Nokia N85 review

A stylish sliderphone with an impressive set of features to boot

Nokia N85
The Nokia N85 is an extremely powerful, feature-packed device with a head-spinning degree of versatility

TechRadar Verdict

A cracking little smart phone that delivers a superb all-round performance


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    Dual slider

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    5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens

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    16m colour screen

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    A-GPS and Nokia Maps software

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    8GB microSD card with maps and tunes

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    FM radio transmitter

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    HSDPA high speed connectivity

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    Symbian S60 smartphone operating system

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    Good quality music player

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    N-Gage gaming support


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    Smallish keypad

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    LED flash could be better for low light shooting

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Nokia's N85 slips into its Nseries smartphone lineup as a neat newcomer just below the N96, packed with plenty of similar features and functionality seen on Nokia's flagship device.

On the face of it, it looks akin to the N96, but it's a good 5mm slimmer, though ever so slightly heavier at 128g. The extra 3g weight isn't a problem, but while the slimmer dimensions certainly make it more pocket-friendly, the smaller screen might be an issue for video buffs.

However, there are compensations, since this screen is a first for Nokia, using OLED technology (rather than the usual LCD) and it shows, in the brightness, sharpness and detail of games and videos, though the improvement is barely noticeable when scrolling through the menus. The 16 million colours of the 320x240-pixel screen don't hurt either.

Slender sliderphone

It may not have the full 16GB internal storage of the N96 but it comes with an 8GB memory card in box.

Around the sides are a microSD slot (up to 16GB cards are supported), volume rocker, camera shutter and screen lock buttons, plus twin speakers on one side, which switches to top when you're watching video in landscape mode, with power on button, micro USB slot and 3.5mm headphone jack on top. Around the back is the 5 megapixel camera lens usefully covered by a slide next to dual LED flash lights.

Nokia has dispensed with the dedicated power port – you power up through the micro USB port, which saves space on the casing, and you can even do without the power cord since it will charge through your PC.

Like the N96, the slide operates in two directions – one way reveals the slightly cramped, smooth keypad, the other unveils media player controls for watching video or playing music.

Powerful camera

The 5 megapixel camera engages automatically when you flip open the shutter covering the Carl Zeiss lens (just stiff enough to prevent accidental opening and there's no danger of breaking any nails).

It takes about four seconds to open, but once roused snaps are very quick and it's got loads of features, including autofocus, burst mode, 20x digital zoom and geotagging, plus the Nseries' impressive post-pic editing suite.

Pics are of more than passable quality (maximum resolution 2592x1944), with convincing colour tones and impressive depth. The double LED flash is okay, but as usual, not quite up to what you'd expect from the proper xenon variety. Video is better than we've come to expect from most cameraphones too, recording at 30fps in maximum VGA resolution.

Impressive browser

The N85 is well connected, with HSDPA 3G (plus a secondary VGA camera on the front for video calls), quad-band GSM, stereo Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The Symbian 9.3 operating system can be a bit clunky however, and there are delays even when you just want to tap in a phone number.

The internet browser is pretty good – you can rotate the screen to landscape mode and there's also an accelerometer option you can switch on if you want motion sensor auto rotation. Web pages look great on the OLED screen, plus each number on the keypad becomes a shortcut for functions such as zoom, new address, home page, keyword search and bookmarks.

The media player can handle most of the main video and audio formats and there's an FM transmitter too, so you can play your tunes through your car radio, iTrip-style. It also comes with a TV out cable so you can play your videos straight through your telly.

Feature-packed phone

Considering it has N-Gage on board and is clearly designed with high-class gaming in mind, it's a shame that you only seem to be able to play them in landscape mode with the keypad to the left – something of a handicap for right-handed gamers. The games look great though, and of course you're not limited to N-Gage content.

Also on board are A-GPS (worked fine in our part of London) and Nokia's rather fine FM radio. As it's a Symbian handset there is of course a wealth of additional downloads available, and ours came with an addictive BBC iPlayer widget.

Battery life still isn't great, though we got the best part of two days moderate use out of it with Wi-Fi switched on throughout.

The Nokia N85 is an extremely powerful, feature-packed device with a head-spinning degree of versatility, offering almost all the working functionality of the N96 but in a slimmer package. An impressive addition to the Nseries roster.

Network availability: Orange, Vodafone, others TBC

Looks: 4/5
Ease of use: 4/5
Features: 4.5/5
Call quality: 5/5
Value: 4.5/5

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