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Summary:

It has been nearly 65 days since I went without a phone set change, leading to snide remarks from my co-workers about my fidelity to Apple’s iPhone. Despite getting frustrated with iPhone’s email application (I carry a Blackberry to get some serenity) and poky Edge connections, […]

nokian811.gifIt has been nearly 65 days since I went without a phone set change, leading to snide remarks from my co-workers about my fidelity to Apple’s iPhone. Despite getting frustrated with iPhone’s email application (I carry a Blackberry to get some serenity) and poky Edge connections, I avoided the hassle of switching to another phone.

That was up until yesterday evening, when I came back home to find the new Nokia N81 8GB music phone, the cornerstone of the company’s big push into music-related services. Nokia (NOK) had sent me a review unit, and when I opened the elegantly packaged box, I knew I had to try it out. It is a handsome device — very sleek and elegant — thanks to its brushed metal-black lacquer finish, rounded edges and crisp screen.

And even before it was fully powered up, I was betting this device was going to exceed my expectations. Did it?


Nokia N81, which is going to set you back about $550, is a slider phone with ample storage capacity to let you play back music for a long, long time. The keypad, which slides out smoothly, has recessed keys and still is good enough for blind dialing — that is, dialing without looking at the phone.

Being a music phone, all the music-playback functionality is built into the top half, so you don’t have slide out the keypad to control the phone. It is a quad band GSM phone that comes with a 2-megapixel camera, which can also be controlled without sliding out the keypad.

nokian812.gifThe keys on this phone are too crammed together, but I can understand that engineering a complex multifunction device isn’t easy. Still, the dial and stop buttons are pushed to the side and are tough to use. The navigation pad that dominates the faceplate is good way to navigate through many functions on the phone, and I appreciate the special music-navigation key that was added by Nokia.

Nokia N81 easily connected to my home network, making it ready for Voice-over-WiFi calls via Truphone. A special download from the Nokia Europe web site made syncing the address book and calendar on my Mac a snap. The Nokia multimedia transfer utility (in beta for now) was simple enough to use and is a pretty decent music manager.

Plugging in a special USB cable (different connector compared to your typical cable) and attaching to my Macbook allowed me to easily transfer music purchased from Amazon Music Store and other MP3 files to the device. It took about four hours to fill it up, but I managed to get all my favorite tracks on the flash drive. I was all set to rock the casbah when reality set in.

The device behaved like a three-year-old throwing a tantrum. Unless this is an especially buggy device, N81 has to be one of the worst Nokia phones I have ever used and would be loathe to recommend it to anyone.

It is underpowered and the Symbian S60 OS behaves like Windows ME. Remember that piece of junk? Well this is worse. It takes more than 10 seconds to open a text message. Switching between applications is akin to me running — out of breath. One has to constantly reboot the phone to even make phone calls.

Sure, the music playback quality was flawless and even at full volume didn’t distort a bit. The regular stereo-headset jack worked with all sorts of headphones — Bose, Nokia, Shure and Ultimate Ears. And the tunes were crystal clear.

However, getting the music app (or any app for that matter) to open was a torture test. It was frustrating enough for me to not even test any of the other features, such as the video camera or Lifeblog or NGage gaming.

In comparison to the Nokia N95, or even the older N71 and N73 phones, N81 is pokey, and a major disappointment. It is going to be packed up and shipped back, pronto. Nokia, which often delivers phones that I love, has flubbed this one.

  1. I disagree. I’ve had this phone for a few days now and have had no problems with it at all. I switched from my N91(4GB) which had performed well, if a little slow on boot up, for a year or so since Nokia gave it to me at the PME 06.

    The quirky connect cable was a disappointment but it works okay. I have not, admittedly filled up the hard disk with data yet but I have some music there now. Still, no problems.

    I downloaded Shozu (for Flickr) and although the site didn’t specifically say it would work on the N81 it did. Flawlessly.

    Don’t give up – it’s a good phone.

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  2. Paul

    I have to say this is the worse experience i have had with this phone and i am not joking about it. i tried to do everything and it didn’t change anything.

    how is your performance experience. are you saying the phone works briskly and smoothly when you switch between applications?

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  3. Om,

    I played with the N81 for a few moments and I wouldn’t like to go near it ever again. After having reviewed almost 200 phones in the last 3-4 years, I know when I see a bad product.

    I would like to add a couple of points to your review:

    1. The click wheel imitation is very crude and since the D-pad is not circular, it’s not intuitive either. The OS is so sluggish that if you use the click wheel, the files just fly by even before the OS can display the name.

    2. The gaming keys include the ear piece, which is not a good idea. For A & B gaming buttons, I’d prefer the ones found on some Sony Ericsson phones.

    3. I second the opinion that the face is too crowded. It seems as if the designer was given only this space below the screen to fit every possible function.

    On the other hand, the N95 8GB looks yummy…

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  4. Om,

    I currently have a N81 for review purpose. Although this is not the latest firwmare (which was released just yesturday), I cannot find myself with any of the problems you mentioned regarding the device speed and stability.

    I almost have have it since 24 hours, load hours of music, used the web browser, switch between apps and no crash so far. Opening a message just take a couple of seconds.

    Maybe your device had an ealy firmware.

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  5. Review: The Sweet Agony That Is Nokia N81

    This story has been submitted to Stirrdup. Your support can help it become hot.

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  6. Om,

    I’m having a great experience with the phone. If I didn’t know better I’d be saying you and I had two completely different phones!
    Prerelease model? Doesn’t sound like it as they sent it to you as a new out of the box model.
    Firmware? Might be worth checking for an upgrade.
    In direct comparison with my N91, the phone is, I think, quicker! The POST is certainly much faster and the UI works just great…

    I’ve had up to 8 apps open and switching between them is slick. When I press the Menu button down for (roughly) 2 seconds it brings up the open apps slider and scrolling is fast and selection brings the app to the forground very swiftly.

    Puzzling indeed.

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  7. Swapnonil Mukherjee Friday, November 9, 2007

    Hi Guys,

    How does the phone’s music quality compare to that of an iPod?

    I am specially interested about your thoughts on the bass response, and sound quality at high volumes. Is it as good as an iPod?

    Just one more question :)

    How loud is this phone? Can you hear this phone ringing, even while you are watching TV in another room?

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  8. Personally, I think iPhone sounds better than my 5G iPod. Having everything work seamlessly more than makes up for “poky Edge,” which actually isn’t that bad for email, stock quotes, weather, and an iPhone-friendly mobile Web site. Also, iPhone’s Mail application works quite well, especially for sending photos. If you have a lot of spam, consider using Google Apps for Your Domain or regular Gmail now that Google offers IMAP along with the world’s best spam filter.

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  9. @ OM

    dude i totally disagree wid ya !!!!!i m usin dis handset from last one week nd not facin big probz as ya mentioned……..i know data transfer rate is slow nd wifi connectivity is bad……..but nokia releasd firware upgrade for these bugs few days back…..other then these os operation is smooth……..switchin between task aint a big trouble !!!!! rebootin for makin call is problem in os which i used to face wen i was usin nokia 5700 also……so its not n81 z prob………
    i m disappointd in ya dude !!!!! dont get offended but i think da review is quite harsh !!!

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  10. I think you have hardly tested and regarding the phone taking too long, i doubt that its a fault with the N81 8gb in general considering the fact that it has an 369 MHZ ARM 11 proc.

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  11. Kedar,

    How the hell would I review the phone indepth when it takes forever to open a text message. The device is terrible. Just terrible!

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  12. Swaponil

    The sound quality is fantastic and as I said, it is perfect even at high volumes and work nicely with any and every set of headphones I used. It is the OS (and its cumbersome behavior) I had problems with.

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  13. Greg and Paul,

    Can you tell me what version of firmware are you using?

    On that same point, I wonder how many average folks are going to upgrade their firmware to get this to work properly. think about it: they send a phone to review and its a lemon. just bad luck? I don’t think so. Even the N95 took an upgrade of the software to run nicely.

    If i am being harsh, well they are nokia, they have been making phones for a long time, they have an OS which they have been tweaking for a while, and more importantly N-Series is bringing home the bacon.

    As for being a pre-release phone: not really. It is a shipping model.

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  14. I contrasted the promise of N81, not just the device but the services as well, to the iPhone in:

    “Nokia N81: Ominous lesson to iPhone from carriers”
    http://counternotions.com/2007/10/09/patience-for-apple/

    There are some very thoughtful exchanges in the comments as well.

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  15. Technology News for November 9, 2007

    Block Facebook Beacon So here I am, burning some brain cells and taking some time to relax playing a game on Kongregate, when a little window pops up in the corner of my screen and says “Kongregate is sending this to your Facebook profile: Nate playe…

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  16. I tried the ((truphone)) service on the N81 and it rocks. Hope the guys from truphone can support soon more handsets, not only Nokia’s.

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  17. Great device

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  18. Sebhelyesfarku Friday, November 9, 2007

    Nokia’s craps can’t even play music tracks gaplessly. Music phone… meh

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  19. I have to say, given the contrasting experiences of other N81 users that it really sounds as if you didn’t do due diligence in making sure there wasn’t something wrong with the specific phone that you were reviewing. Instead of jumping to conclusions and publishing a negative review, why didn’t you go back to Nokia and ask them about the problems you were having?

    They would most likely have sent you another N81 which you could have compared to the one you had.

    It seems more likely that you got a “lemon” than that this phone (which runs the same OS as other N-series phones on the same processor) is as slow and buggy as you describe doesn’t it?

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  20. Have to say my experience of the N81 is much more positive but it’s a European model. Maybe the US model has craptacular firmware?

    The N81 is about to be superceded by the N82 in Europe.

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  21. FOUR hours to fill up 8GB???? Are you kidding me?

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  22. english speaker Friday, November 9, 2007

    “I would be loath …”, or “… loth …”. Not “loathe”, which is a verb. Jeez.

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  23. Hamranhansenhansen Saturday, November 10, 2007

    What I like about this phone is it bridges the gap between awful phones and awful MP3 players. It has the classic 20th century design of 90% hardware and 10% software, which is backwards today. Also the software is immature and poorly managed.

    Apple’s stuff is almost all software. The hardware is like a picture frame. Most of it even looks like a picture frame. iTunes is half of the iPod/iPhone that gives you 50% software before you even count the software in the device, such as OS X or the ISO MPEG-4 codecs. If you’re going to run a Web browser you need at least as much software as a modern PC. That means OS X or Linux because Windows is not portable by any definition. Nokia needs to generate an order of magnitude more software than they are currently in order to compete.

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  24. I’ve assembled this phone a lot at work, and just because of that, I wouldn’t even touch it. Seriously, the build quality is terrible.

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  25. That you say it’s worse than the N73 gives me the chills. The N73, like all Nokias, was a good phone-phone but forget about music or synching on PC or anything else. Text messages took 4 seconds to open which feels like an eternity. The camera crashed constantly, and always got into a mode where it doesn’t focus – so your whole day of pictures has gone to waste and you only notice when you get home and take a closer look at the photos.
    I tried the music player exactly once – completely ridiculous. The difference between “can play music” and “want to listen to music on this device” became very obvious.
    I got so annoyed with all the little shortcomings I eventually traded it for a Sony P990i – probably one of the worst phones ever made, but that’s another story. Now I have the iPhone which works well. Nokia et al should be ashamed of themselves.

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  26. LNSJ,

    How can you expect anyone to take you seriously when it is clear you are either practically illiterate, or more likely you actually choose to slaughter the english language…

    Spend a little more time in class, and less time watching MTV reality shows, and you will find that people will listen to, and perhaps even respect your opinion; because right now you are only regarded as a fool. Try writing your cover-letter and resume in ‘ghetto-speak’ and see if you can advance past that prep-cook position you likely hold at Taco Bell…

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    1. Nokia N81 is one of the better mobile at present. nokia present the mobiles with different functionalities in each model.

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  27. ethic,

    “English” is capitalized. If you’re American, use double quotes, not single, and avoid pointless air quotes in print.

    And for deciding whether compounds are open, closed, or hyphenated, consult a dictionary.

    Share
  28. Graham Anderson Saturday, November 10, 2007

    Nokia already burned me with the N80 and the 7760. I found the N80 completely infuriating and ended up buying myself out of my existing contract to “downgrade” back to a Nokia 8800 Scirocco. The 8800 is exactly the kind of phone that Nokia built its reputation – intuitive, responsive – does what it says on the tin. I fear that with its “portable media computers” it is busy throwing that reputation away. My next phone will either be another another simple phone like the Nokia 8800, or an iPhone.

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  29. Did you try updating the firmware to the latest version? Did it perform better? Or was it still sluggish and buggy..?

    Am very interested in getting this phone, but judging from the review, I’m having second thoughts. Might want to wait for a better phone. But then again, there’s always something better…..so why wait lol

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  30. S60 at least on the hardware it runs on in Nokia phones isn’t getting the job done. It’s ugly, it’s sluggish and navigating the icon system is pretty slow and painful all round.

    As a phone Nokias are usually quite nice, especially now with good voice recognition and a headset added, but for entertainment and smartphoneish uses they’re pretty bad.

    You’d have thought Nokia would have learned some of the iPhone lessons by now, but perhaps this phone was already in the pipeline… or else they are to dumb to understand that people want really stylish UI’s and lightning-fast response times these days, not dog slow and ugly.

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  31. LNSJ,

    Well done on proving ethic’s point. You wished to show that you should be taken seriously and cleaned up your language. Had you made the same observations in the style ethic was complaining about you would have made a much more forceful impact. I too read your previous post and cringed. We aren’t asking for grammatical perfection (which you could obviously provide), just readability.

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  32. Om, I tried the Nokia N75 for two weeks, with the intention of switching from my ipod to it. It was the most frustrating two weeks ever. The Symbian OS,Nokia’s music manager never seemed to work together. The worst was the incessant, illogical steps to navigate the menu to get anything done were just unbelievable. I never did get the N75 to recognize the Sandisk 2GB microSD card,during a music sync.(Win XP was fine)If this is Nokia’s idea of Competing with the Iphone, they should just roll over and die now.
    I will never own another Nokia. Sold it. Guess what I did get to ease my pain? Yeah…

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  33. Do you still have the phone ?

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  34. These stories reminds me to value the good virtues of the ‘simple’ iPhone.

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  35. I had similar problems (time taken to launch apps, switch between them, and open text messages – it gets worse if you apply a custom theme) with the Nokia E65, which also used Symbian S60 3rd edition. It was my first Nokia in quite awhile too, so I tried to give it a chance. Worst 3 months of my life.

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  36. LNSJ,

    The second post written under your name was much better than that first lot of made-up fake nonsense ‘speak': you should ask your big sister to write for you more often.

    Share
  37. Om, you forgot to take into account that N81 is still not in release. And I suspect it will go through massive testing on Nokia internal lab rats a.k.a. Nokia employees because it has been promised by high-level boys. Just let it come to market and then try again, for sake of comparison between Nokia beta and Nokia delivery-day-promise.

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  38. [...] Review: The Sweet Agony That Is Nokia N81 [Giga Om] [...]

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  39. I spoke to a phone sales guy yesterday about Nokia phones and he quietly took me aside when I expressed interest in the n81 and told me to wait a month. His advice was that Nokia phones have a habit of being released buggy. He said he always buys a Nokia as they are a cut above the rest – but that he’d never buy a Nokia just after release. Pretty poor form but I suspect we’ll see the n81 improve over time.

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  40. [...] His review starts well, impressed as he is by the sleek looks and crisp screen. Even the first steps in setting up the device seem to go without a hitch. Soon though, Om struck problems. He found the device to be very slow at performing even basic tasks and while music quality was excellent, getting to a point where he could play his tracks was a real test of patience. Ultimately, Om was frustrated enough by the lack of oomph behind the operating system that he gave up. [...]

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  41. what about sound quality when you ring a person i mean is it top quality from the ear peace wwhen thay chat as well as the mouth peace when you talk ????.

    and does the phone keep hold of the signal ok i mean by not droping the line ???

    i use my phone as a phone and not one review or person has said what the call quality is like and if its bad fro holding the line in bad reception areas ??

    can anyone help me on this question

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  42. Lee,

    the sound quality is great, or rather as good as most Nokia phones. that is not an issue. hopefully they will fix the OS issues

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  43. thanks but what about bad reception does this phone loss sig very easy i have the nokia E65 and have found in some places it hangs up but my previous phone SE did not i was woundering if it had inproved on this phone ???

    the build quality might look great on the E65 but its the worst i have seen

    1 no seald screen dust under it
    2 bad reception pick up
    3 screen saver does not kick in
    4 phone bent abit so slider does not work

    not very good for the e65

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  44. Sorry its taken a while to get back to you. I’ve been travelling. If it’s Tuesday it must be Brussels…

    The “Device Software” (firmware?) is version 10.0.053 and the machine is an out-of-the box Vodafone acquired N81. I’ve upgraded nothing – just added Shozu (Flickr uploader).

    Hope this helps.

    Parky

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  45. Om, Nokia just presented the N82 as of today. Your impact on the industry is second to none :)

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  46. I’m from the Philippines and just bought my N81 without looking at reviews (stupid me) but I actually find that I am happy with my phone so far. Opening messages doesn’t take more than 2 seconds, camera is okay although I would have wanted at least 3megapixels. I like the feel of the phone on my hand although I’m always afraid I’d drop it and scratch it (give me a month and I probably won’t care). Connection to wi-fi can qualify as better than my 2 year old notebook computer. The only thing that truly annoys me about the phone is that I keep accidentally playing music. Someone please show me how to disable the music keys! Oh, and no games are out yet for this phone! Someone please teach me how to upload the old card-deck game! Okay, so it doesn’t sound like I’m all that happy, but I am =)

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  47. Oh God here we go again; I bought the worst phone I ever owned when I picked up the N81-8GB. I had and still have exactly the same problems Om describes. In fact; just try opening the gallery to view the images, mine takes about 10 to 12 mins with just a few dozen images in there. I have around 850 tracks. FW upgrades do not help in this case.

    The problem with these 8GB Nokia devices is that they all have hard disks, I know iApple uses hdds too but they must have optimised file access on them. Nokia have no clue about optimisations.

    Nokia published a document on how to configure the damn phone so that the disk doesn’t get trashed too much. Don’t keep your text store on the hd, don’t have themes on your hd, avoid hd use as much as possible, etc…

    I am still keen on replacing my N91 and the iphone is not a choice for me duty to text message and typing limitations, I don’t know what to do!!! I think I’ll go ahead and take the plunge on this on.

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  48. [...] Ixus 860IS / PowerShot SD870 IS Review – Mobile Review: Review of Nokia N81/Nokia N81 8Gb – GigaOM: Review: The Sweet Agony That Is Nokia N81 – DailyTech: DailyTech Holiday Games Buyer’s Guide: Part [...]

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  49. [...] to do with a mobile device and an internet connection and better support that user experience.  From the review on Gigaom, I’m not sure that’s the case [...]

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  50. [...] har under några dagar snabbtestat Nokia N82. Med Om Maliks totala sågning av föregångaren N81 i färskt minne var det spännande från start till slut. Häng med. En Flash-animerad presentation [...]

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  51. what are the preloaded materials and cost is high or not n what is the cost

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  52. I have had the N81 (2 gig) for two weeks now and it is great. The screen quality is fabulous, it is quick to load music/images etc. I can’t wait to download the games when released. The special multimedia keys are both good and bad – you can get music really quickly, but I also have the tendency to press the buttons by accident, turning it on at unfortunate times. I like the little iPod type navi wheel, but it is not supported in all the functions (for example scrolling down messages and songs etc).

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  53. lance-sackless Sunday, December 9, 2007

    is it me or all nokia N series is a cock-up? im not a sony ericsson person myslef but right now i cant point a good phone on the market. it could be nokia 3510 or the imfamous Iphone.

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  54. look…,the n81 is a good device in all ways.We should be grateful of its exsistance,Wen i slide my nokia n81 up,or hold it in a vertical position,people have the tendency to look(in my country STARE) at the remarkable clamshell device in addition its 16m colour screen.The camera on this phone aint bad;better than the out-dated,stone aged:D n70 6280,9500,6111…ect..,.My suggestion of mentaining this device is to,clean the glossary surface once in a while,dont drop the beauty,be responsable of your memory use by not filling it up:){YES YOU N81 8gb USERS) IN ORDER FOR BETTER FUNCTIONALITY,take an effort on repairing nd searching fo upgrade firmware os.as fo me it seemz to be just fyn!huha

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  55. I just got my N81(2GB) last Dec. 2 from Singapore and same as angel, I also live in the Philippines. I decided not to get the 8GB version because im not a big fan of phones with HUGE internal disk spaces. I prefer those with the external memory cards so that i can easily back-up my phone data if in case something goes wrong with the phone memory.

    Anyway, ive been using the N81 for almost 3 weeks now and i haven’t experienced any problem that was mentioned in the review. I have the firmware version 10.0.032. I can create text messages in a snap, I haven’t experienced any lock-ups, internet browsing via wi-fi was a breeze. Before I switched to the N81, I was using the N80 Internet Edition, which I believe was a far better phone — camera wise. Nokia might have made a mistake in ditching the 3MP camera with macro mode support from the N80, but they improved the most important aspect of a multimedia phone — battery life. Ive been running the Music Player for almost 8 hours straight and it still gives me 2-3 bars of battery life, and what’s the kicker? its not even full-charged when I started it.

    I dont care if the N81 doesn’t give me crisp pictures like the N80, but it has satisfied my needs for a true music phone. Ive been a nokia music phone owner since the 5510 days.. Ive tried them all even the “Music Edition” NSeries phones. And I can safely say that the N81 wins. For now that is. I am very happy with my purchase. Money well spent indeed.

    However, there are problems that I want to be resolved by the next firmware update. First is to allow us to use the NaviWheel in the phone menu, and second, to allow us to close the music player, not just hide it. Maybe I’m just not used to seeing other applications “running” when I press down the menu key. But overall, the N81 is a very good phone if you know how to use it and if you know what you are looking for in a phone.

    Sorry for the lengthy post. Thanks for reading. :P

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  56. [...] read a few other reviews. Om Malik said the N81 was slow slow to open. Not something I’ve found. It’s as quick as any I [...]

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  57. [...] feature a whatever another reviews. Om Malik said the n81 was andante andante to open. Not something I’ve found. It’s as hurried as [...]

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  58. I live in Australia, and only recently we have seen the Nokia N81.

    I have it on a plan, and have had it since the twentieth of December, and it has frozen on me a couple of times. I can’t turn it off from the power button, so I had to pull out the battery.

    The navi wheel also sqeeks a bit when pushed down, and is a little stiff. My friend now has the same phone, and her’s is much nicer to use.

    I used the camera today to actually take some nice pictures. This was the first real time I had taken notice of it. However the quality was shocking! The image seems to be very sharp, with a LOT of dots… I understand pixels etc, but when you are taking something that is dirt, and it is coming up like grass… thats not right.

    I guess I have a lemon, so it will be going straight back to Nokia. They have said they allow 30 days (thank God). I hope this one is much better, and that I dont end up wishing I read this review before I got this phone on a 24 month contract!!!

    Wish me luck!

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  59. [...] reviews the Nokia N81 and writes, “Being a music phone, all the music-playback functionality is built into the top [...]

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  60. Some people say the n81 is a good phone, and some say it is a bad phone. Which one is it really? Is the n81 really that slow?

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  61. This is a problem, do you opt for the 8GB version and hope that there is enough memory for all of your music, videos, pictures and files or do you go for what seems like the underdog, ie: 2GB version but have the facility of expandable memory to accommodate your usage requirements?
    The N81 2GB is only available on Vodafone in the UK which slims down the choice even further.

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  62. Om

    Im currently using N-81 and there seems to be a little play in the slider. I have used sliding phones before but i have never felt any sort of play in the sliders.

    I would like to know if this problem is in all N81(8gb) phones or was i the only one with bad luck.

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  63. i just dont know what the hell people are saying abt this fone, im so much confused, few are saying the fone is great 8gb is enough memory for all you needs, hmmmzzz,,,,, but i just wanna know dat if we put our all datas in the fone, will the fone funtion stop working properly? or fone might get slow??? plzz tell me this im so much confused or nokia n81 has a windows live messenger in it?? plzzz tell me,.

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  64. hey guyz i wanna get this phone but i wanna know if it will allow me download windows format file like exe on it’s memory and then load them on my pc

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  65. Got my n81 two days ago, fantastic, put all my addresses, contacts and about 2 gb of music on it, no problems till today. it stopped (white screen) just as i was checking out the map application, then nothing. just wrapping it up now to return. it’s a shame for the two days it worked it was a great phone.

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  66. Hi, is the sound quality good when playing music from the handset?

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  67. hey guys

    i have NO idea what this reviewer is on about. 10 seconds to open a text message?? i bought my N81 last week and i think its the best phone ive ever bought.

    it was the N81 with the included 2gb micro sd card, not the 8GB version. i quickly scored myself an 8GB card on ebay for another $100AUD and updated the firmware to 11.0.0.45 (which it probably didnt need as it worked fine anyway) and away i went.

    ive had NO lock-ups, crashes, freezes and or anyhitng of the sort since then. its been a pleasure to use. music quality is awesome, gaming is wikid, usability takes a little getting used to (inc the navi-wheel which is a pretty sweet feature) but i freakin love this phone!

    i understand the design is not for everybody in that the buttons may not be as easy for some peaple to use, but hey its been designed for the young, tech-savvy person anyway. so if ur a bit weary hey dont buy it. thats the only flaw ive found. (the camera may be a little sub-standard ie a little ‘noisy’ but i didnt buy it for the camera).

    ive been selling mobile phones for about 4 years now, and right now for features and performance, i think its a freakin killer.

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  68. have this phone for a month and a half…and I loooove it. I don’t carry my Olympus M:robe with me anymore :D

    however, camera has so much grain/noise in the dark. that’s the only downside. flash, if it’s too close to the subject, may turn the photo a little bluish/purplish.

    updated the firmware too. bad move. since then, i experienced hang-ups after each song. need to take out the battery (you can’t even power it off) but then it’s erratic. I mean, yep, it’s like throwing its tantrums.

    Overall, I love playing games on this one (even though I am a girl). Its got the looks (just clean it from time to time – fingerprints are all over my phone lol) and teh functionality.

    I’d highly recommend this phone, still :)

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  69. does the n81 plays online videos like youtube.com? thanks

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  70. Kind regards to all from the UK,

    Ive just purchased a N81, as im into my music…….i find it a great phone, im not into the ‘using it on the internet’ thing, as i dont understand all that stuff yet……give me a break!!! im 40 lol…….i do have a questions though…

    1.How do i connect my N81 to my car sound system to use it like an iPod? my car head unit has a ‘AUX’ 3.5MM Jack on the front. When i plug it into the phone (headphone socket)via this input…..i get nothing. My phone came with headphones,the remote control unit,and driver cd…..thats it.

    Kind regards to all.

    ade.

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  71. Julio Caetano Sunday, April 20, 2008

    Man, I must say: I´m tottaly with this device. I was waiting to buy N82, but when I saw N81 I just bought. All right, the camera could be better (3.2 MP at minimum), but still makes a good work.
    The gamming experience with N-Gage plataform is awesome, can´t wait to purchase the new releases upcoming.
    And talking about music it is just perfect. The sound is great, loud and without distorsions, the stereo speakers have great quality, the buttom to acess gallery is very useful as the navi wheel. Shame that the navi can´t be used in all device controls.
    Anyway, one more time Nokia show us why is the biggest cell phone company around the world. For who doesn´t have money for N95 8G or N82, the N81 8G is the higgest level at the moment. At least here in Brazil.
    Regards.

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  72. My phones irritating the living shit out of me. the buttons are all mixed up, i press the center, menu opens ! press the menu nothin opens ! press the right button music player opens !

    I bot this crap in middle east , so am not even covered by warranty . Am dead invested 18k and it pains so badly to see the phone die in 2 months time.

    I was just braggin to a frnd 3 days back , abt the capabilities and she said wait till u have a software problem and here it is. Guys u wana problem free phone, dont try a N series. Its Crap !

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  73. Hey, I just read the review and about half of the comments.

    I’m just thinking about buying this phone, but I’m not gonna use it to the extent that you guys did. Just about 200~ songs, a couple of dozen photoes, a few videos, and lots of SMS’s. I’m mainly getting it for the looks and music capabilities. Would this phone be a good choice for me?

    Please comment…

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  74. well people..i have had my n81 for a week and i can’t get hold of any problems u were talkin about..i agree that the slider is kind of wobbly when opened and the navi wheel doesnt work great..but everything else is fine…so don’t hesitate in buying it…

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  75. [...] Malik has reviewed the Nokia N81, you can read it here. I haven’t had a chance to use the N81 yet, reading through Om’s review I’m not [...]

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  76. [...] Malik has reviewed the Nokia N81, you can read it here. I haven’t had a chance to use the N81 yet, reading through Om’s review I’m not [...]

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  77. I’m due for an upgrade in about 2weeks. Was looking at the N81 and an HTC phone. But cant decide what i want. I have always had Nokia, so i dont really want any other phone.

    I currently have 6288 which is ok. The only other thing which would have been nice in this model, is the ability to open more than one application at a time.

    I use the internet on the phone very regularly. What would u suggest?

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  78. I haven’t got a clue what you aretalking about, i;ve had the phne for about 2 day now ad haven’t had one problem with it, i abolutely love it, and i agree with one of the earlir commets about maybe you had an early firmware!, ive filled up half the memory with music and imges andagain no problems, internet (WLAN) s perfect, and i love the navi wheel really helps to go through all that music. As for the overcrowding its probably becuase all you obeise americans have fat thumbs! lol, loose some thumb weight ull oon see the difference.
    Peace from Great Britain!

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  79. Hey guys, ive been waiting a long time to get a NEW phone especcialy the N81, ive been stuck with a old model the Nokia 6600 it wasnt a very bad phone well mine was ok and fast. People i just want to know if the phone is good or not ive been waitin 4 eva 2 get the N81!!!

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  80. This phone looks awesome ive always wanted this phone but im kind of dissapointed of the 2megapixels they can seriously do better, but soeone please tell me is this phone really worth it!!! (N81)

    regards

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  81. IS THE NOKIA N81 A GOOD PHONE??? please tell me

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  82. can anyone please help with the navigation system on my N81 8GB?
    i just cant seem to get it to work !!!!

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  83. Mark Bradney Friday, July 4, 2008

    The guy who wrote this review is extremely stupid. He put all the music first and then started “reviewing”. It’s absolutely normal that when you fill up your phone’s memory (or any other device’s memory) to the full, it gets slow, unresponsive and so on. That’s just plain dumb and shows how much knowledge about mobile phones and technology in general the reviewer has.

    Of course Nokia N81 is flawless, but you gotta know your thing how to use it properly.

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  84. Hi I received my N81 in march of this year,by may i had to send it back because the buttons on the front was not opening the page ie menu then it stopped opening all the function nothing i pressed would open, i returned the phone. i was sent another N81, now in august i had the same problem again none of the function on the face is opening, i have returned the phone and received another N81, waiting now to see how long this would last.

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  85. Miltiades Frangos Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    I’ve had my N81 four days now and have already come across most of the issues in Om’s review.
    On the second day of use the phone froze on me while running the map application. A reboot fixed it. The thing is ever since, the ‘music player’ and some ‘call standby’ application are constantly running in the background. These two cannot be closed by any means. In the meanwhile, I faced multiple instances when the most simple tasks took forever, the most recent one was when it took eight reboots to get the phone working at normal speeds again. The phone runs on the most recent 11.0.0.45 firmware.
    One more thing: Athens Greece is a Gmt +2 time zone city. Some ignorant fool has programmed the phone to display +3 when Athens is selected. Obviously the phone’s firmware deserved some more attention.
    I’m taking the thing back tomorrow first thing.
    Shame.

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  86. [...] Malik has reviewed the Nokia N81, you can read it here. I haven’t had a chance to use the N81 yet, reading through Om’s review I’m not [...]

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  87. Hey, when I want to add a theme to my N81 it keeps telling me ‘certificate error’ so how can I add themes to my phone. Please help me I’m desperate!!!

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  88. [...] Review: The Sweet Agony That Is Nokia N81 It has been nearly 65 days since I went without a phone set change, leading to snide remarks from my co-workers about my fidelity to Apple’s iPhone. Despite getting frustrated with frustrations with iPhone’s Email application (I carry a Blackberry to get some serenity), and poky Edge connections, I avoided the hassle of switching to another phone. [...]

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  89. i own a N81 for 6months now, with a 2GB chip it works like a charm, no problem i got 23 ngage games on it, the only time i got a problem is when i used a 4GB chip, the phone start acting up, but reverting to the 2GB solved my problem, it the best nokia to me

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  90. i got the nokia n81 a year back..n it has been wonderful, not given any problem..the sound is excellent,the camera is okay,the screen is freakn awesome, the gaming part is very good,the map navigator is very nice and interesting, the phone is smart looking and it is only how you use it..ive stored my phone like anything but i use it with care and its working well, im happy with it..i think your phone is defective…u should change the piece..

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  91. Apart from memory space, there is no big progress on new Nokia phones.

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