Is it time to subscribe to a printer service from HP?

Ever since my dad brought home an...

What’s the best way of buying a phone today?

How did you buy your latest phone?...

MWC: What device highlights did you miss?

So, early last week I predicted that...

World Exclusive: N86 extended test in Prague


There’s plenty of video upcoming from our trip to Prague this weekend including an exclusive first-look at the N86 in real-world conditions – as you can see above it’s a tough life, this international playboy-blogger thing we’ve got going on right now…

But, Hi-Def video takes some time to edit and publish (see the MWC hands-on until then) so here’s a quick update on the N86 we took with us – the one you will have been able to see ‘in the flesh’ if you were able to attend our own man Whatley’s ‘Mobile Geeks‘ event on Thursday… The unit’s an early prototype so these are a few more general observations.

3313846513_8b31a94131_oThe good:

Materials and build quality – Even on this prototype unit the finish is excellent.  The new (introduced with the N97) metal bezel styling looks good and feels good in the hand.  The unit is well weighted adding to the feeling of quality, without being too heavy (in my opinion).  The minuscule holes in the metal menu button that are invisible until it is illuminated are a particularly elegant touch.

The number keypad – Silly small number keys are banished in favour of good-sized number keys with a pleasant action.  There’s also some haptic feedback too on menu button clicks which feels nice.

The screen – The OLED unit is crisp and bright (with one caveat below) – it looks great with what feels like deeper blacks and brighter whites.  Performance is snappy, but slick transitions enhance this sensation even further.  Transitions between portrait and landscape mode where also sensed quickly and rendered well – this stood out next to it’s older brother the N82 which has always been a bit slow off the mark in this regard.

The camera (probably) – Although not performing reliably on this unit a good number of the images we did manage to take impressed as did the sample images in Barcelona so this, at least, bodes well.  Nokia are shouting as loudly about the imaging system upgrades as much as the raw megapixels and the signs are good.

Call and network performance – Not a surprise with Nokia any more, but the N86 handled poor signal and jumping between 2G and 3G networks with style were other handsets where upset (notably the G1).

3314269840_19d1fdc506_oThe bad:

The function buttons – The main D-pad assembly and menu  key are still a bit ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’, but either way work well.  However, the two function keys at the top are low-profile with little travel and difficult to press with anything other than a fingernail.

The OLED screen in daylight – In contrast to its performance at any other time, in direct sunlight the screen washes out to nothing where the iPhone’s comes alive. Most handsets struggle in this situation, but an imaging-centric handset like this will probably see plenty of action outside.

The memory card slot – It’s only accessible by taking the rear cover off completely.  Admittedly with 8GB on-board it’s going to be needed less frequently than on other devices, but the process to remove the back cover is a bit fiddly and more elegant solution doesn’t feel like an unreasonable request.

The software – Yes this old chestnut… The N86 is already looking like a brilliantly refined handset and the hardware seriously impresses – this will surely take the N95’s mantle and attract a huge following – but with the tweaks, extra features and options the software is still a maze of menus which don’t always feel consistent.  It’s a wider failing across newer S60 devices, but how many excellent features will users simply never discover because they’re buried in the menus?

3286644991_7605b35ae1_mHaving been very disappointed with my first hands-on N97 experience recently, this restores some of my faith in Nokia – the N86 is already hugely impressive…. but where it’s a hardware tour de force, the maze of menus and settings disappoints.  This has to be the next area of attention for Nokia.

Watch out for our hands-on video from Prague coming soon and fire us any questions in the comments.


  1. LOL – Can't wait to see..

    I enjoyed it actually – very good for driving – great little 'you need to be in this lane' indicators. Loved the Ovi sync. BUT it crashed just a bit too much so i've gone back to Maps 2 for now. I'm sure oonce it's out of beta it'll be better.. I hope 🙂

    Although I do think Google Maps will continually kick its arse for searching businesses and suchlike!


  2. Any update on the HD video Part 2 of N86 in Prague yet? its been over a whole month now? Are you editing 20 days of HD on an old P4?

  3. I generally like the outlook of this phone and I bought it because I liked phones with keypads. However, just one week into getting this phone, I turned on the GPS and then there will be a menu that pops out n keeps blinking whenever I switched to another application and get back to the GPS application. Since I had to head back overseas to study, I didn't send it for repair. Just into 2 months of using it, one day I discovered that the On/Off button wasn't working and the phone wouldn't Lock the Keypad as it would normally. Just in less than 12 hours time, the phone just turned off on its own and because the button was no longer working, I couldn't use it at all. Thinking that being a global company, Nokia would provide international care for its customers, I was appalled by the fact that the Customer Service assistant did not show initiative in providing the service at all. They did not have the slightest intention at all. Thus, I had to courier it back home and asked my dad to send it to the Customer Service Centre back home. After going through huge amount of hassles, and it was finally sent to repair, I only used it for 9 days and it was the SAME PROBLEM THAT OCCURRED months ago. They installed a new Map that did not allow me to zoom in to the level where I could've zoomed in previously. I admit that it was y fault for having it accidentally had water poured over it but please Nokia, I was your loyal customer and because of this I have already lose all my confidence as I might pay hundreds of dollars and get another defected phone.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recently Published

Is it time to subscribe to a printer service from HP?

Ever since my dad brought home an HP LaserJet printer (version 3, if memory serves), I have been printing with an HP. Over the...

What’s the best way of buying a phone today?

How did you buy your latest phone? I'm asking because I'm thinking about what I should be doing. When I was living in Oman, I...

MWC: What device highlights did you miss?

So, early last week I predicted that next to nothing from Mobile World Congress would break through into the mainstream media. I was right,...

How Wireless Will Pave the Path to Neobank Profitability

I'm delighted to bring you an opinion piece from Rafa Plantier at I think it's particularly relevant given the recent eSIM news from...

An end of an era: Vodafone UK turns off 3G services

I thought it was worthwhile highlighting this one from the Vodafone UK team. For so long - for what feels like years, seeing the...

Mobile World Congress: Did the mainstream media notice?

I resolved this year to make sure I wrote something - anything - about Mobile World Congress, the huge mobile industry trade show taking...