N81 v/s E51: The Hunt For A Mid Tier S60

The Hunt For A Mid Tier S60

A lot of the times when we think of getting a new handset, the top tier of the Nseries pops into mind; my phone of choice the N95-8GB, the superb N82 or the venerable N95 Classic. However these are what you call high end and phones. What if somebody is looking for a nice mid tier S60 about 350$, nothing really fancy but something that ‘does the job’.  With this in mind what options do we have?

The 6120, the E51, the N81 and perhaps the N73. In today’s time WiFi is a must, so is the camera, music playing ability and decent battery life never hurt anyone. With that in mind, if we narrow down, that only leaves the N81 and the E51 in contention. This post pits the E51 against the N81 in the search for the best mid tier S60.


On the go Internet Browsing is one of the most important features I look for in a handset. Both these phones are similar equipped in terms of connectivity options with WiFi and 3G being there, however the N81 does enjoy a big plus when it comes to screen estate. The bigger screen makes for a much more easier and pleasant experience.


As expected, the N81 trumps the E51 with impunity but that is ‘out of the box’. It has a 3.5mm jack, Visual Radio, dedicated music keys, a slightly more equipped music player and comes with much better headphones. The E51 on the other hand, has a music player, mono loudspeaker, radio (but the quality seems worse, even with custom headphones) and a 2.5 mm plug. It is because of this 2.5mm plug that the E51 can redeem itself a little; a 2.5 to 3.5 adapter and custom headphones improve the quality of music DRASTICALLY. Storage on both phones is not an issue. Curiously, despite the N81 being a music phone and E51 being a business phone, they both have the same 5 band equaliser.


I am tempted to say its a draw because of the same 2 megapixel non CZ lens camera on both phones, but due to the dedicated camera key and the Nseries camera software, this round goes to the N81. (Note: The E90 features the same Camera Software though).


The E51 is an eye catching slim smartphone with an optimum weight and its very nice keyboard and the metal back really stand out. While the N81 is a good looking slider but with certain build issues. With time creaks come in and the slider loosens too. However inspite of being an Eseries, which is known for good build quality, the E51 does develop a few creaks for itself. I have used both phones and while I did appreciate the slimness of the E51 in my pocket, the N81 wasn’t a problem too.


The E51 costs around 310$ while the N81 comes in at about 350$. Battery life is similar, with may be the E51 doing slightly better. I have found myself recommending the E51 as well as the N81 to people depending on their requirement and ‘age’. The N81 in a senior’s hand just doesn’t look good, nevermind the extra benefits. For someone younger the N81 is well worth the extra 40 bucks, after all a bigger screen, better music, N-Gage, dedicated keys, do count for something. The N81 was written off by a lot of us, the poor camera was a  complete death knell. But if you go out and compare handsets in the same bracket you will find such cameras everywhere, if you find 3 megapixels then WiFi  or something else will be amiss.

The N81 was never meant to compete with the elder siblings of the Nseries family, it was made as a mid segment music phone meant to compete with phones in that price range and that is a job it does rather well.


5 thoughts on “N81 v/s E51: The Hunt For A Mid Tier S60”

  1. The N81 may be a mid-tier in terms of features although is the best in the Nseries in terms of music and audio quality, but in terms of price especially with N81 8Gb, i think it’s a little bit on track with N82. When they were initially released, N82 was at 460 euros and N81 8GB was at 450 euros.

  2. Vaibhav Sharma .. thats so well written… but u could also have mentioned that e51 is an hsdpa phone and has class 32 both edge and gprs

    but im now in a bigger confusion.. wut do u say we have a comparison between n82 and n78.. the n78 is coming out in dubai at 640 dollars while the n82 has reached 444 dollars… so wut do u recommend.. i have been waiting for n78 for long and now all of a sudden the price is not in my range.. i expected it to be equal or maybe a little above n82.. but thats how nokia is.. they tend to grab all the profits early on..

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