N-Gage Faceoff: N96 v/s N85

N-Gage - N96 v/s N85 - Share on Ovi

N-Gage has become a very integral part of Nokia’s Nseries range of devices, so much so that they have even positioned the N85 as a gamer’s device by giving it the tagline – ‘Gaming Now Made By Hand’. In this post we put the N96 against the N85 in order to find out if its the best gaming device after all. Aspects such as the screen, keypad and battery amongst other have been covered. Read on to find out which is the better N-Gage device.


N-Gage - N96 v/s N85 - Share on Ovi

The N85 is much smaller than the N96, what this means is that it packs smaller keys and well as a smaller display. The N96 boasts of a 2.8″ screen while the N85 comes in at 2.6″, they both have the same 240×320 resolution though. This alone means that the screen on the N85 will look slightly better, but that’s not all.

The N85 comes with an AMOLED screen that is capable of greater brightness and deeper and sharper colours colours as compared to the already good looking LCD of the N96. The real world impact this has on the display is profound. Have a look for yourself.

N-Gage - N96 v/s N85 - Share on Ovi

All in all, it comes down to size v/s quality. The difference of 0.2″ is important for me, however once I see the two side by side – the better display wins me over. However, if I had not gotten used to the N85’s screen, the N96 would have been a definite pick in isolation.


N-Gage - N96 v/s N85 - Share on Ovi

Owing to the difference in size, the gaming keys on the N85 are much smaller than those of the N96. This might become an issue for people with large thumbs, but for the rest of you it will be no problem. The tactile feedback of the buttons on the N85 is also better.

N-Gage - N96 v/s N85 - Share on Ovi N-Gage - N96 v/s N85 - Share on Ovi

As you can see above, my thumb has a greater resting area on the N96. While I enjoy the extra space on the N96 very much, I can’t say the smaller keys of the N85 have been a problem. Its a question of getting used to them.

As far as the Navi Pad is concerned, its a clear win for the N96. The N85’s Navi Wheel is hard and during the first few hours of gaming it can get downright uncomfortable. With time its impact has lessened, but the thing is that it should have been taken care of in the first place itself.


There are certain other factors that also impact the gameplay on a device. The primary being battery life. What is the point of having a killer gaming machine when its battery runs out super quick or where you need to compromise on other features because gaming drained the battery took much? This is something where the N85 again takes the lead with its 1200 mAh battery as compared to the N96’s 950 mAh.

Next, the N85 comes with 15 titles pre-installed and a code to convert anyone of them to a full version. This is specially convenient when you are new to gaming or downloading titles is a problem for you. The N96 on the other hand comes with a specific free game, it may or may not be one that you like.


Here is a video of the N96 and N85 running a demo of ‘One’ on N-Gage.



Although you may hate it, but I do not think I would be able to decide which device beats the other in terms of gameplay. Each has its advantages, the N96 with the bigger screen, keys and Navi Wheel performance while the N85 with its stunning screen and greater battery life.

Lastly, since most of the times the decision as to which handset to buy isn’t solely based on the gaming capabilities of a phone, the choice will also come down to personal preferences and the size of your hands!

13 thoughts on “N-Gage Faceoff: N96 v/s N85”

  1. thx allot for this comparision ! you really helped me out. im buying the n 85 in a couple of days :)i really love the oled screen and the batery life of it.And i heard that the firmware update will fix the video recording problem to 🙂

  2. I owned both the N85 and N96 and ended up with the N96. The N85 OLED display is brillant but the colors actually looks weird on it. Too rich, too dark and poor in sunlight, almost look like setting you PC in low contract with high brightness setting. The only thing in my opinion that the N85 beats on the N96 is the battery.

    I played n-gage on both devices, the buttons on the N96 is much much much more comfortable. My fingers don’t hurt after playing. For the N85 you thumb will ache in pain after 5-10 minutes on the D-pad. Yes it’s that painfully bad.

    The built quality on the N85 is awful. Big space gap on the slide, the phone wobbles left and right on multimedia mode after a weeks use. There is a reason why something cost more than another.

  3. I wanted to know that the N81 Previously and now the N85 are both titlted as the gaming device but are the buttons strong enogh to take that amount of button bashing ????

  4. Ashwyn, the buttons in themselves should be able to take the beating just fine, however rough usage right this affect the dual slide on the N85 which is slightly wobbly even now.

  5. I think it’s based on the viewer…. I think they are both great and the N96 offer some cool features as well as the Nokia N85…

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