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March 14, 2008 / Marco

My Concluding Thoughts on the N81 8GB Cell Phone

It’s now more than 20 days that I’ve been extensively using the Nokia N81 8GB courtesy of the terrific people at WOM World, and it’s about time that I wrapped up my previous reviews and thoughts.

Why go with the N81 8GB?

In this day and age and with handsets like the Nokia N95 , Nokia N95 8GB, Nokia N82 and iPhone dominating the market, you would think there’s little room for the N81 8GB to maneuver. That’s definitely true. However, not all of us are keen on purchasing the very latest feature-rich gadget. Nor oftentimes do we have the financial means to secure the purchase of such a device. As such, the following potential handset seekers might be interested in taking a serious look at the N81 8GB:


For those who want to ignore non-audio features of a device and get a high-end music-oriented handset, the N81 8GB is the best and the cheapest choice out there. Controlling the music from all open windows, offering the best and the loudest Nseries speakers, accepting both standard wired headphones and Bluetooth headsets, providing 8GB of internal memory and decorating all these features with wireless internet access and a pretty standard camera make the N81 8GB appeal to music lovers. If they are lucky enough to get the Bose noise-canceling Qc 3 headphones, they won’t let go of their handset very easily.

Above-average handset users

It’s not fair to call the N81 8GB an average or a mid-range handset. The current price tag of $424 at Provantage clearly indicates it. So, other than music-obsessed folks, who’s going to get the N81 8GB? Mediocre cell phone users who are willing to take their handset experience to a more advanced level, but aren’t yet ready to take a stab at something like the N95 8GB or the N82. For many people migrating to more feature-packed cell phones involves a progressive process, so the N81 8GB most likely appeals to this group.

Slider phone seekers

If you’re not in a position to accept slider phones as your day-to-day handset, you’ll never gravitate toward the N81 8GB. Let’s clear up this point: the N81 8GB offers the best sliding mechanism I’ve ever seen; however, for someone who can’t live with such phone the quality of the sliding tool doesn’t really matter. This also applies to the N95 which belongs to the high-end range of Nokia handsets, and many people have decided not to buy it only because it doesn’t follow the monoblock style of cell phones.

What could have made the N81 8GB a more desired handset?

Let me delve into my dreams and see what Nokia developers could have designed to make the N81 8GB a more successful multimedia computer. First and foremost, the N81 8GB could have offered more distinct and tangible front navigation buttons. Even after gaining a good deal of experience with the handset, 70 percent of my “Menu” key presses incorrectly activate the “Call” key, and vice versa. The same is true about the “Clear” key and the “Exit” key. Also, the music-dedicated keys are located near the joystick, and some might find this arrangement annoying. Worst of all, the keypad keys are virtually indistinguishable tactilely, thereby making typing characters and phone numbers a headache specially when you’re in a hurry and need to get your message across as fast as possible. The Power on/off button isn’t without its share of criticism with its nail-prone design either. Finally, I could never make the Navi wheel perform a single operation on the N81 8GB in spite of the fact that I enabled it in the Settings window the day I received the N81. I hope Nokia does a good deal of fine-tuning on this innovative feature in handsets like the N78 and the N96.

It’s a bit dejecting to say goodbye to a handset which I’ve come to respect and use for a couple of weeks. I’m sure I won’t ever forget the ultra-crisp and loud music which the N81 8GB played to my ears.

Nokia N81 Review: Part 1

Nokia N81 Review: Part 2

Nokia N81 Review: Part 3


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