The world of mobile technology moves at a break-neck speed, and 2009 is an interesting year in that it represents the hand-over from older technologies to the newer designs; mobile phones to smartphones, physical input to touchscreens. Nokia's N86 8MP is a classic old-guard smartphone, packing connectivity and high-resolution shooting that reads on paper like Nokia's game-changing N95, only better. That said, it isn't 2007. Can we keep loving old-school designs with so many sleek touchscreens littered across our desks?
Looking at the N86 is an experience tinged with deja vu. It looks like the N95 8GB, but sleeker with rounder corners and a smaller screen. It tells the story of where Nokia has been over the last two or three years, but hints at nothing of the future — there isn't a hint of the iPhone in sight. In some ways this is a godsend, but the N86 is hardly the phone you tug out of your pocket at the pub to coos of awe and jealousy. It looks like a mobile phone you've seen countless times before.
Though it lacks the punch of wow-factor, the N86 is a well refined handset. Ergonomically it feels great, it fits comfortably in our hand, it slides open easily with a gentle thumb-push, and the keyboard under the slide is one of Nokia's best in a long time — the keys are individually set and raised so you'll have no trouble texting in the dark.
There's a 3.5mm headphone jack for folks who demand that the socket plugs into their Bose headphones, though this is almost a standard for Nokia now. We like that Nokia has included an unlocking switch on the side, so you don't have to slide the phone open or endure the unlocking button combo to play with it quickly, and it takes a micro USB travel charger. The volume rocker is a little bit small to use blindly during a call, but we're just nitpicking now.