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Posted on Apr 24, 2008

Nokia N81 Unlocked Cellphone Finance

The Nokia N81 Mobile Cellphone is a strong performer in a a boxy chassis. Eight gigabytes of storage is great, and the music player is on par with its competitors.


The Nokia N81 may be marketed as a music focused mobile; the retail box is plastered with pictures of rowdy concerts, and the user manual is covered with musicians in recording studios, but there’s nothing about the device itself that screams “Rock!”. The piano black and brushed titanium body is classy looking, but not particularly sexy. At 18mm in thickness the N81 is a stocky-looking slider phone that feels similar to others in the Nokia family, the N95, the E65 and the 6110 Navigator to name a few, but without the advanced components in those devices we think the N81 should have at least been slimmer.

External navigation keys show the direction Nokia has taken with the N81, with music player controls front and centre, the call buttons pushed way out to the side, and the volume controls on the side are large and easy to find without looking. A keypad lock switch on the top is a smart addition, used to unlock the external keypad without having to slide the phone open.

Audio is heard through an external speaker on the side of N81, or alternatively — and preferably — through headphones plugged into the 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. The ability to use your favourite headphones, via the 3.5mm port, is a winner on a media device, and having it on top means you can keep the phone in your pocket comfortably while listening to your tunes.


There are, in fact, two N81 models being released, an 8GB model, and a model with smaller internal memory and a micro SD card slot for greater flexibility. The 8GB of memory is the stand-out feature, likening the N81 to a lot of dedicated portable music and media players, but without memory card expansion media junkies will have to swap their files when they have filled the available storage.

While the N81 may not look like the device of rock stars the music player is definitely up to scratch, featuring most of the functionality you’d hope for; including equaliser presets and album cover art display. The laborious task of sifting through the music menus with the directional pad can be sped up using the nifty “navi-wheel” option tucked away in the settings menu. The “navi-wheel” converts the square click pad into a touch sensitive control similar to the click-wheels on iPods. Why this option is not set on by default is beyond us, even if controlling the wheel is a bit finicky, it’s still a much faster way of scanning through the dozens of artists and albums you’re bound to have stored on the device.

The N81, like all new N-Series devices, comes pre-loaded with Nokia’s N-Gage gaming application, and if we were doubters before, let us tell you, we are now converted. Two of the three demo games we saw are by far the best mobile phone games to date. Game juggernaut Electronic Arts (EA) has developed a mobile version of FIFA 07 soccer and it is outright addictive. Let’s cross our fingers for a Nokia phone with a decent joystick, because if these games are indicative of what to expect from N-Gage, we’ll be seeing some very cool mobile games in the near future.

To fill the phone with games and music Nokia have complimented 3G connectivity with Wi-Fi so you can, presumably, jump onto the Nokia Ovi Web portal, and start downloading content at faster than 3G speeds and without incurring expensive mobile data charges. You can set Wi-Fi network scanning to constantly search for available access points and the results are displayed on the standby menu.


As a mobile phone the N81 provides a predictably excellent experience. Running the latest Nokia S60 Symbian operating system provides the user with a powerful platform for multi-tasking, fast access to the menus, and any tools or features you can’t find pre-loaded you can almost certainly download. While we do tend to think the S60 user interface could do with a facelift — it’s boring to look at and not as easy to use as it could be — there’s no doubting its stability.

The 2.4-inch screen is ideal for watching videos, especially when holding the N81 on its side. A pre-loaded music video we watched looked great but beyond this we had no luck loading our own videos onto the phone. Nokia says the N81 will support 3GPP, MPEG4 and H.264 video files played through Realplayer, and while the files we loaded were MP4s, all we saw were black screens. The inclusion of DivX playback in other recent release phones, such as LG’s Viewty, leave the N81 far behind as a video player.

The music player continues to play lag-free in the background while the phone continues with other functions, such as SMS messaging or Web browsing. One of the few features that failed to impress was the 2-megapixel camera; the photos we took outdoors looked washed out with flaring on some of the brighter sections of the image.

We were particularly impressed with the life of the battery in the N81. We saw four days between charges, which in itself isn’t remarkable, but considering we were using a 3G network, constantly scanning for Wi-Fi access points, Web browsing, and using the phone for music and games — we were more than satisfied.


The N81 is an impressive device, and with built-in Wi-Fi networking and the massive internal storage, we have no problems recommending it. We do wish the N81 was slimmer, sexier, more fashionable, and to be recognised as a truly well-rounded media player the N81 would need a longer list of compatible video codecs. The N81 will appeal to people interested in a high-end phone like Nokia’s N95, but who would prefer to save money at the expense of the excellent camera and built-in GPS, even if skimping on these components won’t slim down the pocket bulge.



Operating Frequency

  • WCDMA 2100 + E850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • Automatic switching between bands and modes


  • Volume: 86 cc
  • Weight: ~140 g
  • Length: 102 mm
  • Width: 50 mm
  • Thickness (max): 17.9 mm

Memory Functions

  • Hot swappable microSD memory card slot

Power Management

  • Battery: Nokia Battery (BP-6MT) 1050mAH
  • Talk time: up to 240 minutes GSM / 180 minutes WCDMA
  • Stand-by time: up to 17 days
  • Video playback time: up to 4.5 hours (QVGA)
  • Browsing time (packet data): up to 5 hours
  • Music playback time: up to 11.5 hours
  • Video recording time: up to 3.5 hours with (QVGA)
  • Gaming time: up to 6 hours
Operation times may vary depending on radio access technology used, operator network configuration and usage.


  • Active matrix 2.4 QVGA main color display (320 x 240 pixels), up to 16.7 million colors

User Interface

  • Operating system: S60 software on Symbian OS
  • User Interface: S60 3rd edition, Feature Pack 1
  • Dedicated media keys for quick and easy access to music and video: play/pause, forward, rewind, stop
  • Dedicated game & volume keys
  • Device hold key
  • Multimedia key & Navi wheel

Call Management

  • Contacts: advanced contacts database with support for multiple phone and e-mail details per entry, also supports thumbnail pictures and groups
  • Speed dialing
  • Logs: keeps lists of your dialed, received, and missed calls
  • Automatic redial
  • Automatic answer (works with compatible headset or car kit only)
  • Supports fixed dialing number, which allows calls only to predefined numbers
  • Conference call
  • Nokia push to talk (PoC)

Voice Features

  • Speaker independent name dialing (SIND)
  • Voice commands
  • Voice recorder
  • Talking ringtone
  • Integrated hands-free speaker
  • Internet calls (VoIP)


  • Text messaging: supports concatenated SMS, picture messaging, SMS distribution list
  • Multimedia messaging: combine image, video, text, and audio clip and send as MMS to a compatible phone or PC; use MMS to tell your story with a multi-slide presentation
  • Automatic resizing of your megapixel images to fit MMS (max 300 KB size depending on the network)
  • Predictive text input: support for all major languages in Europe and Asia-Pacific


  • WLAN IEEE802.11 b/g with UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) support
  • Bluetooth Specification 2.0 (profiles supported: DUN, OPP, FTP, HFP, GOEP, GAP, SPP, HSP, BIP, A2DP)
  • Micro USB 2.0 Full Speed (mass storage class)
  • Nokia AV Connector 3.5mm

Additional Technical Specifications

  • Protocols: MTP, UPnP, TCP/IP
  • Java MIDP 2.0, CLDC 1.1
  • Flash Lite 2.0


Imaging and video

  • Up to 2 megapixel (1600×1200 pixels) camera, MPEG-4 VGA video capture of up to 15fps
  • Zoom: digital up to 20x
  • Front camera (CIF)
  • Video call and video sharing support (WCDMA network services)
  • Integrated flash (modes: on, off, automatic, redeye reduction)
  • Rotating gallery with Navi wheel support
  • Online album/blog: photo/video uploading from gallery
  • Nokia Lifeblog support
  • Video and still images editors
  • Nokia XpressPrint solution direct printing via USB (PictBridge) or Bluetooth connectivity (BPP)


Music Features

  • Nokia Nseries digital music player
    supports MP3 (VBR), AAC, eAAC+, AAC+, WMA/M4A, WAV
  • OMA DRM 1.x, 2.0, Windows Media DRM (OTI/OTA with Nokia Music Store*)
  • Hot swappable microSD memory card slot (2GB inbox = up to 1600 songs**)
  • Play list management
  • Synchronize music with Windows Media Player 11
  • Media keys (play/pause, stop, forward, rewind)
  • Integrated stereo speakers
  • Dedicated volume keys (20 volume steps)
  • 5-band equalizer
  • Nokia AV Connector 3.5 mm (can also be used with standard 3.5mm headphones)
  • Nokia Stereo Music Headset (HS-45 + AD-54) as inbox accessory
  • Navi wheel support
  • UPnP(Universal Plug and Play) music streaming
  • Bluetooth wireless technology A2DP profile (Bluetooth stereo)

Nokia Podcasting

  • Find, subscribe to and download podcasts over the air direct to your device
  • Listen to or watch the podcast
  • Browse and search the feed directory to find the podcasts you want
  • Subscribe and get new podcast episodes downloaded automatically
  • Choose whether the Podcasting application uses wireless LAN (requires WLAN network access) or GPRS/WCDMA packet data (requires a packet data plan) to download podcasts to your Nokia Nseries device.

FM Radio with Visual Radio support

  • Stereo FM radio (87.5-108MHz /76-90MHz)***
  • Get instant access to your favorite stations.
  • Connect to the FM radio and find the music, sports and news broadcasts in the station list for your region
  • Choose your favorites from a regularly updated directory and save them as a preset
  • Listen to music and interact with your favorite radio stations
  • Find out what song is playing, who sings it, and other artist information
  • Enter contests and answer surveys, vote for your favorite songs
  • Find out more about Visual Radio

Nokia Music Store

  • Purchase music online in Nokia Music Store*
  • Connect to your account from your compatible PC and mobile device
  • Search by artist name or title
  • Explore more music with genre searches and recommendations
  • Buy, download and listen to tracks on your PC
  • Connect to Nokia Music Store on your mobile device through WiFi or 3G networks
  • Use the wishlist to tag tracks on your mobile device to download later on your PC
  • Listen to 30 second clips before choosing to download
  • Buy and use pre-paid and bonus credit
  • Use Microsoft’s Windows Media Player 11 installed on your compatible PC to synchronize

*To check the Nokia Music Store availability in your country, visit
**Capacity based on 3:45 minutes per song with 48 kbps eAAC+ (M4A) encoding on the Nokia Music Manager for Nokia N81 with a 2GB microSD card. Capacity with 128 kbps AAC encoding is up to 500 songs
***Stereo sound can only be heard with a compatible stereo headset


Multimedia Menu

Quick and easy access to your

  • music & podcasts
  • games
  • images & videos
  • most important contacts
  • internet bookmarks
  • points of interests


  • Nokia Maps application
  • Navigation with Nokia Wireless GPS module LD-3W (sold separately)

Search and Find

  • Nokia Mobile Search (local & internet search)


  • Easy-to-use e-mail client with attachment support for images, videos, music and documents
  • Compatible with Nokia Wireless Keyboard (sold separately)


  • Nokia Web Browser with Mini Map

Digital home

  • Play video, music and photos on home media network
    - compatible TV, stereo and PC over WLAN/UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)

Java Applications

  • Java MIDP 2.0, CLDC 1.1 (Connected Limited Device Configuration (J2ME))
  • Over-the-air download of Java-based applications and games

Other Applications

  • Personal Information Management (PIM)
  • Advanced S60 PIM features including calendar, contacts, to-do list, and PIM printing
  • Settings Wizard for easy configuration of e-mail, push to talk and video sharing
  • Data transfer application for transfer of PIM information from other compatible Nokia devices.
  • WLAN wizard
  • High quality text to speech


  • Integrated wireless LAN (802.11 b/g) and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)
  • Bluetooth wireless technology with A2DP profile(Bluetooth stereo audio)
  • USB 2.0 via Micro USB interface and mass storage class support to support drag and drop functionality
  • 3.5 mm stereo headphone plug (Nokia AV Connector)
  • Nokia PC Suite connectivity with USB and Bluetooth wireless technology
  • Local synchronization of contacts and calendar to a compatible PC using Nokia Nseries PC Suite
  • Remote over-the-air synchronization
  • Send and receive images, video clips, graphics, and business cards via Bluetooth wireless technology


RealPlayer Media Player

  • Full-screen video playback on the device to view downloaded, streamed or recorded video clips
  • Stream media files from compatible media portals
  • Supported video formats: MPEG-4, H.264, H.263/3GPP, RealVideo 8/9/10


  • Dedicated game keys
  • Play games in landscape or portrait view
  • Discover N-Gage application including:
    - Space Impact Light
    - Asphalt game demo
    - Fifa soccer 2007 demo
    - Possibility to download N-Gage application (when available)

Sales Package Contents

Standard Sales Package Contents

  • Nokia N81
  • Nokia Music Headset HS-45 with remote control AD-54
  • Nokia Connectivity Cable CA-101
  • Nokia Battery BP-6MT
  • Nokia Compact Travel Charger AC-5
  • Nokia 2GB microSD Card MU-37

Inbox colors available

  • Cobalt blue
  • Graphite grey

*Sales package content may vary by region

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