Feeds
83%

Nokia N81 8GB smartphone

You wait ages for an 8GB Nokia then three come along at once

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The N81 comes with a decent helping of 3G and smartphone features, and you can add further Symbian S60 applications. Video calling is present and correct, and there’s a RealPlayer multimedia player for viewing downloaded or PC-transfered video content. This can look great in landscape mode. The camera on the Nokia N81 is, however, a pretty average affair.

The two-megapixel camera has dedicated on-button access and a user interface that’s fairly intuitive. A reasonable set of tweaks can be made to the settings. But the pictures we took were patchy, and sometimes the colour rendition lurched from acceptable to disappointingly poor. The fixed-focus lens can produce decent snaps up to 5 x 7in in size, but close-up quality is limited and images are often soft.

Nokia N81 smartphone
Still photography is OK, but video works better

Not, then, Nokia’s best effort by a long way. Video capture is better than average for a cameraphone, recording in VGA quality (640 x 480) at 15 frames per second.

You can upload stills and video with a couple of clicks to Flickr and Vox, and then there's Nokia’s Lifeblog application, which can automatically timeline texts, messages, notes, pics, videos and so on, and allow you to upload them to a blog or transfer them to your PC.

Although there’s no GPS receiver, the N81 does come with Nokia Maps software, which can work with a Bluetooth GPS receiver if you have one. Web surfing is taken care of by the Nokia Web Browser, which works as swiftly as you’d expect on Wi-Fi and fairly smartly too on 3G. The device also supports email with attachments. As usual with Nokia S60 smartphones, you get a good selection of personal information apps, calendar, notes, calculator and PDF reader.

Nokia claims the N81 can run for up to 17 days on standby, with a talktime quoted at four hours on GSM and three hours on UMTS 3G networks. We found the battery to be a heavyweight contender in this respect, requiring infrequent recharges in regular usage. To make the most out of its music and gaming facilities, though – which presumably someone forking out for an 8GB phone will do - regular charging will be required. Music playback time is estimated at up to 11.5 hours, while thumb-tapping gamers can expect six hours' play from the battery pack. Call performance was excellent.

Verdict

If you’re looking for plenty of track storage in a smartphone, the N81 is a lower-cost alternative to the N95 and, indeed, Apple’s iPhone. It doesn’t come with the same wealth of functionality as the N95 – no GPS and a lower quality camera than the N95’s five-megapixel job. The design's slick but the plastic casing gives the N81 a cheap feel. And while the controls are cluttered and definitely not as ergonomic as they could be the music player performance is excellent.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

83%

Nokia N81 8GB smartphone

It's cheaper than the N95, but not as feature filled. Makes a very nice music phone, though...
Price: Contract: from free to £220. Handset only: £360 RRP

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Tim Cook: The classic iPod HAD to DIE, and this is WHY
Apple, er, couldn’t get the parts for HDD models
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring
Back to driving's basics with a joyously legal high
Back to the ... drawing board: 'Hoverboard' will disappoint Marty McFly wannabes
Buzzing board (and some future apps) leave a lot to be desired
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.