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+ In Depth User Review: Nokia N85 - "Doing what's right!"

25 November 2008

"Doing what’s right!"
Nokia N85 - The Review


[1] - [2] - [3] - [4] - [5] - [6]

No 3d accelerator here

Now let’s take a closer look at the hardware part of the N85. The phone is based on a Freescale chip featuring single core ARM 11 processor with 369 Mhz we’ve seen first on the N81 and on the most recent N78 and N79. Compared to the TI OMAP 2420 platform, this solution is justified by lower production costs, smaller size while having minimum impact performance wise.

However, if we look at the benchmark tests against the veteran N95, who utilizes the great TI OMAP 2420 chip, the difference is more than noticeable, but that is mostly in 3d graphic tests. The huge difference is explained by the absence of the dedicated 3d graphic chip on the N85, the biggest shortcoming of it’s platform.


Nokia N85

Nokia N85

Nokia N85

Nokia N85

Let's take some time to comment on these benchmark results. Obviously there isn't much surprise about the considerable dominance of the N95 in these tests. The most hardware straining test is SPMark, where the N85 simply can’t measure up against the N95, for understandable reasons.

The rest of the tests were made on java based apps called JBenchmark. Except for the JBencmark2 test, the N95 pretty much dominates the rest of the tests here, leaving the N85 with a huge gap behind.

Curiously, the N85 shows a higher score at user interface and 3D transform tests. Does that confirm that the N85 better handles the day to day tasks, while the N95 is better at more specific tasks that require its hardware superiority?

Also it’s worth mentioning that N85 is not compatible with older accelerometer based games and other apps, because of different set of APIs in the new S60 Sensor Framework, that was ported over from S60 5th edition to the new feature pack 2. Sadly enough, no patching with any plug-ins will do, all motion based software must be rewritten to support phones like the N85 or N96, and that will require some time from the developers.

As of now, none of the NGage titles support the 3d accelerator chip, so all NGage games should perform pretty much the same on both phones.

Here’s a quick video of the two phones running the same NGage game, namely Snakes Subsonic:



Also, you won't feel any difference in java or native sis games. Same goes for applications. While the N85 has a total of 128 Mb of RAM, the real amount available for running applications is about 70 mb on a fresh boot. Using such memory extensive apps like the in-built web browser and music player at the same time drops the memory to around 50 mb.

Nokia N85 Nokia N85
*click to enlarge

Basically the Ram is quite sufficient for all the tasks you can throw at your phone, so no worries here. In short, you get a lot snappier response times, better battery life and music experience, and the trade offs can be easily overlooked by most of the buyers.

Nokia N85

The available firmware at the review time is 10.045 (10/09/08). It certainly is greener that it could’ve been. The situation isn’t as bad as with N95-1 first appearance or the N96, but it’s still a little disappointing Nokia couldn’t deliver a mature firmware right away. Shortly, there’s room for improvements and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a fresh firmware with bug fixes very soon.

Console wars

While at it, why not to make a quick comparison between the N85 and N95? But why compare it to the N95 classic in first place? Let's have a look. Both phones feature accessible price, and the 1,5 year old N95 classic model unsurprisingly scores at even lesser price than the mass-market intended N85. Without going into details, the N85 mimics almost everything the N95 has brought before, and both are dual sliders. Unwillingly, but both phones can be viewed as rivals, although their initial positioning spell otherwise.

Nokia N85 Nokia N85
*click to enlarge


The N85 scores with appealingly small dimensions and compact design, while the N95 classic is more bulky and angular, but wins with the more traditional front keys and wider joypad. Hardware wise, the N85 loses to N95 considerably, as the later features 3d accelerator chip ideal for those sophisticated games. Both phones are fully compatible with NGage 2.0 platform. While the N85 has bigger amount of dedicated memory for running apps and games, it doesn’t affect the performance in most games, so the N95 is still better for gaming.

Nokia N85 Nokia N85
*click to enlarge

Dual-LED inside

The N85 comes equipped with a 5Mp autofocus camera with Carl Zeiss optics, which isn’t much of a surprise nowadays but a simple necessity. Interestingly enough, the camera is accompanied by a dual-LED flash, the same we can find on the N96. The maximum resolution of photos you can get is a stunning 2592x1944, if only the quality of those shots were as high.

Nokia N85 Nokia N85
*click to enlarge

From my tests so far, the camera is comparable to other Nseries phones with the same camera sensors, for the exception of Xenon flash solution introduced by Nokia N82. My biggest curiosity was how the dual-LED flash would compete in low light conditions, as well as in complete darkness, so I pitted the N85 against the oldie N95.

Nokia N85
Nokia N95
Nokia N85 Nokia N85
*click to enlarge

As it turns out, the difference is still noticeable, and it comes down to different image processing algorithms and the N95 shot looks more affected by the led flash. I was only surprised by the slightly smaller focal distance of 5.45, compared to 5.6 of the N95, and a little research in that matter revealed that a smaller number means larger viewing angle, and thus more can be fitted in the shot.

Nokia N85 Nokia N85
Nokia N85 Nokia N85
*click to enlarge

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SF Review: "Doing what's right!" - Nokia N85
Originally posted: 25.11.2008
Last Updated: 27.11.2008
Author: Sergejs Cuhrajs
Photos: Sergejs Cuhrajs (AKA Nexus_)
Copyright: Symbian Freak 2008; all rights reserved

Nokia N85

Source: Author: Sergejs Cuhrajs


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