So this is just a quick list of the differences between the two. Some are factual, some anecdotal from my experiences over the last week. They are fundamentally the same phone however, and someone looking for an N8 but without the money to afford one could do worse than look at a C7/Astound*. I have tried not to focus on software as although the Astound has a newer version of Symbian, the Anna update will be released (next month?) and should bring both devices to a similar software experience.
N8: 12MP camera with 2 stage shutter, Auto Focus and Xenon flash
Astound: 8MP camera with single stage shutter, EDoF lense and dual LED flash
N8: 16GB on board plus hot swappable Micro SD card
Astound: 8GB on board, plus Micro SD card behind the battery cover
N8: HDMI or component cable
Astound: Component cable via headphone jack
N8: Charger, manual, long USB cable, USB on the go cable, HDMI converter cable, hands free headset with media player remote buttons
Astound: Charger, manual, short USB cable, single button hands free headset
N8: Pentaband GSM 3G
Astound: Quadband GSM 3G
WiFi Calling / UMA support (Free on T-Mobile now):
N8: No – the one down side of Xenon flash
I think the Astound is more responsive on the touch screen and certainly, the Swype keyboards (either portrait/landscape) were easier to use on that than either the original keyboard, or the landscape Swype keyboard you can get from the Ovi store. I’m not sure if this is a software or hardware difference.
The N8 picked up and stayed connected to my WiFi network more consistently than the Astound
The N8 showed less lag than the Astound and was more reliable.
I had a few frustrating calls on the N8 because my cheek hit the on screen hold key, one once the End key, something I don’t think I experienced with the Astound – perhaps the proximity sensor is better or in a better spot.
The Astound, I felt, had better call quality and was more comfortable to hold and talk with during a call.
The stereo speakers on the Astound get less muffled when the phone in face up, then the mono speaker on the N8.
OK, so where are we – This is a very rough list but the upshot is that they both have things that are better one one than the other. Factual stuff I listed had the N8 leading the Astound, though the N8 fared worse in the anecdotal stuff. Note exactly scientific, but the C7 / Astound ties with the N8 – 7 each (and i promise i didn’t try and reach a conclusion like this). However, I think that aside from the stuff with call quality and the speaker, the N8 wins on the more important aspects people will mostly focus on – it has a better camera, it has more memory on board, it has more stuff in the box when you buy one. But if you are a T-Mobile customer, are happy with the camera quality of the Astound and the memory, this is a great option for you*.* The device I have has crashed several times and had some buggy performance. Other have too, but there also seem to be people who don’t experience this. And My N900 is great and reliable, but a co-worker who has one has had many issues that I have never seen. So get an Astound, but check the return policy before you do. One option is to buy a unlocked C7 which has pentaband 3G and may have a better retail box, but may not have UMA support or a newer software version.