Nokia N95 - FIRST LOOK review

Launching around the globe on the same day, Nokia has opted for one big hit rather than pacing the launch of its latest products over several weeks or months.

Pocket-lint managed to get a brief first look at its "Hero" phone, the Nokia N95 expected to be available in February 2007 at the UK launch event in Soho, London.

While even the Nokia spokesman keen to show us the phone professed that he had seen it for as long as we had, our initial first impressions are very good.

Quoting Simon Ainslie the new Managing Director of Nokia, who recently joined from operator T-Mobile "There isn't much that it doesn't do" and when you look at the phone's features we, like Nokia, are hard pressed to see what's missing; 5 megapixel camera, 3G, wireless connectivity, dedicated music buttons, HDSPA, even GPS and bar missing a QWERTY keyboard you're pretty much there. Nokia has even gone as far as using the slogan “It’s what computers have become".

Wanting to be more than just another phone, the device comes with a dedicated maps application that includes maps for more than 100 countries and covers more than 15 million points of interest on a separate CD that you load into the phone depending on what you need and where you are. In our brief encounter we weren't able to see the GPS element in action.

The more conventional, but far from ordinary, is the announcement that the phone packs in a 5 megapixel camera boasting a Carl Zeiss lens, but no zoom. Nokia isn't the first to announce a hike in megapixel count, LG and Samsung are already all over that one, but it's good to see that Nokia isn't prepared to be left behind.

Unfortunately we weren't able to take any images away with us to see the quality, but the interface looked similar to other Nokia camera handsets and the 2.6-inch QVGA 16 million colour display screen certainly gives you a camera feel.

Luckily Nokia seems to have resisted the urge to put a rather large lens cover a la the K800i from Sony Ericsson instead opting for a robust, but thin lens cover which does the job just as well.

Other features include HSDPA, or 3.5G, the N95 also supports WLAN, EDGE, and WCDMA networks, 3D graphics, built-in stereo speakers, a 3.5mm audio jack, a microSD card slot, and mini USB socket.

So it must be a brick, like the N93 - "the size of a house" one Journalist next to us asked - well actually it's rather small, slightly bigger than the N71 but still very compact and bijou.

Bored with the clamshell, candy bar or regular slider, the N95 enlists a triple slide function - up for the numerical keypad, down for the dedicated music keys, which are, in the model we looked at, slightly hidden and rubbery to touch.

The main keypad itself is, thankfully, rather staid and boring and Nokia has resisted the temptation as with previous models to make you jump through a series of hoops to simply dial a number.

The front of the slider, aside from the large screen that dominates the design features call, hang up and select buttons as well as the menu button with its strange icon (now in its third year) and a multimedia button that zooms you to the multimedia features.

Nokia users will also be pleased to hear that the interface looks identical to current models and the Finnish company hasn't chosen this moment in time to do anything too drastic here either.

Verdict

The form factor hasn't changed much over previous models (apart from the extra sliding function), however what has changed is Nokia's emphasis and embracement of every technology that you can manage to fit into a small device.

In the past, when phone manufacturers have mentioned convergence, it's normally that they've managed to get an camera or MP3 player into there phone and boosted the memory a bit.

Here Nokia has managed to not only cram that camera (all 5 megapixels) and MP3 player (with new accompanying music service) in to the phone, but it's gone one step further and added a plethora of connectivity features and GPS to boot making this a multimedia fan's ultimate fantasy.

What's even more impressive is, that unlike the N73, which looks like a Sony Ericsson Walkman rip off, or the N93, which with its built-in camcorder is bigger than you would perhaps want, the final design is small compact.

Will this replace all Sony Ericsson's handsets (the K800i, the M600i and the W810i) in one foul swoop? Time will tell come launch day, however based on our initial brief encounter, if the features perform under closer scrutiny, then Nokia might finally see themselves back on top once again.