Nokia's new Ovi Store helps a great deal, but, unfortunately, many of the best apps aren't on the Ovi Store yet. There are still some good ones, though, like the Facebook app, so it's worth checking out.
We couldn't understand why the N86 apparently comes with Facebook and YouTube apps already installed in its applications area, when, in fact, they're just links to the relevant Web sites, rather than the full applications. The Facebook app is much superior to the mobile Web site. When we got it from the Ovi Store, we were left with two Facebook icons to choose from, which was confusing.
It's time for Nokia to smarten up its user interface. In general, tasks like connecting to Wi-Fi are achievable, but there tend to be too many confusing steps involved. When opening Web-based apps, we were sometimes asked if we wanted to connect to the Wi-Fi at Crave Towers, sometimes not asked, and sometimes kicked onto the 3G network instead. Nokia can be proud of bringing smart phones to the masses, but other phone makers have put a great deal of work into making smart-phone features easier to use and Nokia needs to catch up.
Once we got connected, surfing the Web was pleasant enough on the N86's 66mm (2.6-inch) screen. YouTube and BBC iPlayer both worked very well, and the AMOLED screen is decent. There's even a little stand that pops out on the back to prop the phone up while you're watching. Flipping out the stand automatically opens the gallery, where you can access your photos. It's a cute idea, but it's actually quite annoying if you have a video all cued-up and ready to go.
The N86 also makes a good music phone, thanks to its dedicated music keys and its standard 3.5mm headphone jack, which means you can use your own headphones without an adaptor. It also has an FM radio and an Internet radio, with good podcast support. There's plenty of storage for all your tunes, with 8GB of internal memory and a microSD memory-card slot that supports up to 16GB more.
Syncing your music, videos and other data is fairly easy with the Nokia PC Suite software, which has been steadily improving over the years, advancing from crap to decent. It offers some great advantages, like the ability to sync over Bluetooth and type SMS messages on your computer before sending them to your phone, so you get to use a proper keyboard. But the music-manager part of PC Suite still doesn't compete with dedicated music software, so you might prefer to connect the N86 in mass-storage mode and sync your music with your favourite music software. That's also handy if you have a Mac, because PC Suite only works on PCs.
The Nokia N86 8MP doesn't break much new ground, but it's a good entry in Nokia's much-loved N series. It's not as easy to use as the iPhone or the HTC Hero, for example, but it really packs in the features, and, if you can find them, there are zillions of fantastic apps out there to make it even better. Best of all, for a phone, it takes excellent photos, with almost no shutter lag. As a top-of-the-line camera phone with all the power of a smart phone, we think the N86 is worth having.
Edited by Charles Kloet