Whatley Wednesday – Nokia’s Latest “Music” Phone

Nokia’s Latest ‘Music Phone’ The N81 8GB.


First off can I state, for the record, that I tried.
I tried and I tried and I tried.
I really did!

Whenever I get a new handset I am aware there’s that ‘bedding in’ period of a couple of days where you have to get used to the nuances in the UI and re-learn the layout of the buttons etc… (you can stop grinning now you there at the back with the iPhone) …so please believe me when I say I was chuffed to bits when I got an email from those lovely people (and friends of SMSText News) over at Nokia WOMWorld asking me if I’d like to Trial their latest music device – the Nokia N81 8GB.

My response? YES PLEASE!
Always happy to try out the latest handsets – they’ve sent me a couple before and irrespective of whether I liked the phone or not – it’s always been nice just having a play, y’know?

So, before I rant, here’s the good stuff:

The slider mechanism is the nicest to date. Every hand I’ve put it in has resulted in a ‘Ooooo… that’s nice’.
Taking photos is now easier. Simply hold down the ‘Shoot’ button to boot the cam and you’re away, (a’la the newer N95 models).
And that… is… Oop no – sorry – it’s got a really nice screen too. Yeah, that too.
Ok – that’s it.

Now for the bad stuff:

A complete lack of joined up thinking through the entire design of the handset.
Yes it’s a phone. Yes it does all the things a phone should do but it’s the little things that get me.

For instance:

The ‘c’ button is right next to the ‘play/pause’ music button. AARGH! Sorry. I say ‘right next to’ I mean ‘may as well be the same button’.
That’s right – a negative button right next to a positive button. By pushing the button that I want to stop doing something I accidentally push the button that starts doing something.
In this instance Kate Nash starts blaring out at me whenever I try and correct a misspelt SMS!

That ONE thing frustrated me SO much that within a week I went back to my N95. For the record you have NO IDEA how hard it was to not go back after day one. “No” I told myself “You must TRY and use it properly” –
(so good luck to Ewan on his ‘Normob Challenge’, I know I couldn’t do it)

There are a couple of other things that annoyed me – the overall ‘feel’ of the handset is a bit too plastic-like for my tastes. It’s like one of those dummy models you might find on the shelf of your local P4U.
The keylock system has changed. The N81 now features a ‘flick’ switch on the top that locks and unlocks with a quick flick. Which is fine up until it gets stuck in the flicked position where upon the phone continuously locks and unlocks until you un-jam the button.


Don’t get me wrong – Operators/Nokia will probably sell a bunch of them this Christmas as the cheaper alternative to the iPhone. What with it having an 8GB internal memory and being about £200 cheaper on an a similar contract. Yeah, why not?
It’s EVEN got the ipod-esque ‘Navi-Wheel’ – but even that has managed to become an annoyance…

(WHY have something as a USP on a handset and not even have it switched on out of the box?! YES. That’s right. You have to go in to your phone’s settings and manually switch the Navi-Wheel to ‘ON’ to actually get it to work)

The whole phone feels completely rushed and not thought through at all.
When shopping for a new phone this Christmas by all means have a look at the N81 and have a play too.. but I personally would not recommend it.

You (and Nokia) can do a whole lot better.

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