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Having the latest mobile handset that is on the market is not something I usually want, but what I do want and need is something practical, smart, easy to use & and of course, lets me do what I need it to do. Many have said to me 'Why don't you just get a PDA?' well, there are many reasons why I don't, the focal one being that they usually operate on a Windows OS, whereas I personally favour the Symbian OS (read my Nokia 6630 review for a better understanding) due to the fact it is more superior to the Windows OS that you find in PDA's.
This is where the Nokia N95 steps in. You see, not only does it use the Symbian OS, but Nokia's in general are easy to use, elegant in appearance and exceedingly practical for a geek like me. I have to admit that I've always owned a Nokia, but having said that, I've played with many others and taking all that into account, this beast really does take the 'Mobile Phone' to a whole new level.
It was inevitable that I would upgrade from my lower end Symbian Smart Phone, the Nokia 6630, but the question was 'What to?' I tried the N80 when that first came out, but I came across problems in design which turned me off it immediately. I looked at the N91 and N93, but again these were either to bulky or just generally to lame looking, certainly not something I'd expect from Nokia, then we saw the release of the N95, a simple looking device that packs a punch.
Before I begin my full review of the 'Nokia N95' I feel it is important to let you know that I don't do 'Contract Deals' for several reasons which I won't argue here. There for, this phone has been paid for. It cost me £263 including postage from a trusted 'Ebay Seller' (that's almost half price), it is also locked to T-mobile, bearing in mind that it will only cost me £20 to unlock it, I still deem that a bargain.
**The Box Contents**
1 x Nokia N95 Mobile Phone 1 x Original Nokia Battery BL-5F 1 x UK Wall Charger AC-5X 1 x Original Hands Free Kit 1 x PC Cable 1 x Audio Cable 1 x Nokia N95 Windows PC Software + All Original Manuals & Warranty Cards
**Why Did I Buy The Nokia N95?**
Ok, I feel this would be a good place to start so you can appreciate why I would want such a clever little gadget. Firstly I have become accustomed to Nokia, Secondly, Nokia's are effortless and very basic to use, Thirdly, I liked the design, Fourthly, I like taking pictures, Fifthly, I like listening to music, Sixthly, I have just bought myself some transport and need a navigation system, Seventhly, I love using the internet, Eighthly, Wi-Fi is a big advantage for any avid internet user, Ninthly, Bluetooth is great for sending your favourite MP3's to your mates, Tenthly, infrared is always handy. Guess what? The N95 has it all and a whole lot more, making it a very useful device for a person similar to me.
**Comments On Design**
One of the reasons I bought this phone was because of the design. To be honest, I have never liked phones that slide, I favour the brick, they seem to be more well-built and full-bodied, however, Nokia introduce a two way slider, it catches my eye and it still manages to feel sturdy and robust. 'How do they manage it?' I honestly don't know. All I do know is that most other manufacturers' models tend to be very feeble with this style of design.
Now, remember how I said before I found a design fault with N80? Well, the fault was to do with sliding part and how close the number keys were to it, making it almost impossible to push numbers 1, 2 & 3. Nokia have managed to remove this fault, probably having paid someone thousands of pounds to redesign after a few comments being made.
Anyway, back to the point, it is a two way slider. Slide one way and you get the numbers with the screen the usual way up. Slide the other way and you get the multimedia keys such as play, stop, skip etc with the screen rotating so the phone is held sideward. If you ask me, this is funky, cool and an astonishing piece of engineering and computing knowledge. With the phone closed up (back to brick) you can still make full usage with the usual top 2 Soft Keys, Call Button, Disconnect Button, Normal & Rotating Menu buttons, Central Cursor with Push Button Click, Copy/Paste Menu & Clear Buttons that you find on top end Nokia's, again, this Central Control Pad on the main face makes the phone extremely useable without having to slide it one way or the other.
It would be nice to see Nokia
Pictures of Nokia N95
take the 2 way slider one step further, and somehow incorporate a full QWERTY keyboard into a 3rd slide that goes upwards. That's just my opinion mind and probably almost impossible to do.Other features in the design include the usual buttons that you would normally find on a regular digital camera, situated on the side of the phone (top, once you turn it). Just open the lens, turn the device and you are ready to take photos with all the right buttons in situ. Along with all the buttons placed on this device, there is also a normal Phono Jack, so you can plug in any old headphones. It's about time Nokia included this on their phones. You can also now plug your phone into your PC/Laptop with a standard USB Printer cable, instead of the old adapter version that Nokia created.
As with all Nokia's the battery life could be better, extended usage of certain applications will run it dry within a couple of hours. It's a shame Nokia still hasn't found a way to make their phones more energy efficient (maybe a wind up version?). I certainly recommend getting a charger for work (if your company allows mobile usage), 1 for the car and obviously one at home.
Now that I have discussed the design & battery life, let's go through the menu, discuss all the features of the phone, and decide whether I like them or not and where I think Nokia could improve.
**About The Menu**
I feel Nokia have always had this in mind when designing their phones. Simplicity at its finest is all I can say. It is easily accessible with it being placed on the front face of the phone (see photo). You can choose between Grid/List layouts and is fully customisable so you can put things where you want them. There is absolutely nothing Nokia can do to improve this. Nokia have also included a secondary Menu Button that works on a circular rotation, this is also fully customisable.
**Contacts & Calling**
I have to admit that when it comes to storing Contacts in to the Phone Book, it is a little bit tricky for a first time user, but once you get the hang of it, it's very straight forward. One of the things I do like is that you can store Pictures, Rename the preset Labels and basically store any information about the Contact in the Phone Book; you can also lock this information with a password so no one else can see personal details.
There are a few ways to make a phone call using this device. Obviously you can type the number in and dial manually, use the Phone Book or through Voice Recognition. The phone will try to recreate its own Voice Recognition version of a Contact name, but to get the best results you'll do better to turn that feature off and replacing the robotic voice with your very own. I personally haven't used Voice Recognition yet, but I can imagine being very useful when hands free. The phone also has two types of calls, you can make voice calls and video calls thanks to the secondary front camera.
As you would expect, sending a text message is easy. However, Nokia has made a great change with regards to typing text, that is when having to put in punctuation, it automatically remembers what you used last and places it at the top. This makes finding characters easy. Not only does this work in typing Text Messages but also whatever you are typing anywhere in the phone, including online. You can also send Multimedia Messages via Bluetooth or Infrared.
Most mobile phones come with a Calendar on these days, but the one thing I find with this particular model is the amount of data types you can add. 4 in total, these include the usual Meeting and Anniversary inputs, along with Memo and To-Do. Putting a new entry in is easy, just click what you want to add, then type and save. A great feature that has been added to this is the ability to add a description to the type of data you wish to store. This means everything is more clear on what you need to do and when.
**Music Player & Sound Quality**
Again, Nokia has advanced the music player to be more like the Ipod. The list is as follows, All Songs, Playlists, Artists, Albums, Genres and Composers. One thing I love about this, apart from being able to listen to music of course, is the ability to actually edit the Titles, Artists, Albums, Genres and Composers details by placing the cursor over the Song Title, pressing Options and then clicking Song Details. This is something that I didn't have on my lower end Symbian and being able to do this without having to go through the File Manager makes editing quicker and easier. It also allows you to organise your MP3's more effectively, so that you don't have one Artist with several different spellings all over the place. This is especially helpful if transferring music from Limewire or other such applications to the phone.
With regards to sound quality it is a much wanted improvement than found in my Nokia 6630. The loud speakers are certainly more effective and clearer and although it is not a booming base system it is clear and loud enough. One thing I will say though is that to get the best results you are better off plugging in headphones, or better still, buy a 2 ended Phono Jack Lead and plug it in to AUX on your existing sound system.
Another feature that has been added to the music player is the Graphic Equaliser. This automatically sets itself to the Genre of music with pre-installed settings but you can customise each song with your own setting.
**Web Browsing & Wi-Fi**
As mentioned earlier in the review, I do love using the Internet and being able to check my email and other important stuff while on the move is a must. A lot of modern phones will have some kind of Web Browser, however, the one major improvement Nokia has done with this device is included an On Screen Cursor, similar to that of using a Mouse. This is a vast improvement and allows you to move around Internet pages with ease.
The ability to rotate the screen makes pages clearer and one thing I do like about this is the fact that the Cursor Keys manage to automatically adjust, something even a PC can't do if you rotate the screen.
Another good feature to the device is the fact it has Wi-Fi, this comes in very useful whilst at work knowing there is a free Wireless Network running. It makes no obvious changes to the way you view Websites but depending on the quality of the signal, it does make browsing the Internet a lot faster.
Found on pretty much every mobile these days, there is not much change to this part of the phone. It allows you to view your Images & Videos, listen to your MP3's & Sound Clips, View Presentations or View All Files. As you can see 'View Presentations' is a new feature and although I don't have any to view, I am sure it would be useful to someone who needs it.
**GPS & Satellite Navigation**
A fantastic feature is all I can say with regards to this. No need for a Tom-Tom or other navigation device because it is included on the phone. The maps are already loaded and it is simple to go find out where you are exactly by clicking on GPS Position. You can add details like restaurants, airports, etc. and all is customisable so you can put in your very own destinations etc.
I have yet to use the actual Satellite Navigation part of this feature, partly due to having to pay for it. Even though I haven't bought this yet, I will do because just the other day I managed to get lost (silly me, luckily I made it back to type the review). From what I have heard this is a bit sluggish, but then this is to be expected due to it being a fairly new Application for a phone. On the whole, I don't doubt that this feature will become very useful to me over the next few years once I finally mange to scrape up the cash to pay for the service.
This Application does require an Internet Connection to work so could be expensive for people on contract; I am lucky and pay £1 a day for unlimited browsing.
Found on the Main Menu is something called Search, something which I had never noticed before, and this will also become a very handy tool. Again it is an Internet Application which allows you to search for businesses through yahoo, yellow pages etc. This used in conjunction with the Sat Navigation System will be very useful if you do not have the full address of where you want to go.
If downloading MP3's isn't your thing and love listening to the radio instead, then you'll gladly here the Nokia N95 has this feature. It's all automatic tuning, although you can do it manually should you wish. The one thing I don't like about this particular aspect of the phone is the fact you still have to plug headphones in to be able to listen to it, sometimes this isn't feasible and its about time Nokia & all other manufacturers did away with it allowing you to listen to the radio on the vastly improved loud speakers.
I love the way Nokia incorporated the camera in to the design of this phone. It really is not that dissimilar to a regular digital camera. All buttons are logically placed on the top (side if being held like a phone). Opening the Lens will automatically turn it into a digital camera. Even though the 5mp camera is impressive, the speed isn't, well not when you have the flash turned on. It takes around 4 seconds to take the photo, which by that time, your object will have moved. Personally I prefer taking 'In The Moment' photos rather than have people pose. However if you are taking pictures of scenery at night then this does work well and of course picture quality is great.
Shooting videos is easy also and the DVD quality is very impressive. The microphone is very sensitive mind so be careful when filming on a windy day. One of the things I like is the new editor, much simpler to use and has many more features. The phone comes with an Audio Cable allowing you to watch you movies on most modern TV's. Having this cable is great; it also allows you to use your TV as a bigger screen for your phone to save you staring at the smaller screen on the mobile phone
**Other Folders & Bits Found In The Menu**
A Tool Folder is also placed on the Main Menu, this allows you to change settings, delete appropriate items from File Manager etc. Most Nokia's already have this in the menu and it does make finding and changing the Settings easily accessible. There are of course many other bits and pieces included, other than what's considered the norm, but most of them are way over my head.
An Application Menu is also included on the Main Menu; to be honest I will be removing this folder because I find it easier to use the Applications straight from the Main Menu. There are many Applications you can download to this phone and most are well worth having. Here you can also gain access to original Applications the phone comes with.
A new folder to be added to this handheld device is 'Office'. In here there are Applications that allow you to do and view the usual office tasks. The best Application found in this folder has to be the Adobe Acrobat Reader, allowing you to view files in PDF format. This will become very handy for me due a lot of files and Websites found online are in this format.
**Full Tech Specs**
Dimensions: 99 x 53 x 21 mm Weight: 120g Screen Size: 240 x 320 pixels, 40 x 53 mm Ring Tones: Polyphonic (64 channels), Monophonic, True Tones, MP3 Memory: 160MB Internal, Up to 4GB Micro SD External Data: GPRS, HSCSD, EDGE, WLAN, Bluetooth & Infrared Operating System: Symbian OS 9.2, S60 Camera: 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, auto focus, video (VGA 30fps), flash; secondary CIF video call camera Battery Life: Up to 220 hrs Standby & Up to 6 hrs 30 minutes Talk Time
Other Features: - Built-in GPS navigation - Installed Maps application covering over 100 countries - Dual slide design - Java MIDP 2.0 - MP3/AAC/AAC+/eAAC+/WMA player - 3.5 mm audio output jack - TV out - Stereo FM Radio - Organiser - Office document viewer - T9 - Push to talk - Voice dial/memo - Built-in hands free
**My Overall Opinion**
What a fantastic and clever little gadget. With a device like this and if Nokia keep moving forward like they always do, there will be no need to have any other gadget in your possession. Obviously, kitchen appliances will not be incorporated into the design, but owning this makes owning an Ipod for music & videos, a PC for Internet and a digital camera for pictures obsolete.
I feel using the camera for stills could be better, but I'm sure this area will develop even further over time. Because it operates on a Symbian Operating System the amount of Applications available is extensive. Even though, I probably won't get to use all the features of the phone, I will use most of them.
Nokia needs to adapt a touch screen into a device like this due to competition from manufacturers like Sony & the new Iphone being released very soon, but there is no way the Iphone can be better than a manufacturer who has already got it right so many times and is advancing with every release.
There are still many areas that Nokia need to improve on, firstly I suggest that before they go ahead with a new concept, they deal with the software problems that I have become aware of with the Nokia N95 having. Luckily, I have had no fault with mine yet, but it is an issue that needs to be addressed first. To be honest it is hardly surprising they have such software problems due to the phone being so compact and useful.
Overall this is an amazing device with lots of very useable features. If you don't understand how this type of phone works, then I suggest you don't buy it. However if you understand the complexity and will make use of most of the features, then this mobile is certainly for you. Welcome to the fourth generation.