Over 6 months ago I reviewed Nokia’s flagship phone, the N95 8GB, which I thought was fantastic. It was essentially a refresh of the N95 (which I wasn’t enamoured with), fixing the built quality, battery life, and a few other niggly little things that turned me off. Since then the N95 8GB has been my main phone. I was surprised to find myself switching back to it after less than a month of owning the BlackJack II, that’s how much I liked it.
Over the last week I’ve been using the N82, which is basically an N95 inside a candy-bars body. It has a few other hardware tweaks, but is otherwise the same feature-set, which to be honest is a very good thing. The N95 has almost every radio available (HSDPA, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and FM) and an excellent camera, all features shared with the N82.
But it was never the feature-set that bothered me about the N95, it was the case that they were packed into, and I find myself having some concerns with this new model…
The N82 is a standard candy-bar form-factor. No sliding keyboards, no flips, just plain and simple slab with a screen and keypad. While this makes it simple, easy to use, and there is less to go wrong, it does mean that the screen and keyboard have to be made smaller.
The 2.4” display is noticeably smaller than the 2.6″ N95, and considerably smaller than the 2.8” display found on the N95 8GB. This does make the image sharper which is nice, but it is considerably dimmer than either the N95 or N95 8GB. I don’t run my N95 8GB on maximum brightness, typically one stop from max, which is still brighter than the N82.
As you can see the N95 8GB has the nicer display. That said, the iPod Touch kicks its ass 😛
The N82 has retained the 3.5mm headphone jack which is wonderful for people wanting to use the phone as their music player. No stupid adapters are necessary to get nice clear sound into your good quality headphones. The dedicated media buttons from the N95 are gone, but they were useless anyway (would switch to the Music app when pressed).
Along the left side of the phone is the microSD slot (2GB card is included, very nice) and the microUSB. I’ve seen this port on all the Nokia’s I’ve tested recently, and I’m not a fan. Apart from being uncommon, it feels fragile and dangerous. miniUSB was a solid connector, this just isn’t. It’s not like they are using it on this phone to save on thickness.
Which brings me onto the size, which isn’t good. It just feels too chucky and wide for a candy bar phone . It’s only slightly thinner than my N95, but it doesn’t have the excuse of hiding a keypad. Other manufacturers are fitting similar amounts of technology into their handsets without making them this chucky. Nokia’s impending E71 is evidence of that.
Making it wide certainly wasn’t to give it big keys. I mean look at them! They remind me of the keys on my dad’s tiny Nokia 8850 he had a couple of years back. I hated them too. Moving from the massive keys on the N95 to these was not fun. The labels aren’t clear on the reflective metal covering the face on the phone, so it’s like hunting and pecking in the dark.
The battery life seemed to be almost exactly the same as my N95 8GB. I would normally get a day of use out of my N95 8GB (plenty of use between 6.30am and 11pm, HSDPA constantly connected to Exchange), which is the same as what I achieved with the N82. I don’t have a problem with my device only lasting a single day on a charge, as long as it lasts the WHOLE day, which in the case of these phones it does.
I was struggling to figure out why anyone would buy this over the N95 8GB, with it’s bigger screen, better keypad and shorter design, until I pressed the shutter button.
The N95 has a fantastic camera. 5 mega pixels with autofocus, easily the best I’ve used. But by adding a proper flash, it is sensational. Instead of the almost-pointless LED blinker, a proper xenon flash illuminates a dark scene just as good as a regular digital camera. Carrying the N82 is pretty much as close as it gets to having a decent point-and-shoot camera at all times. In fact, I would go as far as to say for most people the N82 could serve full time as a happy-snapper. It can’t possibly compete with a good DSLR, but then again neither can a P&S.
Here is a photo I took with the N82.
After a week of the using the N82, I wasn’t disappointed going back to my N95 8GB. I think it’s better looking, has better buttons and a much nicer display than the N82. However, since it’s guts are largely the same as the N95, and with that xenon flash bolted on, it does make a pretty good all rounder. And from what I gather, it’s a fair bit cheaper as well.
The Nokia N82 can be bought on-contract and SIM free from carriers and stores.
What I Like: Brilliant camera and flash, excellent performance, good battery life, solid build quality
What Needs Improvement: Screen isn’t bright enough, buttons are rather odd, too thick