Nokia N95 review -

3

Review by Sunetra Chakravati, 12/12/2011 3:48:50 PM

8out of 10
Performance
8 out of 5
Look and feel
8 out of 5
Ease of use
6 out of 5
Features
4 out of 5
Battery life
Pros:

Look no further than its awe-inspiring feature set.

Cons:

The OS is a little sluggish at times and the battery does drain at an alarming rate.

You have to marvel at how Nokia has managed to cram such a wealth of features into such a tidy frame. The Nokia N95 isn't particularly compact, but it's not a behemoth either, unlike its fellow multimedia monsters, the Nokia N91 and Nokia N93. The nearest comparison in terms of size and design would be the Nokia N80. It's actually not as chunky or heavy as its compadre, but it's a little wider and longer. At 120g, the N95 is still heavier than many - but no phone can yet match its feature set.

Aesthetically, some may argue that the design is a little too rigid and square and does not dazzle like, say the LG Prada phone, but it's what's inside that really counts.

Dual-slider handset

Push the front upwards and the normal phone keypad is revealed; nudge the fascia down and the music player controls are uncovered, activating the player in the process. The slider doesn't match the spring-assisted slickness of the Nokia E65 or Nokia 8800 Sirocco, but it's still slick. The keypad is well spaced and everything is straightforward to operate and locate, despite the increased functionality. The Symbian OS can be sluggish at times, but thankfully, it's not a consistent complaint.
As for the display, the large 2.6-inch QVGA-quality screen is sizable and, with 16.7-million colours, it renders photos, videos, web pages and maps brilliantly.

Internet and software

The Nokia N95 features Nokia's Mini Map web browsing technique - a semi-transparent zoomed-out view of the page area you're reading is shadowed by a complete view of the whole page as it was originally designed. You can also browse at HSDPA speeds and via Wi-fi when in hot spot coverage.

MP3 phone

Slide down the front and the music player controls are revealed, and you're also presented with an onscreen media carousel menu where you can select the music player option.

Getting your songs onto the N95 is straightforward: either hook it up with your PC's Windows Media Player software or highlight it as a mass storage device and drag and drop your files.
It has 160MB of internal memory, but you can boost this with a microSD card. If you buy a 4GB memory card, you can potentially store up to 1,000 tunes*.
You can navigate through your library via all songs, playlists, artists, albums, genres and composers and modify the equaliser to suit the music - Bass Booster, Classical, Jazz, Pop and Rock settings are available. Meanwhile, the 3.5mm headphone connection can be used with any specialist headphones.

GPS sat-nav

The N95 is Nokia's first phone to include a built-in GPS receiver. Rather than a memory card, the Nokia N95 employs a server-based system; once your route is calculated online, the relevant maps are retrieved from the main server and cached in the device memory or microSD card. Essentially, the maps for 100 different countries are free, but you will be charged a data rate for getting the maps and connection time. However, voice guidance is extra and costs £47.68 for three years, £40.87 for one year, £5.44 for 30 days and £4.42 for a week's use. Similarly, downloading City Guides from AA, Berlitz and Wcities will cost around £5.50 each, although this is a one-off purchase.

Once you've programmed the starting and destination point, your route will be calculated online (this takes about 30 seconds) before you can begin navigation.
It did take a while to get the initial GPS fix, but gets quicker. The 2D maps are clear and there are 15 million points of interest (POI).
An instruction icon shows the remaining distance to travel, turn-by-turn voice commands are loud and clear through the phone's two side speakers, and we advise that you invest in an in-car mounting bracket and charger.

5 megapixel camera

The camera is fired up via an active sliding lens cap and the onscreen menu system, and it's easy to navigate around using the joypad and soft keys while in capture mode. As you would expect from a top camera phone, you get a host of effects that include Scene modes (close-ups, portrait, landscapes, sports, nights etc), Flash (auto, red-eye reduction), Self timer, Sequence mode, Exposure compensation, White balance, Colour tone, ISO Light sensitivity and Contrast and Sharpness settings. The N95 shoots in 2592x1944-pixels and pictures viewed on your PC at 100% do show the camera's processing handicap. However, most of us print photos at 4x6-inch size and at this level the picture quality shows a good level of detail, strong contrast and exceptional colour tones.

Despite the five megapixels, Carl Zeiss-built lens and a CMOS sensor, the Nokia N95 does process images with some artefacting, compression and sharpening noise.

Superior video recording

Usually, mobiles don't go beyond 352x288-pixels at 15 frames per second, so the N95's 640x480-pixel resolution, capturing at 30fps in MPEG4 format is really impressive.
You can easily access the video recording facility by switching from the still camera when in capture mode. Just like the Nokia N93, you can tinker with colour effects and there's an image stabiliser to tone down the judder. There are four quality settings from MMS-suitable to the VGA quality for playback on your TV (via supplied cables).
The length of footage will depend on the memory available and, although you will experience slight digital drag and noise, the quality is the slickest around.