Nokia N96 review. Boring is good

When the specs of Nokia N96 were first leaked to the net, I thought it was a pretty boring phone. After all, more then a year has passed since the introduction of Nokia N95 handset, and the only improvement that N96 had to show – was some added memory and DVB-H tuner…. Duh

During Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week, I had an opportunity to check it out live. And I have not changed my opinion – Nokia N96 is boring.

However, I had an epiphany while playing with Nokia N96. It turns out, that except for us geeky/blog newsy types, boring is actually very good.

When Nokia N95 hit the market, it had multiple bugs, was slow, used to crash, did not really felt right in the hands, the slider on it sucked, as did the battery life. We, early adopters, actually became beta testers for a new device and even shelled out some serious money for the privilege.

But all was forgiven in the name of all these cool gimmicks like GPS, 5mpx camera, Wi-Fi and others, that worked more often then not.

With Nokia N96 it’s a completely different story. You can feel that the N95 platform had a year to mature just by holding device in your hand.


Smooth shiny surface, really well implemented slider hinge, big clear screen, fast responses and small details like touch pad navigation or built-in quick stand for watching video, makes using Nokia N96 much more pleasant experience then a year old Nokia N95 in my pocket.

But, as they say a picture is worth a thousand words and a moving picture should be worth even more. So here’s a video demo of Nokia N96:

You might not see it in this video, but the movie quality that Nokia N96 is really great. Thank’s to built-in video accelerators, N96 is able to support video bit rates of well above 1.5 Mbps (up to 5 Mb’s ?!), while conserving the power use at the same time.

I also have to take back what I said about Nokia N96 in my previous post.

2.8″ screen is not too small and, given enough bitrate/video quality, it is actually quite good for watching movies and TV shows on it. Nokia N96 should give a run for the money to any flash based portable media player around.

Other cool feature on Nokia N96 is 5 megapixel camera with geo tagging functionality (Via GPS). When enabled it automatically tags the images with the GPS location coordinates, which you can later use when sorting the pictures on your PC or online photo service.

Nokia N96 also comes with 16 GB of built-in flash memory and microSDHC memory card slot, where you can fit 8 GB memory card for a total of 24GB of storage.

One thing I’m not sure about – is the battery life. The 950 mAh battery in Nokia N96 is the same as in N95, and we all heard about the troubles with battery life that N95 had.

Let’s hope that newer, more efficient chips and software in N96 gives it much longer durability then it’s predecessor.

Full specs of Nokia N96 include:

  • WCDMA2100/900 (HSDPA) / EGSM900, GSM850/1800/1900 MHz (EGPRS) connectivity
  • DVB-H Class C, 470-750 MHz
  • S60 3rd edition, FP2 UI
  • 2.8” QVGA (240 x 320 pixels) LCD TFT display with up to 16 million colors
  • 5 megapixel camera with auto-focus and auto-exposure
  • Dual-LED camera flash, video light, recording indicator, auto-focus assist light
  • Secondary VGA (640 x 480 px) camera for video calls
  • Video capture in MPEG-4 up to VGA at 30 fps
  • Digital Video Stabilization
  • Built-in GPS/A-GPS
  • WLAN – IEEE802.11 g/b
  • Stereo FM radio (87.5-108MHz, 76-90MHz) with RDS
  • Hi-Speed USB 2.0 with Micro USB type B interface
  • 3.5mm stereo headset plug , TV-out support (PAL/NTSC)
  • Bluetooth 2.0 A2DP stereo/EDR
  • 950 mAh battery with up to 220 min talk, 220 hrs standby time, 5 hrs video, 14 hrs music or 4 hrs TV playback
  • Dimensions: 103x55x18 mm
  • Weight: 125 g

All- in-all, Nokia N96 is a great, feature packed mobile handset. Initial retail price for Nokia N96 will be around 550 Euro, which is OK for it’s category.

The only problem is that Nokia N96 is expected to start shipping only in Q3, 2008 – and that’s about half a year from now. Which is way too long a time to make me happy.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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