Nokia N80 Smartphone Review

Introduction
N80 combines high multimedia and business functionality in an elegant and stylish design with a slider form factor, which helps it keep a relatively small size when closed and be suitable for carrying it in your pocket – something most smartphones fail at. As one of best function rich phones of the N-series, it supports 3G networks with video calling capability, wireless network, a 3-megapixel camera and all this combined with a Symbian operating system turns the handset into a powerful device both for work and fun. People familiar with Nokia's “history” may find out that the N80 resembles the legendary 7650 slider, which ran on a Symbian OS too and was the first phone with a built-in camera. A few years on, the N80 is still using Symbian S60 (a few versions newer) and is one of the first phones in America and Europe to feature a 3-megapixel camera. A standard Nokia N80 package includes the most essential multimedia accessories like headphones (to use with the player and the radio) and a PC connection cable, which is needed when you want to transfer multimedia files between the phone and a PC.







The N80 is the only smartphone in slider form factor by Nokia after the 7650. It's quite stylish but people who have got used to sliders, like Samsung ones for example, will still find it a bit bulky. When closed, it's definitely not the biggest but its thickness and weight are pretty solid, as it's 15% heavier than the N73 and is 65% thicker than the legendary RAZR V3. In spite of this it fits nicely into the hand both closed and opened, and the only thing that annoyed us was that we kept on blocking the view of the camera with our fingers because it is located on the lower slider of the phone. Located on the upper one are the system buttons, the small but high resolution display and the front facing camera for video calls, which can not swivel and is only a 0.3 megapixels.



The 262k color display, which is very bright (it's easy to see even in direct sunlight, and there's no problem when brightness is set to maximum) and displayed images look very detailed thanks to the high resolution (352x416) on the relatively small (2.2”) screen. The system buttons (soft keys, answer/reject, menu, clear, multimedia, edit and the d-pad) are located just below it.



They are large enough and easy to use even without taking a look at the keypad, due to the spacing between them, while the strong tactile response makes sure you've pressed the key. The D-pad is a 5-directional button and despite its relatively small size it's very comfortable to use. Only pressing it at the center is a little harder than we'd like but it's not a problem. Besides the D-pad, only the menu and multimedia keys are comprised in a single button, as pressing it at the left side starts the menu, and at the right – the Multimedia. This enables you to take advantage of the N80's full functionality even when it's closed, while you actually need to open it only when you want to dial a number or enter text.
             
When opening the phone by pushing the slider with a finger, you realize that there's no spring mechanism to aid you, yet, the sliding is smooth and easy. But when you want to close it, you'd better push the upper slider at the top with your other hand because it will be very hard for you to get a good grip on it by using only one of your hands as there's no bump or hole on the front surface to put your finger and make it easier to pull the upper slider towards you – if there was a larger area where you could put your finger and pull the slider, you would not have to touch the display, which we think is very annoying, so we use both hands for closing it to avoid leaving fingerprints on the screen.

The buttons are made of dark grey plastic and they are surrounded by a stylish metallic frame/stripe, which suits very nice to the upper slider's shiny parts. The size of the buttons is slightly bigger than the average one and there's very little spacing between them. The surface of the keyboard is worth mentioning because if you consider it as a whole, it is slightly raised at the skirts and at the center, while the rest is at a lower level. This could be useful to a certain extent but we still made a lot of mistakes when we tried dialing numbers without looking at the keypad. At least there's no possibility that you accidentally press two buttons at a time, because each of them responds only when pressed at the center. The keyboard has a very good tactile response and entering text is fast and easy, while using it in the dark is aided by a blue backlight, which is turned off during the day thanks to a light sensor.



Located on the right is the only side button - the camera shutter key, which can also be used for starting it. It is not lit at all. Typically, located on top (in the middle) of the lower slider is the power button, which acts as a shortcut to Profiles too. It is in black and has an oval form with a metallic ring around it. The microSD cards slot is located on the left side of the phone and it has an elegant cap that covers it, while the eye of the infrared port is located on top of the upper slider.



At the bottom of the phone everything is as usual for a Nokia phone – there's the pop-up port and a strap holder hole, while at the back of the phone are only the 3-megapixel camera, its LED flash and a mechanical switch for Macro-Landscape mode. The whole module is designed in the shape of a small circle, which contrasts to the dark grey plastic around it with its silver color. The back part of the phone, including the battery cover is very solid and there are no annoying noises even when you put pressure on it. The only thing about the N80's construction which bothers us is the upper slider, which is not stable enough when closed and even slightly wobbles horizontally when opened.       


   



Interface:

N80 is a phone running on Symbian Operating System with S60 interface with version v.9.1, which is the latest one up to now – so it's similar to other phones by the manufacturer, like the N73 and E70 for example.  This version of the S60 interface allows for various resolutions of the displays (mediocre 176x208 used in earlier Nokia smartphones and the new bigger 240x320 QVGA or 352x416), which helps for better image quality, as well as for more convenient internet browsing, where the resolution is more important than the physical size of the display. Another cool extra is the support of using the whole operating system in landscape mode of the display – something that has been successfully done in Windows Mobile for Pocket PCs a long time ago.

At the top of the homescreen are displayed a clock and the date, as well as the usual signal strength and battery, while the name of the carrier or Offline can be seen in the middle. This Offline tag is seen when the phone function of the device is switched off and it operates only as an “organizer”, which is suitable for use in planes. Located below these is a row of six shortcuts which can be personalized to best suit you. The rest of the screen is used for displaying missed calls, new received messages, upcoming tasks (or To-Do in the calendar), as well as the song played at the moment. The various capabilities of this Active Desk can be set to serve you best. It is similar to a well-personalized today screen of a Pocket PC with Windows Mobile OS and is really useful and pleasant to use, so it saves a lot of time by reducing the movement through the menus. There are the two software buttons at the bottom of the screen and they can also be personalized from the Settings menu.     

Active desk
Grid view
Options
List view
Using themes
Using themes

The main menu is displayed as 3x4 grid of icons or as a list, which is chosen directly from the main menu, but unfortunately neither of these view modes features animated icons. Using the keypad buttons as shortcuts is much better than with version 6 of the S60 interface. But there's still a lot of room for improvement as the menu not always consists of 12 icons (they can be more or less) and scrolling up/down displays different ones that should be associated with the keypad – but they're not. If you press 3 while at the highest part of the grid, you'll select the icon located at the top right corner. But if you scroll down to reveal the other icons in this menu, pressing the 3 button will still open the afore-mentioned menu, not the one currently located at the top right of your screen; so these shortcuts only relate to the first 12 icons in a particular menu, while the rest (if there are any) remain without any shortcuts. If a button's function is dynamic and corresponds to the grid in the menu, you can click the button for a given menu without even thinking about it. Thus, you save the time you usually need to “walk around” the menus, using the joystick. 
    
By combining various themes, screensavers and personalized home screens, two identical phones can actually look quite different. We can definitely say that the operating system provides a lot of useful personalization options, so it can be compared to the most advanced system, according to us – WM for Pocket PCs.

Phonebook:

The Contacts menu is almost the same as the one in the older version of the S60 interface. All the contacts are displayed as a list and if there's a picture ID, it can be seen in the top left corner of the screen as a thumbnail with a very small size when you select the contact. It's the same when you have an incoming call and that's why we find this feature useless. If you want to find a contact, you type in directly from the keypad and searching is done for the whole name, not only the first one. If you want to edit a contact , you can only change the already defined fields. For adding more information you need to select the Add Detail menu. When adding a new contact you are provided with the “basic” fields, but with the “Add Detail” function you have almost no restrictions on the fields and their number and you can add a lot of phone numbers.   

Tiny CallerID

Similar to the other S60 smartphones, the N80 has a set of voice commands that are speaker independent so you don't have to do any “training” with any of them, which would save you a lot of precious time. The “recognizer” is activated by holding the right soft key and then you say the name from the phonebook to be dialed. Names like “Father”, “Brother”, “test”, “John” and “Neo” were no problem, but we had no success with others like “Amy” for example.
The voice commands can activate various programs or perform different functions, like “New SMS” for example, but a list with different capabilities must be added to the menu - not all of them are added by default so that they're easier to recognize with any speaker. By adding only the ones you need you can achieve best possible accuracy without the annoying training – and it works, the voice commands were very accurate and we rarely experienced mistakes when launching applications.

Besides the Voice Control, the N80 can also save voice notes with the integrated Recorder, but oddly this feature is limited as the there's a maximum of one minute (60 seconds) which makes it totally useless.However, third party software should improve this functionality.




Organizer:

The Organizer is spread into different submenus – the calendar is located in the main menu for example. It can be viewed by month or week and you can easily add notes to a particular day with a few clicks; To-Do notes and Meetings are also displayed on the homescreen if the corresponding option is turned on (see Interface). Each entry in the calendar can be assigned and alarm to.


Other options like Calculator, Notes, Converter are located in the Office menu. Notes are just annotations with no option for adding an alarm like the To-Do notes. The Converter works with various quantities (Length, Weight, etc.) but the interface has not changed much if we compare it to older versions. Working with various types is still uncomfortable, as entering different values requires a movement from one row to another which is quite slow, while types are chosen from a drop-down list that usually takes a lot of time to unfold. The calculator has no scientific option – something that the lower level 6131 had. Alarms are housed in a third menu – Clock. The alarm is actually only one and you set it for a particular hour, as Symbian S60 has no capability for duplication, unless third party software is used. The World Clock is also located in this menu and the way it's used differs from standard one where you “move across the world map". Here you can add various cities that you like to view, which is very convenient and saves a lot of time.

Normal Clock
Alarm
World Clock

Nokia has added third party software that comes with every smartphone and that's a way to broaden the phone's capabilities – you have QuickOffice which helps you out with the most frequently used document types – the ones from the Microsoft Office package. Unfortunately, the Office is still only a “viewer” and you cannot do any editing with it which is a major drawback. When viewing Word files, you can stylize the text by using various colors, highlighting, italic, bold and underline, but some Powerpoint files do not display properly. During the tests we opened two presentations, and the one with the white background was displayed, whereas the color one (a MS Powerpoint preloaded one) could not load the background image. A simple Excel document could also be viewed, but when we tried opening more complex ones (various colors, a lot of columns and sheets), they just could not visualized, so the application looked practically useless.

Office
Word
PowerPoint
PowerPoint

The Tools menu houses the integrated File Manager which we would've liked to feature an improved navigation too. Unlike PPC phones, it does not resemble the explorer we know from PCs and working with files is not quite fast.

Messaging:

The Messages menu has nothing new to offer –SMS/MMS and e-mails are easy to compose, while in My Folder you can find some templates which are very useful for that for text that is often used in messages. The T9 should help you enter text quickly, whereas the EDGE connection is a big plus when working with Emails, as well as the fast UMTS (or local Wi-Fi) which hugely reduces the time for waiting.

MMS
Adding image
MMS
Inbox
Retrieving
Spam email
Writing email
Writing email

Connectivity:

The N80 offers a lot of ways for establishing a connection and communication with other devices, both nearby and distant ones. Of course, there's an option for connecting the phone to a PC via a USB cable and it can be found in the package, as well as the Nokia PC Suite software. The phone can be recognized as a mass storage device but when used in this mode, the GSM receiver function is switched off.



For connectivity with nearby devices you can use the infrared technology, which is quite outdated and is rarely included in newer phone models. You can also use its “successor” – Bluetooth, which is a bit “old” too, as its version is 1.2 and multimedia profiles like A2DP are not supported. Something that differentiates the N80 from most other phones it the Wi-Fi -- a wireless network standard, which enables the phone to get access to the Internet via local networks, which can be found in many places called “Hot spots”. This not only provides a free Internet connection but also offers much higher theoretical speeds than EDGE, which for example is the data technology T-Mobile USA uses. The N80 is a quad-band GSM device with global roaming and for over-the-air data transfers it has both the GPRS/EDGE and the UMTS 3G standard support, which unfortunately works only on Europe's 2100 MHZ frequency. Nokia is expected to launch a US version of the device, which will have dual-band 850/1900 MHz UMTS support, but it's still not certain when it will be released and whether this will happen at all.     
 
Like the rest of the Symbian v9,1 S60 3rd edition interface phones, the N80 has a great Internet browser, which can display properly even very complicated web pages that are not designed for viewing with a mobile phone. We connected to our Work Network via the Wi-Fi and surfed PhoneArena, and by loading the RSS address we managed to easily take a quick look the latest news without generating too much traffic. Major advantages of the this browser are the easy scrolling with the mini-map that shows which part of the page you are currently viewing, and the History, which displays the rest of the pages you have visited as separate lists that you can choose from. Thus, we were able to see that we have also loaded Google and the PhoneArena page at YouTube, where we did not manage to stream a flash video, but that's something we were not able to do with a WM 5 PPC phone too.       

Bookmarks
RSS
RSS Loaded
Normal HTML
History
History
History



Camera:

N80 is the first Nokia phone to feature a 3-megapixel camera – it is located on the back of the lower slider. Unlike the N73 and N93 models which followed, the autofocus is missing here, as well as the Carl Zeiss branded lens; the interface is slightly changed too and it's not as comfortable as the other two models, as navigation is made harder due to the need to move through more menus. Starting the camera is done by holding the button located on tfhe right side of the phone and it takes only about 3 seconds which is quick, compared to most other phones (4 seconds for N73 and K800). Shooting with the camera is also faster, because you don't have to wait for focusing as the phone has a fixed-focus and the picture is taken almost immediately after pressing the button, and you can take the next shot after 4.5 seconds (5.5 for N73 and 6.5 for K800).     

The 3-megapixel camera on the back
Shooting with flash on

What the N80's camera suffers from is the fixed-focus. Although most of the images had saturated and nearly realistic colors, good exposure and detail, they were often out of focus and so - looking blurry. Most of the Macros were fine, thanks to the hardware switch on the back though. Indoors, the noise takes up huge part of the photos and covers all of the detail, but in our opinion it is better than the noise-reduction system of the N73. Compared to the latter, it is worse in taking night-photos and there's noise all over them, but the night portraits are fine as the LED flash is strong and bright.

Nokia N80Canon SD200

The interface is in landscape mode and there is a line of indicators to the right but no shortcuts, unlike the N73. The digital zoom is used by pressing the “up/down” directions (left/right – in normal mode), whereas by pressing the “left” direction you enter the Image Setup menu, which enables you to set the Shooting Mode, Flash, White balance, exposure, Color Tone and Sharpness/Brightness/Contrast/Color Saturation. By using the soft buttons you can get access to even more options, as the camera can take pictures in five different resolutions (form VGA (0.3) to 3 megapixels). When taking videos, you can choose the quality between three options: 3GP - planned to be used for sending video via the phone, one for watching and MP4 - the best quality and MB per minute, as the resolution in this case is CIF 352x288 pixels.    

Normal mode
Photo taken
Setup
Setup
Macro mode
Setup
Video mode
Setup

Audio:

The package of the phone includes headphones, but music can also be played through its speakerphone. The music player has the same interface as the one  in other Symbian S60 phones (E50 and N73 for example). It's really uncomfortable and quite inconvenient to use, as the displayed playback buttons are so small that you have to stare at them to see what each  one is for, and you can only use the latter by moving in the up and down directions – very impractical. The Music Library menu allows you to sort the songs by Artist, Album, Genre, Composer, while we find the Track Lists option to be an interesting idea as it allows you to select the most played songs for example. Playing music in background mode, while using the phone for something else, is flawless thanks to the multitask capabilities of the smartphone. Meanwhile, the song that's currently played and the time elapsed are displayed on the homescreen and by pointing at it you can easily adjust the sound volume of the player without even opening it but pausing or changing to the next track this way is impossible. It would've been handy if the N80 had music-dedicated keys so you could easily control the music player.

The sound quality during music playback is not what one would expect of a high-end multimedia phone – even the stereo headphones that come with the phone, didn't produce any decent bass and the middle and high frequencies' quality was very low. – unfortunately it is hard to connect decent hi-fi headphones to the phone, and you have to search for Nokia adaptor (Pop-up Port to 3.5mm jack). It's sad that it is not in the box, as it was with Sony Ericsson W810 and LG Chocolate KG800.

Software:

The phone can use applications based both on the Java platform and Symbian S60, which provides wide 3rd party software compatibility like any other smartphone. Installation is a piece of cake, while additional programs increase the software's capabilities very much and thus it can be personalized to better suit you. The phone comes with some applications, as well as a game, called Snakes, which is a 3D version of the well known from other Nokia phones game. In addition there are some boring card games. N80 has about 60MB of internal memory (less for the user) and you must expand it with a miniSD card to take make use of  the phone's various capabilities and functionality. The memory expansion slot is housed at the left side of the phone and is covered with solid plastic cap, which opens very smoothly but still stands nice into place. However, it is almost hidden and does no harm to the design of the handset, although it is all alone on the left side.

Movie maker


Performance:

Nokia N80's performance is similar to other Symbian phones by the manufacturer: the navigation speed in the menus is like the one of the N73, and there is some annoying lagging occasionally, which is typical for such phones. The signal strength is at about the average level, and the N80 failed the test when we went down into an area with no coverage, just like the N73 did. The sound quality during a call is also the same – loud and clear sound, but not quite real, as the high frequencies are muffled and the voice sounds too deep.

Conclusion:

As a multimedia device, the N80 doesn't stand out of the crowd with its common 3-megapixel camera and small display, but it combines fun, functionality and style in one, being one of the best-looking smartphones on the market today. Supporting Email client, brilliant internet browser, UMTS, and Wi-Fi makes it a powerful business device as well.



Pros

  • Symbian S60 Operating System.
  • Integrated Wi-Fi.
  • Flawless Internet browser .
  • Stylish design.

Cons

  • Bulky size.
  • Non-autofocus camera is not the best when compared to other 3-megapixel phones .
  • Too few dedicated keys (camera, music).
  • No spring mechanism for the slider.

PhoneArena Rating:

7.6

User Rating:

8.6
34 Reviews

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