First Looks: Nokia N80 (3G with WiFi)

Gimme An 'N'...80

Gimme An 'N'...80

It's not everyday we get excited over the arrival of a new mobile phone, but the Nokia N80 certainly is a delightful exception. Sporting the same attractive metallic fascia as the N70, the N80 instantly gives a sense of quality, this despite its thick plastic body. Right below the screen is a conventional 5-way directional pad and a cluster of primary control buttons that include a couple of softkeys and call keys. These allow quick menu access without having to slide up the screen unit. At the back is a 3.0-megapixel camera with flash and this is paired with a front-mounted camera for 3G video calls. In camera mode, the N80 supports red-eye reduction and can be toggled between taking stills in either landscape or macro mode. An automatic white balance option and a vast array of settings of snapping options means the N80 is as good as it gets for mobile photography on an N-series. Finally, the power button and infrared port are located at the crown of the phone, while the mini power jack and pop-port connector are located at the base.

A Different Feel

The N80 screen has a resolution of 352 x 416 pixels, which is four times sharper than what most series 60 handsets have had to offer. Text display is sharp and the images are displayed brightly and clearly. Sliding up the display reveals the numberpad but unlike other slide phones, there is no spring to assist the sliding process; you'd have to manually slide up screen unit fully reveal the numberpad. Disappointingly, the numberpad is too flat and too stiff, making it difficult for people with large hands to input data. This is due largely to dead zones in all four corners of each key where unless each strike is done dead center, user inputs will not be registered at all. Another downer is the lack of automatic keypad lock. Users must always remember to select “Yes” when prompted to avoid unnecessary or unwanted dialing.

The Handyman of Phones

Besides Infrared, Bluetooth, GPRS, and EDGE connections, the N80 also has an integrated Wireless LAN (802.11g) card. Connected, webpages can be displayed in full but this would require users to perform numerous vertical and horizontal scrolls to browse through a typical webpage. To make surfing easier, Nokia has incorporated a browsing mini-map that shows the part of the web page users are currently reading. There is also a screen with thumbnails that shows websites you've visited in case you need to look at your browsing history. Another commendable feature of the N80 is its UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) port that allows the N80 to connect to other UPnP devices within the same network. This permits streaming of images and music from the handset to other UPnP devices, which may include display and audio products.

True to its commitment to provide the best mobile entertainment, the N80 has an integrated digital music player with stereo audio for playback of MP3, AAC, M4A, eAAC+ and WMA music. Music can be easily transferred between the unit and a PC or home stereo via WLAN or USB connection.

Final Thoughts

Although a little bit on the thick side with tactility issues uncovered in the keypad, the lack of auto-focus in its camera, and short battery life, the Nokia N80 still manages to have what it takes to satisfy a broad range of users with its S60 3rd edition Symbian OS, 40MB of onboard memory, a competent music player, excellent web browsing capabilities, 3.0 megapixel camera, and the highly valued WLAN access. Just remember to bring along an extra battery or charger to prevent getting caught off guard with a flat handset.