Nokia’s N81 8GB is, not surprisingly given the handset’s name, equipped with 8GB of internal storage memory. This can be used for any data you like, but the penchant of this mobile is for music and games. You might wonder why I am not including photography in the list, but the 2-megapixel camera is one of the aspects of this handset that disappoints. I’ll get to that later, but right now it is worth noting simply that if photos are your thing, there are other mobiles that do a better job.
The N81 8GB is a quad-band mobile with 3G. It has a front-facing camera for video calling. It is a chunky beast in the hand and pocket, measuring 102mm tall, 50mm wide and 17.9mm thick. It weighs 140g, which is rather a lot these days for a mobile phone. A portion of the thickness can be explained by the fact that this is a slider. When fully opened the phone grows to nearly 135mm. The good news about the overall size is that the numberpad is large.
Also, while many sliders have a ridge at the bottom of the numperpad area the N81 does not, so it’s easy to get to all the keys and texting at speed is unproblematic. There isn’t a ridge on the outside of the casing either, so pulling and pushing the slide means using the screen section for leverage. You don’t want to drop a thumb onto the button area for this job as you’ll end up activating something or other.
A characteristic of sliders is that their front fascias are relatively button free, but this is not the case here. There are so many buttons, in fact, that the Call and End buttons are squeezed out to the far right and left margins of the under-screen area, right to the extreme edges of the phone.
The silver navigation button takes centre stage. You press it up, down, left and right as usual, but you can also, in a tribute to certain music players we could mention, roll a finger round it to make selections in the media gallery or music application. This feature is turned off by default and frankly I can see why. It is a smart idea but it doesn’t work well because the button isn’t sensitive enough. Then again the button isn’t that good when in non-touch mode. I found it was a bit difficult to press, so that getting around the handset quickly was sometimes frustrating.