look and feel a little different in use too. It’s not as cold to touch as the original 8800 Arte, and slightly easier to hold as the matt finish gives slightly better grip. Crucially it is also much better at hiding finger prints than the original 8800 Arte. The polished carbon fibre panels have a 3d square effect, like a stenograph, and coupled with the matt metal sections do a good job of hiding finger prints. Pick up the 8800 Arte and the lovely gloss black look is ruined by finger prints, whilst the carbon Arte looks fine.

In terms of looks, the 8800 Carbon Arte looks less “striking” then the original 8800 Arte. Whereas on the 8800 Arte the polished black and chrome contrasted sharply making the phone stand out, the chrome and titanium tend to blend together on the 8800 Carbon Arte.

This has the affect of making it look more subdued. The carbon fibre panels on the front and back impart the handset with a “racy” look. The square pattern of the carbon fibre contrasts with the plain finish of the handset, while the dark grey/black colours of the panels pleasantly blend in with the rest of the colours used. It’s a strange contrasting/matching look it imparts to the phone.

Nokia liken opening the 8800 Carbon Arte box to opening a box of chocolates, with different layers revealing different surprises. The first layer presents the phone and a Bluetooth headset. Take the plastic tray out and the 2nd layer reveals itself, in which you get:

• 1 x Battery (BL-4U)

• 1 x Desktop Stand (finished in matching titanium)

• 1 x Carry Case

• 1 x microUSB Data Cable (CA-101)

• 1 x Cleaning Cloth

• 1 x Mains Charger (AC-6)

The manual also comes in a nice black cardboard case of its own with pockets for the software CD, which has some extra wallpaper/ringtones to install as well as a brief demo of the device. Having a nice selection of accessories (and almost everything average users will need) is a nice bonus and helps promote the “premium” feeling.

The Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte occupies a strange position, its one of the few handsets that focuses on design and materials rather then technical innovation. It’s an exotic mix of materials (steel, carbon fibre, titanium and glass) in a stunning design, which makes it stand out from other handsets. If your don’t need cutting edge features and want something that’s a little “different” then the Nokia 8800 Carbon Arte is perfect.