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Nokia N82 first impressions

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Nokia produces some smashing mobiles, and is certainly not shy of cramming N series handsets with features. The N82’s high point is its 5-megapixel camera, for example, although it is brimming over with other good stuff too.

But the company also manages to shoot itself in the foot from time to time, and it has done that with the N82 in two respects.

Let’s get the problems out of the way first, as they really are tediously annoying.

Looks. If you want a stylish phone that’ll fit easily into your pocket and will cause your friends to gasp enviously when you make or take a call, then forget the N82. As if the blandness of the all-round sliver casing isn’t enough (and no, we don’t think the wavy etching on the back cover adds much to proceedings), this is just too chunky a phone to be called stylish. It measures 112mm tall, 50mm wide and a massive 17mm thick, and weights 114g. It is, in short, a bit of an ugly monster.

Keypad. For a reason we can’t fathom, Nokia has decided to use one of the tiniest number pads we’ve ever seen. Each of the number keys is long and thin and we found it quite difficult to tap out SMS messages at speed. The number pad is pretty cramped too, squeezed into the bottom quarter of the front fascia, and we reckon some people might find it a bit difficult to use this phone one-handed. And as if to compound the key problem there’s a weeny shortcut key to various multimedia-centric applications sitting in the middle of the right softmenu and Cancel rocker, and we kept hitting it by mistake.

Grumbles aside, lets look at the N82’s goodies. This is a tri-band mobile with 3G and HSDPA, and there’s a front facing camera for making video calls.

We’ve already mentioned the 5-megapixel main camera and this is the real highlight of this mobile. The manual cover protects the lens of course, but also activates and deactivates the camera. The controls are easy to use, and the Carl Zeiss optics and xenon flash seem to make for nice pictures. Video capture at 30 frames a second could be handy too, and you can use the provided cable to connect to a TV and show your pix and movies to all and sundry.

Wi-Fi is built in as is Nokia’s A-GPS antenna and Nokia Maps. You could, then, use this phone as both a satnav and mobile Internet device. Add in Nokia’s good Web browser, an FM radio to bulk out the music player, Nokia’s N-Gage gaming platform, mobile email, 100MB of internal memory and a 2GB microSD card with a handy side-mounted card slot and you can see that Nokia has thrown just about everything it has at this mobile phone.

And there is one really clever trick that will amaze your friends as much as the design of this mobile horrifies them.

The screen can be pushed into wide format, and you don’t need to press a button to make it happen. Just tilt the phone in your hand and the screen switches all by itself. We love this feature, and expect to see it become a lot more widespread on mobiles as time goes on.

We have a definite love/hate thing going on with the N82. On the outside thanks to the bland design and ridiculously small number keys this phone is a no-no. But on the inside it is so packed with features that we can’t help really liking it. Maybe what we really want is an N82a – a thinner, better designed N82.

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