Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

Nokia E72

June 15, 2009

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Nokia E72

Specs

General
Phone type Candy bar
Operating system Symbian OS
Dimensions (H x W x D) 144 x 58 x 10 mm
Weight 128g
Expansion slot(s) microSD
Built-in memory 250 MB
Available colours Zodium black, Metal grey, Topaz brown
Additional functions Active noise cancellation technology; built-in mobile VPN; remote lock and data wipe; data encryption.
Connectivity
GSM frequency bands Quadband
Connectivity options 3G, A-GPS, HSDPA, HSUPA, Bluetooth, A2DP, WLAN
Display and Text Input
Display size 2.4-inch screen
Display resolution QVGA
Touchscreen No
Keypad QWERTY
Performance
Max. standby time (in hours) 384 hours
Battery capacity 1500 mAh
Max. talktime (in hours) 12.5 hours talktime
Multimedia
Maximum camera resolution 5 megapixels
Imaging features Autofocus
Sound features MP3 playback, FM radio
Audio jack type 3.5mm
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Nokia 5530 XpressMusic

June 15, 2009

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Nokia 5530 XpressMusic
Specs

General
Phone type Candy bar
Operating system Symbian OS
Dimensions (H x W x D) 104 x 49 x 13 mm
Weight 107g
Expansion slot(s) microSD
Built-in memory 70 MB
Available colours Black/red, White/blue, Black/grey, White/pink, White/yellow
Connectivity
GSM frequency bands Quadband
Connectivity options EDGE, GPRS, microUSB, Bluetooth, A2DP, WLAN
Display and Text Input
Display size 2.9-inch screen
Display resolution WQVGA
Touchscreen Yes
Performance
Max. standby time (in hours) 336 hours
Battery capacity 1000 mAh
Max. talktime (in hours) 4.9 hours talktime
Multimedia
Maximum camera resolution 3.2 megapixels
Imaging features Onboard flash, Autofocus, LED
Sound features Built-in speakers
Audio jack type 3.5mm

Asus Eee PC 1000HE

February 18, 2009

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What you need to know
We like:

Stunning battery life; impressive keyboard
We don’t like:

No integrated 3G
CNET.co.uk judgement:

We were totally blown away by the Asus Eee PC 1000HE. It has the best battery life of any laptop we’ve ever tested, its keyboard is arguably just as usable as those on larger laptops, and it’s stylish to boot.
Score:

9 Spectacular
Full Review

Reviewed 16 February 2009

The Asus Eee PC 1000HE is a slightly tweaked version of the Eee PC 1000H. The ‘E’ in the name stands for ‘extended’, referring to an improved battery pack that lasts a claimed 9.5 hours. The 1000HE also features a new Intel Atom N280 CPU and a brand new keyboard with isolated keys — changes that make the machine faster and easier to use than equivalent netbooks.

The 1000HE should be available to buy from early April for approximately £360.

Design
The 1000HE looks virtually identical to the other 1000-series netbooks, and that’s no bad thing. It’s an attractive device with gently curved edges, shiny, circular, coin-style hinge edges and minimalist ‘Eee’ branding at the corner of the lid. Being the design obsessives that we are, we would probably have got rid of the glossy, fingerprint-attracting black finish, and somehow squeezed in a larger, 11-inch screen in order to reduce the size of the bezel — but these are minor quibbles.

The first major improvement offered by the 1000HE is its new keyboard, which appears to have been inspired by the Sony Vaio TT or Apple MacBook. The keyboard features isolated keys, meaning each key has a 2mm to 3mm gap between itself and its nearest neighbour. This makes it considerably easier to use than a standard netbook keyboard, on which the keys tend to be more closely grouped. It’s entirely possible to touch type on the 1000HE’s keyboard. The mouse track pad is equally pleasant to use, as it’s larger than those on most other netbooks, and supports multitouch gesture inputs.

Just above the keyboard, Asus provides a row of four shortcut buttons. One of these instantly deactivates the screen backlight, which is only ever useful if you’re desperately trying to hide porn from someone looking over your shoulder. On the other hand, if you’re really anal about battery life, you can hit the button every time you blink. The other three are more useful — one zooms the screen (by changing the resolution), and the remaining two are user-programmable, so you can assign them to launch your favourite applications.

There’s a fairly ordinary arrangement of ports on the 1000HE. The left side is home to Ethernet, USB, microphone and headphone ports, while the right side houses a VGA video output, two additional USBs and a MultiMediaCard/SD card reader. There are no optical drives, digital video outputs or fingerprint readers, but that’s par for the course with a netbook.

Features
The 1000HE is the first machine we’ve seen that uses an Intel Atom N280 CPU. Theoretically, it offers better performance than the near-ubiquitous Atom N270 chips we see in most netbooks, thanks to its faster front-side bus and higher clock speed. The N280’s front-side bus — the system that transfers data between the memory sub-system and the CPU — runs at 667MHz, as opposed to 533MHz in the case of the N270. This boosts the clock speed to 1.66GHz — 600MHz faster than that of the N270.

Don’t expect a massive improvement in performance, though. The 1000HE has the same Intel 945GSE chipset used on previous Eee PCs, and not the new, faster-performing, Atom-specific GN40 chipset announced at the same time as the N280 CPU.

The 1000HE contains 1GB of RAM — again, typical netbook fare — but ships with a large, 160GB hard drive instead of the 80GB unit seen in the 1000H. This should please BitTorrent junkies no end, as the machine is capable of storing approximately 230 standard-definition movies, 40,000 MP3s and a quite ludicrous number of digital images.

The 1000HE retains the 1000H’s 10-inch display, with a native resolution of 1,024×600 pixels, and it’s still relatively good. The horizontal viewing angle is wide enough so that you and a friend can watch a movie next to each other in relative comfort, and it’s not finished in any glossy coating, so it can be used outdoors in direct sunlight without turning into a mirror.

Wireless capabilities remain the same as on the standard 1000-series models. The 1000HE sports 802.11a/g/n compatibility, so it’ll connect to pretty much any Wi-Fi network, although it lacks Bluetooth and integrated 3G. If you want to surf the Web in the absence of a Wi-Fi hotspot, you’ll need to connect it to a compatible mobile phone, or — better still — buy yourself a USB modem.

The 1000HE’s operating system of choice is Windows XP. There are no Linux options available with this particular chassis and battery, but there’s nothing stopping fans of the penguin from installing Linux at their own convenience.

Finally, the 1000HE has the highest-capacity battery of any Eee PC we’ve tested. Its 8,700mAh battery absolutely dwarfs the 6,600mAh cell in the previous 1000-series Eee PCs.

Performance
The N280 CPU inside the 1000HE is slightly quicker than the N270. This difference doesn’t really manifest itself in day-to-day use, since the original 1000-series Eee PCs were pretty nippy anyway, but the 1000HE scored a commendable 1,514 in PCMark05 at a resolution of 1,024×768 pixels.

More impressive was the battery life. The standard Eee PC 1000 lasted a very respectable 3 hours and 56 minutes in Battery Eater’s Classic test, which runs the CPU at full tilt until the battery dies, but this model lasted a whopping 5 hours and 48 minutes. In the less intensive Battery Eater Reader’s test, which simulates reading a text document until the battery dies, the 1000HE’s battery lasted a whopping 10 hours and 32 minutes.

Conclusion
The Asus Eee PC 1000HE is the best netbook so far for people who travel often. Its stunning battery life eclipses that of all its rivals, its keyboard is good enough to touch type with, and it looks good, too. We’re in love, as should you be.

Sony Ericsson W902 Walkman

November 21, 2008
Nov 20, 2008

Announced back in July, the W902 is Sony Ericsson’s flagship Walkman phone for the end of 2008, and the first Walkman to come with a 5-megapixel camera. We loved the early pre-production sample we were given several months ago, and have been desperate to get our hands on the W902 ever since. Now we have.

Design

This is a solid quad-band phone. It feels tough, rugged and built to last. At 100g it’s not hugely light, but we’re glad–it’s the kind of build that benefits from being just a little heavier than some, with a chunky, well-spaced-out set of keys that are dead easy to get used to.

Excellent too is the W902’s 66mm (2.2-inch) 320 x 240-pixel display, with a tight pixel density resulting in a crisp, bright screen. Even small text is easy to read, and your photos or well-encoded videos will looks smashing, though we’ll cover that some more shortly.

The W902 lost most marks for its lack of a standard headphone socket, though. Sony Ericsson has, once again, used its proprietary USB-cum-headphone socket, meaning you’ll need to use a haggard bundled adapter if you want to plug in your own headphones. Would you enjoy using a car that required an adapter to fit its wheels? No, us neither. But some dedicated Walkman keys do at least make using music features a little less annoying.

Features

The big selling point for the W902 is its 5-megapixel camera, and it comes paired with a typical LED flash and a smaller secondary front-facing camera for video calling. The flash is one of the key differences between this and the Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot range, which often features high-quality Xenon flashes.

You can save your photos and media to a pitiful 25MB internal memory, or the bundled 8GB Memory Stick Micro M2 memory card. A dedicated Walkman button will take you into a clean media manager interface for browsing music, video, pictures, Flash games and RSS feeds.

Support media formats in here include MP3, WMA (including protected WMA), AAC and WAV. Bear in mind only DRM-free songs from the iTunes Store are compatible, and there’s no gapless playback, so live albums experience a little pause between each track.

You’ve also got a 3.6Mbps 3.5G HSDPA data connection on hand for browsing the Web (we advise installing the free Opera Mini browser), downloading music, or for watching YouTube clips via the built-in YouTube app, which works extremely well.

Of course you’ve also got the usual roster of office apps, calendars and alarms, an integrated FM radio, stereo Bluetooth 2.0 and built-in email. What you haven’t got is integrated GPS navigation, which was something we praised in the W760i–our favorite Walkman phone ever. There’s also no Wi-Fi.

Performance

With these minor disappointments out of the way, we started taking some photos. The 5-megapixel lens is on par with the Nokia N95‘s, and offers three-photo-wide panorama shots, too. Outdoor images are slightly more natural looking, but the N95 offers more detail and less noise at full resolution. It’s still nowhere near as good as even an average 5-megapixel compact, but for a phone–particularly a music phone–it’s great.

And since it’s a music phone, we’re not massively disappointed. True, the phone, like all Sony Ericssons, loses significant marks for not using a standard headphone socket (and will continue to lose marks until the design guys get the message), but its Walkman interface is clean and easy to use, as are the rest of the phone’s menus, despite being sluggish at times.

Sound quality is decent, providing you upgrade the budget earphones that come in the box. A dedicated MP3 player such as a Creative Zen, Cowon D2 or iPod classic sound noticeably better, and dedicated players offer way more music and video features. But for casual listening, it’s a great music phone that most people should enjoy using.

The phone supports H.264 MPEG-4 video, as well as lower quality WMV, and we enjoyed a full episode of a popular TV programme on the handset. We encoded the 100MB file ourselves in H.264 with a 320 x 240-pixel resolution, and a combined bit rate of around 512Kbps. No software comes bundled for doing this, and using Windows Media Player only converts to less impressive WMV quality. But if you know what you’re doing the phone can, in practise, support half-decent video.

Still, we can’t help but notice that there’s really nothing different between the W902 and every other Walkman phone from the last 12 months. It strikes us as a typical Sony Ericsson, just with a better camera and a new case–evolution, not revolution, and only mild evolution at that. So is it worth the wait?

Conclusion

In a word, yes. The W902 offers the best camera we’ve seen on a dedicated music phone, with a decent interface for browsing media and a solid, attractive design. It suffers hard at the hand of whoever at Sony Ericsson hates 3.5mm headphone sockets, but if you want a full-featured music phone with a great camera, fast Internet and above average sound quality, it’s one to check out.

If you can live with a 3-megapixel camera but want integrated satellite navigation, check out the Sony Ericsson W760i. Subjectively, we’d still choose this over the W902, because we prefer the design and quite frankly it’s the same phone on the inside.

Specs

Physical design
Phone type Candy bar
Dimensions (W x D x H) 110 x 49 x 11.7 mm
Weight w/battery 99.8 g
Primary display type TFT
Secondary display resolution x pixels
Available colours Volcanic Black; Wine Red; Earth Green
Phone
Network Quadband
Network type(s) GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900
Connectivity options 3G, EDGE, GPRS, Bluetooth, A2DP
Calling Features Video calls, Speakerphone
General
LCD display size 2.2-inch 240 x 320-pixel
Color LCD? Yes
Performance
Max. talktime (in hours) 9 hours
Max. standby time (in hours) 380 hours
Internal memory 25 MB
Expansion slot(s) Memory Stick Micro
Included accessories Battery, charger, USB cable, 8GB Memory Stick Micro card, stereo portable handsfree, Sony Ericsson PC Suite, Media manager and user guide
Other Features
MMS? Yes
Predictive text input? Yes
Polyphonic? Yes
Built-in vibrate alert? Yes
Multimedia
Built-in digital camera? Yes
Maximum camera resolution 5 megapixels

Sony Ericsson W760i Walkman

November 21, 2008
Jul 09, 2008 Ever since we first set eyes on Sony Ericsson’s W760i Walkman phone, we knew we’d love it. It enters the music phone market and goes up against one of our all-time favourite music handsets, the W890i. As this slider phone faces some tough competition–even from its own siblings–is it everything we hoped for?

Editors’ note:

This review is based on tests done by our sister site CNET.co.uk. As such, please note that there may be slight differences in the testing procedure and ratings system. For more information on the actual tests conducted on the product, please inquire directly at the site where the article was originally published. References made to some other products or telcos in this review may not be available or applicable in Asia.

Design

This stylish handset immediately feels good to use, with a solid, lightweight build and in our opinion, an attractive design for business or personal use. Sliding out the keypad reveals a smashing set of large, flat keys, which are soft to push and easy for speedy texting.

A Memory Stick Micro slot sits on top of the phone for easy memory card swapage. It’s also possible to unlock and navigate the Walkman features of the W760i without sliding out the keypad, using a dedicated Walkman button. This is extremely useful for when you’re listening to music.

What isn’t useful is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone socket, immediately nulifying any chance of us recommending this handset as a suitable replacement to a dedicated MP3 player. You’ll need to use the bundled plastic proprietary adapter in order to use your own headphones, resulting in roughly 3 metres of cable between your ears and the phone. But that’s our only massive criticism of the W760i’s design.

Features

This quad-band music phone has some distinctly non-music phone features. Firstly, an accelerometer detects the phone’s position in space. It knows when it’s being tilted and in what direction. For instance, if you tilt the phone on its side when viewing a photo, the photo will rotate to better fit the screen.

This also allows you to control games by tilting the phone. EA’s Need For Speed Pro Street 3D racing game comes pre-installed among others. Its cars can be steered and accelerated by tilting the handset in a variety of directions.

Sony Ericsson also crammed in GPS navigation, coupled with Google Maps and Wayfinder Navigator for helping you get around in unfamiliar locations. A 3-megapixel camera will let you take photos and videos of these locations and email them over the W760i’s high-speed HSDPA data connection.

Download the amazing–and free–Opera Mini browser and the W760i becomes a blisteringly fast Internet browsing device, too. Sony Ericsson has bundled an integrated RSS feed reader into the slick dedicated media menus, so even if you’re not bothered about browsing the Web, you can at least keep up to date with news as its published.

DRM’d WMA content purchased from most online music download stores should be supported–we had no problem playing some protected Dream Theater tracks purchased from Napster. Sadly not supported are AIFF, OGG, FLAC and lossless WMA music formats. There’s no gapless playback either, so live albums will have a second-long pause between tracks.

This is pretty typical for music phones and the supported formats–unprotected MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV–are at least the ones most commonly used in the music world. Additionally, A2DP stereo Bluetooth enables the W760i to work with any Bluetooth headphones you’ve got lying around.

Performance

We’ve enjoyed using this phone so much. Its menus are slick and attractive and the physical controls are well placed. It’s not flawless, but we’re confident most people will agree it’s a nice handset to use.

Music can be dragged and dropped through Windows or synced with either Windows Media Player or Sony Ericsson’s bundled software. We had trouble getting video on here, though, and we wouldn’t recommend the W760i if watching video is a major desire. File transfers are also extremely slow–around eight to ten seconds per 320Kbps MP3.

Testing with uncompressed, lossless WAV files, we heard a decent sound quality, though through our reference-grade headphones we could hear a tiny element of background distortion. Most people won’t even notice this and it won’t be an issue for casual listening. A keen ear with a good pair of earphones may spot it.

Call quality is great and you should get a brilliant 9 hours of calls or 400 hours of standby time. Pictures quality is okay too, though at full resolution there’s a good deal of noise. Check out our full-res example shot here.

If there was one more thing we’d like, it’d be Wi-Fi. No, a music phone doesn’t necessarily need it, but considering the inclusion of so many other features that aren’t synonymous with music phones, Wi-Fi is notably absent from the W760i.

Conclusion

The W760i is probably our favourite Sony Ericsson Walkman phone to date and with its terrific design encasing a feature-packed and high-performing handset, it rivals even Nokia’s N95. Even if you’re not bothered about Walkman features, you’d be daft not to consider it for its other selling points.

Its biggest let down is its lack of a standard headphone socket. In this area, it’s no competitor to dedicated MP3 players or the terrific 3.5mm-ready Motorola ROKR E8.

Specs

Physical design
Phone type Slider
Dimensions (W x D x H) 92 x 49 x 16 mm
Weight w/battery 100 g
Primary display type TFT
Secondary display resolution x pixels
Phone
Network Quadband
Network type(s) GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900
Connectivity options 3G, EDGE, GPS, HSDPA, Bluetooth, A2DP, USB
Calling Features Video calls
General
LCD display size 2.2-inch 240 x 320-pixel LCD
Color LCD? Yes
Primary Display Color 18 bit
Performance
Max. talktime (in hours) 9 hours
Max. standby time (in hours) 400 hours
Internal memory 40 MB
Expansion slot(s) Memory Stick Micro
Other Features
Additional functions A-GPS; Motion sensing
MMS? Yes
Predictive text input? Yes
Polyphonic? Yes
Built-in vibrate alert? Yes
Multimedia
Built-in digital camera? Yes
Maximum camera resolution 3.2 megapixels

Nokia N85

November 21, 2008

What you need to know

We like:

HSDPA, GPS, Wi-Fi keep you connected; 5-megapixel camera takes good pics; 3.5mm headphone jack is convenient, and well placed

We don’t like:

Keys on the keypad could be better defined

CNET.co.uk judgement:

The Nokia N85 is another solid N-series phone from the peeps in Finland, but if you’re looking for something different this won’t be your bag. What you have with the N85 is a well-designed, feature-packed phone, but it’s not a million miles away from the N95 — it’s just more refined. We still like it and think that as long as you don’t mind having a 5-megapixel camera instead of an 8-megapixel one, it’s definitely worth checking out

Score:

8 Excellent

Full Review

Reviewed 18 November 2008

Reviewed by Andrew Lim

From the model number, you’d think the N85 is a lesser version of the famous N95, but it’s actually an upgrade. Is this a case of Nokia running out of ideas, or is it merely honing a deservedly popular phone? We took a good look at the N85 to see whether Nokia has cracked it again.

The N85 will be available soon for free on a monthly contract. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Design
The N85 is a solid-feeling slider phone that’s smooth around the edges, giving it a more up-to-date feel than the blocky N95. Considering how many features it packs in, it doesn’t feel chunky or too heavy.

Aside from the keypad, we found all the keys on the N85 well-designed and easy to press. There’s even a handy toggle switch for locking and unlocking the N85 quickly. As for the keypad, we found it too flat for our liking, but not unusable.

We found the N85’s keypad flatter than we’d like

The double sliding mechanism — which moves around too much on the N95 — feels more solid in the N85, and doesn’t slide when it’s in your pocket. Equally secure is the N85’s camera cover — again, it won’t open by mistake in your trousers and take photos of your keys.

We really appreciate that Nokia has placed a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone instead of on the side, making it much less fiddly to use. You’ll also be glad to hear that charging and connecting to a PC can all be done via a micro-USB cable.

Worth noting is the N85’s OLED display, which consumes less power than a standard LCD. The screen is bright and large enough to view text messages or watch YouTube videos on. We also found that the Opera Mini browser looked superb on it.

Features
The N85 offers up some truly useful features, starting with HSDPA and Wi-Fi — you can access the Web almost everywhere you go. The on-board browser works well enough, but we prefer using Opera Mini, which you can download for free and offers a neat way of viewing full Web pages.

Similar to the N95 and N96, the N85 is a dual sliding phone with dedicated media keys on one side

GPS means you can find your location and plan trips, using Nokia Maps, which comes pre-installed, or you can download Google Maps. We didn’t have any problems picking up satellites, but as expected, the GPS doesn’t work indoors.

On the back of the N85 lies a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and dual LEDs. It’s very easy to use, with a simple interface, and we found the picture quality to be very good, even in low light — the LEDs providing more illumination than expected.

The N85’s camera features a sliding cover and LED photo lights

Equally unexpected is the built-in FM transmitter, which allows you to play music wirelessly through a car radio. It’s something that’s been made available in the past using third-party technology, but having it built-in is really useful.

As we mentioned before, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and the Nokia N85’s dedicated media keys mean using it as a music player is really easy. The music player interface is straightforward and gives you the option to shuffle tracks, adjust the equaliser and create playlists.

Performance
Audio quality during calls was loud and clear, as was the loudspeaker, but we recommend using a Bluetooth headset (the N85 supports A2DP stereo) for hands-free calls. Battery life is quoted at 6.9 hours talk time using GSM and 4.5 hours using 3G. Standby time is 363 hours using GSM or 3G. In real life, we found that with moderate use it lasted over a day before needing to be recharged.

Conclusion
After spending some quality time with the Nokia N85, we’re not sure why Nokia didn’t just launch this as the N95’s successor instead of the N96. The N85 is a refined phone that packs in a whole bunch of features into an attractive casing. Our only disappointment is that the keypad is a little flatter than we would like, but the rest of it left us very happy.

Wi-Fi, HSDPA and a music player you can listen to by simply plugging a pair of standard headphones straight in — great stuff. Okay, it’s not a revolutionary product, but it is a very good one nevertheless, and if you’re an N95 fan looking for something a little smaller and better-looking, you could a lot worse than this.

Nokia N85

November 19, 2008

What you need to know

We like:

HSDPA, GPS, Wi-Fi keep you connected; 5-megapixel camera takes good pics; 3.5mm headphone jack is convenient, and well placed

We don’t like:

Keys on the keypad could be better defined

CNET.co.uk judgement:

The Nokia N85 is another solid N-series phone from the peeps in Finland, but if you’re looking for something different this won’t be your bag. What you have with the N85 is a well-designed, feature-packed phone, but it’s not a million miles away from the N95 — it’s just more refined. We still like it and think that as long as you don’t mind having a 5-megapixel camera instead of an 8-megapixel one, it’s definitely worth checking out

Score:

8 Excellent

Full Review

Reviewed 18 November 2008

Reviewed by Andrew Lim

From the model number, you’d think the N85 is a lesser version of the famous N95, but it’s actually an upgrade. Is this a case of Nokia running out of ideas, or is it merely honing a deservedly popular phone? We took a good look at the N85 to see whether Nokia has cracked it again.

The N85 will be available soon for free on a monthly contract. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Design
The N85 is a solid-feeling slider phone that’s smooth around the edges, giving it a more up-to-date feel than the blocky N95. Considering how many features it packs in, it doesn’t feel chunky or too heavy.

Aside from the keypad, we found all the keys on the N85 well-designed and easy to press. There’s even a handy toggle switch for locking and unlocking the N85 quickly. As for the keypad, we found it too flat for our liking, but not unusable.

The double sliding mechanism — which moves around too much on the N95 — feels more solid in the N85, and doesn’t slide when it’s in your pocket. Equally secure is the N85’s camera cover — again, it won’t open by mistake in your trousers and take photos of your keys.

We really appreciate that Nokia has placed a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone instead of on the side, making it much less fiddly to use. You’ll also be glad to hear that charging and connecting to a PC can all be done via a micro-USB cable.

Worth noting is the N85’s OLED display, which consumes less power than a standard LCD. The screen is bright and large enough to view text messages or watch YouTube videos on. We also found that the Opera Mini browser looked superb on it.

Features
The N85 offers up some truly useful features, starting with HSDPA and Wi-Fi — you can access the Web almost everywhere you go. The on-board browser works well enough, but we prefer using Opera Mini, which you can download for free and offers a neat way of viewing full Web pages.

GPS means you can find your location and plan trips, using Nokia Maps, which comes pre-installed, or you can download Google Maps. We didn’t have any problems picking up satellites, but as expected, the GPS doesn’t work indoors.

On the back of the N85 lies a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and dual LEDs. It’s very easy to use, with a simple interface, and we found the picture quality to be very good, even in low light — the LEDs providing more illumination than expected.

Equally unexpected is the built-in FM transmitter, which allows you to play music wirelessly through a car radio. It’s something that’s been made available in the past using third-party technology, but having it built-in is really useful.

As we mentioned before, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and the Nokia N85’s dedicated media keys mean using it as a music player is really easy. The music player interface is straightforward and gives you the option to shuffle tracks, adjust the equaliser and create playlists.

Performance
Audio quality during calls was loud and clear, as was the loudspeaker, but we recommend using a Bluetooth headset (the N85 supports A2DP stereo) for hands-free calls. Battery life is quoted at 6.9 hours talk time using GSM and 4.5 hours using 3G. Standby time is 363 hours using GSM or 3G. In real life, we found that with moderate use it lasted over a day before needing to be recharged.

Conclusion
After spending some quality time with the Nokia N85, we’re not sure why Nokia didn’t just launch this as the N95’s successor instead of the N96. The N85 is a refined phone that packs in a whole bunch of features into an attractive casing. Our only disappointment is that the keypad is a little flatter than we would like, but the rest of it left us very happy.

Wi-Fi, HSDPA and a music player you can listen to by simply plugging a pair of standard headphones straight in — great stuff. Okay, it’s not a revolutionary product, but it is a very good one nevertheless, and if you’re an N95 fan looking for something a little smaller and better-looking, you could a lot worse than this.

N79

November 19, 2008

Sales package:

  • Nokia N79
  • Two interchangeable covers
  • 4 Gb microSD memory card
  • Battery (BL-6F)
  • Charger (AC-5)
  • Wired stereo-headset with a remote (HS-45/AD-54)
  • USB data cable CA-101
  • User Guide
  • Software DVD

Positioning

To answer the question what the Nokia N79 is all about, first we will need to figure out what model it comes in to replace. While it has a strong resemblance with the Nokia N78, it targets a completely different audience. What we are getting at is that the N79 is here to take the place of the best selling Nseries device to date – the N73 and all its iterations. Looking back at how the N73 was presented nearly two years ago, offering best camera for very little money, the Nokia N79 does exactly the same thing, packing in a 5 Mpix camera module along with the N78-esque hardware and software.

Nokia N73:

Nokia N78:

Nokia N79:

As far as Nokia’s consumer map goes, this audience is classified as Technology Stylists. In our review on the N78 we pondered over different scenarios for that phone, but each of them required Nokia to cut its price tag a fair bit, so as to make it a more appealing choice in view of the N82’s hegemony. However they haven’t heeded this piece of advice, and effectively, the N79 serves as a replacement not only for the N73, but the N78 too. All in all, this segment has reached the level of saturation when this many offerings simply can’t get along and some will have to withdraw. Luckily for Nokia, the N79 seems to be all the rage these days, for it offers a decent feature pack at an adequate price point. Even without any further price reductions the Nokia N79 has all it takes to secure its place on the shelves of retail stores for a very long while; especially since the Nokia N82 is becoming a thing of the past – while Nokia haven’t depleted its potential just yet, they are definitely about to. Although there is always an option to send the price though the floor, it’s not the best way to keep some handset afloat while maintaining an acceptable profit margin.

On top of that, the N79 completes the Nokia N85 in the sense that it acts as a less sophisticated version of the latter for those who aren’t into sliding phones. Compared the N85, it packs in an inferior display and fewer options in its sales package, but as far as hardware and features go, they aren’t all that different. The bottom line is that the Nokia N79 is for those people who are looking for the best price to quality ratio and in that respect the N79 is second to none for its 350 euro price bracket, furthermore it won’t relinquish this status during 2009. The only question remains, however, is whether it will surpass the N73’s sales – we think it’s more thank likely to.

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Design, Size, Controls

The N79 is styled after most other NSeries-branded devices with very few differences at all, even its back cover is very much in turn with this line-up’s latest trend – it’s glossy and features a fancy pattern. Coming boxed with the phone are two spare interchangeable panels and thanks to a contact pad found on the N79’s body, it will know which one of them is on and will adjust the menu theme accordingly. You can always opt to disable this feature in the menu.

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so.addVariable(“path”, “review/image/nokia/n79/video/video.flv”);
so.write(“player”);

Video: phone’s design, menu, user interface (wmv, 63,8 mb) >>>

The Nokia N79 can come with a variety of interchangeable back plates, including Light Sea Blue, Espresso Brown, Olive Green, White and Coral Red. Every phone ships with a certain combination of panels, though (for example Light Sea Blue, Espresso Brown and White for the white variant of the N79).

All editions of the handset sport either white or black front fascia, running along it is a chromed plastic strip that adds a decent touch of elegance to the N79’s apparel. The sides are decked out in dark grey plastic, although it’s possible we will see some more color schemes down the line.

My personal favorite is the white version of the phone – there aren’t many phones like this out there, which sets you apart from the crowd and it’s a welcome feat. While the N79’s glossy surface is a real fingerprint-magnet, it does a pretty good job making them nearly indiscernible. Mounted right above the display is the forward-facing VGA camera for videoconferencing.

Housed on the left-hand side is a plastic door of the memory expansion slot along with microUSB slot. Also there is the 2 mm socket for plugging in a charger. Perched on the opposite spine are the volume rocker and dedicated camera button, with a couple of stereo-speakers. On the top end is the power key, keypad lock slider and 3.5 mm audio jack.

Measuring up at 110x49x15 mm and 97 grams, the N79 is a pretty palm-friendly device, although we found it a tad too wide. But it didn’t hurt the overall experience at all. As far as build quality is concerned, it may feel creaky at times, but other than that we had no grips with its assembly quality.

Nokia N79 vs Nokia N78:

Nokia N79 vs Samsung I7110:

Nokia N79 vs Nokia N85:

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Display

The handset comes equipped with a 2.4-inch QVGA (240×320 pixels) display, capable of showing up to 16M colors, presenting you with quite a bright picture that remains visible in various environments.

Generally, the N79’s display fares well. The display accommodates up to 8 text and up to 3 service lines. In some modes, though, you may get up to 14 text lines. All fonts are sharp and easy to read.

Compared to the Nokia N85, this display isn’t as bright and vibrant (all images below feature the N79 on the right).

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Keypad

All in all, we found the N79’s plastic keypad a joy to use. Its buttons were quite responsive and soft. All keys are evenly lit in white, which makes the numberpad visible in various environments.

On top of that, it utilizes the NavyWheel, which is a touch-sensitive pad that allows paging through lists by sweeping your finger around the navigation button. The good thing about it is that they have tweaked this sensor a little bit, so that you will experience fewer misclicks than with the Nokia N78.

The keypad’s backlight is managed by the ambient light sensor.

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Battery

The handset utilizes a 1200 mAh Li-Ion battery (BL-6F), similar to that employed in the Nokia N85. The N79 is rated for 5.5 hours of talk time and 372 hours of standby. Music time – up to 30 hours, video recording time (top resolution and quality settings) – up to 280 minutes, video playback time – up to 320 minutess.

The handset’s battery life averaged 3 days in our tests, when we used the N79 for about two hours of calls, a dozen or two snaps, several minutes of video, and around an hour of music/radio. It takes the N79 around two hours to charge from empty to full.

Below is our chart of battery times we managed to squeeze out of the N79:

  • GPS-navigation – 3.5-4 hours
  • Video playback – 4 hours 45 minutes
  • WEB-surfing (EDGE) – 4 hours
  • Wi-Fi (non-stop data upload) – 3.5 hours
  • Music (in earphones) – 28 hours
  • Radio – 19.5 hours
  • Internet radio (over Wi-Fi) – 6 hours
  • Games – 5.5 hours

Thanks to the inclusion of the FP2, some modes are now less power-hungry, which adds up to a nice battery life boost. The N79 is obviously ahead of both the N82 and N78.

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Memory

The device comes equipped with 120 Mb of RAM, after first launch you will get around 62 Mb of free memory at your disposal, which is enough for running a dozen applications and browsing “heavy” web-pages – the word “slow-down” is definitely not in the N78’s vocabulary.

The user almost has 50 Mb of storage available, where any data can be stored.

The N78 deals with microSD memory cards (hot-swappable), the phone comes packaged with a 4 Gb unit. There are no restrictions as far as memory card’s size is concerned – our handset easily identified a 8Gb card.

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Hardware Platform

Using the Nokia N82’s TI OMAP 2420 platform wouldn’t be the right thing to do in a relatively cheap solution, so for the N78 they went for a single-chip platform from Freescale with the ARM11 CPU running at 369 Mhz inside. Also, N79 packs in a motion sensor, and can rotate the screen automatically, depending on how you are holding the phone.

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Performance

The N79 is almost no different from other FP2-based phones performance-wise, so it is pretty much in line with other state-of-the-art S60-powered devices.

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USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

USB. You pick one of these 3 connection modes in the USB settings of the N79:

  • Data Transfer (Mass Storage USB) – memory cards is available, no drivers required, as your OS identifies the handset automatically.
  • PC Suite – used for device management via Nokia PC Suite, enables all features of the phone, data backup etc.
  • Image Print – no explanation required.

Data transfer speeds top out at around 2 Mb/s. Once you plug the N79 into a PC it starts recharging automatically via the USB cable

Bluetooth. The phone comes with Bluetooth v2.0, with support for EDR. The following profiles are supported

  • A2DP
  • AVCRP
  • BIP-ImagePush
  • DUN-GW
  • FT-Server
  • HandsFree-AG (1.0)
  • Headset-AG
  • OBEX
  • OPP-Client
  • OPP-Server
  • SIM Access-Server

The top speed you can get with the N79’s Bluetooth connection is around 100 Kb/s. We also tested its A2DP profile in pair with the Sony Ericsson DS970 headset, which worked just fine – we managed our play list, skipped within tracks and adjusted volume seamlessly, however we couldn’t make current track’s title show up on the headset’s display.

Wi-Fi. This handset comes armed with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 g) support. All security standards are supported: WEP , WPA , WPA 2, with other advanced settings available. The device supports Universal PnP standard (UPnP), which is the successor to the wired standard PnP. With its help, along with Wi-Fi, you can send slides to a TV, music to a stereo system, and photos to a printer. In a certain sense UPnP is like an add-on to the infrastructure (Wi-Fi, for example) in the form of Bluetooth-esque services, so this looks more like a software upgrade. The sales package includes Home Media Server, which allows connecting the N79 through your home Wi-Fi network to a desktop PC.

There is also a Wi-Fi wizard available in the N79 – it can keep looking for enabled networks in the background mode and tap into them.

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Camera

The handset comes bundled with a 5 Mpix CMOS camera, similar to that found in the Nokia N85 and some other Nokia-branded phones. The N79 features a two-section LED flash that can make some difference when taking a picture from 1-2 meters away. While the N79’s flash does better at shooting sceneries rather than people, it’s still debatable which kind of flash is superior – Xenon or LED. Perhaps the Sony Ericsson K850i answers this question in a certain way, utilizing both the Xenon and LED flash types.

The picture quality put up by the N79 only loses to that of the Motorola MOTOZINE ZN5, although some people still like it better. For those wondering whether the brand new N79 is any different from the Nokia N82 in terms of camera – it’s not, or, at least, not in the way you will notice.

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Nokia N79 camera specs:

  • Carl Zeiss Tessar lenses
  • 20x digital zoom
  • Focal length 5.45 mm
  • Focus range: 10 cm ~ infinity
  • Macro mode – 10 cm ~ 50 cm
  • Scenes – automatic, user defined, close-up, portrait, landscape, sport, night;
  • Geotagging

The N79’s top resolution is Print 5M – large, which stands for 2592×1944 pixels and image size of 700Kb-2Mb. The user can also make use of the following resolution settings:

  • Print 3M – Medium (2048×1536 pixels)
  • Print 2 M- Medium (1600×1200 pixels)
  • E-mail 0.8 M – Med. (1024×768 pixels)
  • MMS 0.3 M – Small (640×480 pixels)

It takes the N79 around 3-4 seconds to save a shot in any of the above resolutions if you have enabled the after-shoot view. Or 1-2 seconds in case you are ready to take another snap right after that (in the latter case all images are saved from the buffer).

Color tones. Since these overlays can be applied to any snap in a standard graphics editor, it won’t be wise of you to enable them for taking a snap on the N79. There are four effects available – Sepia, Black & White, Vivid, Negative.

Exposure compensation. This parameter is adjusted at a 0.33 step here; it will prove useful for shooting objects with dominating light or dark tones.

White balance. The N79’s camera does very well in the auto mode, though you can manually adjust the white balance and choose one of the following settings – Sunny, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent.

Obviously, we were eager to put the N79 up against the Nokia N85, and as it turned out, we were in for a major surprise. Since the Nokia N79 came with a newer firmware version and more up-to-date camera drivers, some of its shots were considerably crisper and more detailed than those snapped by the N85. It’s possible to upgrade the N85’s firmware as well, so it’s not much of a deal.

Nokia N79 Nokia N85
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Video recording. When recording video with N79, there are considerably fewer settings, than in the still image mode. There is a software image stabilizer that was first introduced in the Nokia N80. You can adjust the white balance, choosing from Automatic, Sun, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent. The overlay pool includes Sepia, Black&White, Negative. There are only two shooting modes – auto or night mode. Maximum resolution – 640×480 pixels (mpeg4), you can also mute sound, although there is no way you can adjust the N79’s FPS, which is locked at 30. The handset allows recording videos until you run out of free memory.

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GPS-navigation

The major update to this department is the new version of Nokia Maps, which you can learn more about in our review of the FP2. Also, we would like to note that the application has become even speedier, the cold start time makes around 4-5 minutes, and we felt that the gears were spinning faster, so to speak. To my mind, the N79 is a tidy navigation-savvy solution, it does the job hands down. But, unfortunately, as far as battery life goes, the N79 doesn’t improve over the predecessors.

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Music Department

All applications that have something to do with the N79’s music department (music player, radio, Internet radio) have been carried over from the FP2’s standard suite of features and are basically nothing to out of the ordinary. The handset ships with a remote control, the same as that found in the box with the Nokia N78; the bundled earphones are nothing to shout about, so you should definitely replace them with something me capable.

In terms of sound quality, the N79 is a standard Nokia’s S60 fare and is little to no different from the Nokia N78, meaning that while it is has no serious glitches on this front, it still can’t be viewed as a full-time replacement for a dedicated music player. Although, people who tend to listen to their tunes in music-unfriendly environments (subway, trains, etc) won’t feel any real difference.

On the downside, its FM transmitter that can beams music, didn’t manage to impress us. It is a quaint feat that may even settle down on Nokia’s solutions, but by and large it is of no real use. Unfortunately, this decent idea is drowned by poor technical implementation, which is not the letdown of this particular handset, but rather all devices of this type. This weakish transmitter can’t make for a stable and strong signal, therefore allowing noise and static to slip into your broadcasts, that’s why even audio books get pretty irritating to listen (as far as using the transmitter in the car goes).

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Multimedia Menu

This is a wheel-shaped menu (made its first appearance with the Nokia N81), where every tab features kindred functions. You can navigate through these tabs with the help of the D-Pad or the numeric keypad.

The current version sports only six pages, whose order of appearance may be easily varied – by the default, the first tab you see is all about music (with this tab on, you can check out your library, start random playback of your tracks or view podcasts). The Games tab proposes exactly the same options as the N-Gage section. The Gallery allows you to view your last captured shot and calls up the Album. You can submit some entries to the Contacts tab, so it acts like a speed dial menu, which may come in handy on certain occasions. Internet – links to your favorite pages, Maps – points of interests and locations.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that there are a whole lot of functions typical of stand-alone apps duplicated in the N82 – in the multimedia menu you can add new bookmarks, but the browser can serve the same purposes as well. You can throw some contacts into this menu, but adding them to the list of Fast dial makes more sense. Ergonomics-wise, this menu is a complete blank, bringing nothing new to the table. It is just another way to display the phone’s contents, and that’s about it. Let’s call it a “contemporary” way.

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N-Gage and Gaming Department

The Nokia N79 is the first phone to feature a full-fledged N-Gage client – a tad later its localized editions will become available world-wide. The handset comes boxed with fifteen Try&Buy games, although you can pick one of them and get a full version free of charge using the activation code the N79 ships with.

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Preinstalled applications

Video Center – enables the user to subscribe to various channels offering an assortment of video clips, including YouTube’s mobile version. All videos get uploaded onto the device, so that you will be able to watch them whenever you want. You can expand clips to full screen in the landscape mode, plus there is the portrait mode available with the N79. The best way to upload clips is via home or office Wi-Fi networks.

QuickOffice comes in its shrunk edition. Specifically, with the version found in the Nokia N95 8Gb you won’t be able to edit office documents. To go beyond the Read Only mode you will need to pay extra money.

Adobe PDF – allows reading PDF-files, no complaints about the application.

ZIP – enables you to extract files from archives or create new archives.

Barcode – reads bar codes, as its name suggests. Almost of no real use these days, though.

Firmware update – this application checks your current firmware version and updates it if necessary.

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Impressions

Call quality was never an issue with the N79, as it easily lived up to our expectations of a Nokia-branded phone. Ring tones sounded quite loud thanks to the handset’s dual speakers. The vibrating alert was on the stronger side all thanks to the N79’s balanced casing.

Nokia have come up with a very solid phone for both work and play. I have thought a lot over what the N79 really is, and here is what I have come to – it’s a pretty good workhorse not without a pinch of style to it, but it’s more about function rather than looks. Among similarly geared offerings is the Sony Ericsson W902, however it’s forte is design. Given that they retail at pretty much the same price point, the N79 trumps the W902 with its bundled GPS, WiFi, superior music quality, plus longer battery times (compared to those of Nokia’s previous offerings). On top of that it allows the user to order one game for free, which is a nice feat to have.

As for the Samsung i7110, it’d make sense to compare it to the N79 only if you never actually held the former in hands. Effectively, it has got a different way of positioning, different feature pack, but they do have one thing in common – both phones run S60. Furthermore, the i7110 doesn’t even offer a full-fledged navigation package out of the box, which will make consumers sympathies sway in favor of the N79.

Going for around 350 Euro, the N79 doesn’t face any direct competition – the Motorola ZN5 doesn’t qualify as one, and neither does the Sony Ericsson W902. Also, with the arrival of the N79 it’s clear that the N78 will have to go, same goes for the Nokia N82, but it will at least hold up a while longer. All in all, the Nokia N79 is one of this segment’s finest solutions, and everyone looking for this type of phone is ought to keep a close eye on it.

Nokia N85, Nokia N79

November 8, 2008

Nokia N85, Nokia N79 – old heroes, new wrapping

Here is a riddle you should be able to crack in no time. What phone managed to set the course for the entire market for years to come, raised the bar for all other makers and despite being quite steep sold in droves? Obviously, it’s the Nokia N95 and all spin-offs that followed, such as the Nokia N95 8Gb only made it even more popular. The army of this phone’s fans has just about every consumer group you can think of, including fashion-conscious users and techi. However, some complain about its build quality, some blame the slider mechanism for being somewhat flimsy, and some just can’t handle the idea that an all-plastic phone can cost this much. What’s more, every one of them is right – it all comes down what they expect from their N95.

Now that it’s been a year since its original release, the Nokia N95 is starting to roll down to lower price segments, so Nokia’s main goal these days is to prevent its sales from fading completely. Which is exactly the reason why they have decided to unleash a replacement for the good old N95 – the Nokia N85 that will have to share the market with its brother in arms until early 2009 and then will go on to become one of the most popular offerings in its segment.

But don’t think that the Nokia N85 is an exact copy of the Nokia N95 that has had its casing refurbished in an effort to prolong its platform’s life cycle this way. In fact it’s one of the first phones to enjoy the revamped NSeries development strategy. Before we move on to the N85 itself, let us clarify what we mean by this “revamped strategy”.

Around 8 months ago Nokia announced that they were going to sign up with several chipset manufacturers, so as not to get to depend on one particular hardware platform. This way, S60-powered phones are still running on TI OMAP solutions – the latest and greatest phones in this portfolio currently utilize the 2420 platform, although the 2430 with enabled 3D accelerator is set to launch in the near future. Then they have turned to a single-chip platform from Freescale and subsequently events Nokia signed up with STMicroelectronics in order to utilize their Nomadik platform in the N96. What we are getting at is that the Nokia N85 is the second Nokia-branded phone to employ this chipset. That is why we wouldn’t venture to claim that it adopts the N95’s platform – on the contrary, these two phones are very different in this sense. More importantly, going for the new platform is a dedicated 24-bit DSP processor that handles the entire audio department in the N85. But while it trumps all current phones on this front, the N85 still can’t match the Nokia N91 as far as sonic experience goes. We’ll get to that in our comprehensive reviews of these phones a tad later.

Another thing that is ought to be factored in, but usually ends up overlooked, is that Nokia is in the middle of revision of their pricing policy, to be really specific – its NSeries part. Their multimedia computers are becoming one of the main sources of sales and audience growth and that’s why the new bottom line for this type of phones is set at 350 Euro. Furthermore, originally the N79 and N95 were supposed to launch at even lower price points (300 and 390 Euro respectively), but then they thought better of it. The reason was similar to that behind the revision of their pricing policy – the demand for these handsets is elastic, meaning that people don’t get put off much by increasing prices. Those who are in the market for better price/quality ratio will be content with other Nokia-branded phones, including those utilizing the S60 platform. As you probably remember, we touched upon this matter in our interview with Nokia’s Vice President, Ukko Lappalainen.

Nokia N85

Moving back to the Nokia N85. What does Nokia have above this phone, based on its index? Naturally, first offerings you’ll think of are the Nokia N95 8Gb, Nokia N96. As far as functionality goes, the N85 is in one league with the Nokia N95 8 Gb, the only thing you might be missing is 8Gb of bundled storage, but then again, the N85 will come boxed with an 8 Gb microSD memory card. What’s better – inbuilt storage or a separate memory card – is quite a dilemma. Curiously, Nokia’s strategy implies a step-by-step transition to huge storages (8, 16, 32 Gb, all in 2009) with enabled memory cards (so that no user will come out disappointed). In this sense the Nokia N85 is more of a bridge connecting “before” and “after”, but they have cut its bundled storage so as not to put it in the same league with the Nokia N95 8Gb.

The build quality is one of the more popular questions about the Nokia N85 – actually it’s always frustrating when you find out that your 500-Euro phone is all flimsy. Fortunately, Nokia has addressed this old issue of the N95 in their brand new N85 – its dual slider mechanism feels very sturdy and the phone itself is very palm-friendly too. What’s more, its glossy plastic surface isn’t that much of a fingerprint magnet as you’d expect it to be. The rear plate comes in a variety of colors, which is also a tribute to Nokia’s current strategy. So, as far as looks, build quality and materials go, we have no niggles with the N85 at all.

The music/gaming controls haven’t changed much since Nokia’s previous sliders employing the same setup.

One of the N85’s highlights is its 2.6 inch OLED-display capable of 16 million colors. While these bare numbers might not tell you much, the picture quality will for sure – the N85 is an enormous improvement over the Nokia N95 with its brighter and juicier colors along with very readable fonts. All in all, it’s one of the best units we have seen yet. To tease you a little, let me say this – I managed to have a sneak peek at the next generation of screens some time ago (boasting the VGA resolution) and found that they were quite in line with the screen utilized in the Nokia N85.

The N85’s 1200 mAh battery is becoming par for the course for this type of phones; since the N85 actually employs a different kind of chipset with a dedicated DSP processor, it puts up an astonishing 28 hours of music. On top of that the phone allows watching VGA video clips at 30 FPS and to Nokia’s credit be it said the N85’s battery time in this mode has increased as well.

As far as the music department goes, there are no bells and whistles in the N85 – it packs in a generic S60 player application, as the whole device is based on the Feature Pack 2 software. But there are some welcome additions to its standard functionality, such as a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a pair of stereo-speakers (which are almost as loud as those of the Nokia N82 at that).

The camera here boasts a mechanical shutter, but the camera module itself is nothing to write home about – Carl Zeiss lenses and a LED flash. Personally, I don’t think it’s much of a letdown, since this type of flash usually beats Xenon units at close-up shots. The image quality along with the camera interface haven’t changed a bit; all things considered, it’s one of the market’s finest 5 Mpix shooters, just like other Nokia-branded phones are.

The bundled WiFi comes armed with a full array of settings, plus Home Network. Now for games: the N85 ships with 15 N-Gage titles, but the box contains only one activation code that will allow you to pick one of these games and get its full version. By the way, the Nokia N79 exercises exactly the same approach.

Other options available with the N85 include an FM-transmitter, which is one of the features that have been spreading throughout Nokia’s NSeries portfolio lately. Plus, the menu features a stand-alone application for updating the phone’s firmware. Other than that, the N85 is a standard Feature Pack 2 fare.

The Nokia N85 is on track to start shipping in late September for 450 Euros a unit. As far as Nokia’s portfolio goes, the only phone that can take on the N85 at this time is the Nokia N95 8Gb, but then again, their latest and greatest slider beats it in almost every way – from build quality and sound to camera and software. The N85’s relatively high price will allow Nokia to keep it in business for around 14-17 months – supposedly, its price will hi the level of 350 Euros or so before they will retire it for good.

Given that I’ve been longing for the N85 for quite some time, I can’t miss this opportunity to note how good it actually is. This phone is very palm-friendly and its battery time is beyond expectations – basically, it’s the epitome of “do-it-all”, and will prove to be a great replacement for those who are already bored by their N95s, but don’t want to give up its functionality. Also the N85’s price/functionality ratio will definitely appeal to more pragmatic users – apparently, there are some even more feature-rich phones around, like the Samsung INNOV8, but their price tags can easily make your wallet cry.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the N85 will become of the market leaders and won’t give up this position for a very long while. In fact, 2009 will be the year of the N85, for no other company can offer anything even remotely close to this mobile powerhouse.

The only question that remains is which phone to choose – the Nokia N85 or Nokia N96. While the senior model supports DVB-H that, let’s face it, it will be used by very few (probably engineers, carriers, and hopeless tech aficionados), boasts more bundled storage, it still runs on the same platform, features a comparable camera and its price tag is around 150 Euro heftier. But more importantly, put these two phones face to face and see which one will fit in your hands best – I’m sure you’ll know the answer right away. That said, if you are in the market for some reasonably priced and functional phones, the N85 is ought to be on your shortlist.

Speaking of indirect rivals, the Sony Ericsson C905 might be one, but it can’t stand up to the N85’s feature pack, and the only department it excels is camera. But since they retail for pretty much the same money, most consumers will rather go for the do-it-all N85.

Nokia N79

To get a better idea of what the Nokia N79 is, let’s start with a simple question – what phone the N79 aims to replace. While its closest sibling in Nokia’s portfolio is the N78, it doesn’t quite qualify as a full-fledged replacement, since they target different demographics. In fact, this phone comes in to take the place of the most popular Nseries smartphone to date – the N73. Given the way the N73 was positioned back in the day – decent camera for very little money – the N79 seems to fall under exactly the same category. It brings together a 5 Mpix camera module with a lens cover and the rich feature pack of N78.

Обзор GSM/UMTS-смартфона Nokia N78

Apart from that it features an FM-transmitter, LED flash, 2.4-inch display and all other attributes of the Nokia N78 – if you want to learn more about the N79, just read our review on the N78 and you’ll have a good idea what this phone is capable of.

The N79 also sports the touch-sensitive Navi Wheel that can be disabled in the menu. Plus it has a motion sensor inside that can be disabled as well, so that the phone’s screen won’t automatically rotate as you turn the phone around.

Much like the Nokia N85, it packs in 15 N-Gage games along with Maps 2.0 application (in fact, all Nokia’s latest and greatest phones boast GPS functionality), FP2 and the brand new firmware updater.

The phone will be available in two colors – grey or white; but every phone comes boxed with three spare rear panels of the following colors: green, brown, blue, light blue, red, and patterned white. The interesting thing about these panels is that they are literally connected with the themes installed on the phone – on the inside every panel has four miniscule contacts that make the handset switch the current theme once you put it on. But you can always disable this feature from the menu if you don’t want your phone to get that creative.

Another thing of note about the N79 is that both the microUSB socket and memory expansion slot are housed under a plastic flap on the right – in fact it’s the first time we have seen together, and we should note that we are not very happy with the ergonomics of this design.

The N79’s stereospeakers are somewhat quieter than those of the Nokia N85, and its audio quality is nowhere near the N85, even though it sports a 3.5 mm audio jack. All in all, check out our review of the Nokia N78 for more information on N79 – they haven’t’ changed much in it after all.

The N79 will start retailing in Europe for 350 Euro in December, which is a well-justified price for a phone of this caliber. But does it improve over the Nokia N78? Definitely – its keypad has been refurbished a little, also they have added a slew of tiny, yet welcome additions to the interface, enhanced the camera and thrown in a couple of “smart” rear panels. Personally, I think this change list is well worth those 70 Euros that separate these two phones. However, the real question is what is going to become of the Nokia N82 – this phone offers a similar camera (yet with a Xenon flash) but can’t stand comparison with the new N79 in terms of software. Rest assured, it is not going anywhere, Nokia will keep churning out N82s and will also add the Value Edition (a music-centric edition of the phone and new sales packages). This will allow them to keep it at today’s price point and offer some unique features that will distinguish it from the N79. But in the long run, the Nokia N79 will put the N82 to rest, make no mistake about that.

The N79 will inevitably clash with Sony Ericsson’s music-minded flagship, the W902 that comes packaged with a 8Gb memory card (against Nokia’s 4Gb), but that’s the only advantage of the W902 – other than that the N79 beats it hands down. And given their identical price tags, there won’t be much of a dilemma.

Some tend to compare the N79 with the Samsung i7110, but it’s pretty obvious now that these people have never held the latter in hands. While these two phones run on the S60, they target different audiences and offer different feature packs – they are simply in leagues of their own, but you will hear more about the i7110 in the days to come, and I suppose it will be enough to make it very clear that it is not the phone that will take on the N79.

Roundup

СIt’s hard to underestimate what has just happened today -Nokia has unleashed its key mid-tier products for 2009, which have all it takes to become the market’s most popular and beloved offerings. Furthermore, their competition still don’t have the offerings that’d be able to fight back, meaning that Nokia will have at least a 4-5 month handicap that translates directly into lighter price tags and wider availability. This will give them just enough time and resources to prepare for the launch of a new line-up that will include some touch-based solutions. In February Nokia will reveal around 7 new S60-powered phones, two of which will be the milestones for the entire industry for at least a year to come. But their sales charts will still be topped by such phones as the Nokia N79 and Nokia N85 that came together in one announcement solely because of their potential. While Nokia’s competition really need to make a leap forward in the mid-tier, some of them don’t have the resources, whereas others are too obsessed with the higher end of the market. That’s why for the time being Nokia has nothing to worry about, at least on this front.

Nokia N85

November 6, 2008

Live photos of the Nokia N85

Table of Contents:

  1. Positioning
  2. Design, Size, Controls
  3. Display
  4. Keypad
  5. Battery
  6. Memory
  7. Hardware Specifications
  8. Performance
  9. USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
  10. Camear
  11. GPS – navigation
  12. Music Department
  13. Search – vesrion 4.0
  14. Multimedia Menu
  15. N-Gage and Gaming Department
  16. Preinstalled Applications
  17. Nokia N85 vs Nokia N95, Nokia N95 8Gb, Nokia N79
  18. Impressions

Sales package:

  • Nokia N85
  • 1200 mAh Li-Ion battery (BL-5K)
  • Charger (AC-10)
  • Nokia Video Connectivity Cable (CA-75U)
  • USB data cable (CA-101)
  • Wired stereo-headset with a remote (HS-45, AD-54)
  • Nokia 8 GB microSD card (MU-43)
  • User Guide

Positioning

At a glance, the N85’s positioning in Nokia’s portfolio may seem somewhat tangled. Judging by its technical specifications, it looks like almost the exact copy of the Nokia N95, bar a couple of things; however this first impression is deceiving. In fact, the N85 comes in to replace the original Nokia N95, that recently got an upgrade in the form of the N95 8 Gb. And since the N85 is superior to the latter on all major accounts, it easily qualifies as a successor to all existing iterations of the fabulous N95.

When it first arrived, the Nokia N95 retailed for around 550-600 Euro, whereas the Nokia N85 will go for around 450-500 Euro at start. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that these convergent devices have been relegated to a lower price bracket that will allow boosting their sales in a major way. So, the Nokia N85 will be targeting the mass market from the get-go and will remain one of Nokia’s key offerings throughout 2009.

The question remains, however, what the Nokia N85’s audience will look like? Actually, there will be several well-defined user groups in it:

  • The owners of the Nokia N95 (and to a lesser extent – of the N95 8Gb) who are still content with what their phones have to offer, but looking for a worthy replacement, preferably housed in the same form-factor. While there won’t be many of them, this group is still big enough, so that we can’t neglect them.
  • New users – these consumers will be the bread and butter for the Nokia N85. Comprising this group are people for whom the original Nokia N95 wasn’t an economically sound choice in view of its steep price, and then it rapidly became “outdated” and lost a fair amount of its charm. The N85, however, will attract them with its price tag and also by being the epitome of the all-in-one device. All in all, it will be a rational choice. Another thing of note is that these users put Nokia above all other phone makers and rarely resort to other handsets.
  • Migrants – as the group’s name implies, these users are switching to the Nokia N85 from phones made by other companies. As a rule, these people are looking for the best price/quality ratio and a fair bit of technology in their new handsets. In other words, they demand not the most feature-rich solution around, but still pretty close to it. Just don’t think we decided to describe techi in such a fancy way – by no means. Oftentimes consumers in this group don’t know much about mobile phones, they simply set some brackets for price and functionality and then take it from there;
  • Techi – the N85 is less of a messiah for this group than the Nokia N95 when it only debuted. Very few tech-inclined guys will actually buy it and this is probably the most distinctive difference between these two phones. In fact, this is what characterizes the gap between the mass market and stand-alone segments. While the Nokia N95 managed to climb to the top of all sales charts more due to a lucky coincidence, the Nokia N85 has been designed to beat all records in the first place.

We left out some secondary consumer groups on purpose, since they aren’t all that important. Having rolled out a replacement for the N95, Nokia is all set to retire it from the market. They will keep both phones in for the next six months, and while the N85’s price will be somewhat higher at start, it will steal the market from the Nokia N95 all thanks to its superior functionality.

Now let’s see whether Nokia themselves can offer a more feature-rich phone these days. Basically, they can’t – of course you could argue that the Nokia N96 is the one, but that’d be a little too far-fetched, since effectively it is no better than the N85 in any significant way. It sports a slightly bigger screen diagonal, no doubt about that, but its picture quality is worse; and DVB-H support along with 16 Gb of onboard memory are hardly worth bragging about. Other than that (i.e. in terms of camera and functionality) these two are pretty much in one league. Plus, as you probably remember we have already seen a bunch of Nseries-branded phones with bundled TV-tuners that had top-of-the-line indexes, but none of them ever became the flagship solution. After all, due to very obvious reasons, this feature was and still is optional.

It turns out that for almost 6 months Nokia will have only one flagship on their plate – the N85. Again, it’s not to be taken for granted that the “flagship” is the model with the highest index around, or the most expensive one. As a rule, “flagships” are the phones that have what it takes to sell in droves and boost their maker’s market presence along the way. Based on this definition, the N85 is Nokia’s flagship solution, no doubt about that.

Another open question is whether other makers have some solutions that can stand up to the N85. Motorola doesn’t have one and won’t be able to churn out N85-grade offerings for a while longer. Sony Ericsson tout their C905 as the ultimate phone with an 8 Mpix camera onboard, but when you think of it, retailing at a similar price point, it loses to the N85 on every major account (bar the camera) – music quality, radio, extra applications, screen, navigation, you name it. Basically, these phones are in two completely different leagues that happen to have comparable price tags.

Now it may sound a bit strange, but the Nokia N85’s greatest rival will be the Nokia N79, since these two phones are second to none in their respective categories. The N79 will be picked by the more conservative part of the audience, who aren’t particularly sweet on sliders.

Back to the table of contents>>>

Design, Size, Controls

Initially the N85 will be available only in Copper with its front fascia decked out in black glossy plastic that isn’t much of a fingerprint- or scratch-magnet. The side plates of the phone are finished in matte plastic, and the entire underside of the N85 is a big piece of textured and lacquered plastic, similar to that found on other Nseries-branded phones, such as the N82 and N79.

Early in 2009 we will see at least five extra color swatches that will bring about new hues for the side plates and the rear. You will have quite a few options to choose from, make no mistake about that. On the downside, however, the Nokia N85 doesn’t support interchangeable covers, leaving this feature for less sophisticated solutions.

Now for the N85’s build quality. The N95’s lens cover, especially the fact that its coating tended to go off with time, has always been a crucial issue with most of its colors. Luckily, they have addressed this defect in the N85. Probably the only weak spot on the new N85 is its navigation button that is made of soft plastic. However we haven’t run into any serious problems with other phones equipped with this type of buttons, so we have absolutely no reason to believe that you will experience some issues with the N85 on this front.

While its casing is made entirely of plastic, the N85 doesn’t creak or squeak when you squeeze it, which isn’t all that typical of sliders. The spring loaded mechanism does the job very well – all you need to do is put your finger on the navigation pad and push it up; although the slider action is a bit on the stiffer side, it’s much easier to manage the phone this way, as you don’t have to worry about zipping the N85 open by accident.

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Video: design and size of the N85 (wmv, 59,2 mb) >>>

The battery compartment cover is crafted of thin plastic; mounted on the inside is the FM-transmitter’s antenna.

The thing I really want to focus your attention on is the size of the N85 – at 103x50x16 mm and 128 grams it is considerably thinner than the Nokia N95 with its 99x53x21 and 120 grams, meaning that it’s way more pocket- and palm-friendly. Perched in the top left corner is the lanyard eyelet, although I doubt many will use it. But who knows.

Sitting on the left-hand side is the memory card slot, while on the top there are the power button, 3.5 mm headset jack and microUSB socket for charging and data synch. Remarkably, the Nokia N85 doesn’t have the standard 2 mm charger slot, and to tell the truth after several weeks of quality time with this phone, I ended up trying to charge other Nokia-branded handsets via the microUSB port (although even the N96 doesn’t support this way of charging and freezes when you plug it into the mains).

Located on the right-hand spine are two loudspeakers – this setup is nothing new, though, as most other Nokia’s latest and greatest phones employ it as well. Also here is the keypad lock switch, volume rocker and dedicated camera button. The rear of the N85 houses camera lens and flash module.

Perched right about the display is the forward-facing VGA camera for video conferencing and on the right is the ambient light sensor that handles the phone’s display and keypad backlights.

Back to the table of contents>>>

Display

Many S40-based phones already enjoy OLED screen that offer a brighter picture and better viewing angles while being less power hungry. Thankfully, S60 devices are moving in the same direction, and the Nokia N85 is one of the first handsets in this range to adopt a 2.6 inch AM-OLED screen (39×43 mm) capable of 16 million colors and QVGA resolution.

The cover glass here is slightly tinted, which allows for better legibility in the sun. All in all, the N85’s diagonal/resolution ratio is just right to provide for decent picture quality – should they have installed a bigger display and kept the QVGA resolution intact, the N85’s quality would have been far from what it is now, especially in the way of fonts. Speaking of which, the Nokia N85 offers mid-sized fonts, that remain visible at all angles, so that you won’t have to stare at the screen to read them. This display accommodates up to 8 text and 3 service lines, although in certain modes you can cram in as many as 14 lines of text.

Nokia N85 (on the right) vs Nokia N96:

Nokia N85 (on the left) vs Nokia N96:

Apparently, Nokia have done some tweaking to the ambient light sensor – now it does a better job at adjusting the display’s backlight to your current environment.

Since the N85 sports a motion sensor onboard, it allows you to rotate the screen in any menu, although you can disable this feature in the phone’s Settings.

Back to the table of contents>>>

Keypad

The N85’s navigation cluster keeps a low profile while in standby – without any backlighting this area appears to be a completely flat and lifeless surface without any trace of buttons. It can even make you second-guess yourself, thinking that the N85 may actually employ touch-sensitive keys. But in reality all these buttons are mechanical and our only niggle with this navigation cluster concerns its soft-keys – they may feel on the stiffer side, although it’s nothing you won’t be able to get used to.

The phone’s plastic numberpad utilizes a single-slab design, but since all these buttons are pretty sizeable, texting with the N85 was a breeze – they offer pretty decent feedback and are easy to press at that, therefore allowing for pretty quick typing. All keys are lit in white; the bundled ambient light sensor keeps them visible in just about any environment, adjusting the backlight intensity in a proper fashion.

The multimedia keys on the N85 have finally evolved into multifunctional controls – while they still let you manage the music player, now you can also use them in games or to zoom in and out on pictures when browsing through the gallery. If you think that it’ll be easy to misuse them or memorize all things they can do, fear not, as the captions are context-sensitive and get updated automatically.

Mounted around the navigation pad is Nokia’s Navi Wheel, a touch-sensitive control allowing you to scroll through lists in most applications.

Back to the table of contents>>>

Battery

The handset utilizes a 1200 mAh Li-Ion battery (BL-5K), similar to that employed in the Nokia N79. The N85 is rated for 7 hours of talk time (GSM) and 363 hours of standby. Music time – up to 30 hours, video recording time (top resolution and quality settings) – up to 180 minutes, video playback time – up to 7 hours.

The handset’s battery life averaged 3 days in our tests, when we used the N85 for about two hours of calls, a dozen or two snaps, several minutes of video, and around an hour of music/radio. It takes the N85 around one hour to charge from empty to full.

Below is our chart of battery times we managed to squeeze out of the N85:

  • GPS-navigation – 4-4.5 hours
  • Video playback – 6 hours 15 minutes
  • WEB-surfing (EDGE) – 4 hours
  • Wi-Fi (non-stop data upload) – 5 hours
  • Music (in earphones) – 29 hours 20 minutes
  • Radio – 19.5 hours
  • Internet radio (over Wi-Fi) – 8 hours
  • Games – 6 hours

In our review of the Nokia N78 our verdict on its battery was as follows: ” Thanks to the inclusion of the FP2, some modes are now less power-hungry, which adds up to a nice battery life boost. The N78 is obviously ahead of the N82 on this front, although their batteries are drained equally fast by web-browsing and Wi-Fi. At the same time, the newcomer can put up almost twice as many hours in the music playback mode”.

The good news is that the Nokia N85 is even more of an overhaul on this front – in terms of energy consumption Nokia have addressed pretty much every department in the phone. While its overall battery time is pretty good thanks to the new display type, when it comes to data connections, such as EDGE, WiFi or GPS, the N85 is second to none. The only area where it can’t stand up to the competition is video recording – here its numbers have dropped down by 30 minutes. But this isn’t that much of a deal, seeing how much more juice it offers in all other modes. As you probably remember, not so long ago we praised phones that could put up 21 hours of music in bundled earphones, now the N85 raises the bar all the way up to 30 hours. Plus it can play video for 1.5 hours longer than other Nseries phones.

With the N85 you will also be able to benefit from its power saving mode: when the battery is about to run out of charge, the phone drops down the display brightness to the minimum without cutting out any applications (such as camera). But when the battery indicator reaches the critical level, the N85 will shut down all applications and will start saving some charge for several more calls that can really come in handy. That said, the Nokia N85 does exactly what you’d expect from a smart phone, in every way.

Since the Nokia N85 runs on similar hardware as the Nokia N78 and N79 and employs the same Feature Pack 2, it’s safe to say that Nokia have done a great job fine-tuning the system’s code to allow for longer battery life.

Back to the table of contents>>>

Memory

The device comes equipped with 128 Mb of RAM, after first launch you will get around 70 Mb of free memory at your disposal. Also you will have around 72 Mb for storing personal data. The N85 deals with microSD memory cards (hot-swappable), the phone comes packaged with a 8Gb unit. There are no restrictions as far as memory card’s size is concerned – our handset easily identified a 32Gb card.

Back to the table of contents>>>

Hardware Specifications

Actually, in this section of the review, I should probably start kicking myself, and for a good reason. The fact of the matter is that in my preview of the Nokia N85 I insisted that this phone ran on the same chipset as the Nokia N96; furthermore, it was confirmed by several people, including Nokia’s Vice President. Mea culpa – as it turned out, that wasn’t really true – in a nutshell, the N85 employs a chipset from Freescale, being identical to the N78, N79 and some other phones in this department.

Back to the table of contents>>>

Performance

The N85 is almost no different from other FP2-based phones performance-wise, so it is pretty much in line with other state-of-the-art S60-powered devices.

Back to the table of contents>>>

USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

USB. USB. You pick one of these 3 connection modes in the USB settings of the N85:

  • Data Transfer (Mass Storage USB) – memory cards is available, no drivers required, as your OS identifies the handset automatically.
  • PC Suite – used for device management via Nokia PC Suite, enables all features of the phone, data backup etc.
  • Image Transfer – no explanation required.
  • Media Transfer – another self-explanatory mode (MTP).

Data transfer speeds top out at around 2 Mb/s. Once you plug the N85 into a PC it starts recharging automatically via the USB cable

Bluetooth. Bluetooth. The phone comes with Bluetooth v2.0, with support for EDR. The following profiles are supported

  • Dial Up Networking Profile (Gateway)
  • Object Push Profile (Server and Client)
  • File Transfer Profile (Server)
  • Hands Free Profile (Audio Gateway)
  • Headset Profile (Audio Gateway)
  • Basic Imaging Profile (Image Push Responder and Initiator)
  • Remote SIM Access Profile (Server)
  • Device Identification Profile
  • Phone Book Access Profile (Server)
  • Stereo Audio Streaming:
  • Generic Audio/Video Distribution Profile
  • Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (A/V Remote Control Target)
  • Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (Audio Source)

The top speed you can get with the N85’s Bluetooth connection is around 100 Kb/s. We also tested its A2DP profile in pair with the Sony Ericsson DS970 headset, which worked just fine – we managed our play list, skipped within tracks and adjusted volume seamlessly, however we couldn’t make current track’s title show up on the N85’s display.

Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi. This handset comes armed with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 g) support. All security standards are supported: WEP , WPA , WPA 2, with other advanced settings available. The device supports Universal PnP standard (UPnP), which is the successor to the wired standard PnP. With its help, along with Wi-Fi, you can send slides to a TV, music to a stereo system, and photos to a printer. In a certain sense UPnP is like an add-on to the infrastructure (Wi-Fi, for example) in the form of Bluetooth-esque services, so this looks more like a software upgrade. The sales package includes Home Media Server, which allows connecting the N85 through your home Wi-Fi network to a desktop PC.

There is also a Wi-Fi wizard available in the N85 – it can keep looking for enabled networks in the background mode and tap into them.

Back to the table of contents>>>

Camera

The handset comes bundled with a 5 Mpix CMOS camera, similar to that found in the Nokia N95 and some other Nokia-branded handsets. The N85 features a two-section LED flash that can make some difference when taking a picture from 1-2 meters away. While the N85’s flash does better at shooting sceneries rather than people, it’s still debatable which kind of flash is superior – Xenon or LED. Perhaps the Sony Ericsson K850i answers this question in a certain way, utilizing both the Xenon and LED flash types.

The picture quality put up by the N85 only loses to that of the Motorola MOTOZINE ZN5, although some people still like it better. For those wondering whether the brand new N85 is any different from the Nokia N82 in terms of camera – it’s not, or, at least, not in the way you will notice.

Nokia N85 camera specs:

  • Carl Zeiss Tessar lenses
  • 20x digital zoom
  • Focal length 5.45 mm
  • Focus range: 10 cm ~ infinity
  • Macro mode – 10 cm ~ 50 cm
  • Scenes – automatic, user defined, close-up, portrait, landscape, sport, night;
  • Geotagging

The N85’s top resolution is Print 5M – large, which stands for 2592×1944 pixels and image size of 700Kb-2Mb. The user can also make use of the following resolution settings:

  • Print 3M – Medium (2048×1536 pixels)
  • Print 2 M- Medium (1600×1200 pixels)
  • E-mail 0.8 M – Med. (1024×768 pixels)
  • MMS 0.3 M – Small (640×480 pixels)

It takes the N85 around 3-4 seconds to save a shot in any of the above resolutions if you have enabled the after-shoot view. Or 1-2 seconds in case you are ready to take another snap right after that (in the latter case all images are saved from the buffer).

Color tones. Since these overlays can be applied to any snap in a standard graphics editor, it won’t be wise of you to enable them for taking a snap on the N85. There are four effects available – Sepia, Black & White, Vivid, Negative.

Exposure compensation. This parameter is adjusted at a 0.33 step here; it will prove useful for shooting objects with dominating light or dark tones.

White balance.. The N85’s camera does very well in the auto mode, though you can manually adjust the white balance and choose one of the following settings – Sunny, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent.

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Video recording.. When recording video with N85, there are considerably fewer settings, than in the still image mode. There is a software image stabilizer that was first introduced in the Nokia N80. You can adjust the white balance, choosing from Automatic, Sun, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent. The overlay pool includes Sepia, Black&White, Negative. There are only two shooting modes – auto or night mode. Maximum resolution – 640×480 pixels (mpeg4), you can also mute sound, although there is no way you can adjust the N85’s FPS, which is locked at 30. The handset allows recording videos until you run out of free memory.

Back to the table of contents>>>

GPS-navigation

The major update to this department is the new version of Nokia Maps, which you can learn more about in our review of the FP2. Also, we would like to note that the application has become even speedier, the cold start time makes around 4-5 minutes, and we felt that the gears were spinning faster, so to speak. To my mind, the N85 is a tidy navigation-savvy solution, it does the job hands down. But, unfortunately, as far as battery life goes, the N85 doesn’t improve over the predecessors.

Back to the table of contents>>>

Music Department

All applications that have something to do with the N85’s music department (music player, radio, Internet radio) have been carried over from the FP2’s standard suite of features and are basically nothing to out of the ordinary. The handset ships with a remote control, the same as that found in the box with the Nokia N81; the bundled earphones are nothing to shout about, so you should definitely replace them with something me capable.

The N85 also benefits from the Internet-radio, which is a worthy addition to its music department. On the downside, its FM transmitter that can beams music, didn’t manage to impress us. It is a quaint feat that may even settle down on Nokia’s solutions, but by and large it is of no real use. Unfortunately, this decent idea is drowned by poor technical implementation, which is not the letdown of this particular handset, but rather all devices of this type. This weakish transmitter can’t make for a stable and strong signal, therefore allowing noise and static to slip into your broadcasts, that’s why even audio books get pretty irritating to listen (as far as using the transmitter in the car goes).

As far as music quality goes, the N85 offers an unparalleled experience for an S60 device, but while it improves upon the N95 and N78 on this front, it can’t stand up to the Motorola ZN5, Samsung i8510 INNOV8 and some other solutions. Nevertheless, it’s still good enough to take on the Apple iPod, plus less sophisticated users won’t notice any difference at all when listening to music in stock earphones.

RightMark Audio Analyzer tests:

General Performance

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.12, -0.98 Average
Noise level, dB (A): -85.4 Good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 85.3 Good
THD, %: 0.0064 Very Good
IMD, %: 0.325 Average
Stereo crosstalk, dB: -75.9 Very Good
Intermodulation at 10 kHz, %: 0.061 Good

General Performance: Good

Nokia N85 vs Nokia N78, Nokia N95 8Gb, Nokia N96:

General Performance

Criteria Nokia N96-2 Nokia N95 8 Gb Nokia N78 Nokia N85
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.37, -1.37 +0.77, -1.83 +0.19, -1.49 +0.12, -0.98
Noise level, dB (A): -86.9 -77.7 -79.5 -85.4
Dynamic range, dB (A): 86.7 77.4 79.5 85.3
THD, %: 0.0090 0.0060 0.010 0.0064
IMD, %: 0.298 0.153 0.600 0.325
Stereo crosstalk, dB: -76.0 -71.4 -74.2 -75.9

Frequency Response

Noise Level

Back to the table of contents>>>

Search – version 4.0

The utility marries the local search abilities and browsing. Furthermore, the search engine used in the N85 may vary by country – for Russia it is Yandex.ru. Generally, you can pick a search engine you like manually or keep the default one – Yahoo. The reason behind this differentiation between regions is that the maker deems local search engines better tweaked for respective countries.

Local search is performed in all categories, which are:

  • Music
  • Contacts
  • Calendar
  • Messages (including message body)
  • Email (headline and message body)
  • Bookmarks
  • Images
  • Video
  • Points of Interest
  • Applications
  • Notes

Video, search 4.0 (22,9 mb, mpg) >>>

All you need to do is punch in first letters of a word and the N85 will instantly display how many matches it could find in every section, which is really handy. For the time being, Samsung-branded devices come with a quite similar feature onboard; however their search engine is somewhat less sophisticated, even though the abilities are pretty much in line with Nokia’s search.

Back to the table of contents>>>

Multimedia Menu

This is a wheel-shaped menu (made its first appearance with the Nokia N81), where every tab features kindred functions. You can navigate through these tabs with the help of the D-Pad or the numeric keypad.

Video, Multimedia Menu (7,2 mb, mpg) >>>

The current version sports only six pages, whose order of appearance may be easily varied – by the default, the first tab you see is all about music (with this tab on, you can check out your library, start random playback of your tracks or view podcasts). The Games tab proposes exactly the same options as the N-Gage section. The Gallery allows you to view your last captured shot and calls up the Album. You can submit some entries to the Contacts tab, so it acts like a speed dial menu, which may come in handy on certain occasions. Internet – links to your favorite pages, Maps – points of interests and locations.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that there are a whole lot of functions typical of stand-alone apps duplicated in the N82 – in the multimedia menu you can add new bookmarks, but the browser can serve the same purposes as well. You can throw some contacts into this menu, but adding them to the list of Fast dial makes more sense. Ergonomics-wise, this menu is a complete blank, bringing nothing new to the table. It is just another way to display the phone’s contents, and that’s about it. Let’s call it a “contemporary” way.

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N-Gage and Gaming Department

The Nokia N85 is the first phone to feature a full-fledged N-Gage client – a tad later its localized editions will become available world-wide. The handset comes boxed with fifteen Try&Buy games, although you can pick one of them and get a full version free of charge using the activation code the N85 ships with.

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Preinstalled Applications

Video Center – enables the user to subscribe to various channels offering an assortment of video clips, including YouTube’s mobile version. All videos get uploaded onto the device, so that you will be able to watch them whenever you want. You can expand clips to full screen in the landscape mode, plus there is the portrait mode available with the N95 8Gb. The best way to upload clips is via home or office Wi-Fi networks.

QuickOffice here comes in a shrunk edition. Specifically, with the version found in the Nokia N95 8Gb you won’t be able to edit office documents. To go beyond the Read Only mode you will need to pay extra money.

Adobe PDF – allows reading PDF-files, no complaints about the application.

ZIP – enables you to extract files from archives or create new archives.

Barcode – reads bar codes, as its name suggests. Almost of no real use these days, though.

Firmware update – this application checks your current firmware version and updates it if necessary.

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Nokia N85 vs Nokia N95, Nokia N95 8Gb, Nokia N79

So, the only question that remains is whether the Nokia N85 is any better than the Nokia N95 8Gb. But I’m sure the chart below is enough to convince you that with all things considered, the newcomer outruns the good old N95 8Gb hands down

Those who are in the market for a phone that is just as feature-rich, yet comes in the candybar design should put an eyeball on the Nokia N79 – while the latter comes with a smaller screen and a smaller memory card in the box, as far as functionality goes it holds its own against the N85.

Criteria Nokia N85 Nokia N95 Nokia N95 8Gb Nokia N79
Form-factor Dual slider Dual slider Dual slider Candybar
Size, Weight 103x50x16, 128 99x53x21, 120 100x53x21, 129 110x49x15, 97
Battery Li-Ion, 1200 mAh, around 3 days of battery time Li-Pol, 950 mAh, around1,5-2 days of battery time Li-Ion, 1200 mAh, around 2 days of battery time
Display AM-OLED, 2.6 inches, QVGA, 16M TFT, 2.6 inches, QVGA, 16M TFT, 2.8 inches, QVGA, 16M TFT, 2.4 inches, QVGA, 16M
GPS Yes, Maps 2.0 Yes, Maps 1.0 (version 2.0 available) Yes, Maps 2.0
(requires installation)
Yes, Maps 2.0
Camera 5 Mpix, CMOS 5 Mpix, CMOS 5 Mpix, CMOS 5 Mpix, CMOS
Memory 72 Mb of built-in memory, 8 Gb memory card in the box 160 Mb of built-in memory 8 Gb of built-in memory, no memory cards 70 Mb of built-in memory, 4 Gb memory card in the box
WiFi Yes Yes Yes Yes
USB chargin Yes No No No
USB 2 Mb/s 950 Kb/s 950 Kb/s 2 Mb/s
OS version S60, 3Ed, FP2 S60, 3Ed S60, 3Ed, FP1 S60, 3Ed, FP2
Price 450 Euro 400 Euro 520-550 Euro 350 Euro

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Impressions

Call quality was never an issue with the N85, as it easily lived up to our expectations of a Nokia-branded phone. Ring tones sounded quite loud thanks to the handset’s dual speakers – in this sense, it is one of the market’s vociferous offerings. The vibrating alert was on the stronger side all thanks to the N85’s svelte casing

The N85 will remain the undisputed flagship in Nokia’s Nseries range for at least six months to come, as we won’t see anything remotely close in terms of features or sales package any time soon. At the same time, other phone makers don’t have any competent solutions on their plates that could stand up to this brand new do-it-all wiz. The N85 is a well-balanced offering, plus Nokia’s engineers have worked on its battery time and music quality. Together, the N85 and the N79, that is just as feature-rich, make a fearsome duo that will rock the mass market and no other manufacturer will be able to do anything about it. All in all, this latest release shows that Nokia has been preparing for the golden era of S60 since a long time ago. But seeing that phones with VGA screens and S60 Touch (we’ll see it already on October 2nd in London) are already on the horizon, the N85 isn’t that much of a revelation, but in terms of price/quality ratio it is Nokia’s, and let’s face it, the market’s finest solution to date. Basically, you won’t find a phone below 600 Euro that can take on the N85 functionality-wise (while the Samsung INNOV8 can give the N85 a rough run for its money, its price tag is a lot heftier).

That said, in 2009 the N85 won’t come off the top of sales charts in this price segment – in fact, with this device Nokia have set the pace for their rivals that they will have to keep up with in order to remain competitive.

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