After spending a few months bonding with my Nokia N85, I now feel comfortable providing a follow-up review of the phone. It’s good news: the honeymoon is not over. Overall I am impressed with the quality of the phone itself, as well as the quality of pictures and video. And the OLED screen still elicits a “WOW” from others when I play videos or sort through photos.
Camera: Still Photos
The N85′s camera has become a substitute for our relatively bulky “real” digital camera. It performs well in high (bright sun) to adequate light. As previously stated, the photography style in which this phone shines is macro. Its optics will auto-focus at a very short distance, allowing photos such as the bug-and-flower picture below.
The primary weakness I have found is the quality of photographs in low light. The dual LED flash supplements dim ambient indoor light, but is not sufficient for a dark area. The resulting images are off-color and grainy. I am not sure whether the xenon flash on the Nokia N82 is significantly better in these situations. I don’t find this a major drawback, as available lighting is adequate most of the time I want a photograph taken. Below I have provided a few examples of lower-light photos.
Video capabilities of the N85 are on par with our “real” 5 MP digital camera. Similar to still photograph performance, the camera does well in adequate light, but videos in poorly lit rooms are grainy. With the 8 GB of space standard on this phone, I don’t have to worry about keeping the videos short. The N85 allows me to capture candid moments with sufficient quality to post a video on YouTube. I doubt any other phone does it better, though you could certainly find newer digital cameras and obviously digital camcorders with better performance.
Somewhat odd perhaps, but I will classify making phone calls under this category. I appreciate the N85 as a camera. As a phone it is sufficient but not exemplary. This may be remedied by eventually reading the instruction manual, but so far I have found no way to reach certain features, such as call logs or profiles (e.g. silent, airplane mode), without a number of click-throughs. It also has a tendency to not alert me to missed calls until far after the fact.
Second caveat is the screen. It is impressive indoors, but almost unusable outside in bright sun. This can make it difficult to take pictures outside, as it’s hard to verify they are in focus.
The N85 obviously does have weaknessess–lack of a touchscreen or full keyboard, internet browsing is difficult, plus those two mentioned above–but overall I am very happy with the phone. My primary motivation was to use it as a more convenient substitute for our traditional digital camera, and in this capacity I think it has exceeded my expectations.Â However, ifÂ texting, e-mail, or web browsing are important, the N85 may not be the best choice.
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