It is a common gripe of younger siblings that they get overshadowed by their older brothers or sisters. Well, spare a thought for the Nokia N85. It is a handset with high specifications that could hold its own among some of this year’s very best smartphones, but has been overlooked as a result of the more publicised N96
Look and Feel
The Nokia N85 is almost a carbon copy of the N96 in terms of build. Both have a nifty dual slider action, and, despite being smaller and more pocket friendly, the N85 is in fact 3g heavier. Perhaps the Finnish manufacturer is feeling the credit crunch as much as the rest of us, but its preference for building handsets out of plastic, rather than metal, is bordering on obsessive. That is not to say that the N85 is poorly crafted. The back does feel a tad on the flimsy side, but it still maintains a robust feel. The back has an unusual truffle brown colour, in contrast to the jet black front-facing fascia. Now we are not style gurus, but we were always under the impression that brown with black was a fashion faux pas. Well, it shows what we know. The two shades complement each other excellently, leading to a rather eye-catching look.
At 2.6 inches, the N85’s OLED screen is 0.2 inches smaller than the N96, but the phone still displays up to 16 million colours with a resolution of 240x320 pixels, ensuring the quality is top notch. Beneath the screen Nokia has opted for a minimalist approach. The D-pad surrounds the command key, a thin green and red strip represents the call and call end keys and a shortcut key to your menu options is located on the handset’s right side. However, here is the clever bit. Fire up the N85 and, as if by magic, four other keys light up – two soft keys, a menu key and a cancel button. It is a simple yet effective approach that we were quite taken with. What is more, the D-pad can be turned into a touch-sensitive Navi wheel that enables you to scroll through menu icons, albums and pictures. It was not quite to our taste but it is great that Nokia has given us the option, on
As we mentioned, the N85 is a dual slider. Slide it one way to reveal the standard alphanumeric keypad (if we were being ultra critical we did find these keys to be on the small side) and slide the other direction to unveil four media control keys. The keys provide a great way of starting your music player without having to go through your menu options
Music plays a big part in the N85. While it may lack the mammoth 16GB of storage capacity the N96 offers (the N85 has a measly 85MB of internal memory), Nokia does make amends by bundling in an 8GB microSD card, which should house around 8,000 tracks. There is also easy access to the Nokia Music Store. Users can choose from over 2.5 million tracks at a cost of 80p per song. Once downloaded, tracks can be transferred to a PC via a USB cable, as well as remaining on the phone.
The sound quality is spot-on whether played through the loudspeaker or the accompanying headphones, though when we plugged in our Bose ones (Nokia has been kind enough to include a 3.5mm headset jack) we noticed a marked improvement. However, in using your own headphones you will miss out on being able to take and make handsfree calls, as well as a nifty voice command function. A control pad forms part of the handsfree kit, emblazoned with call, call end and volume keys. Press the call button when idle and after five seconds you will hear a tone. This is your signal to speak your command. For example, ‘call Amy’, or ‘music player’. A robotic sounding voice repeats the command and brings up a list of functions it thinks most relevant.
The idea is that a selection of options is preferable to activating the wrong command. It is not the polished article it could have been, with around a 60/40 success rate, but it is another string to the N85’s bow.
Read full review here