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Nokia N86

>> Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The overall look of Nokia N86 8MP isn't too different from Nokia N series models of the past, but a closer examination of the phone reveals some nice improvements. For one, Nokia N86 has a higher quality build and a more solid feel than any of its other N siblings, thanks to new hardware refinements like metal edges and tempered glass on the face of the device. The one trade off is the phone is slightly heavier at 5.2 ounces (compare that with Nokia N85's 4.5 ounces). That said, we're willing to deal with those extra tenths of an ounce if it means having a more durable, sturdy handset.

Plus, Nokia N86 is still fairly compact, all things considered, measuring 4 inches tall by 2 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick in its closed state. Other areas of improvement include the slider itself and the phone's buttons. Starting with the former, Nokia N86 features a dual slider design just like N85 and Nokia N96. The difference is that the sliding mechanism on Nokia N86 is stronger than the others, so the screen doesn't fidget or move when you're simply trying to handle the phone or use the navigation controls below the display.

In fact, you have to give the screen quite a forceful push downward to access the dedicated multimedia and gaming controls. Meanwhile, sliding the screen up reveals the alphanumeric keypad. Nokia N86 8MP is slightly heavier than N85, but it also has a higher quality build. Speaking of which, both the dialpad and the media buttons are much easier to press, thanks to the fact that the keys are now raised above the surface and have spacing between them.

They're also easy to see in darker environments with the bright backlighting and lime green and white coloring. We have mixed feelings about the navigation controls below the display. The array consists of the standard soft keys, Talk and End buttons, a main menu shortcut, a back button, and navigation toggle, and like the others, the controls are now elevated instead of being flush with the surface, so they don't feel as stiff, and the phone doesn't creak when you press down on them as it did on N85.

Our only thing is we're just not huge fans of the tiny buttons. Nokia N86's dialpad is much easier to use than its predecessor's since the buttons are raised above the phone's surface. Above the navigation controls is a 2.6 inch Active Matrix OLED (AMOLED) nontouch display. While not a touch screen, the AMOLED display helps provide a sharper picture with better contrast and draws less power than regular LCDs. However, we wish it was slightly higher resolution since the QVGA (320x240) screen doesn't look quite as smooth as its competitors.

On the bright side, the smartphone has a built-in accelerometer, which was quick to change screen orientation when we rotated the phone. Like most Nokia handsets, you can customize the home screen with various themes and wallpaper, and also adjust the backlight. On top of the device, you'll find the power button, a 3.5 millimeter headset jack, and a Micro-USB port. The left side houses a slider lock switch and on the right, there's a volume rocker and the camera activation or capture button.

The camera is located on the back and the lens is protected by a sliding cover. There's also a flash and a kickstand that you can use to rest the phone on a flat surface while watching videos or slide shows. We thought the kickstand felt a bit flimsy, however, so take care not to be too forceful with it. Last but not least, you'll find the microSD expansion slot behind the battery door on the right side. Nokia N86 came packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired headset and remote, a software DVD, and reference material. For more add ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.

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