Nokia N81 mobile phone - First Look

Nokia has announced three new handsets today at its Nokia: Go Play event in London. Pocket-lint was invited to have a first hand look at the new models. So will these be the handsets we all crave in the coming months or ones that fade into the background? We get playing to find out.

Fitting in snugly behind the now revamped N95, the Nokia N81 is the company's latest Series 60 model that comes packed with a stack of new features to boast music imaging and gaming credentials.

On the music side the phone comes with 8GB of internal memory allowing you to store up to 6000 songs, support for all the major music formats, stereo Bluetooth, a 3.5mm headphones jack and the ability to access the newly launched Nokia Music Store via the Ovi internet interface.

On the imaging side, Nokia has disappointingly settled for a 2 megapixel camera rather than 3 megapixels as found in the 5610 XpressMusic or 5 megapixels as found in the N95, although has included a Xenon flash to boost performance.

Gaming wise, the phone is able to use the new N-Gage offering from Nokia as part of its Ovi internet offering. Games can be played either vertical or in landscape mode, allowing users to benefit from the 2.4-inch screen and in our play it was bright, crisp and clear.

We have to admit we were never fond on the N-Gage series, however this refresh does give it a new lease of life and we can see that with complete backwards compatibility for all Series 60 handsets, it taking off as a viable alternative to the PSP and DSs of this world.

Elsewhere and features include built-in wireless b and g connectivity alongside 3G for surfing on the go.

One of the first handsets to benefit from the Ovi internet offering, users will be able to download music and games without the need for a computer. Before you cry "data packages", luckily as we've just mentioned, the phone has build in wireless connectivity and in our demonstration this looked very straight forward to use and download demos to try.

As for the design, the gloss back finish looks smart and the keypad easy to use and clearly labelled. What isn't clearly labelled, however, are the plethora of buttons on the top half of the slider. With music shortcut keys, menu shortcut keys and other buttons that appear in certain modes, newcomers are like to find it difficult to navigate their way around - we certainly did.

What makes it more confusing is the introduction of a new secondary menu system in addition to the current Series 60 menu system. While it does give people the choice and a more interactive feel, we found ourselves not sure which one we should be using.

Verdict

The N81 will be seen as the Nokia N95's cheaper brother and with that in mind will always be fighting to prove its worth, especially when you see both in the store for free come its launch at Christmas, if you sign a big enough contract.

The feature set is good and overall welcomed. The Nokia N81 will certainly be one to watch when it becomes available later in the year.