Ever since the Nokia N95 first debuted back in September 2006, it's been one of the most anticipated and highly coveted smart phones. In fact, Nokia didn't even have plans to bring the N95 to the United States, but after the high number of requests from U.S. customers, the company finally decided to ship the hot smart phone across the pond. What's all the hubbub about, you ask? Well, let's see: it boasts a 5-megapixel camera that can also record VGA-quality video, a robust media player with a 3.5mm headphone jack, a dual-slider design, and integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Not to mention, it's a Symbian smart phone as well.
Unfortunately, when you've got an overhyped phone like this, there's bound to be some disappointments. First, the N95 does not work on the United States' 3G network (namely, Cingular/AT&T's HSDPA network) for high-speed Web browsing and data transfer, which is a major disappointment. Also, all of the phone's features take a toll on the device's battery and processor, as standby battery life was pretty sad and performance was somewhat sluggish. But do the pros outweigh the cons? Is it worth paying the $750 for the phone? Well, we're not 100 percent sold. We so desperately wanted to like this phone, but for that money, we want a device that can keep up with our demands and not require us to go running to the outlet to constantly recharge. Plus, we'd also like the see the inclusion of 3G. Still, we know there are the gadget lovers and tech enthusiasts out there that will plunk down the Benjamins for this high-end phone, and we can't deny that you'll get your fill of features. The Nokia N95 is available now unlocked (for use with Cingular and T-Mobile SIM cards) through Nokia's flagship stores, select wireless retailers, and online.
Considering all the features that are packed into the Nokia N95, you'd think it would be a pretty hefty phone, but not so, my friends. The N95 measures a compact 3.8 inches long by 2.1 inches wide by 0.8 inch thick and weighs only 4.2 ounces. It feels comfortable to hold, and the soft-touch finish on the back of the device makes it easier to grip. That said, we couldn't help but think that the phone felt, well, kind of cheap. In particular, the front cover felt plasticky and rickety (more on this below). From an aesthetic standpoint, the N95 certainly falls more into the short and stocky category rather than svelte and sexy, but we think it's still a good-looking phone with its plum-and-silver color scheme.
Of course, another attraction of the N95 is its innovative two-way slider design. Not only can you slide the front cover up to reveal the alphanumeric keypad, you can also slide it down to expose the media player controls. The dual functionality is nice, but we had a couple of concerns. First, the cover, which houses the screen and navigation buttons, felt loose and rattled around a bit. It just didn't feel like it was securely locked into place, thus leading to our next complaint. When putting the phone into a pants pocket or even when thrown into a bag, it was too easy to slide open the phone. There is a keypad lock, but we would prefer that the N95 just had a stronger mechanism for locking the position of the front flap.
Moving onto the display, the Nokia N95 features a gorgeous 2.6-inch QVGA TFT screen with a 16 million-color output and 320x240 pixel resolution. Be aware, however, that it isn't a touch screen. Images and text looked great, with deep color saturation and sharp definition. You can change the theme of the home screen, backlighting time, and font size. There's also an ambient light detector to adjust the backlighting depending on your environment, which helped keep the display readable in various lighting conditions. However, we noticed the N95's screen had a nasty habit of holding fingerprints and smudges, so keep some kind of wipe cloth close by. We should also note that when you slide open the phone to access the media player controls, the screen automatically switches to Landscape mode but once you close the phone, it doesn't automatically switch back. You have to open the dial pad to get back to portrait mode, which is annoying.
Beneath the display are the N95's navigation controls, which consist of two soft keys, the Talk and End buttons, shortcuts to the main menu and the multimedia menu, a Clear key, an Edit key that lets you choose the text input type, and a four-way toggle with a center select button. For the most part, the controls are easy to use, though they're a bit slick and the toggle and outer ring of buttons (see image above) could have been bigger. Still, it's an improvement over the Nokia E65's miniscule keys. The N95's numeric keypad features large, tactile buttons with bright backlighting, and they're raised above the phone's surface so it's easier to dial by feel. Unfortunately, the media player controls are less tactile and require a bit more pressure to register the command.
Since the N95 is a multimedia-centric device, Nokia smartly equipped the phone with a 3.5mm headset jack so you can plug in your favorite pair of earbuds or headphones for a better listening experience. It's located on the left side, in addition to an infrared port and the microSD expansion slot. On the right side, you will find the volume rocker, a shortcut to your photo gallery, and the camera activation button. The latter is in a position so that when you're holding the phone horizontally, it actually mimics the look and feel of a digital camera. The N95's camera lens itself (and flash) is located on the back and is guarded by a protective cover. Finally, there's a power connector and mini USB port on the bottom, and the power button on top of the handset.
The U.S. version of the Nokia N95 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a TV-out cable, a 1GB microSD card with adapter for SD drives, a pair of earbud headphones, a headphone adapter with antenna and audio playback controls, a desktop software CD (which includes Nokia PC Suite), and reference material.
It's hard to decide where to begin with the feature-packed Nokia N95, but since imaging is one of its biggest draws, we'll start there. The N95 is equipped with an impressive 5-megapixel camera--unheard of in the cell phone and smart phone world--with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens. (Carl Zeiss was an optician who first started manufacturing lenses for microscopes and then used his expertise for camera lenses.) 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.