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Nokia Mobility Conference 2005

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Intro N92 N80  

Of the three new phones, the N80 is the most interesting for two reasons. First, because it seems to hit a sweet spot in terms of features and size. It packs an amazing array of features into a reasonably small package. Second, because it is the only new Nseries phone that will actually see wide distribution in the U.S.

With quad-band GSM, EDGE, and WCDMA 1900, the N80 certainly seems well-suited to the U.S. The obvious carrier for it would be Cingular, the only U.S. carrier currently readying a WCDMA network for launch. The odd part is that it doesn't support WCDMA 850, which will make up part of Cingular's new network, and also it does not support HSDPA, something we had heard Cingular was demanding on all of its new 3G phones. Unfortunately, no one at Nokia could comment on these issues, since carrier info is always something they leave to the carrier to announce.

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The N80 is a capable imaging phone, even though that is not supposed to be its main focus. The 3-megapixel camera is a first for the U.S., although unfortunately it is not auto-focus, and some test shots we took were not overly impressive (but of course it was not final hardware.) At least the lens does have a macro mode switch for closeups.

Also related to imaging, the N80 sports the same amazing 352 x 416 pixel display as the N90 and E70. It's simply a gorgeous display that puts QVGA displays to shame.

Except for DVB-H, the N80 also has most of the features of the N92. That includes 802.11g Wi-Fi with UPnP for streaming video and music to other devices. With a miniSD slot supporting cards up to 2GB, the N80 can store a decent amount of video and music to be carried around or streamed. Plus, support for the ultra-efficient MPEG-4 AVC format helps you store even more high-quality video in that 2GB than you could otherwise.

Although both the N80 and N92 include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, oddly neither supports the new UMA standard for roaming seamlessly between mobile and local networks for voice and data.

The N80 is slightly larger than the 6280, but it packs in enough extra features to justify it. It's still quite a small phone for all it does. Plus the high-quality metal materials and stylish design give it a better overall feel in the hand.

There are two gripes I have with the design, however. First is the 5-way d-pad, which bucks Nokia's recent trend of having a physically separate center select key. Having it all joined makes it slightly awkward to press to select, although in trying it, I never pressed the wrong way by mistake. My second gripe is with the slide mechanism, which lacks any kind of spring assistance. There's just something satisfying about a slider phone that "snaps" open and closed like the Nokia 8800/8801.

As for other features, the N80 naturally includes Bluetooth, FM radio, infrared, USB 2.0 with mass storage profile, dual cameras, and 40 MB of built-in memory.

Look for the N80 to launch worldwide (including the U.S.) in the first quarter of 2006.

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