Hi, I’m Alvin from UnleashthePhones and I’ve given up my beloved Android smartphone.
Yes, you read that right. For the next 2 weeks, my Android smartphone will be turned off and left to weep quietly on my desk and I won’t have anything to do with it. Forget its 1GHz single-core processor. Forget its slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Forget the build of CM9 that it’s running.
For the next 2 weeks, I’ll be rocking a 3-year-old indigo Nokia N86 from 2009. I picked this up for SGD160 from a second-hand phone shop (around 6900 INR) with the intention of using it as a camera and a travel phone, but now that I’ve got it, I thought it’d be a fun experiment to ditch my daily driver for as long as I normally have a review unit in favour of using the N86 as my main (and sole) smartphone.
We live in an age where an overwhelming majority of smartphones you can buy on the market today is a derivative of the original iPhone’s form-factor, and a smartphone with a 1GHz single-core CPU is considered low-end. We’ve gone so far as to call a 4.3-inch smartphone merely average in size, we accept non-removable batteries and non-expandable storage as par for the course, and few of us ever complain about lousy speakers and exposed camera lenses on our smartphones. We can hardly imagine typing on anything other than a QWERTY keyboard on our smartphone.
The smartphone space is vastly different today compared to how things were in 2007 (when the Nokia N95 reigned supreme and the original iPhone had just hit a single market). The N86 8MP is the last direct descendant of the N95, and is arguably the best dual-sliding smartphone that Nokia has ever made. How usable is a non-touch smartphone packing a numeric keypad and running S60v3 in today’s world? How have smartphones progressed in a post-iPhone world, for better or for worse, and what is the true value of the innovation that has occurred? What does the N86 do better, if anything, compared to the smartphones of today?
I’ll be attempting to answer these questions over the coming two weeks, and I’ll certainly be writing up a series of reports as I go along. The rules are simple: I have to power down both Android devices sitting on my desk and not touch either of them for the next 14 days and I’ll have to attempt to use the N86 in my everyday life, which means subjecting it to the rigours (and battery drain) of my daily activities.
This is actually my 4th day owning the N86, but I’m only starting the experiment today. What have I managed to do to the N86 so far? Well I’ve taken it out of its box, got my microSIM adapter stuck in it, nearly destroyed the SIM tray trying to extract it, had it repaired in another second-hand phone shop and bought a new battery for it (the one that came with the set lasts for 3 hours on one charge and takes ages to charge). I’ve also managed to set it up to my liking; I’ve put on my preferred theme, altered several settings, configured the network destinations, switched on the always-on standby clock, transferred my contacts, set up my email and loaded up some music. I’ve also installed a smattering of apps – Gravity (which is like having multiple apps in one), Opera Mobile, Whatsapp, Skype, Qik, Nimbuzz, Sports Tracker, Joikuspot, YouTube and ForecaWeather.
My N86 is ready to go, and so am I. First impressions are that it still feels like a high-end device in the hand, I love the little design touches, the camera is impressive even by today’s standards, the display is really vibrant except in direct sunlight and it can survive a drop from pocket to floor without even a hint of damage. I’m slowly adjusting to typing everything with the numeric keypad – the last time I had to choose between T9 and multitap text input was when I had a N82 back in 2008. It’s getting late now but I’ll have more for you soon – till next time!