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(Pocket-lint) - Another Nseries phone from Nokia - confused? You should be, so what makes this any different from the N95, N96, or N79? We get playing to find out.

So what do you get? Well plenty it seems. The new handset offers a 2.6-inch AM OLED (QVGA, 240 x 320 pixels) screen with up to 16 million colours in its rather thin design.

Slimmer than the N96, the best word to describe the phone is "Flat", the screen is flat, the shortcut keys under the screen are flat and even the keypad is incredibly flat.

Get past that lusciously crisp and clear screen - that would be the OLED - and at first glance it looks like Nokia has finally gone for a de-cluttered look. However five keys soon turn to nine once the backlight comes on - it seems you'll have to wait till the N97 to go truly minimalist.

Like the N95, the N85 offers two-way sliding action. Slide the handset down and you reveal a bank of media controls (also very flat), slide it up and you get the number pad. The number pad is considerably narrower than you would expect, mainly due to the slider rails taking up a large proportion of the bottom slider. The result is that it makes the keyboard fiddly to use, but not impossible.

Elsewhere the design sees volume, a dedicated shutter button and locking toggle on the right hand side with a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top making it easy to use in your pocket. There is also a hot-swappable microSD card slot and of course the 5-megapixel camera on the back of the handset.

The camera sports a Xenon flash, Carl Zeiss f2.8/f5.45 lens and sliding lens cover that is unlikely to open in your pocket, probably a good thing as opening it starts the camera application. The camera is typical stuff from Nokia, i.e., pretty good, and you'll get video recording capabilities for those happy slapping moments.

Running on the S60 3rd edition, the phone offers HSDPA and Wi-Fi connectivity giving you plenty of options to get "connected" and surfing on the web via the included browser is, when in coverage, incredibly fast on both options.

Helping you get to where you want to go the N85 includes GPS. You can use Nokia Maps 2.0 to find your way or geotag your photos and on the whole it's all very straight forward, although we would still recommend downloading Google Maps for getting from A to B.

On the music and video front, like other Nseries handsets in the range there is plenty on offer, including an 8GB memory card in the box. For starters, as we've already mentioned you get that 3.5mm headphone jack. Then there is Bluetooth A2DP for streaming music to a speaker or wireless headphones, but best of all you get an FM transmitter in the phone so you can push music from your phone to your car stereo or any other FM radio for that matter.

Like the N96, the N85 also comes with support for the BBC iPlayer and although you can only watch programmes via a wireless connection rather than the HSDPA one (most likely due to network pressure rather than capabilities) it's yet another string in the already impressive bow of the N85.

On the games front, the phone sports N-Gage support and comes with 10 pre-loaded demo titles to get you started, however consumers only get to choose one licensed game for free to keep as part of the package. Still, with games like FIFA 08 and Tetris, you'll have plenty to choose from.


The Nokia N85 is one of those under the radar phones that was clearly over shadowed by the launch of the N96. It's a shame as it seems to offer all the same as the N96 but without the cumbersome size.

With so many Nseries handsets hitting the market, Nokia is trying to offer something for everyone and the result has been that you get a series of phones that are virtually all the same.

So what's the verdict? Well if you are looking for a slim Nokia handset that will offer you most things without bothering you with touchscreen or QWERTY keyboard action then this appears to be a really good option. Where does this succeed over the N96? It's not trying to be the flagship model.

Sometimes it's better to be the grey man over the one that's doing all the shouting.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 15 December 2008.