First impressions of the Nokia N85 with OLED display and solid construction

Summary:I briefly tried out the Nokia N82 and N78 and while I thought they were both good devices, I still enjoyed using the N95 and N81 8GB more. I then saw the OLED display on the Samsung I7710 S60 device and fell in love with the brightness and true colors. The new Nokia N85 has an OLED screen so I ordered one for myself as soon as the North American version was available. I've now had it for over a week and have to say it is the BEST Nseries device I have used and I am very happy with my purchase. There are a couple of things that could still be improved, but I think it will be the next most popular S60 device that takes the top spot from the N95.

I briefly tried out the Nokia N82 and N78 and while I thought they were both good devices, I still enjoyed using the N95 and N81 8GB more. I then saw the OLED display on the Samsung I7710 S60 device and fell in love with the brightness and true colors. The new Nokia N85 has an OLED screen so I ordered one for myself as soon as the North American version was available. I've now had it for over a week and have to say it is the BEST Nseries device I have used and I am very happy with my purchase. There are a couple of things that could still be improved, but I think it will be the next most popular S60 device that takes the top spot from the N95. I plan to write a larger, more in-depth review after some longer usage, but offer these initial thoughts below. You can check out my image gallery and video below for some visuals of the device.


 Image Gallery:A walk around the Nokia N85 North American version.  
Image Gallery: Nseries lineup
 
Image Gallery: Nokia N85 in hand
 

The last S60 device I purchased was the Nokia N95 and I thought it was super device. It is a bit blocky and the slider mechansim loosened up quite a bit over the last year. I was planning to hold out for the upcoming Nokia N97, but the availability of the N85 North American version with the OLED display and latest S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 OS swayed me to pull the trigger now on the N85.

In the box: The North American Nokia N85-3 retail package came with the copper color N85, 1200 mAh battery, A/C adapter, wired stereo headset with media player control adapter, USB to microUSB cable, A/V cable for TV Out functionality, 8GB microSD card, N-Gage game code for free game, 3 months Nokia Maps turn-by-turn navigation subscription, and User/Quick Start Guides. As you can see Nokia includes some nice bonus items in the package that make the device even that much more useful for the new owner.

Out of the box first impressions: After pulling out the device, battery, and charger the first thing I did was turn it on to check out the 2.6 inch OLED display. As I said above and cannot keep saying, the OLED display looks fantastic. The colors are bright and evenly lit with no side or backlighting. The display is viewable for virtually any angle and looks great in the dark and in direct sunlight. The N85 has a perfect width for a phone and feels great in my hand. The slider has definite stops when sliding up or down and seems very durable and solid.

Specifications: The specifications for the Nokia N85 include:

  • UMTS/HSDPA: 2100/1900/850 MHz and GSM: 1900/1800/900/850 MHz
  • S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 operating system
  • ARM 11 369 MHz processor
  • 74MB internal dynamic memory and 78MB flash memory
  • microSD card slot with SDHC support (8GB card included)
  • Dual slider design (similar to the N95 and N96)
  • Integrated GPS/A-GPS receiver
  • 802.11 b/g WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP support
  • 2.6 inch 240x320 OLED display with support for up to 16 million colors
  • 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual-LED flash lights
  • FM transmitter
  • Stereo FM radio with RDS support
  • 1200 mAh battery (BL-5K)

    Dimensions:
  • Weight: 4.52 ounces
  • Length: 4.06 inches
  • Width: 1.97 inches
  • Thickness: 0.63 inches

A walk around the hardware: The first thing you will notice about the Nokia N85 is the brilliant OLED display. Colors pop on the display and blacks now truly look black. While the display is not VGA, it still looks wonderful and with VGA it couldn't be beat. The OLED display is viewable in all lighting conditions and should lead to longer battery life with the lower power consumption requirements. With medium usage (push email, 15 minutes of calls, 45 minutes of browsing, 5 photos) I am seeing just about two full days of usage.

On the front above the 2.6 inch OLED display you will find the earpiece/handset speaker, light sensor, and front camera (for video conferencing support outside the U.S.). Below the display is where the hardware buttons are located for send/end of calls, multimedia access, clear, menu, and left/right soft key activation. The two soft keys, menu, and clear buttons appear as backlit areas of the flat bottom panel.

When you slide the display up you will find the standard 12-key phone keypad. Sliding the display down reveals the four multimedia and gaming buttons. When playing games in N-Gage the two center buttons light up as gaming keys.

Along the top of the N85 is the microUSB port (used for syncing and charging), 3.5mm standard headset jack, and power button. On the left side of the top, wrapping around to the left side, is the opening for the lanyard.

There is nothing along the bottom of the N85. On the left side you will find the door covering the microSD card slot. The right side is the most crowded with the two stereo speakers (at the extreme ends), volume button, lock switch, and camera capture key.

The Carl Zeiss 5 megapixel camera is located on the back with the two LED flash lights. I was very pleased to see a small metal lens cover that slides open and shut to protect the camera lens.

Pricing and availability: I bought my Nokia N85-3 from Newegg.com for US$459.99. It can be found online from a number of retailers in this range. We may see a carrier in the U.S. pick it up eventually, but since we didn't see any of them pick up the highly successful N95 before I am not placing too much hope in our carriers.

Experiences and some more first thoughts: The Nokia N85 has been very responsive, even with the 10+ third party applications I have loaded up on it. The FM transmitter is a nice feature to have, but I am not finding that the audio quality is as good as when I plug in the N85 directly to a cassette adapter in my Jeep. The stereo speakers also get quite distorted if you go all the way up to 100%. The speakers sound pretty good up to 80%, but do not sound as good as the Nokia N95.

Like most Nokia phones the RF reception and phone call quality is outstanding. For those who want a smartphone with excellent phone functionality, it is tough to beat the Nokia Nseries devices and this is an important function that many of us tend to overlook when checking out some of these feature packed devices.

I like the complete customization options of S60 and Feature Pack 2 is a nice implementation of S60 on a phone. I am using the multimedia key more than ever before to access and play my media content. I have also decided to make the N85 my dedicated N-Gage gaming platform (you can only use a single device for your purchased games) and so far it is a decent gaming device.

The camera takes decent pictures and I plan to include more experiences with the camera in my full review. The N85 also captures video at 30 frames per second.

I haven't been this excited about a Nseries device for a long time and am loving my N85 so far. Stay tuned to many more thoughts on the N85 and please do post any questions you want me to answer in a full review here on the blog.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Nokia

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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