By January 2, 2009

Nokia N85 review

At first glance the Nokia N85 looks like a smaller brother to the N96. In most of the important areas it is, so should you choose the N85 over the N96?


The Nokia N85


The N85 is a superbly made dual slider phone. From the phones packaging Nokia’s main sales pitch is a serious games device – with a phone built in. And it is – with games specially adapted from leading game publisher EA Games. Coupled with a bright OLED screen and dedicated game controls. However it also sports voice assisted A-GPS Satellite Navigation, a state of the art 5Mpix Still camera with Carl Zeiss optics. Video capture at DVD quality 30 frames per second. Supplied in the box are Audio/Video cables to allow game play or picture and video playback through your TV or projector. Email and WWW support via WLAN or 3.5G HSDPA through your mobile phone provider. And if that wasn’t enough a simple to use MP3 / MP4 player. The main difference between the N96 and N85 is simply less onboard memory, but with 8Gb MicroSD as standard, the more pocket-able size of the N85 is certainly going to draw converts.


What’s in the box?

The phone, a generous 8gb MicroSD card. Mains charger, USB data / charging cable. Ear phones, wired remote controller for the MP3 player. A 3.5mm to Phono cable for TV out. Manuals, software DVD, and an Activation code to enable one Trial game to the full game. Check out Matt’s Nokia N85 unboxing video for more information.


Nokia N85 Specification:

  • Form: Two-way slider
  • Dimensions: 103x50x16.0mm
  • Weight: 128 g
  • Volume: 76 cc
  • Display Size: 2.6"
  • Resolution: 320 x 240 pixels (QVGA)
  • Up to 16.7 million colors
  • Active Matrix OLED technology
  • Numeric keypad Cover keys (S60 keys, Multimedia key, Send/end keys) Short slide keys (media control/zoom/gaming) Navi™wheel
  • Dedicated media/zoom/game keys
  • Dedicated camera and volume keysCover keys
  • Multimedia key
  • Navi™Wheel
  • Voice commands
  • Intelligent key illumination
  • Micro-USB connector with mass storage class support, High-Speed USB 2.0
  • 3.5 mm AV connector
  • BL-5K 1200 mAh Li-Ion battery
  • Talk time (maximum):
    – GSM 6.9 h
    – WCDMA 4.5 h
    -VoiP 9 h
  • Standby time (maximum):
    – GSM 363 h
    – WCDMA 363 h
    – WLAN 172 h
  • Browsing time with packet data (maximum): 5 h 42 min
  • Video playback time (maximum): 7 h
  • Video recording time (maximum): 2 h 54 min
  • Video call time (maximum): 2 h 42 min
  • Music playback time (maximum): 30 h
  • Gaming time (maximum): 7 h
  • microSD memory card slot, hot swappable, max. 8 GB
  • 74 MB internal dynamic memory
  • 78 MB internal NAND flash memory

For the full spec see



On the face of the phone are 8 buttons and the Nokia NaviWheel.


Nokia N85 front view


On the top the power button a 3.5mm socket that doubles as a standard 3 pin headphone socket (very welcome) and the 4 pin TV out socket. Next to that the Micro USB charger / data connector. Its encouraging to see Nokia standardising on the Micro USB charging plug as this will soon mean most mobile phones chargers will be interchangeable. Eventually they would not even need to be shipped with new phones.


Nokia N85 top view


On the left side is a lanyard loop and the MicroSd card slot.


Nokia N85 left side


On the right side stereo speaker grills, volume control, a slide button to lock/unlock the keys and the camera button.


Nokia N85 right side


On the back the slide cover for the 5Mpixel lens and twin LED lights for flash or video lighting. The back cover unclips to access the battery and Sim card.


Nokia N85 back view



This phone is known as a dual slider, that’s to say the top half of the phone slides up, and down to reveal various controls. Sliding either way automatically unlocks the keypads. Sliding the face up reveals a conventional 12 key phone pad, which was quite adequate and pleasant enough to use. By default sliding answers and ends voice calls. Sliding down reveals 4 keys that double as media player controls or dedicated gaming controls, depending upon the program running.

The top face and key pads are gloss black with a flush screen giving a very smart look. While the sides and back are finished in chocolate bronze.

If enabled the Orientation Sensor will auto rotate the screen to landscape mode and back simply when it senses the phone turned in ones palm. This feature works well enough to be kept turned on.

Nokia NaviWheel was disabled by default, when we turned it on we found out why, it was too temperamental to be of any use plus it has limited functionality compared to the standard 4 way control. Interestingly the NaviWheel on the N79 we are reviewing works much more responsively.

nGage gaming:

If playing games is your thing you are going to love this phone. It’s not a PlayStation or an Xbox, but it is far advanced from most mobiles phone games. Very playable with bright clear 3D graphics. FIFA 08, Asphalt3 Street Rules, and Brain Challenge are just some of the games pre-installed for you to try. More are available for download. One activation code is supplied in the box which allows you to fully licence any one of the games.

The supplied TV out cable simply plugs in to the Video and Audio sockets commonly found on many TVs or projectors and allows the play back on both the phone screen and the TV at the same time. Sound is also piped through the TV sound system.

The quality looks a bit fragmented at large resolution, especially on a 42” LCD, but it’s still quite playable. Likewise videos and photos can be shared on the large screen.

See for specific games information.

The games are cheaper than major console games but seem to be locked to the phone – not a user account. So loosing or upgrading your phone means you will need to buy them all over again. This is similar to buying a DVD and only being allowed to play it on one player, ever. It seems Nokia have shot themselves in the foot with this one, as people actually like to collect things, DVDs, games etc. but if they know the game will expire along with their annual phone contract, they may think twice before buying. My guess is Nokia have realised but are unable to change the licensing at this stage. A better solution would be Apples model where music and films are licensed to a user account.

FM Transmitter – Pre set one of your radio stations to match the N85 and playing your favourite tunes in the car is a breeze.
I like this feature. Because while I know I can burn my music to CDs for the car or put them on USB sticks etc etc In reality I only ever get around to syncing music with my phone, and only because I plug it into the PC for various other reasons. So it was great, with just a few buttons clicks, to switch the Media player on the phone to transmit my sounds straight to the car stereo via the FM radio. It also means if I’m travelling in a friend’s car, (who may not have my great taste in music) in seconds I can simply tune their radio to 107.9FM (or whatever I have set the N85 to) and we can cruise in the groove. Sound quality was very good with my car setup, better than standard radio quality. But I did have to find a place on the dash where the reception was crackle free – I have found this with all FM transmitters I have used (on iPods and MP3 players), I think it’s because the transmitter is so close to the car aerial.

It also works just as well with home HiFi’s.



Forget the Megapixels, Nokia cameras were notoriously poor a few years back. Any camera expert will tell you that it’s all in the lens, hence to up their reputation they invested in branded Carl Zeiss optics and Tessar™ lenses, this model performed as well as any Sony Ericson I have tried before.

I also think N85’s 5Megapixel CMOS is plenty – until larger lenses are fitted to phones there doesn’t seem much point in 8Mp other than larger files sizes.

It has 2 very bright LEDs which act as flash for the camera and light for the video. Overall it works very well. Easy to switch on/off and between still and video mode. The video is not going to give you the same results you get from a dedicated video camera but it is good enough to capture memories to treasure. As with many phone cameras it was a little slow in low light, resulting in quite a few blurred images, still you can always take more with 8Gb memory to play with.



The built in A-GPS (Assisted – Global Positioning Satellite receiver) receiver works well with the supplied Nokia Maps. A 3 month trial of the voice assistance is included. There are also options to purchase traffic congestion and speed camera alerts. Many of you will also download and install Google Maps which also works well with it.


Email support:

As standard the N85 supports POP3 email. It will also support Microsoft Exchange Push Email by downloading the Mail for Exchange client from Although personally, I feel any phone bought for serious email support should have a qwerty keyboard of some description, I also know many people who find Exchange support really useful as it gives them the ability to monitor their business emails real time, plus a live copy of their office Contact list and Calendar. So adding a new contact or appointment in their phone instantaneously updates their business Outlook and vice versa. The data is synchronised over the air (OTA) via the mobile phone network. This is very useful but requires a data charge from the mobile provider. Data charges are also incurred with A-GPS, so this type of phone really needs a prepaid data tariff of some kind.


OLED Screen:

The N85’s screen is 320×240 pixel resolution which is fine for a screen size of 2.6inch. It is also extremely bright and clear due to the high contrast Active Matrix OLED (Organic LED) display. OLED is the latest screen technology providing excellent picture quality with lower power consumption, in a few years all TV screens will use this technology, currently though it’s far too expensive to produce in larger sizes.



  • Full featured phone
  • Excellent display and graphics
  • Small size
  • Well made



  • Questionable licensing of games
  • No qwerty keyboard
  • Slow camera in low light



This little power packed Nokia has a lot going for it. Even though I struggle without a qwerty keyboard I have warmed to it in the last few weeks. Its small size has got me hooked. It’s a well made and satisfying to use device.

As a entertainment phone its definitely a serious contender. Coupled with the reasonable camera, Satellite Navigation and Exchange Push Email support it can easily satisfy today’s most demanding user.

If you need the features but don’t want to lug around a house brick, this could be the phone for you.


Review by: Daniel

[ Post Tags: Nokia, N85, Symbian, smartphone news, reviews, unboxing video, ]

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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