Nokia N86 – A straight-up oldskool Nseries smartphone, yo.

N86 T9 FailOne thing that stuck with me from the launch of WIND Mobile in Toronto this past week was that the company offers not a single straight-up oldskool handset. Even in their currently limited lineup everything they’re selling is either a touchscreen or qwerty.

And yet my recent stopover in super-futuristic Tokyo last month would suggest that numberpad devices are still very much in fashion.

Suffice to say that for me and this N86, traditional T9 text input is something that has to be tolerated for the sake of that sweet, sweet camera.

The keypad on the N86 isn’t bad, per se — far from it. While maybe not quite up to the gold standard of numberpads — that honour goes to the N95, IMHO — the keys on the N86 have similarly good travel and, critically, have a bit of space between them, as you can see here:

N86 Numberpad

If you’re a whiz at T9 your thumbs will fly on the N86, but if you’re still learning like me you just need a little patience and you’ll get bw bz by.

Above the keys is a straight-up oldskool 240×320-pixel display, with one important difference. Though the resolution is the same as on almost every other Eseries and Nseries device, this one is all AMOLED up in yo’ face! That is to say, it’s an active-matrix organic light-emitting diode display…

So what? Well, see for yourself, the N86 on the left compared to my N79 on the right:

N86 AMOLED Screen

AMOLED is more efficient for better battery life, but more importantly it looks fantastic everywhere except in direct sunlight, where it’s still readable.

N86 Installed AppsBut behind the screen we’ve got a bit of an oldskool problem — a lack of available space for installed apps.

Here’s most of what I’ve put on my N86, plus a handy guide in case there’s something here that you don’t recognize:

Row 1: Calcium, FishText, Frozen Bubble.
Row 2: JoikuSpot, Nimbuzz, OfficeSuite.
Row 3: Opera Mini, Qik, SplashID.
Row 4: SymTorrent, UpCode, WorldMate.

None of these apps take up much space on their own, but together with the other necessary items on my default drive they’ve gobbled up over 70 of the available 78MB of flash memory there.

N86 Available MemoryDon’t believe me? See for yourself…

Part of the problem is how Nokia arbitrarily splits up the internal memory on its devices into separate virtual drives. Sure, I could’ve install all my apps and more into the “mass memory” partition of the single, internal drive, but I didn’t — and now I can’t install the N-Gage client on my N86 at all.

Furthermore, why split it all up in the first place? That’s straight-up oldskool obfuscation for new users, yo… But I suppose it makes sense in this (mostly) straight-up oldskool Nokia.

If I do end up buying an N86 for myself, I’m gonna have to get me some adidas-style white stripes to lay across the back of it.





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