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Provincialism has taken a back seat in the phone industry these days and Nokia is in the drivers’ seat. They're on a real roll here with newer and better phones being released almost on a weekly basis. And now this, the N95. This behemoth of a phone is Nokia’s attempt at overruling any and all phones out there in its class - business, media or otherwise. Being a leading and respected brand name for the mobile phone industry must obviously put tremendous pressure on Nokia to outdo not just their competitors but their own products and this is what they’ve done. They’ve taken communication to a new level and loaded this baby up with some really heavy artillery.
Does it work or does it crumble under its own weight? Let's find out.
The N95 is a dual slider with a normal keypad that slides out from under the phone when it’s pushed upward and a second media keypad that slides out from the top when the phone is pushed downward. To be honest the second slider is quite redundant. I mean it’s got just 4 buttons for play and pause, stop and the rewind and forward or skip keys, which could easily have been placed on any edge of the phone without requiring a slider mechanism. In most Nokia phones the 5 way navigation pad (that’s present here too) can be used for all those options too, so like I said, the media keypad is redundant. Also, the buttons circling the navigation pad viz. the edit, cancel (clear) call and end keys and the two user definable keys will take a bit of getting used to as they’re rather slim.
On one side you’ll find the dedicated camera key with another key just above that’ll take you directly to the gallery. Nice, quick access. Above that are the volume / zoom keys. One of the speakers is also located just above that. On the other side there’s the microSD slot, the infrared port, 3.5mm (thank the stars!) AV (yes! audio and video) outlet and the second speaker. The camera is located on the rear, the USB port and charger port at the bottom.
The N95 is equipped with a brilliant 2.6 inch display sporting a resolution of 320x240 pixels with 16 million colors. For a phone that's being called a superphone, you'd wonder why the resolution of this phone is the same as the lowest end E-Series phone, the E50. The N80 came with a 352x416 display, so why not the N95? It seems the cost of a display of that resolution was too high, so they put a QVGA in here instead. Since when did cost become a problem for a high-end Nokia phone? The intended audience would pick it up even if it cost twice as much as it does right now.
Yes! Yes I know it’s totally loaded with features. But allow me to hit on the ones that are most used by you guys these days. Let’s start off with the display. You have the choice of using the display either in portrait or landscape mode. If you slide out the media keypad the phone automatically switches to landscape and opens up directly to the quick menu page. So if you're watching videos or just listening to music or surfing the net this makes it real comfy for viewing. Think of it like a mini widescreen monitor.
From the business end the N95 has Quickoffice installed for viewing Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Now there is catch though. All the files you view are strictly read-only. You’ll need to download the upgrade to edit the files. The phone also has a PDF format viewer and zip software which I presumed was meant for compressing files but it’s only meant to open zipped files. But it’s a Series 60 OS so you can pretty much download software for compression if you really need it.
What I really like most about Nokia phones (mostly the N series) is the Active standby mode. Although it does crowd up your main screen, it comes in really handy if there are reminders or schedules to keep since it shows up right there on the main screen.
Aside from these features, the N95 has the basic functions of keeping notes, schedules, reminders, a converter for various purposes, a calculator and for some reason a bar code reader. We weren’t able to figure how to use it and what purpose it actually serves, till we checked up and realized this is not something we can use in this country. So why include it for a country that can’t use it? But what it should have had instead, is a business card reader, which the N95 doesn't have. Now that would have been really handy!
The N95 also has the function of voicing out the callers name for incoming calls and you can also use the voice command function to activate various other functions in the phone. But this isn't exactly new. A lot of the older models including the 3250 has that option.
The new Multimedia shortcut screen has been completely upgraded and looks really snazzy. If left untouched for few seconds it goes into a video mode that plays an N95 advertisement, which isn’t too bad at all but it’s more of a screensaver than anything else. The large hi-res display is great for watching movies or video clips in landscape. The secondary keypad for the media isn’t really necessary to reiterate but it is a bit handy if you like that sort of thing.
I’m not thoroughly impressed with the music player. Although the sound quality is borderline excellent, for a phone of this magnitude that boasts of so much capability, I know the guys at Nokia could have done better. The EQ is definitely handy for adjusting the quality to your preference. And of course, I’m thrilled to have the 3.5mm AV jack so I can hook the phone up to my TV or an amp and play movies or music and even the games installed. If you don’t happen to have the Nokia headset but you do have a normal set of earphones, you can use those obviously, but… the N95 offers you the option of using the phone microphone in case you need to take or make a call.
As I hooked up the N95 to my TV (cables provided), I was dreading the picture would be stretched or blurry but the N95 came through wonderfully. I mean the picture wasn’t crystal clear or anything but it was good nevertheless. I admit we're all spoilt with 720p and 1080p video resolutions, but at one time we did all marvel at the mighty Video CD which had a resolution of 320x240 (NTSC). You could even surf the internet with the phone and use your TV as the monitor.
The gallery allows you to preview pictures and video in a thumbnail image, but of course that’s common in the N series and other S60 models as well. But another great feature is the Video center function which allows you to stream live videos from sites like YouTube, Reuters, UNICEF, etc. What you can do is simply go to the Media Center function on the menu, download and install the video feeds. After testing the service, I am glad to say the videos were quite clear.
From online video streaming to watching and even editing your videos and pictures with the movie and picture editor that Nokia has so generously provided, its a breeze. And even the voice recorder is a boon for taking memos.
Tech / Memory
The CPU has actually been upgraded from 220 mhz to 330 mhz. The N95 runs on Symbian OS 9.2 so that makes it a S60 3rd Edition with Feature Pack 1. And this baby is really wired for all kinds of connectivity.
This is the first of Nokia’s smartphones that has HSDPA (3.5G) for quicker-than-normal downloads. Not that it (or even 3G) matters here, but it's provided anyways. For the less privileged, the N95 does have EDGE, so no worries there. Connectivity is quick and smooth with not many hang-ups. The N95 also has an RSS reader to keep you updated on the latest of news and things and the phone also supports push email.
With regards to the internet you have your choice of either using EDGE or Wi-Fi. And of course you have a set up wizard to help you out with the connections. But I did have a few problems setting up the connections in certain places. It refused to connect and kept giving me errors like 'Invalid access point' or 'No connection available' even though it showed me that it had a found a point. Now this could be just a problem with my service provider but it could frustrate someone who really needs it and is unable to use it. SO if you know what you're doing when it comes to settings and connectivity, good! If not, this may not necessarily be the phone for you. But then again, the phone isn’t only about internet connectivity is it?
And just to make things really interesting for users, this technological marvel also has a built-in VOIP client (a service that allows you to make calls over the internet) and it has a dedicated function for the same. Again its not rocket science to get that hooked up as well. All you need do is select a provider. The phone can be switched onto dual mode and it can auto select the service if available. So like I said it does it everything. Super!
The N95 has Bluetooth but with A2DP compatibility. Now not only can you connect a Bluetooth headset but it also has a separate function for connecting a wireless keyboard. Nice! The phone is also equipped with infrared, not that too many people have a use for it but it’s there again i guess for posterity. So as you can see nothing has been left to chance.
The N95 is equipped with a GPS receiver as well so you can find your way around. All you need to do again is simply open the software and there you go. You have the option of simply entering an address and getting the directions to that location. But you will have to download the maps though. Tried and tested with no problems and connectivity to the satellites is a cinch.
The phone has a whooping 120MB of internal memory and comes with a 1GB card as well so there’s plenty of space for your music, videos, and maps. Fully Loaded!
The N95 is stocked with a 5 megapixel camera and a mess of settings that could make you feel quite like a professional. Picture quality is good. It uses an auto-focus Carl Zeiss lens. It’s also equipped with an LED flash, but alas, no optical zoom like the N93.
The settings I was referring to include –
Scene Modes for close-ups portraits, landscapes, even the sports mode is great if you need to capture a picture of a moving object. There’s also night mode and a separate setting for night portraits. But a great feature with the N95 camera is the little hints it gives you when choosing the right mode with a small description that explains when each setting is ideal for usage.
Flash Settings aren’t any different from most camera phones with auto, off or redeye reduction settings. There’s also a self tier with 2, 10 and 20 second delays. Sequence mode gives you the option of selecting the interval between bursts. Then you also have exposure compensation and white balance settings. Color tones are also available for those artful images you may opt to take with sepia, black and white or negative options. And of course you have settings for adjusting the ISO, contrast and even the sharpness of the image and there’s a small preview window provided to make sure you get it right.
The camera is a bit slow to start up. It takes at least 3-4 seconds, even when processing the images. But the quality is pleasantly decent. The zoom is a wee bit sluggish though. Close-ups pick up the colors really well and the detail is also not too shabby. There’s a slight water color effect if you look really closely. I’m not sure I liked the normal pictures taken in sunlight. They came off a wee bit grainy. But I guess they’re ok if you’re just a point-and-shoot user. So no worries. Overall the picture quality is great so go ahead, snap your heads off.
Here is what gives the N95 away. Its Li-Ion 950 mAh battery sucks! What I’m trying to say is that for a phone like this, which will rock the industry, a battery that gives you just about 5 hours of talk time is not adequate. Its not too bad but I know it could have been better. The battery lasted for a good 2 days of usage with calls and a few functions being used here and there. However with the music player I got a pretty average usage. It ran for a full 8 hours and finally died of exhaustion. We sincerely hope the next batch of phones will see a marked difference in battery life.
This phone is targeted at a globetrotter or a business traveler. Some one who can do justice to the plethora of software the N95 is loaded with viz. GPS or Wi-fi with HSDPA and Push email, the 5 megapixel camera, the office software etc. Weighing 120 gms, the phone is a steal for all its loaded features. In fact we though it was just a dummy piece when it first came to us.
The Bottom Line - this Smartphone, no… scratch that, Superphone is not just for everyone, but priced at just around Rs. 35,000, it’s well worth it. For a phone that has and does more than most, this is a must-have for all you Tech-heads out there.
|Network||GSM 850/900/1800/1900, GPRS, EDGE, 3G/HSDPA|
|Physical||99 x 53 x 21 mm, 120 g|
|Display||240x320, 16 million colors, TFT, 2.6-inches|
|UI||Symbian OS 9.2, S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1|
|Memory||160mb internal, MicroSD (1GB provided)|
|Media||MP3, AAC, FM, 3GP, MP4, Voice Recording, Photo / Video editor, TV out (3.5mm AV slot)|
|Camera||5 MP, Carl Zeiss lens, autofocus, video(VGA 30fps), secondary CIF videocall camera|
|Connectivity||USB 2.0 (mini USB), Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, A2DP, IR|
|Others||GPS receiver, Quickoffice, Java MIDP|
|Battery||220 hours stand by, 5 hours talk time|
|Street Price||Rs. 35,000|