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Nokia N80 review

The N80 is a neat little slider with Wi-Fi, 3MP camera, sharp screen and Series 60 operating system

A smartphone is always a compromise between size and usability – but the N80 manages to provide a huge variety of super-smart features without hogging valuable pocket space. It does this by providing a host of entertainment features – MP3 player, FM radio, high-res camera – and excellent synchronisation software so you can have all your work documents plus diary and contact information at hand.

Sweet, sweet synchronisation

In other words, you do your hard work on a PC or Mac, and the N80 just lets you carry that information around with you. Rather than struggling to type on a tiny keyboard, you take photos and emailing them, or browsing your music collection via Wi-Fi – all thanks to the beautifully realised new version of Nokia’s Series 60 software.

This isn’t a radically new idea, of course – but the execution is exquisite. First of all, the ‘N80 features pretty much every flavour of wireless you could want, from GPRS and 3G to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Secondly, it has the finest mobile-phone screen we’ve ever seen.

Nokia has managed to cram an incredible 150,000 brightly coloured pixels into the N80’s 2.1in screen, which means you simply don’t see the dots, no matter how close you get. Run the excellent new Nokia Series 60 browser – based on Apple’s Safari – and you can fit a good deal of a web page onto the postage-stamp sized screen. Scroll around, and a semi-transparent map of the entire webpage is overlaid to show you where you are. It’s gorgeous eye candy, and it really works.

Similarly, the N80 is great for viewing high-quality images and videos taken with the built-in 3megapixel camera, or rendering maps such as the excellent A-Z street plans.

Of course, when it comes to composing emails or writing notes, you’re somewhat limited by the N80’s slide-down numeric keypad. But habitual texters will be able to T9 almost as quickly as they can write on a Blackberry’s full keypad.

More disappointingly, the N80 lacks support for the A2DP protocol, which means you can’t stream stereo music via Bluetooth. But the phone’s real Achilles heel is battery life – spend more than a few minutes surfing via 3G or Wi-Fi and you’ll need to recharge before the day is out. Frankly, we’ll forgive the N80 its lack of battery power, because it’s so powerful elsewhere – and so much more fun than every other smartphone we’ve come across. Until the similarly sized, GPS-enabled N95 is launched in early 2007, that is…

Stuff Says…

Score: 5/5