Love your N95? Get the Nokia N86.

by James Whatley on 10th September 2009

That’s right, I’m back… and I’m bringing my N86 review with me.
In short, as the title suggests, if you were a fan of the N95 – then the N86 is for you.

The Nokia N86 8MP

The Nokia N86 8MP

You may remember a few months back that fellow Really Mobile co-founder Ben Smith and I sat down to argue discuss the merits of Nokia’s much heralded saviour of 2009, the N97.

It’s a testament to the industry we watch, work and live in today that this now seems like such a long time ago. Here we are some eleven weeks since that post went live and already, I feel like I backed the wrong horse. You see, I was only impressed with the N97 for what is wasn’t. The firmware wasn’t buggy, the hardware wasn’t a let down and the camera wasn’t incapable.

But what did it really bring forward?
Aside from a new form factor, not much.

I said back in the Spring, way back before we launched Really Mobile, when discussing the N97 that I was in fact looking towards to the N86 more than anything else on the horizon…

“…to my mind the N86 is the true replacement for the N95 8GB.”
– James Whatley, April 19th 2009

…and I am very pleased to announce that I was not disappointed.

When it came to choosing a handset for the Lucozade Energy Challenge, the N86 was the only option. I’d read about it, seen videos about it, hell – I’d even taken some shots with an early prototype myself.
This handset has been everything my N95 8GB ever was and more.

Having used the N86 solidly now since the end of June I can safely say that this is my phone of choice and will be for many months to come. You all know I’m a Nokia fiend but of late, that love has waned. Especially in regards to the previously mentioned, N97.

However the N86, the beautiful Nokia N86 8MP – to give it its full name – that which we first glimpsed way back in February of this year at Mobile World Congress, is an excellent phone in the traditional sense.

And it’s this last part dear reader, that is the keystone to the whole of this piece.

You see – I doubt that we will ever see a phone like the N86 ever again. The sheer elegance and sophistication that goes into this perfect combination of this phone first, camera second device is as gorgeous as it was the first time you ever laid eyes on it.

There really is not much I can say about this phone’s feature set that hasn’t already been said. One would imagine that most of you know that the N86 sports a rather fetching 8MP camera (which, on my recent travels around Africa, has yielded some spectacular results). It would be frivolous to assume that the amazing video output from this stunning piece of kit has completely passed by that of even the most casual of mobile fanatics. And I would certainly be completely mis-judging my audience if just for one second I assumed that none of you had noticed the glorious industrial design mixture of glass and metal, making the Nokia N86 one of the smoothest and cleanest handsets one could ever have the great fortune to hold.

A dying breed?

A dying breed?

Give it a silver finish and you could be forgiven for thinking that it was an E-Series.

Yes, it really does feel that good.

It is fantastic. It is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

What it makes me feel though, is sad – and not for the reasons you might think.

I just can’t help thinking that thanks to all sorts of things; the iPhone, the advent of Android, the upcoming Maemo war on Symbian. Phones like this will soon be consigned to the history books. I just have this horrible, dreadful feeling that what I’m using here, is an ending.

The phones of tomorrow are iPhones, are Androids… The N900 looks nice, but the 5MP camera doesn’t come to close to that of the N86. The new Nokia X6, with its capacitive (read: iPhone-esque) screen and its deep level music-based DNA still doesn’t match up to the content creativity skills of my beloved N-Series.

Yes, iPhones are lovely – we know this. Even the HTC Magic came close to swaying me from the Finnish fold some time ago too. But the days of just being able to push real and actual buttons will soon be gone. Relish in them while they’re still here. Remember that feeling. Take happiness from it. And treasure it.

Reading on Symbian-Guru this past week that, as of Nokia World 2009 – ‘Nokia is Touch’ – I shed a tear.
As the Finnish giant moves to embrace Maemo as well as further expand its Symbian 5th Edition range, it stands to reason that the N86 could very well be the last great N-Series device.

Get yours while you can.

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