After a lot of deliberation, I bit the bullet and purchased a new Nokia N81 slider phone. I got the one with the memory card since the 8GB version was out of stock in almost all the stores I enquired. It cost me Rs 14,500. I tried getting the grey colour model but ended up with Cobalt Blue since grey was fast running out of stock.
I had a Nokia 6233 prior to this and I loved it for two reasons. First, the music was so good on it and second, it could churn out VGA videos at 640 x 480 resolution at amazing clarity.
I have used my new phone for about three weeks now. So let’s get into the details.
The phone is heavier than most phones at 140g. I am OK with it since I like phones that I can hold firmly in my hand. The display is a crisp TFT at 240 x 320 pixels, 2.4 inches supporting 16M colours.
The answer and hang up buttons are placed at the edge making it quite difficult to press them. In fact there are eleven buttons on the top portion of the phone. These include the call and hang up buttons, the four media keys for play/pause, stop, forward and rewind, the D Pad with four buttons and a metallic button that leads right into the gallery.
Call Quality, Messaging and Telephony
As with any Nokia phone, the call quality was good. I had difficulty initially due to the two gaming buttons near the ear piece but have got used to them since.
Messaging was neat and easy as with any S60 series device. There is one catch here. The keypad is extremely flat and takes a lot of time getting used to. Messages can be stored in either phone memory or Mass Memory – the memory card. But I was not able to connect the phone to a PC in Data Transfer mode if I had the messages in the mass storage.
Other telephony apps like Contacts, Logs and the like were as good as one can expect from Nokia
The N81 is being touted as a music and gaming device. So they have it spot on when it comes to the music department. The sound is clear even at higher volumes and with expandable memory it becomes a great device. The music buttons on the top of the phone makes life easy even though they are pretty tightly placed. The greatest advantage this phone has over rivals is it has a standard 3.5 mm jack which would let one use his favourite headphones.
Music management is easy and it is greatly aided by the Navi Wheel which behaves like the scroll wheel on the iPod. The Navi wheel sometimes is way faster as in my phone. But others have complained in a few reviews that it is a pain to use. For me it is just good enough.
The N81 is a n-gage gaming device. It came bundled with three Discover n-gage with three preview games. I had to install the n-gage application to get any full version game.
Battery life is pretty solid even when using the music player, playing games and using the wi-fi. I am able to hold for two days without charging with considerable amount of time spent on all the activities and about an hour of talking.
Camera and Video
The phone has a 2MP camera which is quite low when we account for the price range of this phone. The camera was good in bright daylight but only average indoors. The gallery though is pretty good and navigation is a breeze with the Navi wheel. The gallery is viewed in landscape mode thus making viewing photos and videos a pleasure.
Video is QVGA and 320 x 240 pixels at 15 fps. This is quite low compared to my old model. Also, I was able to play only the videos I had shot with the phone. Videos taken with my old 6233 were not played. I did not try uploading any videos yet.
The phone has other standard features calendar, calculator, converter, file manager and advanced like wi-fi and maps. The wi-fi performance is pretty good. I have not got a chance to check out the maps.
I have been using the phone primarily for telephony, messaging, music and games. So far I feel it has been one great device in spite of the little shortcomings.