Nokia have decided to release a clamshell device for their flagship N-series. Before we start, I'd just like to point out that on paper, the N80 is better than the N71 in every way. Just to get it out of the way, the N80 has a higher resolution camera, a higher resolution screen, WiFi, more internal memory, and is slightly smaller to boot.
But let's concentrate on what the N71 does have. It's 3G like every other N-Series phone. It has a 2 Megapixel camera with a flash that will be perfect for many mobile users, which - judging by the recent quality of cameras on Nokia devices - should give excellent picture quality. I'm also pleased with the positioning of the camera. Sometimes a manufacturer places the camera on the bottom part of the flip (ala Z1010), and the shooting angle is slightly different from the viewing angle. In this case, it's in the optimal position, allowing enough room for the secondary display.
The external display is very high quality, allowing an impressive 65,000 colours. And it doesn't have one of those infuriating black bezels that make the display look larger than it is, when it's inactive - instead it's got a nice metalic frame. Many manufacturers use OLEDs for external displays, preferring the low power consuption over aesthetics. However, I'm not sure about this display, as it looks too good to be OLED. If it is, I'm impressed.
The internal screen is a respectable 262,000 colors, and a fairly standard 320 x 240, which although the defacto resolution for Pocket PCs for years, has kind of seeped in to other formats. The handset itself has a paltry 10Mb, and for some strange reason, expanable memory is supported in the MiniSD format! Have Nokia given up on the MMC format?
Now lets have a look at the software. Symbian Series 60 handsets are generally quite capable devices, and Nokia are really good at developing software in stages - the kind of thing where if you've used Nokias for 3 years, you'd expect them to be present in another handset. Nokia have included a very flexible music player which supports… ready? WMA, MP3, eAAC+, AAC+, M4A, MPEG-4 ACC LC, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, 64 polyphonic MIDI, RealAudio Voice, RealAudio7, and RealAudio8. I think that pretty much covers everything apart from Grandmas gramophone collection.
Nokia have also included their "visual radio" software. While listening to the radio with this feature activated, you'll get to see certain images and information from participating stations - things like Album covers, text, competitions, and anything else they can think of. Cost permitting, his sounds like a splendid idea. Apart from that, Series 60 will be pretty much as you last saw it - which is a good thing.
Verdict: If you want a clamshell, and you want a Nokia, you can't really go wrong. But… If you want a Nokia, and you don't need a flip, the N80 really does rock.