Despite Nokia's global success it's performance in the U.S. market has been lackluster. Can the arrival of the N86 to America, with its Symbian-smartphone and 8-megapixel-camera powers help turn that situation around?
The phone was announced back in February at the Mobile World Congress, and shipped in June to other locations around the world, but it's taken until now for the N86 North American edition to arrive. It's a Symbian S60-powered, HSDPA/HSUPA-featured phone, with a 2.6-inch OLED QVGA screen, 8GB of built-in memory expandable by microSD, accelerometers, dual-sliding action (for keypad and media controls), AGPS, and all the other usual trappings. Slashgear demonstrated its functionality on video (and its slightly hefty shape and size)—check out the clip below.
But the N86's real strength is its camera—it's powerful enough to call this a cameraphone with the emphasis on the camera part. Although before I've poo-poohed many efforts at cameraphones, thanks to megapixel war-style nonsense, Nokia really seems to have focused on this camera's technology in the right kind of way. The N86's sensor is 8.1-megapixels, and though I'll still question the value of having so many pixels in a cameraphone, the unit actually has proper Carl-Zeiss optics: It's also autofocus, with a mechanical shutter and variable aperture. That instantly lifts the camera above nearly every other cameraphone's with their poor-performing fixed apertures, rolling electronic shutter and fixed focus, and means it should perform much better in low or ultra-bright light conditions as well as allowing for more creative photos. The image quality is so good in fact the device won the Best Mobile Imaging Device 2009 award from the Technical Image Press Association.
Flickr and Ovi Share functionality is built into the phone, but perhaps this is where the N86 falls down—it's Symbian UI doesn't seem to live up to the performance standards we've come to expect from Android, WebOS, and the iPhone, and doesn't quite match Nokia's own "mini computer" aspirations. Still—it's an extremely strong performer, and its list cost at $469 is low enough that it'll be priced temptingly with carrier subsidies. And that should definitely boost Nokia's image in the U.S.