Thursday, August 30, 2007

Nokia N80 Internet edition phone review - Part One

Yes, as I've been going on and on for ages now, I got a new phone - the Nokia N80 Internet edition. When it first debuted, it was supposedly THE phone to end all other phones. That is, until the Nokia N95 and Apple's iPhone came out. Haha. Anyway, humor me by reading through my review, okay?

I wanted the Nokia N80 Internet edition for a couple of reasons. Uh, so it was actually only one reason. I lusted after a phone that had wifi capabilities and would allow me to surf to my heart's content (or as long as the battery lasted, whichever came first). Anything else that came along with the phone was simply a bonus in my books.

Phone Design
The N80 is a slider phone and a first for me as I've only used candybar phones all my life. While there were some complaints about springback problems in slider phones, so far I have not encountered any (or maybe they have remedied it by now). And this is despite opening/closing it several times a day.

The phone is a little bit chunky and is quite possibly the "fattest" phone built by Nokia. Bad news for the ladies - it doesn't fit into the standard mobile phone pockets sewn into handbags nowadays. It would fit into a man's shirt pocket, but then you'd get that hanging pocket look that doesn't exactly endear you to the ladies.

Because of its considerable size, the N80 looks and feels solid and secure. But I read a couple of user reviews that said it was rather delicate - i.e. should not be dropped. I didn't want to damage my precious, so I'm using a crystal case that I got from the vendor for free. The downside? The crystal case bulks it up even more, and feels a wee bit oily to the touch. It also keeps finger and palm prints very well too. Grrrrr.

I have had no problems with the buttons, seeing that I have regular sized fingers and I use a two handed style of texting. But one handed texting works just fine for me too although those with smaller palms might find it harder to reach the buttons on the side. The numerical buttons are lit up with blue light when you activate the phone by opening the spring slider, so you can text in the dark if you want to. My only gripe is the four-way directional button, which is silver and a bit dodgy to touch. It doesn't give a nice feel when you press it to select, and I worry that this button would eventually give out on me one day! (Especially when I use the phone to surf and scroll down a long webpage or something.) But that's just a minor gripe.

The screen is considerably large enough that you don't have to squint at it, and there is a secondary camera on top for video-calls. Because the N80 features a power save mode, there is a flashing blue light to indicate if the phone is on or off. I found the light to be both helpful as well as distracting. It helps me to locate the phone in the dark recesses of my bag, but the blinking blue light was so strong that I could see it dimly through the lining of my bag! Definitely an attention grabber in dark cinema halls. Heh.

On the sides you'll find the Mini SD card slot and dedicated camera button (no zoom button though) and on the back, the main camera. I didn't particularly like the fact that the plastic over lens is unshielded (no external cover) unlike other Nokia designs because you might accidentally scratch it unknowingly.

Operating System
The N80 uses the Series 60 interface, which is a great change from my old phone (even though it was a Nokia too). It took some getting used to and I found myself going around in circles on the menu for the first two days. After I got the hang of it, it wasn't so bad and I quite like the icons and menu setting. There are a number of background themes for you to use or you can choose the option of setting a picture as your wallpaper. I tried that at first, but reverted back to the pre-set background themes because I couldn't read the icons and menu when the picture showed! And maybe it is the reflective nature of the crystal case covering I am using, but I needed to change the light intensity to read the phone outdoors in bright daylight conditions. Works fine indoors and at night though.

On first start-up, I found the operating system sluggish to respond and I reasoned that it was probably because the battery wasn't fully charged then (this was when I was testing it at the vendor). Taking it home for the full 8 hour initial charge helped things somewhat, but until today, I don't feel that the system is running optimally. Opening / closing certain applications like the calendar or notes took a few seconds longer than I imagined it would take. Using similar applications on my mum's new Nokia 3110 Classic (also running the same OS) was significantly faster in comparison. However, the more often I use an application, the faster the phone seems to work.

You'll also want to tweak the menu around so that applications and programs which you use regularly are accessible from the main menu of the phone itself, without having to go into submenu levels. It took over two weeks of trial and error before I had my main screen user-friendly for me and I'm still rearranging some of the icons by number of times used so I can call it up quickly. But then again, different people work differently, so you may not find this affecting your phone usage. I'm still getting used to the different functions that the buttons have even after a month of owning the phone as I occasionally press the wrong button when I intended for something else instead.

Stay tuned for Part Two!

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