- Great music player, nice operating system, 8GB storage
- Design could be better, poor camera, navi wheel doesn't work well
If you're looking for a high capacity, music-oriented phone and aren't fazed by some design and control issues then Nokia's N81 might be for you.
Price$ 979.00 (AUD)
Following in the footsteps of past N-series phones, Nokia's N81 is a 3G mobile handset with a heavy skew towards music playback. While it is a decent phone in many ways, with a robust list of features, poor control and build quality as well as a lack of HSDPA are all let-downs.
That said, if you're after a music phone the N81 does a great job. It comes packed with 8GB of storage, which is the equivalent of a large solid state MP3 player, so it should be adequate for most users' needs. All the features you'd expect are there including an equaliser, shuffle and loop modes and full ID3 tag sorting. There is also a 3.5mm headphone jack, and using our rather expensive third-party headphones, the sound quality was some of the best we've experienced from a phone.
If the gaudy 'rock' style packaging wasn't enough to give away the phone's obvious music orientation, the illuminated music control keys quickly will. Forming a ring around the main directional pad they do make it a little easier to navigate through the music interface; however, this comes at a cost. They take up valuable real estate on the phone's rather cramped control panel, meaning the regular answer and end call keys are squished to the sides. The keys are also a little small at times and those with large hands will encounter more than their share of fumbles.
There is an alternative; the promising sounding "Navi Wheel", which turns the directional pad into a touch sensitivity, iPod-like scroll wheel. While in theory this is a pretty cool idea, in practice it is slow and painfully inaccurate. We found it infinitely faster to scroll using the regular directional buttons.
The poor implementation of this functionality isn't the only bad design element; in fact, the phone as a whole is far from perfectly constructed. Built from thin plastic, it feels quite flimsy and quickly becomes riddled with fingerprints. It also looks quite boxy, which in the age of designer electronics it may deter some users. On the plus side, the slide mechanism works quite well and feels responsive, and the hold switch on the top of the unit is a nice addition, allowing you to unlock the keypad without sliding it open.
Weighing in at 2 megapixels, the camera is a little disappointing. Its pictures are only really suitable for wallpapers, with other camera phones providing a much better alternative if mobile snap shots are your thing.
Utilising the Series 60 Symbian operating system, the N81 is speedy and offers most of the functions you could want. While we would have liked to see a few more applications installed out of the box (such Quickoffice), you can easily get online and download whatever apps are missing. The N81 is a 3G phone and disappointingly it doesn't pack in HSDPA connectivity, so data transfer rates over the phone's network itself are quite slow. That said it was adequate for Web browsing and the S60 interface makes this a breeze. If 3G speeds don't satisfy you however, you also have the option of connecting to a Wi-Fi network and using your regular broadband Internet.
One particularly cool feature of the N81 is the new N-Gauge software package, which bundles three demos from their new mobile gaming platform. Including the likes of FIFA 2007 and a pretty cool top down space shooter, we must say these are some of the best games we've played on a mobile and we're looking forward to seeing what Nokia has in store for the future here.
Battery life is rated at three to four hours of talk time and up to 17 days stand-by, both of which are fairly good figures.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost review
- 2 Review: TCL C1 series 4K TV
- 3 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 4 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera UHD TV review: good hardware, fragmented software
Best Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- Google is building its own smartphone, report says
- Report: HTC-built Nexus 'Sailfish' leaks reveal the undercard in the next Nexus lineup
- What iOS 10 can tell us about the new iPhone
- Rumor check: Everything we think we know about the Galaxy Note 7
- Windows 10 phones finally gain NFC payment support as Wallet 2.0 rolls out in preview
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTMobility Developer x 2 - iOS and Android positions available!NSW
- FTTechnical/Solutions ArchitectNSW
- CCSolution Architect / Designer - Cyber SecurityNSW
- FTProject ManagerACT
- FTSystems application support analystNSW
- FTIT Project ManagerAsia
- FTPractice Lead - InsuranceNSW
- FTBusiness Analyst/Data Analyst Capability ManagerVIC
- CCSystems Engineer | Defence intelligence projects | NV2 clearanceACT
- CCJava DevelopersACT
- CCPerformance Test AnalystNSW
- CCProject ManagerNSW
- CCBusiness Analyst - Asset ManagementNSW
- FTSystems EngineerNSW
- CCProject ManagerNSW
- CCProject CoordinatorNSW
- CCDynamics CRM DeveloperNSW
- CCBusiness Impact AssessmentsVIC
- FTAppian Developer/ArchitectVIC
- FTSolution Architect - Data/ InformationVIC
- CCDigital Business AnalystVIC
- CCTibco DeveloperWA
- CCInfrastructure ArchitectACT
- FTLead Tableau Reporting ConsultantNSW
- CCSolution DesignerNSW