Hands-On: Nokia N Series
The N85 is a dual-slider phone that is basically an N96 Light. It takes the basic form factor of the N96 -- and most of the specs -- and simply packages it in a smaller, more pocketable phone.
Despite being prototype hardware, it felt solid in the hand. Probably because so much is stuffed into the phone. It doesn't have quite the marquee feel of the N96, but it is a very good looking device and has nice, smooth edges in comparison. Probably the most welcome change when comparing it to the N96 is that it is a thinner phone. (Sorry, N95, and N96, you're just beefy). The N85 is less so, but it is still far from being the thinnest slider on the market.
The plastics on the front of the phone felt a bit on the cheap side, but we'll accredit this to the pre-production status of the phone with hopes that final products will be less cheap feeling. The original N95 had a nice, big dedicated media key that took you to the media carousel. Starting with the N81, Nokia reduced the size of this key to a small dash to the right of the D-pad. The N85 uses this same dash key. To be honest, I don't like it. For a media-focused phone, it should be easier to get to your media. This tiny little dash of a button just doesn't cut it.
The numeric keypad itself is similar to that of the N96 and N81 in that the buttons are flat and smooth. I thought it was a bit difficult to differentiate between the keys using just my thumb. The action and feedback was okay, but not great. Again, it felt a bit cheap.
On the back of the phone is a cover for the 5 megapixel camera. It is a nice simple hatch that slides back and forth. Slide it open, and it fires up the camera. Close it, and it shuts the camera off. It is nice to have a protector for that Carl Zeiss lens.
All the hatches and ports along the N85's sides worked fine. I had no trouble opening any of them. Same goes for the buttons. They all had good travel and feedback, and were easy to find and use by feel.
In all, with its smaller foot print, smaller price tag, and nearly equal feature set, I expect the N85 to cannibalize some sales of the N96.
Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.