The Nokia n95-8gb NAM (North American Edition) combines an interesting mix of multimedia features while keeping an interesting design. Out of all the phones on the market there are positive and negative aspects and this phone is no different. Hopefully, after reading this unbiased review, you can see past the marketing and get a grasp of this phone.
To begin on a high note, this phone offers true high-speeding networking with HSDPA for 3.5g speeds. (It of course also works with UMTS 3g networks.) In fact, the this model even allows you to share you data connection. No hacking or installing of 3rd party applications are needed to tether this phone to a laptop and enjoy mobile speeds without any additional hardware. Along with HSDPA, this phone includes supports for edge networking, 802.ll b/g wifi, and bluetooth. The wifi is a little disappointing however, not operating any faster than 3g when it really should. Plus, when using wifi there are too many pop-up screens continuously asking what network you want to connect to. But hey, at least you can view java on your phone.
The phone includes support for IMAP4, POP3, and SMTP e-mail accounts. Plus, it comes with a full attachment viewer giving you the full mobile email experience. Keep in mind, you are limited by the speed of your data connection so give the attachments some time. Along with email, quickoffice, a set of applications pre-installed on the phone, allows you to view Microsoft word, excel, and powerpoint documents. For an additional charge, you can update to a newer version of quickoffice and even edit those files.
This phone fits comfortably in your hand and looks pretty slick too. However, it wouldn’t hurt to take some experience from apple. The design includes 3.5mm headphone jack, dual speakers for loud average sounding music, and media keys to quickly open the camera application or view your current media.
I suppose the biggest feature, or features, of this phone are the cameras. (Yes you read that right, there are two cameras on this device.) The primary camera is truly something special on a mobile phone. Featuring a 5 megapixel carl zeiss lens, pictures look great. There are tons of adjustments too. You can adjust the brightness, color tone, white balance, ISO light sensitivity, exposure and contrast. When using the flash, there is even a red-eye reduction feature. Furthermore, there is a self-timer and a sequence mode for burst photography.
Video on the main camera looks pretty good too. With resolution up to 640X480, at 30 frames per second, capturing that random moment has never been easier. Although not as sophisticated as snapping photos, there are still several options you have when taking video. You have two shooting modes in auto and night as well as white balance and color tone settings. There is even an image stabilization option. (Video Sampling Bellow)
Did I forget to mention the secondary, front-facing camera? This camera resembles quality on the iphone 3g’s isight but can take video too. Plus, if you have two people both using this device, there is even an option to use the front-facing camera for a video conversation.
To play back this media you have taken, or transferred from your computer to the included 8gb of storage, are real player and a built in music player. The music player supports all the formats you would expect, W4A, AAC+, WMA, AAC,MP3, and eAAC+ files, as well as a few DRM-protected formats. Real Player on this phone supports MPEG-4 and 3GPP. Video looks pretty good on the built in 2.8 inch QVGA screen. (320X240 showing 16 million collors.) However, bumping up the resolution would have been a nice touch.
But wait, there is more. Using the included headset expands the phones functionality allowing the users to listen to FM radio. A neat little feature no one would miss but is pretty nice that it’s included.
Next up is Nokia Maps, the included GPS program. First of all, the application never found my location when I was indoors. Adding the ability to triangulate my position by cell towers would have helped this and would have been a nice feature. Moving outdoors, the GPS found my location but took about double the time to do so compared to my iPhone 3g. Another issue is the fact there is no satellite view, Nokia Maps only supports map view.
Nokia Maps does have it’s problems but is a great asset to the phone. There are so many categories to view on the map including airports, attractions, “at the water”, bar&pub, businesses, restaurants, and so many more. Furthermore, you can even search for nearby locations such as automotive, transport, accommodations, eat+drink, shopping, leisure, sights, and services. These show up in a nice list view sorted by distance from your current location. You can even get directions to one of those locations from your current position located by the GPS. Overall, the next iPhone maps application should get some tips from Nokia Maps.
The Nokia does have some issues that take away from the phone and all it’s amazing features. First, and foremost, navigation is terrible. First of all, the structure of the OS is pretty confusing and finding particular features take some time. Additionally, the menus all look generic and boring. Coming from an iPhone 3G I know how navigation can be and this fails miserably. Plus, the device slows down, and freezes, when performing normal function. Nokia needs to address this bug.
Button navigation is a thing of the past and future models need to include either a touchscreen, ball navigation (similar to the blackberry pearl or sidekick), but preferably both. The lack of QWERTY keyboard also hurt this device. There is no way someone who answers a lot of email, or SMS messages, on the go can enjoy this phone.
At first I thought 3rd party applications would be better on the Nokia than the apple controlled iPhone. I was wrong. The way applications on the phone are organized in the app store, and even on jail-broken phones, destroys the download application for the Nokia. Not only are all the application lumped into the download > application section, there are a abysmal 18 application available for download. Come on. There are many other application available, when you can track them down online, but I would have liked to see a much better aggregator of Nokia N95 applications. A positive though is the ability to run unsigned application. Plus, there are no restrictions on what applications can be installed on this phone.
Battery. I have found the battery is about the same as the iPhone 3G. You can make it through the day but by the end it’s pretty low. When charging, the Nokia doesn’t represent the actual charge of the phone which is pretty annoying. Plus, it takes a very long time to fully charge this phone.
When sliding the media controls to the open position the screen changes to landscape orientation while sliding the number-pad open brings the position back to portrait. However, the troubled software causes the phone to stay in position regardless of actual orientation which is pretty annoying. Plus, every time you close the keypad the screen goes to sleep and the keys lock which gets obnoxious very quickly.
Finally, price is a problem for this phone. Although sold unlocked, this phone usually runs >$500. Most people buy a phone with a contract so this price is pretty high. Plus, Nokia charges a premium for the 8gb of storage. You can find an older version of the N95 without 8gb of internal storage and than install an 8gb micro-SD card for a lower price. (By the way, Nokia dropped the micro-SD port on the N95 8GB.)
Overall, this phone offers a lot and has a few problems too. It’s a matter of what features you need and if those features are included with this phone. For me, I’m going back to my iPhone for better navigation, a bigger and brighter screen, but most importantly a full keyboard. If you don’t need a full keyboard, for instance, but want to take great mobile pictures, than I would defiantly look at this phone. It’s a matter of give and take. I strongly recommend this cell phone but if you need a few specific features that this phone doesn’t have, you should look else-where.