Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nokia N95 Review

In a nutshell: The most technically advanced smartphone ever! Complete with GPS satellite navigation, a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus, 3G video calling, and every other gadget you can think of! On the downside it's large, and like most smartphones does not have 100% robust firmware. If you've used another Nseries phone or Symbian phone before, then you'll love it! Available in 4GB and 8GB versions; in silver, black or red.
Nokia N95
Another Nokia Nseries smartphone! And this one is the most technically advanced ever! Can it really live up to the hype, or will it prove to be as unreliable and bug-ridden as some of Nokia's other Nseries phones?
Nokia N95

The headline features of the eagerly-awaited Nokia N95 are mouth-wateringly amazing:
  • Built-in GPS navigation
  • 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss & Tessar optics
  • Wi-Fi wireless internet connection
  • 2.6 inch display with 16 million colours
  • Ultra-fast HSDPA data transfer
Let's start with the basics. The Nokia N95 is a 3G smartphone built on the Series 60 Symbian interface (version 3.1). Let's be clear from the start that these types of phone are slow, have a tendency to freeze or shut down, and have unstable firmware. They are also large and heavy. At 120g the N95 is of average weight for a smartphone, but is pretty bulky, despite its slide design. At least you won't forget which pocket it's in! When closed, you can access menu functions using the 5-way navigation key and the associated control keys. The N95 also has several other dedicated media keys that can be used as shortcuts to media functions. This is a good feature if you like to have lots of buttons to push, but sometimes they just end up getting in the way. When you slide the phone open you have access to a full keypad, but like the Nokia N73, the buttons are too small to be really comfortable. The user interface will be familiar to anyone who has used a Series 60 phone before: it's not as simple to use as the Nokias of olden days, but you wouldn't expect such a high powered device to be, would you? So, without getting into the functionality of the phone yet, we'd give it 2 stars for usability.

Now, the kind of person likely to buy this phone isn't going to be put off by wimpy considerations like size and ergonomics. Perhaps not even by warnings of bugs and a sluggish user interface. It's what the phone does that matters most. And this is where the N95 really delivers! The first multimedia feature that you encounter is the screen, and it's a massive one: 2.6 inches across, 240 x 320 pixels, and an incredible 16 million colours. An ambient light detector is used to control the brightness of the screen, making it usable under most lighting conditions. It's one of the best screens ever, and does full justice to the camera and navigation systems.

The camera is a first in the UK: the first phone camera to hit the 5 megapixel mark. At this number of pixels, you can (theoretically) match anything that a dedicated digital camera is capable of - provided that you have the optics to back up the megapixel grunt. Nokia have been developing their camera capabilities quite impressively recently using Carl-Zeiss optics and Tessar lenses - the Nokia N93 being the best camera phone before the release of the N95. The N95 lacks the optical zoom of the N93, but retains the autofocus, flash and lens. Does the 5 megapixel sensor make up for the lack of an optical zoom? The answer is no, so in our opinion the N93 is still king of the camera phones, but for practical purposes the N95 is a better option. It can certainly match or beat the Sony Ericsson K800i. The video camera is also outstanding, recording in VGA resolution (640 x 480 pixels) at up to 30 frames per second with stereo audio. There's a second front-facing camera for making video calls too.

The other most interesting feature of the N95 is the built-in GPS navigation system. The N95 actually has a GPS system built into the phone, that communicates directly with the satellite. This enables you to use the phone to track your position either on foot or in-car. You'll need to buy a license to use the Nokia mapping system though. Now, whilst this is a nice feature to have in a phone, we've got to say that it doesn't match the quality of a dedicated satnav system like the TomTom One. The sensitivity and reliability of the GPS receiver is not as good, and neither is the user-friendliness of the system.

These are the most groundbreaking features, but the N95 has almost everything else you could think of including in a phone too: a music player with support for all common music formats, a stereo FM radio, integrated handsfree speaker, speaker independent voice dialling, talking ringtones, HSDPA (the fast data transfer technology dubbed "3.5G") and lots more! When it comes to connectivity, the N95 is the best-connected device in town, with support for Bluetooth 2.0, USB 2.0, Infrared, Wireless LAN, TV-Out and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. Its memory is also more than adequate with up to 160 Mbytes of onboard memory and support for microSD memory cards (up to 8 Gbytes). Battery life is OK - when you consider how much work has to be done to power this beast, you can't really set your expectations too high.

In conclusion, The Nokia N95 is bound to be a smash hit, but equally there are bound to be unsatisfied users returning their N95 to the shop. Early adopters will love the wealth of features that this phone offers (literally the best you can get at the time of launch), but the N95 does suffer from practical disadvantages, and you'll need to decide whether the benefits outweigh the problems.

The new Nokia N96 is a slightly improved version of the N95 8GB. The new Samsung i8510 is very similar to the Nokia N95, using the same Series 60 user interface, but offers an improved 8 megapixel camera and some other refinements.

From 16th October 2008, the N95 8GB is available with the ground-breaking Nokia Comes With Music service. This deal is exclusive to the Carphone Warehouse. When you buy a Nokia "Comes With Music" phone, you get a whole year of free unlimited music downloads! Whatever you download during the year you can keep forever. We would rate the N95 8GB Comes With Music as a 5 star phone.


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