Calling the Nokia N95 a cell phone would only be half true. In actuality the phone is more of a modern marvel in wireless synergy. A device that includes the connectivity of a cellular device, while offering a bevy of hosted hardware and software tools, specifically for the user who wants, forgive me, for users who demand the most out of their cellular devices.
The Sleek and surprisingly small design of the Nokia N95 (99 x 53 x 21 mm) offers its users a 5.0 megapixel camera, a GPS system, Video game console, Internet connectivity and much more. Yet the phones many features are at no time compromised by the vast array of tools it offers. At first viewing the phone appears to look more like a digital camera than a cellular device. The model I used thanks to Mobileplanet.com came in a "Deep Plum" coloring that was surprisingly easy on the eyes (yes even from a males point of view).
The phone offers a unique two-way slider option. Push up on the front of the phone and the keys for easy dialing are displayed. Push down on the front display and media player buttons are revealed. At first the phone may seem awkward to open, seeing as there is no thumb imprint to push on for easy access, this was easily overcome however after a few days of moderate usage.
I particularly liked the front display keys, specifically because they allowed easy access to the phones applications and settings, while keeping the slider in the closed position. The slider can also remain closed while taking pictures with the phones primary camera. To activate the camera the user simply flips open the front display lens and the large display screen comes to life. The phone also features a secondary camera for video conferencing and self-portraits.
Overall the phones design is modern, sleek, and functional. The phone is surprisingly small, easy to handle, and lightweight. The coloring is immaculate, and the display is clear and crisp. I also enjoyed the fact that the phones slider can remain closed during calling (for people with little hands, this is definitely an added bonus).
The built in GPS is a nice added feature, the maps are easy to follow, clear, concise and easily updated. However, the device on most occasions took several minutes to find my location, and in areas of heavy tree or building coverage it was nearly impossible to receive an incoming satellite signal. The GPS touts free navigation, but if you want turn-by-turn voice instructions you will need to subscribe to Nokia services, although several free programs are available. For what it was worth the GPS was a fun function to play around with, and it appeared to work better when the slider was open (The GPS is deep inside the phone) however a secondary Sirf III GPS receiver is recommended for quick, accurate, and reliable GPS navigation. The Nokia N95 manual suggests keeping the slider open when using the GPS application, I also found that doing so helped speed up the onboard processors search time.
A barcode scanner is available on the unit, but I have to admit, I couldn't get the device to work properly, after nearly two hours of research, I finally determined that the barcode scanner is a feature better left to Socket Barcode Scanners and other professional equipment. I work with a lot of cell phones, and the feature to be quite honest confused me.
The Videogame console was a value added feature that I rather enjoyed. I played the included games on both the unit and while hooked up to my television (through the phones TV Out plug, with included cables). The graphics were the best I have encounters in a Cellular device, not to mention the processor allowed the games to run smoothly and with very little load time. The 3D environment is definitely a welcomed addition to the cellular gaming world.
The phone also features QuickOffice a software edition that allows users to view MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, the program also sets the pages for optimal viewing on the phone's screen, which comes in handy when viewing documents on the fly.
Finally, the phones 160mb onboard hard drive can come in handy if you purchase the phone without a memory card at first, or if you find yourself with a full 2gb memory card down the road, while still having a need for more space (This has happened to me several times now). Overall the added space is excellent for adding your own third party programs, or for emergency picture taking, video directing, or even backing up your favorite photos from your recent vacation.
The Nokia N95 features two distinct onboard cameras, the first camera is located on the front of the device and features Carl Zeiss Optics for crisp, clear, and concise picture taking. While the camera offers excellent 5.0 mega pixel images from up close shots, the zoom feature greatly reduced the quality of the pictures taken. Zooming even slightly caused an apparent blurring of images, while zooming long distances created pictures of an even less desirable quality. I attempted pictures with both the flash on and off, and in several different lighting situations, the quality on almost all of the pictures taken left something to be desired when the zoom function was implemented.
The camcorder ran into the same problems, while the video was fluent and easy to follow, the quality was not what I would expect from an $800 cell phone. In fact, if you're looking for a camcorder feature, I would suggest the Nokia N93, as its Carl Zeiss optics are more suited for video functioning, while the N95 offers much more clear still photos. While the picture quality is not perfect, it's still the best quality I've seen so far, at least in terms of cellular devices. Another important factor to consider is the cameras capability to customize, the phone actually has too many customizations to mention, some important customizations included: contrast controls, white balancing, color tone and several distinct shooting modes. With the right eye for customization a user may find the camera to have better quality standards than my sophomoric customizations offered.
The secondary camera offers much lower quality, however the point of the secondary camera is not to take stellar digital stills, but rather to offer video calling and the ability to take quick self portraits. The camera loaded quickly and in the two video calls I made the video appeared to run smoothly and with very few delays, I was pleasantly pleased with the functioning of the secondary camera, as was my friend on the other end.
The phones 2.6 inch display is accented by its beautiful QVGA TFT, 16 million colors screen. The screen offers a 240 X 320 pixel view that caught my eye the moment I booted up the device. The display is large enough for GPS use, while not compromising the devices size. The "screen realty" is very generous on the Nokia N95, taking up a large portion on the backside of the phone, while not forcing the display buttons to become to small for comfortable use. Whether playing a fast moving game, or preparing to take a picture, the video quality was always top notch and the colors never seemed to blend into one another, while offering a deep, rich, and visually pleasing display.
Nokia has always had my heart when its come to audio abilities. The Nokia N95 was no exception. The phone plays a variety of formats that include MP3, WMA, W4A, AAC, AAC+, and eAAC+ files, as well as OMA DRM 2.0- and WMDRM-protected songs. I played both MP3's and several AAC files and found the quality to be excellent, whether played through the phones included headphone set, or through the units speaker system. For audio buffs the phone features a hidden 3.5mm audio jack for stereo headphone sets. With excellent sound quality and easy to access music folders, the 3.5mm headphone jack is a welcomed addition to this media packed cellular device. The phone also worked well as a secondary audio device for media streaming when hooked up to my homes 1200 watt stereo system. I also have enjoyed the Stereo FM Radio application available on the phone. I may have paid to receive my local stations, but the clarity has been surprisingly good, and the radio functions are easy to adapt to and follow.
In terms of phone calls, the Quad Band Nokia N95 was clear on both my end and on the end of those I pestered into helping me receive feedback on the phones clarity. I lost sound quality only 2 times, both times occurring when I was on the highway and far outside of the city limits. The speakerphone is loud and clear, and the mic apparently picks up my voice fairly well, even when the phone was sitting in the passenger seat of my car as I drove, a nice impressive feature for driving safety
The N95 offers SMS, MMS, EMAILING, and Instant Messaging capabilities. The standard text message features are pretty uniform on phones these days, what isn't standard, and for good reason, is the use of a slider keypad. The keys are easy to access through the slider, however my big hands had a hard time getting use to the keypads limited space. At most the small keypad space is a nuisance that is overcome with continued use.
Email is offered through the N95's Symbian operating system through internet functions and POP Mail functions. I was however disappointed to learn that Mail for Exchange is not compatible with the Nokia N95. It was hard for me to understand how such an expensive device could leave off access to such a popular and in many cases needed program. There are several programs that can be downloaded for Microsoft exchange use, but nothing fits quite as well as the Nokia Mail for Exchange program. Hopefully this issue will be fixed by Nokia in the near future. If you need an exchange type program, I would suggest searching the internet for a free or pay program for such use.
I love the new third generation Symbian 60 operating system, especially when its teamed up with the folks at Nokia. I accessed the internet through the Cingular Edge connection and it was fast, actually I'll take that one step further, of all the devices I have used to connect to Cingular's Medianet, the N95 offered the quickest connection with no setup, I literally placed my SIM card in the device and I was ready to go. Youtube videos loaded quickly (The phone features flash capabilities), and websites were easy to browse with the factory installed Opera browser and its page search and zoom capabilities.
For ultra fast connections the Nokia N95 U.S. Version allows for 3G connections on established U.S. 3G networks across the country. If you find yourself in a W.I.F.I. friendly area, the phones Wifi connection also allows for fast speeds through the phones 802.11 b/g wireless capabilities that help to zoom the phone along with virtually no page load delays. I found the internet connection capabilities to be a well designed application on the N95 with a high level of satisfaction.
Infrared connections are sometimes hard to find, hard to connect, and hard to understand. With the Nokia N95 I was printing information, and connecting through infrared ports in a matter of minutes. The phones manual is easy to follow, whether you are a cellular expert or a beginner, which is good considering the amount of ways I was able to connect to different hardware devices. The phones 2.0 Bluetooth is an excellent choice for connecting multiple devices (up to 6 devices at one time). While the types of connections through the phones miniUSB to USB connections allowed for easy transfer between file types, for instance, if you choose to transfer media files, simply connect to the Media Player option and beginning transferring. If you want to transfer a wide variety of files, you can simply connect through the regular USB connection. When all is said and done, the connection options are wide and varied, and I'm confident the transfer options will leave each user with their own preference for moving and managing their files.
The Nokia N95 is an excellent choice for avid cell phone users who don't necessarily need to have the office with them at all times. I found the phone to interact on par with both Cingular cell phone service and T-Mobile. The lack of an Exchange Server program did surprise me, but the phone as a whole entity was more than a medium level user could want, need, or ask for. The camera needs some tweaking, but still offers some of the best pictures available on a cellular device, while the Quad Band GSM feature allows GSM users to take the phone with them wherever they go. The unlocked version I was using allowed for easy internet connectivity, while the GPS left something to be desired (although it worked better with the slider in the open position as Nokia suggests).
Overall the Nokia N95 is worth the high buy cost, even if it is a bit sluggish, because the real added value comes in the form of additions to the phones software, and the use of third party GPS receivers and up close and regular length picture taking (Which was clear with deep rich colors). The Nokia N95 proves that synergy between devices is not only possible, but more importantly can be cost effective, the combination of devices within this single unit could cost hundreds of dollars more if purchased separately.