Nokia fans underwhelmed by the N81 have been given one more shot at true love in the form of the N82 candybar. From the model numbers and quick glance, you might think that the N81 and N82 are actually just the same phone in different form factors, but it turns out that's pretty far from the truth -- besides a camera upgraded from 2 megapixels to 5, the N82 features GPS and a physical design just a little more befitting its price tag and position at the top of Nokia's range.
Since we're all well familiar with S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1 and the standard Nseries software load, we're going to keep this short and sweet by concentrating on physical design. In a nutshell: the N82 has, once again, set a new standard for Nokia build quality. No creaks, no loose-fitting pieces, nothing that feels unsubstantial. In fact, from the front, the N82 almost looks like it's fashioned from a single piece of metal (or, at the very least, metal-like stuff).
Around back, though, we find that's not true. Instead, it's all plastic here, but it's extremely high quality plastic. We were digging the pearlescent, patterned battery cover.
The camera is a 5 megapixel autofocus unit accompanied by a xenon flash and a Carl Zeiss-sourced lens, typical of Nseries devices. Of all the 5 megapixel cameraphones we've tested, we found that we had the easiest time taking a decent shot in any lighting condition with the N82. Let's put it this way: if we had to attend some event where we knew we needed to take pictures and we forgot our camera, this is the phone that we'd want in our pocket.
Naturally, the N-Gage teaser is included here, though we weren't able to put the production service through its paces (should be available any day now -- can you feel the excitement building?). The N81 might be a little more appropriate for serious gamers thanks to its two top-mounted control buttons, but at least you'll know that the N82 has the horsepower to run anything Nokia can throw your way.
Speaking of controls, we were a little wary of the N82's tiny keys. Until we used them, that is. We were absolutely shocked to find that we had no trouble using the keypad, probably because they're separated just far enough part to prevent 95 percent of double presses. Unfortunately, the N82 lacks the N81's nifty "Navi wheel" that allows users to scroll through lists by touch, but anyone used to typical S60 navigation won't miss it, and the d-pad is one of the better we've used on an Nseries handset anyway.
So look, Nokia, the bottom line is that we're really close to being sold. We love the N95-besting camera, the GPS, the 3.5mm headphone jack, the killer build quality, and the... dare we say, chic design. You know the drill, though: just send us a N82-3 with HSDPA 850 / 1900 and the deal will be sealed, because this is one little powerhouse deserves more -- way more -- than EDGE.