Nokia's N series has turned heads since it first appeared, and with the N80 that trend looks set to continue -- this is a very desirable handset indeed.
From its high-resolution screen to its quality camera, from its stubby hand-friendly hardware design to its built-in Wi-Fi, from its 3G support to its built-in UPnP, the N80 is every inch a wolf in sheep's clothing.
The Nokia N80 is currently available for free on selected Vodafone contracts, and up to £220 with cheaper monthly plans.
We use the word 'stubby' to describe the hardware design for a good reason: the N80 is short and fat. With its slider closed the 95mm tall and 26mm thick handset looks a little out of proportion, but it feels very comfortable in the hand.
Moreover, with its slider opened up to reveal the keyboard, the N80 manages to avoid looking or feeling too lanky by keeping its total length to 125mm. That's not a great deal more than the music-oriented N91 before its slider is opened, yet Nokia has managed to build in large number keys which are easy to hit, and the top row manages to stay well clear of the slider -- a design fault common to many slider handsets.
The slider mechanism itself is a little underwhelming. Nokia has not offered any kind of spring loading and the simple manual system is pesky to use one handed as there's nowhere on the front fascia to get a grip, apart from the navigation key. Inevitably we ended up making the odd software selection we didn't mean to while sliding up and down.
Still, like all good sliders you can do almost everything with the mechanism closed, and only really need to use it when using the keyboard -- to type in phone numbers or tap out texts.
The front fascia-located Nokia menu key and the 'multimedia' key (already seen on the N91) take care of getting to applications. The latter is preset to take you to four of the more media-savvy applications on board, but you can configure it to do whatever you want.
You can use the back-mounted camera without opening the slider thanks to a button on the right edge, and there is a front-facing camera for 3G video calling. A slot on the left edge caters for miniSD cards. There's an infrared port on the top edge of the handset, along with the on/off button, while mains power and a proprietary port sit on the bottom edge. Unlike the N91 this phone doesn't have a 3.5mm port, but you can use this proprietary port to attach a headset -- either the handsfree, stereo headset Nokia provides, or your own via a converter to 3.5mm that Nokia includes with the handset.
We are not keen on the chrome used for much of the front fascia on the N80. Initial impressions are not bad, but it picks up fingerprints easily, and Nokia clearly recognises this as a cleaning cloth is supplied with the handset.
The screen deserves an honourable mention. At 352x416 pixels it is top notch in terms of resolution, and this helps it deliver high quality visuals all round, and, importantly, show all 12 menu screen icons at once without the need for any scrolling.