Nokia has just released the N82 in the UK, but after digesting the launch blurbage, the release leaves us with just one question: doesn't it render the N81 a bit redundant?
We've reviewed the N81 this week and, while it's one feature-packed dog and bone, it's lets down by some basic usability problems. While the N81's big selling point is entertainment, the new N82 is targeted at amateur photographers - it has a whopping 5 megapixel camera with xenon flash, auto-focus and Carl Zeiss optics. A 2GB microSD card has also been thrown in.
The N82 also has built-in GPS and is designed for web browsing. It'll still play music, though it doesn't have the 8GB built-in flash memory of the higher-end N81.
But that's it. Otherwise, the N82 packs a more impressive punch inside a far more impressive body. Both the N81 and N82 also support Wi-Fi and 3G HSDPA for faster-than-iPhone connectivity.
Poor network coverage
The launch of the N81 has hardly been smooth. Despite a huge marketing campaign, the handset was loosed into the wild in the shadow of the iPhone, and only Vodafone and O2 have chosen to take it. We'll be interested to see which UK networks opt to support the N82.
Part of the problem is that Nokia wants to bundle internet services, such as Ovi. Ovi includes Nokia Maps, Nokia Music - including the Nokia Music store - Nokia Photos and the N-Gage platform. Vodafone sent out a press release saying it was happy to be working with the Finnish manufacturer over Ovi, which is expected to include other Web 2.0 and social networking-type aspects over the coming months.
Nokia's content problem
And that's a problem for networks such as Orange and 3, which have been making increased revenue from music downloads. Nokia needs the networks to be on board, as the content it provides will be provided through the network. And that's where the problem lies.
Orange pipes 100,000 music tracks through its network every month according to The Independent which reported on an August memo that threatened to "derange this handset" if Nokia did not agree to a trial.
Mind you, with support from Vodafone as well as O2, it seems Nokia is gaining some traction over the idea, even if it has cost it deals with other networks. However, although they may want to keep control of the functions on their handsets, it's unlikely that even a network as big as Orange will be able to compete with Nokia's services.
It would be a shame if Nokia couldn't manage to persuade more networks to take the N82 which, for our money at least, looks to outmode and outclass the N81. The Nokia N82 will cost around £373 SIM-free.