From the model number, you'd think the N85 is a lesser version of the famous N95, but it's actually an upgrade. Is this a case of Nokia running out of ideas, or is it merely honing a deservedly popular phone? We took a good look at the N85 to see whether Nokia has cracked it again.
The N85 will be available soon for free on a monthly contract. Pricing has yet to be announced.
The N85 is a solid-feeling slider phone that's smooth around the edges, giving it a more up-to-date feel than the blocky N95. Considering how many features it packs in, it doesn't feel chunky or too heavy.
Aside from the keypad, we found all the keys on the N85 well-designed and easy to press. There's even a handy toggle switch for locking and unlocking the N85 quickly. As for the keypad, we found it too flat for our liking, but not unusable.
The double sliding mechanism -- which moves around too much on the N95 -- feels more solid in the N85, and doesn't slide when it's in your pocket. Equally secure is the N85's camera cover -- again, it won't open by mistake in your trousers and take photos of your keys.
We really appreciate that Nokia has placed a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the phone instead of on the side, making it much less fiddly to use. You'll also be glad to hear that charging and connecting to a PC can all be done via a micro-USB cable.
Worth noting is the N85's OLED display, which consumes less power than a standard LCD. The screen is bright and large enough to view text messages or watch YouTube videos on. We also found that the Opera Mini browser looked superb on it.
The N85 offers up some truly useful features, starting with HSDPA and Wi-Fi -- you can access the Web almost everywhere you go. The on-board browser works well enough, but we prefer using Opera Mini, which you can download for free and offers a neat way of viewing full Web pages.
GPS means you can find your location and plan trips, using Nokia Maps, which comes pre-installed, or you can download Google Maps. We didn't have any problems picking up satellites, but as expected, the GPS doesn't work indoors.
On the back of the N85 lies a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and dual LEDs. It's very easy to use, with a simple interface, and we found the picture quality to be very good, even in low light -- the LEDs providing more illumination than expected.
Equally unexpected is the built-in FM transmitter, which allows you to play music wirelessly through a car radio. It's something that's been made available in the past using third-party technology, but having it built-in is really useful.
As we mentioned before, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack and the Nokia N85's dedicated media keys mean using it as a music player is really easy. The music player interface is straightforward and gives you the option to shuffle tracks, adjust the equaliser and create playlists.
Audio quality during calls was loud and clear, as was the loudspeaker, but we recommend using a Bluetooth headset (the N85 supports A2DP stereo) for hands-free calls. Battery life is quoted at 6.9 hours talk time using GSM and 4.5 hours using 3G. Standby time is 363 hours using GSM or 3G. In real life, we found that with moderate use it lasted over a day before needing to be recharged.
After spending some quality time with the Nokia N85, we're not sure why Nokia didn't just launch this as the N95's successor instead of the N96. The N85 is a refined phone that packs in a whole bunch of features into an attractive casing. Our only disappointment is that the keypad is a little flatter than we would like, but the rest of it left us very happy.
Wi-Fi, HSDPA and a music player you can listen to by simply plugging a pair of standard headphones straight in -- great stuff. Okay, it's not a revolutionary product, but it is a very good one nevertheless, and if you're an N95 fan looking for something a little smaller and better-looking, you could a lot worse than this.
Edited by Nick Hide