- 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 newsletter!
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar
WD My Passport™ SSD
Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (4th Gen)
LiTMUS LAB Dakota Side Table
Apple Watch Series 6
Toys for Boys
Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System
Theragun PRO Percussive Therapy Device
ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14
WD_BLACK™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD
Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
Bose SoundLink Revolve Bluetooth Speaker
Sony Playstation 5
Fujiflim Instax Square SQ1
Garmin vívofit® jr. 2
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch
MSI Modern 14
Fender Fullerton Ukele
Lego Mindstorms Robot Inventor
Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush
Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player
SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String
MSI GE66 Dragonshield Limited Edition
Dickie Toy Remote Control Mega Crane Set
Kindle Paperwhite eReader (10th Gen)
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Google Pixel 5 Review: Soft Reboot
- 2 Sonos Arc review: The Main Event
- 3 Samsung Galaxy Z Flip review: Killer form-factor, lethal price-tag
- 4 Oppo A5Xs review: Cutting corners
- 5 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
Latest News Articles
- Black Friday Deal: Galaxy Z Flip for $999
- Black Friday Deal: Vivo smartphones are 20% off
- Black Friday Deal: 60GB of mobile data for $28 through Circles.Life
- Huawei goes greener still with Mate 40 Pro
- Sound right at home with Poly
PCW Evaluation Team
Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
- Sonos Arc review: The Main Event
- Google Pixel 5 Review: Soft Reboot
- How the Xbox Series X (and xCloud) saved me from buying a gaming PC
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies