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Review: Nokia's Do-It-All N80

Review by Michael Oryl on Wednesday May 10, 2006.

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Nokia's N80 was introduced with the second wave of Nseries handsets in November of 2005. It packs quad-band GSM/EDGE support and 3G WCDMA access into an attractive slider form factor. But there is more to the N80 that makes it so interesting. For one, it has 802.11g WiFi support and a SIP compatible VOIP client, meaning you could theoretically use the N80 with a VOIP provider such as BroadVoice or Vonage. When you add a 3 megapixel camera to the mix and a very high resolution display, things start to look very interesting indeed.

Physical Aspects

Physically, the N80 is shaped like a block that has had its longest edges rounded out, making it comfortable to hold. A profile view of the device reveals its somewhat wedged shape, which I personally find quite attractive. The brushed front facade and textured black body also look good, and resist finger prints far better than many of the N80's glossy counterparts. Our N80 came in black, a color that seems to suit it well. While neither small nor light, measuring 96mm x 50mm x 26mm (3.8" x 2.0" x 1") and weighing 135g (4.8oz), the N80 feels appropriate when one considers everything that is crammed inside.

When closed, the N80's 5-way d-pad and main controls are still accessible. Below the normal softkeys and call keys you will find a dedicated menu key, a multimedia menu key, an edit key, and a C key. The multimedia key menu is simply an app that you can configure to give quick access to N80 functions by using d-pad direction shortcuts, just as always was the case before Nokia introduced the Active Standby screen. You don't have to limit yourself to multimedia functions - in spite of its name, it works for anything. Long-pressing the key from the standby screen will load the music player by default. Similarly, long pressing the camera shutter button on the right side of the device will load the camera. The camera itself is located on the back, with a flash and macro mode slider, and a memory card slot is located on the left side of the N80. The power button and infrared port are located on the top, and the mini power port, the same as used on the N90 and 770, and pop-port connector are located on the bottom.

Opening the unsprung slider mechanism reveals a decent numeric keypad. The keys have a solid feel and click softly when pressed, but offer limited travel. The only problem I found with the controls revolved around the d-pad controller. It has no separate center select button. Instead, you press the entire d-pad down for selecting. This allows for far more frequent mis-hits than would otherwise happen. Fortunately, the OS seems prepared for that most of the time, and seems to ignore the direction when it comes with a select press at nearly the same moment. Regardless, a separate button would have been much nicer.

Another change I would have liked would have been some sort of spring mechanism that holds the slider open or closed. As is, it can be moved a bit too easily when the device is removed from a pocket or when you are attempting to press the power button. When the device is closed, a "Lock Keypad?" prompt comes up, which is great. But the fact that it defaults to No after a few seconds if you don't press the Yes softkey means that you have to be very conscious of it to avoid having the N80 dial on its own, something that happened to me while at an event in NYC. When locked, the keypad will not unlock until it has been nearly completely opened, which is fine.

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About the author

Michael Oryl
Michael is the Philadelphia based owner and former editor-in-chief of MobileBurn.com. You can follow him on Twitter as @MichaelOryl

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