We’ve been anticipating the latest pair of Nokia N-series handsets, the N79 and N85, ever since we first caught sight of them in August. Now, with the October 31st release of the N85 almost upon us, it’s time to take a closer and more in-depth look at this new multimedia powerhouse from Nokia. Although it’s billed as the replacement to the flawed N81, its feature set and slimline, modern design actually makes it the perfect choice for anyone wanting a new style N95.
The N85 is a dual-slider mobile phone, just the like the N95, but is considerably more compact than that perennially popular mobile phone. It sits slightly above its sister handset the N79 in the Nokia range, but the N96 aces it with slightly higher spec. However, given the N96′s higher price, there are many who won’t be willing to splash out and that’s where the N85 really comes into its own. Of course, it couldn’t be called cheap, but there’s no denying it’s very good value.
Inside the stylish case you’ll find just about every top range feature, plus the introduction of several new ones to the N-series range, including a state-of-the-art OLED screen just like those found on the beautiful Nokia Arte range. So let’s examine the latest N-series and see just how it lines up against the rest of the range and its competitors.
N-Series Equals Multimedia Excellence
N-series mobile phones have always been about music, pictures, games and video, and Nokia even promote these handsets as ‘multimedia computers’ rather than mobile phones. As more handsets are added, so their ability grows and arguably, this latest set are not only the best Nokia have ever produced, but possibly the best on the market today.
Nokia N85 with the N-Series Trademark; a Brilliant Camera.
It wouldn’t be an N-series without it! The Nokia N85 features a Carl Zeiss lensed camera rated at 5 megapixels. The autofocus and dual LED flash assist you in taking the best pictures possible no matter the conditions and you can also record video at 30fps too. The lens has an active cover, which activates the camera software when flicked open, and is mounted on the rear panel rather than beneath the slide. Around the front, you’ll see a secondary lens for video calls.
Dedicated to Music.
The N85′s music player will be familiar to any users of Symbian software, and the performance is excellent. A set of dedicated keys enhance the experience and there is direct access to the Nokia Music Store to expand your collection and a simple USB connection to copy music across to your phone from your computer. A 3.5mm jack plug socket lets you use your own headphones too.
Crystal Clear Video.
Aside from shooting and playing back your own videos, the N85 also plays a variety of video file formats. The addition of a TV-Out socket allows you to watch your stored videos on a compatible TV screen too.
The Nokia N85 is an impressive gaming device as it features Nokia’s excellent N-Gage gaming service. Some 15 pre-installed demos are included along with a code to activate one of the games for free. Not only is the gorgeous screen ideal for playing games, but the gaming keys which come alive when you access N-Gage make playing far more enjoyable.
Style and Innovation.
One of the keys areas of improvement in the latest Nokia N-series phones is their styling. Previous models were best described as ‘challenging’ in the looks department, as they were more functional than outright attractive. However, the N79 and N85 are both great looking phones, with the N85′s dual-slider case coming out on top.
Dual Slide Design
Just like the N95, the slide panel on the N85 goes both ways; slide it up and the keypad is revealed, slide it down and a set of media keys come into action. These keys are not fixed function ones however, they change according to the application which is running, for example if you’re about to play an N-Gage game, they show gaming controls only.
Size and Weight Improvments.
Despite the N85′s wealth of features, it’s a very compact mobile phone. Measuring 5mm thinner than the N95, its dimensions are 103x50x16 and the weight is an acceptable 125 grams. Most importantly, these figures improve on many of its competitors.
Latest Screen Technology.
The traditional LCD TFT screen found on most mobile phones has been replaced with an OLED screen on the N85, a system which is only now becoming viable for portable devices. An OLED screen offers many benefits over an LCD, giving better performance in terms of colour and contrast, whilst reducing power consumption. This is the future on today’s mobile phone.
Enjoy Your Music Everywhere.
Another new feature for mobile phones is the FM Transmitter. This clever feature lets you send your music stored on the N85 over FM radio waves to be picked up on any nearby radio tuned to the correct frequency. This means you can enjoy your music in the car without cabling or having to bring lots of CDs!
The N85 has a standard D-pad for selecting icons in the menu system, but also employs a touch sensitive ‘navi-wheel’ approach for faster navigation. If you’ve ever used an Apple iPod, then you’ll know exactly what to expect; you just run your finger around the edge of the D-pad and the onscreen cursor moves accordingly.
Formidable Features and Power.
The final blow against the competition is just how much power and how many features Nokia have managed to squeeze inside the N85. You will be hard pressed to think of a feature the N85 doesn’t have that you’ll miss.
A Symbian Operating System.
The latest v9.3 Symbian operating system is fast and capable. With Feature Pack II installed it really comes alive beneath your fingertips, with plenty of colour, style and cool animations to make it look sleek and modern. The N85 also has direct access to Nokia Downloads!, where a wide variety of applications are ready to customise your phone.
Memory and Battery Life.
Here are two more improvements over the Nokia N95. The N85 has a MicroSD card slot ready for a card up to 8GB in size, thus instead of a fixed amount with no opportunity to increase or swap, here you can have several cards with different files always on hand. The OLED screen has caused a marked improvement on the N85′s battery life too, it’s now quoted as having a standby of 363 hours and a talktime of nearly 7 hours. Nokia even suggest 25 hours of music playback is possible. Another distinct advantage the N85 has over many other Nokia’s is the presence of a mini-USB charging socket, so no more multiple chargers when traveling!
The GPS system inside the N85 features Assisted GPS for faster location times and geo-tagging of your pictures. The Nokia Maps service is excellent and a three-month trial is included in the package, but you’ll have to pay for voice guidance once this time is up.
Huge Connection Choice.
Naturally, the N85 is a 3G mobile phone and supports 3.6Mbps HSDPA, but it also has EDGE and GPRS to back it up. If you’re at home or have access to a wireless hotspot, you can take advantage of a speedy Wi-Fi connection too. If the wired headphones don’t suit you, then the A2DP Bluetooth allows cable-free sound.
Summary of the Nokia N85
It’s hard to find anything to fault with the latest N-series mobile phones, the N85 especially. The N95 we all know and love was hardly the best looking or most compact handset available, but there was no denying its technological competence. Now, the N85 improves in every area where the N95 was less successful and in doing so has become one of the most desirable mobiles available today, and we have no hesitation recommending it.