Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nokia N82: A Year in Review

Looking and functioning like new after one year of use and taking over 3200 photos

It was a year ago I bought my Nokia N82 to replace my dated Sony Ericsson W810i. The N82 had big shoes to fill because my W810i had served me well for almost a year and I took over 3600 photos with it. I loved the W810i 3.2MP camera but I felt really constrained with a non-Smartphone. I had tried the Nokia N95 but the slider felt cheap and I was very worried about scratching the exposed LCD. But I loved the 5MP camera, having WiFi to avoid data costs, and the S60 OS' flexibility. When the N82 was announced I knew I had to get the phone. It was everything the N95 was but in a more manageable size and candy bar format.

Although the N82 wasn't a North American (NAM) phone since it only had 2100 3G band, I couldn't wait for a NAM version - turns out I made the right decision since Nokia never released one. I was going to visit Japan that month so having 2100 3G would be useful there since they didn't support GSM. Plus, data costs in Canada were ridiculously expensive at the time (7MB for $40, 200MB for $100) so I wouldn't use NAM 3G even if I had it.

Build Quality

The D-pad still feels squishy and I still don't like the chicklet number keys
In my initial review, I mentioned the build quality of the N82 was solid. As with everything that age, like the floorboards of a house, it developed creaks. When I pinch the phone by the sides I can hear the slight creek. Pinching the phone by the top and bottom doesn't creek. The D-pad still makes a squishy sound like plastic ribbons touching each other. The initial looseness of the D-pad gave me the impression that it could just fall off from the rest of the keypad but that hasn't happened yet. I've dropped my phone a few times including one big drop and sliding along a few feet of pavement - that scratched up the back and sides but nothing really bad and the cream colored rear make hide scratches pretty well. The spring loaded camera shutter still has its spring. For the most part, the N82 works like it did a year ago. Amazing job Nokia!


Most dust gets under the battery cover
The left soft key has become softer to push than the right soft key. Dust has got into the front viewing camera. If I tap my phone hard enough I can move the dust around. Slight dust gets into the memory card slot. Dust gets into the battery compartment too. The exposed micro USB slot didn't accumulate as much dust as I'd imagine. That goes for the top ear piece. My old Sony Ericsson T616 had a big ear piece dust problem that once in a while I'd blast really loud music out of it so the sound pushes out the dust. I also haven't gotten too much dust into the 5MP camera yet so the shutter is actually doing a great job. The most important thing: thankfully dust hasn't gotten into the main display yet. I had a problem with dust getting under the screen on my Nokia 6682.

Software/Hardware Remarks
I've only updated the firmware twice on my N82. My N82 is still on V 20.0.062 as of this writing since I haven't run into any major problems with this firmware. My N82 has gone through the occasional crash and reboots that accompanies any technology. I want to remember the last time it crashed but I can't remember when so that's a good thing or I have a bad memory. The N82 did suffer a major hardware/software problem on one of my vacations where I took a lot of photos during the day and the Xenon flash stopped recharging. I'm not sure everyone notices this but every time you go back to the viewfinder the camera will charge the Xenon flash. Meaning that every time you start the camera or exit the menu in the camera application, it will charge the Xenon flash so that's why taking photos quickly kills your battery. Now when my Xenon flash stopped recharging the camera wouldn't show the viewfinder anymore, stopped allowing me to take photos, and just showed a black screen. I thought my N82's camera was a goner. My N82 was a EURO version so I wasn't looking forward to mailing it to Europe for servicing. Thankfully it started working again after avoiding the camera for a day. Since then the Xenon hasn't been a problem with just occasionally taken a little long to recharge between uses.

The multimedia key placement makes it easy to confuse as the capture key
Usability, I hated that multimedia key beside the camera button and I continue to hate it. But I don't hate it enough to keep running MagicKey in the background to remap that key. Surprisingly, not a lot of people accidentally hit the multimedia when I ask them to help take a photo of myself. But people who take our photos aren't accustomed to having auto focus on a camera phone so our photos usually come out unfocussed.

I really like the support for micro USB. It's a lot less fragile than the old pop port connector since the old CA-53 data cable had a hook on it.

I'd have to admit, I never used uPnP on my N82 before. I just don't have any other devices that support it.

The S60 web browser was really phenomenal when it came out. But it hasn't kept pace against competitors. It has fairly slow page rendering times and disappointing scores on the web compliance acid3 test.

[Updated 12/15/2008 11:03am] Battery Life
I totally forgot to mention the battery life! After a full year my BP-6MT is still keeping my N82 alive from 1.5 - 2 days. It wasn't a strong point in my initial review but at least it's not getting worst.

Life Changing

The 5MP takes amazing photos in the daylight and Xenon helps it take amazing photos in the dark
The 5MP auto focus camera has produced some impressive shots for me. It's much more convenient than taking a dedicated camera with me. I've taken over 3200 photos with my N82. At first I had troubles getting the photos settings just right for evening dinner shots without Xenon. Most of them turned out too dark or blurry. I needed my N82 to take indoor photos with little light since I review restaurants in my food blog. I wasn't fond of the large auto focus box since I was used to the small box and easier to focus W810i. But I got accustomed to it, which really meant I would give auto focus a number of tries before I gave up.

The GPS function that I just played around with on the N95 has become the killer feature for me. I am dependent on it for driving directions on all my trips. When I'm in an unfamiliar place and in a taxi/limo, I use it to make sure they're going the right way and not scamming me by going in circles. When I'm in the car, I've found parking lots and alternative routes that have saved me countless hours and money. Sometimes it's as simple as saving your car location in a huge parking lot before walking away so you can find your car later when it's dark. I would never consider buying another primary phone without GPS.

Speaking of saving money, it's obvious that built-in WiFi (802.11g) has saved me money by getting data to my phone without going over EDGE or 3G cell networks. It's also a lot faster than EDGE. I took advantage of WiFi when I was in Japan to check my e-mail without needing to carry my laptop. On a daily basis I use it to stream YouTube using MobiTube.

The N82 is still in my Life

Nokia E71 for e-mails and web browsing. Nokia N82 for everything else
My N82 is still my primary phone for the most part. But I recently received a Nokia E71 as a birthday present and it has taken much of the spotlight for multimedia since its landscape orientation doesn't require me to rotate the phone and the full keyboard is a lot more convenient to type in URLs. I got the E71 primarily for synchronizing my e-mail with my company's exchange server. The security policies on the Exchange server prevent Mail for Exchange to work on any Nokia phone outside their E-series. I still rely on the N82 as my GPS because it locks onto satellites a lot faster and camera since its 5MP and Xenon can't be matched. I bought my N82 a year ago for $599 USD and never regretted paying a premium for it. It is a powerful phone with all the currently sought after features. That is impressive for a phone that was released over a year ago. If my N82 broke I would definitely pick up another N82 to replace it. The only question is which color? :)

A little snipplet of the places I've taken my N82:


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading that, well done! Good to hear that the N82 is still going strong.! I too have recently invested in a black N82, mainly for the camera, and Xenon.


Feng said...

Great read! You covered just about all interesting points, and all are quite thorough.

Good to hear you still enjoy your N82 :) It's just that... I can't stand the keypad and the size :P

Anonymous said...

The only answer is black. and yes why Nokia ever put a crappy 3 MPixel camera version in the E71 still amazes me.

Anonymous said...

>> The security policies on the Exchange server prevent Mail for Exchange to work on any Nokia phone outside their E-series.

I was also facing the same issue. I purchased RoadSync and it works fine with my exchange server?
You can also try Emoze as a free alternative to RoadSync.

- Amit

Adam said...

Haha, I have a very similar setup myself. Nearly two years back I bought an N95-1, then upgraded to an N95-3 upon it's release, and an N95-4 after a concrete related incident with the -3. I was running my company's MFE on the N95's but about two months back I picked up an E71. Having never used E-series before, I now absolutely love the E71 for messaging and browsing. It' size, shape, and build quality are fantastic. However, at least a few days a month my SIM is back in the N95-4, when I start going into Slingplayer withdrawal. There have been occasions where I go on a trip with the E71 as my phone, and an N95 in offline mode just for the camera and music :)

Anonymous said...

I stronglly agree to you that of all the phones Nokia created particularly in camera and 3D Graphics, N82 is still far the greatest.

Kambanka said...

Yep, I do also agree! I still love and adore my precious N82. Even a year later. And still remember one of the review titles 'Comes with Xenon'. Really - the name of that noble gas fits pretty well with that noble device.

max said...

i'm going to buy a phone and i don't know which one to choose.

the e71 or the n82???

the n82 is a little bit cheaper but only 15€

i need my phone for connecting it to my stero, instantmessaging(via umts, which i heard isn't very good in the e71), navigating with gps, using it as a flashlight and playing games and emus like vboy ...

connecting my phone to the tv would also be a very nice feature (like the n82 does) but if i think a little longer about it, it would be annoying to convert every movie into mp4 and carry the av-cable around (probably in a bag in which i could also carry my laptop)

i really don't need the two cameras and the w-lan, but both phones have these features.

please help me. which one would you choose? e71 or n82. which of these phones would you miss more.

Eric said...

@max The N82 features a xenon flash and a very weak LED so it wouldn't serve very well as a flashlight. Depending on what kind of games you like to play, the N82 would be better because of its added 3D acceleration.

Considering you can't care much about the N82's strength (camera and flash) and the E71's strength (keyboard), I think the ultimate question would be which form factor would you want more?

If I had to choose between keeping my N82 or the E71, I would keep the N82. It does almost everything I need from my E71 while the E71 can't do everything my N82 can do.

max said...

thanks for your help. i bought the n82 and it's about to arrive tomorrow.

max said...

now i own a n82 for two days. before i bought the n82 i used a 6233 which is s40. i thought s60 would offer much more functions, but actually there are very much things that i don't like:

in silent mode, there are still sounds in games and when you start recording audio

you cannot use flash files as wallpaper (s40 does)

much slower than s40 (really annoying slow when navigating trough the menu)

much slower than s40 when loading java games

java games need to be installed(at s40 you can play by just opening the jar file)

asks all the time if you really want to install an app

s60 applications need certificates to run (unless you hack symbian which is only possible with older firmwares)

"loudness" option in the audio options doesn't change anything

little calculator functions than s40(of course you can download a better one)

"play" button opens pictures and not the music player (and you can't customize that button)

only few options for the shortcut keys (less than with s40)

no quick dial (call somebody by pressing down and holding a specific number key, except mailbox on number 1)

keyboard lock also works when transferring data via usb

the speakers of the 6233 were much much much!!! louder

the main advantage of the n82 to my 6233 is the new technology, like gps, wlan, 5mp camera + the 3.5mm earphone and video output

so as you can see, i really like the phone itself (except the speakers) and i think it's one of the better symbian phones, but i hate the os. s60 is totally overrated. not really more functions but much slower.

4everskyline said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
r4i karte said...

I have had this phone for nearly a year now and it has served me well. I find it easy to use, the camera quality decent..