The slide mechanism on the Nokia N86 has a fair bit of kick to it, and pops all the way open after uncovering the first bottom row of keys. The top-bound media control keys require a bit more force to access, but you only use them occasionally. The slide is a little loose, and I would be worried about it getting wobblier over the long term, but during my run it held up fine.
The worst thing I can say about the construction is the kickstand. While I fully enjoyed it as a practical means of viewing video and pictures, it seems way too too flimsy to stand the test of time, and could easily result in an unsightly gap if snapped off. If it were built into the battery door, replacement would be a simple process of buying a new cover, but unfortunately the kickstand is built right around the camera and looks like it would be a pain to replace, even if you went through the trouble of ordering the part from a manufacturer outlet.
The similarities with the N97 are clear: the solid chrome bezel, the camera shutter key and volume rocker, similar speaker ports (though the N86’s are fatter), and camera cover. The battery door has the same matte finish, but isn’t nearly as hollow-feeling. In terms of size, the N86 is definitely more pocketable than most smartphones out there, but is just barely unable to pass as a feature phone. The weight is good, more on the heavy side, but that usually just gives a feel of solidity. The soft keys on the front face are a little sharp around the edges, but you’ll be spending most of your time on the rounded d-pad anyway. The springy lock mechanism, as always, is a very nice addition.