Key info boxout
Price £from free with monthly contract / £530 pay as you go
Lens: Fixed focus, 35mm equivalent, f/3.5
Memory: 40Mb internal, 128Mb Mini-SD card
Battery and claimed battery life: Lithium ion, up to 192 hours standby
Contact: 0870 055 5777
Web site address www.nokia.co.uk
When is a phone not a phone? When it’s a ‘multimedia computer’,
according to Nokia. The Finnish phone giant wants us to stop thinking of its products
as telephones with gadgets attached, and start embracing a new wireless, connected
future. If that all sounds a bit high tech, you’re right: the N80 is one
of the most advanced ‘devices formally known as phones’ ever made.
Starting with the traditional features, the N80 is a compact sliding handset that can work as either a normal 2G or a new 3G mobile. The 2.1-inch full colour screen is simply superb – sharp enough to support some rather tiny text and icons, but bright and colourful. The keypad is large and the interface well up to Nokia’s usual standards – you can fire up the camera by holding the dedicated capture button, for example.
Photo features are pretty good. While the N80 isn’t autofocus, it does have a manual macro/infinity switch on the lens itself. The landscape-format framing is intuitive, although it doesn’t use quite the whole screen and there’s still some lag in keeping up with camera movement. You’ve got a good selection of scene modes, including Night modes with and without flash (a decent enough LED) and even a high sensitivity (and high noise) Candlelight mode. A burst mode captures three shots in as many seconds, with LED illumination if necessary, or you can set interval timer for up to 15 minutes.
Image quality is on a par with budget standalone cameras: strong colours and even exposure, with distortion at the edges and not a huge amount of detail. The 3MP images print out fine at 10x15cm, though, and we even pushed a simple scene to A4 without it looking too shabby.
But where the N90 really shines is in its connectivity and digital features. Not only does it have Bluetooth and an easily accessible mini-SD card, but the N80 is the first phone with Wi-Fi technology built in. That means you can beam images straight to your PC or even, using the forthcoming UPnP standard, to wireless media servers attached to your TV and hi-fi. Even better, the N80 comes with a truly amazing web browser that makes surfing a doddle – letting you upload images to websites or log on to commercial hotspots in cafés and airports.
For full multimedia action, the N80 has a built-in music player (supporting iTunes and Windows Media formats), a stereo radio and video capture and playback. Voice calls sound good – and as the Nokia is basically a PDA-style computer, you should soon be able to run software like Skype to make completely free voice calls over its internet connection.
For once, the hype is justified: the N80 really is more of a multimedia computer than a phone. But Nokia’s real success is keeping such a fearsomely complicated beast (relatively) under control. If you want to explore the depths of wireless connectivity and online working, it’s there to discover. If instead you just want a small 3G handset with a ground-breaking camera, the N80 is powerful without being confusing, and should be future-proof for years.
It’s a 3.2MP camera, it’s a music player, it’s a computer, it’s phone. Nokia crosses more boundaries than bird flu to bring you a stunning handset that’s the first must-have of the 3G age.
Build quality: 5
Value for money: 4
Ease of use 4