Over the past few weeks, we've had several Nokia N series smartphones come through our office doors, including the Nokia N96, the Nokia N79, and now the Nokia N85. Like the rest, the N85 is a high-end smartphone that offers advanced multimedia capabilities, so for this review, we didn't dwell on the shared features (for more details on the N85's features, please read our full review of the Nokia N79. Instead, we focused on some of the N85's differences and standout capabilities, including music and gaming. In some ways, we found it a better device than the Nokia N96 and the Nokia N95. While you lose a bit of internal memory, you do get most of the same features; the same dual-slider design but in a slimmer, sleeker package; and snappier performance--all for about $280 less, so if you're in a dilemma of trying to decide among the three, we'd say the Nokia N85 is certainly the better value.
The Nokia N85 is like a smaller, slimmer, and sexier version of the Nokia N96. The smartphone measures 4 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.6 inch deep and weighs 4.5 ounces (compared with 4.1 inches high by 2.2 inches wide by 0.7 inch deep and 4.4 ounces); compared with some other smartphones, the N85 is still on the thick side so it'll make for a tight fit in a pants pocket, but it's definitely better than the N95 and N96. The sleek, black chassis also gives the N85 a more attractive and modern look, and the smoother edges make it more comfortable to hold in the hand. More importantly, the smartphone has a solid construction. We've complained in the past about the Nokia N95 and the N96 feeling a bit cheap and plasticky, but that's not the case with N85.
Unlike the other N series models, the Nokia N85 features a 2.6-inch OLED display, rather than a TFT LCD. The screen supports up to 16.7 million colors at a 320x240-pixel resolution and when compared with the N96, the bump up in sharpness and brightness of color is quite noticeable. It really made photos, videos, and Web pages pop from the screen. As with most cell phone screens, however, the display was difficult to read under bright sunlight. As always, you can customize the home screen with various background images and themes.
Below the display, there are two soft keys, Talk and End buttons, a Menu shortcut, a multimedia key, a clear button, and a touch-sensitive navigation toggle. The latter can act as a jog wheel by choosing the Navi Wheel setting under Tools > Settings > General > Navi Wheel. Once on, you can simply touch the other edges of the toggle to scroll through menus, zoom in and out of pages, and so forth. However, we didn't find it particularly responsive, so we turned it off and used the toggle in the more traditional way of pressing up, down, left or right to move in those directions. As for the rest of the navigation controls, the layout was roomy but we had difficulties with the two soft keys, clear and menu buttons since they were flat and stiff to press.
Like the N95 and N96, the Nokia N85 features a dual-slider design. To expose the alphanumeric keypad, just push the screen up. The buttons are flat but they're not as stiff as the aforementioned keys and there's enough room between to each number to make dialing and texting easy. On the flip side, by pushing the screen down, you'll get access to the dedicated multimedia buttons. The track forward/back buttons also double as zoom in/out buttons in galleries.
On top of the unit, you'll find a power button, a 3.5mm headphone/AV jack, and a MicroUSB port. The right side has a volume rocker, a lock switch, a camera button, and 3D stereo speakers, while the left side holds a MicroSD expansion slot, which is protected by an attached cover. We should note that it was quite difficult to insert and take out cards since the slot was set pretty deep beneath the phone's surface. Finally, on back, you'll find the camera lens, which is protected by a slider cover, and a dual LED flash.
The Nokia N85 comes packaged with a travel charger, a USB cable, video-out cables, an 8GB MicroSD card, a wired headset, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check out cell phones accessories, ring tones, and help page.
While the Nokia N85 can handle all the multimedia duties of its N series siblings, Nokia particularly calls out its music, gaming, and Web experience. The built-in media player supports MP3, AAC, eACC, eACC+, and WMA files and offers repeat and shuffle modes. You can create playlists on the fly, and the smartphone will display album art if available. In addition to your personal library of tunes, the N85 offers podcast support and an FM radio, provided that you use the included earbuds since the tuner is built into them.