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Pictures taken with the Nokia N85

In 3 months of ownership, I snapped nearly 1000 pictures with my Nokia N85, US version, including some truly great ones! That covers most of the pictures taken during my holiday road trip to New Orleans.

Right about now, you probably expect me to write a glowing review of the N85 camera, but I can’t – it’s pretty nice, but it’s not good enough.

Despite almost identical specs, it falls short of the cream of the 5 megapixel crop: the Nokia N82, the Nokia N95, the Motorola ZN5, the Sony Ericsson K850i, and the i-mobile 902

The culprit? Noise, noise, and more noise – just like its sibling the Nokia N79, the Nokia N96, and the 3 megapixel 5800/E71/E66. Do you see a trend here?

Color balance is fine. Exposure, while sometimes off, is generally decent. But low-light performance is plagued with noise – I’m not sure if this is a firmware problem that can be fixed with future updates, or a hardware limitation related to sensor size.

No matter the reason, it’s a show-stopper, and it’s extremely disappointing! When I first played with the N85 last summer it seemed like a better flagship than the N96, and a logical replacement for my N95-3. I wrote:

Take the awesome N95-3, add a lens cover, add European 3G (in addition to US 3G), add USB charging, replace the single LED flash with a dual ultra-bright LED unit, replace the LCD with an OLED screen, and make it a lot thinner. That’s the N85, and after playing with it in Helsinki, I can’t wait to replace my N95-3 :)

The lens cover is a necessary addition. Tri-band 3G is really useful, and hopefully destined to become a standard feature on all future Nseries devices.

USB charging is great until you find out it’s somehow incompatible with any generic USB (home/car) charger other than Nokia’s. The OLED screen looks beautiful (if not a bit warm in color) until you use the phone in direct sunlight…

– Lens cover
– Geo-tagging
– Dual LED flash

– Poor low-light performance
– OLED screen difficult to read in direct sunlight
– Slow picture viewer

The N85 camera looks good on paper, but beware of specs. Although the N85 is a very nice phone overall, I ended up somewhat regretting the sale of my N95-3.

Hopefully Nokia will break this noise trend with the N97 and the 8 megapixel N86.

4 thoughts on “Pictures taken with the Nokia N85 Leave a comment

  1. What about those darn softkeys?!

    I think it’s a lovely device (and for some reason it’s only now being pushed in the UK) but I just *can’t* get used to those keys…


  2. I agree about the noise issue but I must say that in good light my N85 can easily compare to my wifes N82. In fact contrast is handled better. Colour saturation is superb.

    I have a really cheap car charger and have had no problems with charging my battery

    • @Giles,

      I disagree… In my experience, the N82 camera clearly outperforms the N85 overall, and especially in low light! The N82 has several other advantages, including a mechanical shutter (I’m not talking about the sliding lens cover), and a xenon flash. If a NAM version (US 3G bands) was available I would have made it my primary device a long time ago.

      As for USB charging, none of the standard USB home/car chargers I own (which all feature a standard USB socket) would charge my N85 when using the supplied micro-USB cable – yet these chargers work fine will all my other phones. Others have reported similar problems:

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