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Nokia N review: Nokia N

Nokia N

Bonnie Cha Former Editor
Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.
Bonnie Cha
7 min read

The Nokia N82 is just the latest Nokia N series model to come across our desk, and like the rest of the bunch, it's quite impressive. It has a feature set similar to the Nokia N95, with a couple of additions and omissions. Like the N95, the N82 has a 5-megapixel camera but it also includes a Xenon flash that makes a world of difference, as it produced amazing photos and videos. The Symbian smartphone continues to offer Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, and it's a solid performer to boot. With all that going for it, it's really a bummer that the N82 has such a horrible design. The hardware feels a bit cheap, and the navigation buttons leave much to be desired. We're also disappointed by the lack of U.S. 3G support. All that said, you can work around the design flaws, and if your main focus is getting a high-end multimedia smartphone, the Nokia N82 fits the bill. An unlocked version of the Nokia N82 is available through Nokia's Web site for $564, though you can probably find it for a bit cheaper with a little online shopping research.


Nokia N

The Good

The Nokia N82 features a 5-megapixel camera that produces high-quality photos and videos. The Symbian smartphone also has integrated Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and good call quality.

The Bad

The N82's hardware feels a bit cheap, and the dialpad and navigation controls are cramped and difficult to use. It also doesn't support U.S. 3G bands and it's pricey.

The Bottom Line

The Nokia N82 has some annoying design flaws and lacks 3G support, but our lasting impression of the N82 is of a powerful multimedia smartphone with an excellent imaging capabilities and solid performance.

We're just going to come right and say it: we're not huge fans of the Nokia N82's design. At first glance, the candybar style phone looks attractive enough with its silver face, and it's fairly compact at 4.4 inches tall by 1.9 inches wide by 0.6 inch deep and 4 ounces. However, the hardware just feels a bit cheap and plasticky.

The Nokia N82 looks nice from afar, but we actually found the hardware a bit cheap.

The worst offender, though, may be the navigation controls and alphanumeric dialpad. The number keys are tiny little slivers that are even difficult for my small hands. Plus, they're not very comfortable, so text messaging wasn't very pleasant. You also get the standard navigation array of two soft keys, Talk and End buttons, shortcuts to the main and multimedia menus, a clear button, and a navigation toggle. However, the multimedia key is like the number buttons, and it was hard to press just the center OK button without moving the rest of the toggle.

The N82's dialpad and navigation controls are cramped and difficult to use.

The N82 features a 2.4-inch nontouch display that shows 16.7 million colors at a 320x240 pixel resolution, making for quite a pleasant viewing experience. There's also an ambient light detector to automatically adjust the brightness of the screen based on your current environment, so screen visibility was quite good. For personalization, you can add various background images and themes and adjust the font size.

On the right spine, you'll find two speakers (at the top and bottom), a volume rocker, a shortcut to your photo gallery, and a camera activation/capture button. Meanwhile, there's a micro USB port, a microSD expansion slot, and a power connector port on the left side. We would have preferred a mini USB port since that's more of a standard right now. There is a power button and a 3.5mm headphone jack on top of the unit. Finally, the camera lens and flash are located on the back, and the lens is protected by a sliding cover.

The Nokia N82 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, video-out cables, a 2GB microSD card, a wired headset, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.

As with all N series smartphones, the Nokia N82 is a multimedia powerhouse, though there's a bit more focus on the imaging aspect. Like the Nokia N95, it's equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, a Xenon flash, and up to 10x digital zoom (4x for VGA). The amount of editing options and settings on the N series phones surpass those of any smartphone we've tested recently. For still images, there are five image qualities, eight scene modes, and five color tone options. There are also controls for white balance, exposure, sharpness, contrast, and light sensitivity.

The N82 features a 5-megapixel camera with a Xenon flash.

The N82 can capture video at a maximum VGA resolution (640x480) at 30 frames per second, and there's a video stabilization functionality to reduce any camera shakes. As usual, you get less options in video mode, but you still have five video qualities, two scene modes, and white balance and color tone settings. Once done with photos and videos, you can upload them directly to your blog or the Web or send them via multimedia message or e-mail. There's about 100MB of internal memory and a microSD expansion slot for storing all your photos and videos, and other multimedia files.

Picture quality was amazing with sharp definition and good color tones.

We have to say picture quality was absolutely impressive. It may be the addition of the Xenon flash, but the N82 produced better photos than the Nokia N95; images were extremely sharp but we were mostly happy that the colors actually looked true to life. Video quality was also great.

If you'd like to watch other videos, you can use RealPlayer to check out 3GPP and MPEG-4 files. For some ear snacks, the integrated music player supports MP3, WMA, W4A, AAC, AAC+, and eAAC+ files, as well as OMA DRM 2.0- and WM DRM-protected songs. The music library categorizes tracks by artists, albums, genres, and composers; you can also create playlists right on the phone and adjust the sound with the built-in equalizer. You can listen to your favorite podcasts using the N81, and there's an FM radio. Just be aware that the latter requires the use of the included headset since it acts as the tuner. The N82 also works with Nokia's Ovi Internet services, which include the Nokia Music Store, N-gage games, and Nokia Maps.

Switching to voice features, the N82 offers quad-band world roaming, a speakerphone, speed dial, conference calling, voice-command support, a vibrate mode, and text and multimedia messaging. The phone's address book is only limited by the available memory (the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts), and each entry can hold multiple phone numbers, work and home addresses, e-mail addresses, birthday, and more vitals. For caller ID purposes, you can assign each contact a photo, one of 34 ringtones, or a group ID.

Wireless options on the N82 include Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi, and GPS. The smartphone supports a number of Bluetooth profiles, including mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets, hands-free kits, dial-up networking, and file transfer. Sadly, the N82 does not support U.S. HSDPA bands (only the European 2100MHz band--boo), so you're stuck with EDGE. You do get integrated Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) as an alternative, and our review unit had no problem finding and connecting to our test access point. As with other N series phones, the N82 supports Universal Plug and Play, which lets you use a Wi-Fi connection to hook up with a compatible PC, printer, or home entertainment system, but the number of UPnP devices is limited at the moment.

If you're a bit directionally challenged, you might feel a little better knowing there's integrated GPS. Nokia Maps comes preloaded on the device, so you get color maps, route planning, and a healthy points-of-interest database. However, to get any kind of turn-by-turn directions, you'll have to download an upgrade to the device. There are several options for purchase, including a one-year license for $125.77 or a one-month license for $13.96.

Last but not least, the N82 runs the third edition of the S60 platform on the Symbian operating system for your productivity needs. An application called QuickOffice lets you view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, and it optimizes the pages for the phone's screen, so you don't have to scroll all over the place to read text. There are some nice shortcuts to jump to the top or bottom of the page to reduce the up-and-down scrolling, and there's also a search function. However, if you want any editing capabilities, you'll have to upgrade the preloaded copy of QuickOffice. For messaging, the smartphone supports IMAP4, POP3, and SMTP e-mail accounts and comes with a full attachment viewer. The N82 works with a number of push e-mail solutions, as well as Microsoft Exchange Server synchronization, but this is dependent upon your service provider and company's e-mail solution, so check with your IT department if you have any questions. Other productivity applications and PIM tools include Adobe Reader, a Zip manager, a calculator, a notepad, a measurement converter, a clock, and a voice recorder.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS/EDGE) Nokia N82 in San Francisco using AT&T service and call quality was good. We enjoyed clear sound without much background noise or voice distortion. We also had no problems using our bank's automated voice-response system. On the other end, friends were also impressed with the clarity. Audio took a bit of a hit in quality when we activated the speakerphone. There was some background hiss, but more than that, voices sounded a bit tinny. Finally, we were able to successfully pair the N82 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Active Headphones.

General performance was good. We found the N82 to be more responsive than the N95 with less of a delay when launching or switching between applications. Our patience did get tested a little when trying to browse Web sites using EDGE speeds and waiting for the phone to get a GPS fix. It took about 7 minutes for the N82 to get a lock on our location, and it took a while for maps to redraw as we moved about town. Multimedia performance was good. Music sounded decent through the phone's speakers, though a bit one sided. Thanks to the 3.5mm headphone jack, we were able to enjoy better audio with our Shure E3c earbuds. Admittedly though, we missed having the dedicated media buttons that the N95 has. Videos looked fairly clear with some slight pixelation, but picture and sound were always synchronized.

The Nokia N82's 1,050 mAh lithium ion battery has a rated talk time of 4.3 hours and up to 9 days of standby time. In our battery-drain tests, we were able to get 5.5 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the N82 has a digital SAR rating of 0.78 watt per kilogram.


Nokia N

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 8Performance 8