I’ve been playing with the Nokia N82 Symbian powered smartphone for the past few weeks, and I’ve got to say that this is a gorgeous piece of equipment all round. Regular readers will know I’m an unabashed Nokia fan, so the previous statement is probably no surprise, but even taking into account my obvious pathetic bias, this is quite a beast in many glorious ways.
Now here’s a strange thing. Nokia could only get me a silver version of the handset at first, and for a couple of days I played around with that and enjoyed it. But for some reason the black model they replaced it with later seemed to be a much better phone! How could that be, you ask? Well it beats me, must be something about a colour and design emotional thang. Anyway whatever it is, the new black model N82 is an extremely cool handset. Log that one down to weird (especially since I’m not normally a black gadget kind of person).
So what makes this such a nice phone? Well the specs speak for themselves. High speed broadband (HSDPA) mean blazing fast web browsing, and there’s WiFi on-board as well, so navigating the web is pretty painless. I installed the free Opera Mini browser which is a great piece of code. OK, so nothing beats web browsing on the iPhone with Safari and that lovely large touchscreen, but this is pretty close, especially since the N82 also comes with auto rotation of the screen between portrait and landscape mode, which makes things much more readable.
On-board GPS is also an awesome tool, as I’ve said before. The one disappointment is that I’m not that impressed with Nokia Maps. Especially when you have to subscribe on an annual plan. I quickly ditched that idea and picked up a cheap copy of Route 66 instead (the same navigation software as on the Nokia 6110 Navigator). Glorious (nice review here). The N82 screen is just that bit bigger than the 6110 and it really helps the maps stand out. The only thing is it looks as though Route 66 is having some issues, judging by the fact that their website is suspiciously empty at the moment and they’ve moved their PR to Romania, which is strange for a Dutch based company.
The handset ships with a surprisingly low capacity 1050 mAh battery pack, but actually it’s adequate for the job. I find myself recharging ever two days or so unless I run through a demanding GPS period when a daily charge up is mandatory. A typical mobile day might involve a half hour GPS, music player for an hour and some web browsing and email on the go, which will deplete the battery but not empty it.
The MP3 Music Player on the handset is adequate. It’s not going to win any prizes for functionality, but there are plenty of commercial and freeware alternatives available if you hunt around. One nice feature is the use of a standard mini-jack for the headphone socket, which means that you can use any headset you want to listen to your sounds in glorious stereo.
One of the coolest recent additions to the Nokia N series has been the N-Gage game platform, which means that you can play some pretty excellent games in full high resolution glory on your phone. Make no mistake, having a quick game of FIFA 08 while waiting for a train does make the time pass nicely. Talking about software, it’s the open nature of the Symbian platform in fact that makes for its biggest strength, as far as I’m concerned, and who knows where this will go once Symbian goes Open Source?
It’s just so useful to keep a bunch of software applications installed on the handset for various uses. One thing that is a little weird is using the TV Out connector on the handset to run applications, which makes for a surreal experience. Surfing the web on a 42 inch screen using WiFi on a handheld device with a 2.4 inch screen. Ah well…such is progress eh?
Finally of course, we have to come to the 5 megapixel camera, which has now become my main carry around camera. It’s nowhere near as good as a standalone 5 megapixel digicam of course, because the image quality can be downright weird at times, but for general snapshots out and about I’m absolutely prepared to put up with the strange purple fringing and fuzzy edges for the sheer convenience factor.
And to be fair, most of the time the shots are fine, and easily good enough to print out and keep. The major improvement is that indoor shots are now good enough to print out too, and the video quality is just a fraction less than that of the Flip camcorder. Mobile imaging is really starting to deliver…albeit a little slower than we thought.
Here’s a couple of short video clips from the Flip and N82, taken simultaneously (N82 first, Flip second. Right mouse click on the video image to Play or Stop):
[kml_flashembed movie="http://redferret.s3.amazonaws.com/n82_NEW.swf" height="350" width="270" play="false" /]
[kml_flashembed movie="http://redferret.s3.amazonaws.com/flip_NEW.swf" height="350" width="270" play="false" /]
I’ve not done any tweaking to the following photos except to reduce them to 800×600 for bandwidth purposes.
Conclusion. The Nokia N82 doesn’t really break any new ground, most of the functionality is available in other handsets in one shape or another, and indeed the Nokia N95 offers it all and perhaps a tiny bit more. But what the N82 brings to the table is a powerful all-rounder handset in a pocket friendly and aesthetically pleasant package, which are things the N95 sadly lack.
Combine this with the majestic wealth of Symbian software and you have a great product with some superb options. Could it be improved? Of course, and no doubt we’ll start to see real improvements in battery and camera quality as the race continues, but for now it’s just about the most complete handheld device on the market, bar none.
10 cool and useful freeware programs for your N82 mobile phone:
- Nav4All – free global satellite navigation software
- FIVN Music Player – free music player for Symbian S60
- Syntrax – free 8 track sampler, sequencer, synthesizer
- GCalSync – free Google Calendar synch with your Symbian phone calendar
- Fring – superb free chat and Internet telephone client for mobile phones
- Movamail – excellent free email client
- QReader – free ebook reader
- Calcium – gorgeous looking free calculator
- Metro – free public transit guide for over 400 cities
- S60SpotOn – free utility to turn your screen backlight into a flashlight