I came from an E72 so naturally I like to compare everything to it. So I pitted my N8 against it in a hotspot 3G tethering speed competition. I ran the test using AT&T SIM cards in both phones so the comparison should be very accurate. I checked for both download and upload speeds and in order to minimize errors I did the test 10 times on each phone and averaged the results.
As you can see in the video, the results were dead even. Both phones are specified from NOKIA as having a max data rate capability of HSDPA 10.2 Mbps and HSUPA 2.0 Mbps. So obviously the 3G signal in my house is not strong enough to push the limits of either phone.
That said, the fact that the real world data rate performance is almost dead even leads me to believe that perhaps the RF performance of the two phones is similar. This is welcome news to me because in the year I was using my E72 I was very happy with the RF performance.