You've already seen photos, but you haven't yet been told why the N81, which just went live, is special. Unlike the N9x series handsets this one's designed around music and gaming, not its camera-taking abilities. That explains why its MP rating is a mere 2MP and it's not armed with a Carl Zeiss lens. That also explains why Nokia put the loudest speakers I've ever heard on a mobile phone on this thing:
The side-mounted stereo speakers were so powerful while the phone was placed on a table, bouncing music off the table top. They're far louder than those on an N95, and drivers are protected by a really nice looking mesh screen, and they image stereo with surprising clarity. The headphone jack is a 3.5mm headphone connector, and the phone has 3G (European bands) and Wi-Fi.
As far as gaming goes, the phone's four-way pad works as a D-pad when the phone is flipped on its side (like the Helio Ocean). However, like the Ocean, you can be pretty certain that on launch there won't be a large number of landscape games designed to be played in that orientation. In light of the of the N-Gage announcements and game download service, maybe this is a serious asset to the phone, but last time I checked, N-Gage was still pretty sad.
The phone will be sold in Europe for $599 with 8GB of internal memory, or $499 with 2GB of removable microSD that can be swapped out for a card up to 4GB in capacity.
Nokia N81: Entertainment made simple
With up to 8GB of memory, dedicated music and gaming keys, 3.5 mm headphone connector
and 3G and WLAN connectivity, the Nokia N81 multimedia computer is a true mobile
entertainment powerhouse. With a sleek, polished surface and keys that light up when you
activate them, accessing content on the 3D multimedia menu is fast and intuitive. Equally
impressive, the Nokia N81 is configured to find, buy, manage and play music and games
purchased from the Nokia Music Store and N-Gage games service. The estimated retail price
of the Nokia N81 is 360 EUR before subsidies or taxes. The Nokia N81 8GB is expected to retail
for 430 EUR before subsidies or taxes. Both versions are expected to begin shipping in the
fourth quarter of 2007.