Sony Ericsson’s head must be getting sore, such is the length of time it’s been wearing the King of Camphones crown. Its chief Cyber-shot, the K850i, takes photos with keen detail and accurate colours, but Nokia’s 5MP N82 is here to challenge it to a Las Vegas shoot-out.

Not only is the N82 the first Nokia phone to feature a Xenon flash, it also serves up a feature set to rival even the N95 8GB. In fact, apart from having to play memory catch-up via an 8GB microSDHC card, this Symbian smartie is very much the match of its vaunted cousin.  

Nokia’s best camphone

Like the N95 8GB, the N82 will seduce you with its power rather than catwalk chic. It’s not the most compact handset, but is a solid, overly buffed silver upgrade of the N73. This means there’s space for a stunning 2.4in display and a tiny lozenge keypad design cribbed from the Sony Ericsson W880i. But don’t fret – this one’s spacious and a treat to thumb.

The entire Carl Zeiss camera arrangement is identical to the N95 but is naturally boosted by the Xenon flash. It works brilliantly in indoor and low lighting conditions, delivering stunning quality snaps, high in vivid colouring and there’s even a red-eye setting should your portraits begin to resemble the Omen incarnate. Elsewhere, video captures at VGA quality and purrs at 30fps for the slickest footage you’ll currently see on a mobile phone.

Nokia hasn’t missed a trick with the N82, rigging it with the mobile feature du jour – accelerometer motion sensors. Apart from the homescreen you can automatically view anything in landscape mode simply by rotating the phone. It’s not iPhone fluid but it’s smooth and alert enough.

Music geek

Happily, the N82 hasn’t skimped on the music front either, obliging with an integrated 3.5mm headphone jack and Stereo Bluetooth support. With a six-mode equaliser and customisable settings you’ll easily find the right sound for your music tastes and audio quality is really meaty and dynamic, especially if you plug in your Sennheisers. The N82 is also dutifully compatible with Nokia’s Music store so you can download full tracks over the built-in Wi-Fi or HSDPA.

With support for Assisted-GPS, the N82 also adds sat-nav to its increasingly arcing bow. Nokia Maps are embedded and the sputnik fix from a cold start was quicksmart. The navigation performance was equally road worthy but while it won’t reach the feature heights of dedicated systems it’s still an incredible boon at his level.

Unlike the N81, this N’er isn’t geared for playing the more intricate N-Gage titles, but for simple games like the urban racing Asphalt 3: Street Rules, the five-way rocker switch is responsive and strong enough to handle the action. The keypad, though, is just too fiddly for epic gaming sessions.

Well juiced

Battery life is a vast improvement on the juice drain of the original N95. Surf the internet or hit the road with the sat-nav for long periods and you’re looking at an everyday charge but using the music player and the camera intermittently will give you much longer. Our review sample also showed the Symbian OS to be far more stable and reactive than previous Nokia smarties.

Nokia always gives features and functionality precedent over style and the N82 lucks out in the looks department. But what you do get is a blisteringly smart, feature flush ‘multimedia computer’ that also rivals the finest camera phones. The Sony Ericsson K850i et al had better watch their step.

Stuff says... 

Nokia N82 review

It won’t get the style hounds cooing with delight, but the N82 is a powerful smartie and undoubtedly Nokia’s best ever camphone