Nokia N85 and Nokia N79 preview: First look

GSMArena team, 29 August 2008.
Pages: 123

Nokia N85 - destined to be popular

The Nokia N85 seems like the long-waited update of the popular N81 and given the features on board it's almost destined to become a market success. Comparing the N85 to the Nokia N95 8GB, the gap doesn't seem that big now, but you have got to remember that back in the day the N95 was the portfolio flagship, while this time that place is reserved for the long-awaited and seemingly overpriced Nokia N96. The Nokia N82 might be counted here too, but the dual slide design of the N85 tends to speak of a closer kinship to the first two N-series devices.

The Nokia N85 can even be counted as an upgrade to N95 8GB in some respects if it wasn't for the smaller display - there's the more compact size, the touch-sensitive Navi wheel, the more compact microUSB port, the supposedly better GPS chipset with 3-month worth of free navigation license and finally, there's the FM transmitter. The Nokia N85 also has a microSD card slot with a pre-bundled 8GB memory card in contrast to the fixed-size memory of the N95 8GB.

Overall, the Nokia N85 will occupy a strong upper mid-tier market position and will probably be the next Nokia best-seller - the changes it brings are not revolutionary, but they are some fresh blood to the family. Simply said, the Nokia N85 is everything the Nokia N81 8GB should have been.

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Nokia N85

Nokia N85 at a glance:

  • Successor of Nokia N81
  • Construction and design combine N81 design with a dual slider form factor
  • 5mm thinner than Nokia N95 8GB (measures 103 x 50 x 16mm and weighs 128 grams)
  • 2.6-inch QVGA (320 x 240) display with OLED technology
  • 5 megapixel auto focus camera with dual LED flash, records VGA video at 30 fps
  • Dedicated multimedia/gaming keys
  • Touch sensitive Navi Wheel
  • Symbian S60 9.2 with the latest Feature Pack 2
  • Accelerometer sensor for auto screen rotation
  • Quad-band GSM, tri-band 3G with HSDPA
  • WiFi, stereo Bluetooth (A2DP)
  • GPS receiver with A-GPS support and Nokia Maps application (3-month free navigation license included)
  • microUSB port and 3.5mm audio jack
  • microSD card slot (ships with a 8GB card)
  • FM radio with RDS and FM transmitter
  • Stereo speakers
  • 1200 mAh battery

We've already mentioned that the Nokia N85 is more compact than the N95 8GB. The slider mechanism feels sturdy and so is the whole construction. The bronze back panel has a glossy finish that adds to the looks of the device.

The 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB port are place on the top of the body, while the uncomfortably placed keypad lock key seen in N81 has found a much better place on the right-hand side of the device.

The dedicated multimedia keys that get revealed when you slide the handset downwards serve the double purpose of gaming keys. Speaking of gaming, the N85 comes preloaded with 15 N-gage titles, however since there is an unlock code for only one, you'll have to choose carefully which one you will get in a full version.

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More of Nokia N85

At 2.6 inches, the Nokia N85 display is slightly smaller than the ones of N95 8GB and the N96, but its most novel feature is the OLED technology used. Nokia first used it on Nokia 7900 Prism and then on the Nokia Arte. The OLED display is supposed to give you lower power consumption, wider viewing angles and better contrast (black is more intense, for example).

Since we have up-close and personal experience with both the Nokia 7900 and the Nokia Arte, we can testify that the OLED displays sport some really nice color rendering. However, they are not as good in direct sunlight as all other transflective Nokia displays. It's a downside that we find inadequate and we would gladly stick to the excellent TFT displays used by Nokia up so far. Let's hope that the lower power consumption will make up for this con.

Here's how the N85 display looks in direct comparison to the Nokia 6210 Navigator display. Unfortunately, the light conditions make the differences not that easy to spot.

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The Nokia N85 OLEd screen directly compared to the TFT display of Nokia 6210 Navigator

The Nokia N85 has a 5 megapixel auto focus camera with Carl Zeiss optics and an active lens cover. Video recording is also commendable - VGA resolution at 30 fps seems enough for us, although point-and-shoot cameras are already taking it to the next level with HD recording, not to mention the high-speed videos of LG Viewty and LG Secret.

That being said, the only downside we find in the camera department is the lack of a xenon flash. Instead the N85 has a dual LED flash and an auto-focus assist light.

The camera is snappy but there are no significant changes to the camera interface - GPS image geotagging is among the few novel features here.

Here are several camera samples - bear in mind that those were taken with a pre-release unit, so improvement of the image quality is to be expected.

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Nokia N85 camera samples

Nokia N85 first impressions

The Nokia N85 is an excellent performer with a full bag of features on board. It's got pretty much every modern feature there is and there are no obvious compromises made feature-wise. The N85 has left us with nothing but good impressions and we are looking forward to taking a final unit for a spin.

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