If you're more of the do-it-yourself type, the N95 is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens and video recording capabilities. The breadth of customization and editing options available on this phone is astounding--almost like an actual digital camera. You can choose from seven shooting modes, ranging from close-up to sports to night portrait, and five quality settings. You can adjust the brightness, contrast, white balance, color tone, ISO light sensitivity, and exposure value to get the best picture possible. The flash even has a red-eye reduction option. Plus, there's also a self-timer and a sequence mode for multiple shots.
The N95 can record video at a maximum VGA resolution (640x480) at 30 frames per second, though you also have a choice of four other quality settings. The N95 can record video with sound in MP4 or 3GP (for multimedia messages) format, and length is only limited by the available memory. There's a handy timer that shows you how much video time you have based on the memory and the quality setting (this feature is available in camera mode as well). Editing options are a bit more limited in video mode; you only get two shooting modes (automatic and night) and white balance and color tone settings. In addition, there's a video stabilization feature to help reduce camera shake as you're recording video.
Picture quality was a little disappointing considering the 5-megapixel lens. We were impressed with the clarity and definition of the objects in the image, but the coloring was a bit dull and dark. Video recordings were decent with minimal blurriness, but there was a faint haze in a couple of our clips
Switching to voice features, the quad-band 8GB N95 offers world roaming, a speakerphone, speed dial, conference calling, voice-command support, a vibrate mode, and text and multimedia messaging. The phone's address book is only limited by the available memory, and the SIM card holds an additional 250 contacts. There's room in each entry for multiple phone numbers, work and home addresses, e-mail addresses, birthday, and more vitals. For caller ID purposes, you can assign each contact a photo, one of 43 ringtones, or a group ID.
Wireless options on the 8GB include Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, and yes, U.S. 3G support. Specifically, the device supports the 850/1900MHz HSDPA bands, meaning you'll only get the benefit of 3G (data speeds of around 400Kbps to 700Kbps with the potential to hit up to 2Mbps) if you use AT&T's network. The smart phone supports a number of Bluetooth profiles, including wireless headsets, hands-free kits, wireless keyboards, and A2DP for Bluetooth stereo headsets. As far as Wi-Fi, the N95 is compatible with 802.11b/g standards; in addition, there's support for Universal Plug and Play, which lets you use a Wi-Fi connection to hook up with a compatible PC, printer, or home entertainment system, but the number of UPnP devices is limited at the moment. The N95 was able to find and connect to our test access point, and we were able to surf the Net within minutes, using Nokia's excellent Web browser.
On top of all that, Nokia has also packed a GPS receiver into the N95, along with a mapping application. With it, you can get color maps, route planning, and a healthy points-of-interest database. There's also a trip computer that shows you information about the total distance, time, average speed, and so forth. However, to get any kind of turn-by-turn directions, you'll have to download an upgrade to the device. There are several options for purchase, including a one-year license for $125.77 or a one-month license for $13.96.
Last but not least, the N95 runs the third edition of the S60 platform on the Symbian operating system for your productivity needs. An app called QuickOffice lets you view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, and it optimizes the pages for the phone's screen, so you don't have to scroll all over the place to read text. There are some nice shortcuts to jump to the top or bottom of the page to reduce the up-and-down scrolling, and there's also a search function. However, if you want any editing capabilities, you'll have to upgrade the preloaded copy of QuickOffice. For messaging, the N95 supports IMAP4, POP3, and SMTP e-mail accounts and comes with a full attachment viewer. The N95 does support a number of push e-mail solutions, as well as Microsoft Exchange Server synchronization, but this is dependent upon your service provider and company's e-mail solution, so check with your IT department if you have any questions.
There's a handy wizard when you first power up the device to help you configure your e-mail, and we used it to easily set up our SBC Global account. Other productivity apps and PIM tools include Adobe Reader, a Zip manager, a calculator, a notepad, a measurement converter, a clock, and a voice recorder.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS/EDGE) 8GB Nokia N95 in San Francisco using AT&T service, and call quality was OK but not pristine. On our end, there was a slight hollowness to the audio, but we were able to talk with friends and use our bank's voice automated system with no problems. Our callers didn't have any major complaints but said they could tell we were using a cell phone. The speakerphone produced mixed results. We noticed a background hiss as soon as we activated the loudspeaker, though it faded slightly once we started talking. We were able to pair the 8GB N95 with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
General performance was OK. Despite the ample memory, there were still times where the device felt slow even when performing simple tasks such as exiting out of an application. The lag became particularly noticeable when trying to launch or use any of the multimedia apps. While we're on the subject of multimedia, performance in that department was superb. Song playback through the phone's speakers sounded better than any smartphone we've tested recently with a full sound and plenty of volume. We'd only ask for a little more bass. Not surprisingly, quality only improved when we plugged in a nice pair of earbuds into the 3.5mm headphone jack--kudos to Nokia for such an inclusion. Video clips looked great with minimal pixelation and sound and images were always synchronized.
The Web browsing experience was pleasant and swift, whether we were using AT&T's 3G network or Wi-Fi. We also checked out the GPS and were pleasantly surprised by how fast the device was able to get a lock on our location. It did a fair job of tracking our position though it could get behind. We'd only advise using the N95 while on foot instead of in the car given the small screen size--unless you have a passenger in the vehicle.
The Nokia N95's 1,200mAH lithium ion battery has a rated talk time of 5 hours (GSM) and up to 11 days of standby time. We were able to get 3.5 hours of continuous talk time in our battery drain tests; we should note this was with UMTS. According to FCC radiation tests, the 8GB N95 has a digital SAR rating of 0.79 watt per kilogram.