Nokia N95 - Long Live the King?

By: Darren Evans

The 8GB update to Nokia's immensely popular & powerful N95 mobile phone has taken some of the spotlight off of its predecessor. Perhaps it's now time for a re-evaluation and compare the original N95 to the current crop and see if it still has what it takes to maintain its position at the top of the tree.

First thing to start off with is the still-unique dual-sliding action of the Nokia N95 which serves 2-purposes. An upwards-push reveals the usual alphanumeric keypad which if I'm being honest isn't a particular favourite of mine. Though it isn't uncomfortable, the sheer width of the phone means that if you have small hands or short fingers, you'll struggle to reach them all without having to readjust your handling position.

On a more positive note the keys themselves on both the main pad and under the display are of a high-quality and are very responsive without any issues to cause discomfort aside from the size as mentioned above, but even this isn't a major problem.

When slid in the other direction, the N95 reveals a second smaller keypad designed for use in conjunction with the music player. You get the usual play, stop and skip track keys which considering the size of this phone, was a very shrewd move on Nokia's part as it does make a major difference if you're going to use this for the music player on a regular basis.

In terms of the overall design & construction, the N95 is by no means a small phone, but it isn't as hefty as it appears in the publicity shots. When you consider the amount of features that are packed into this phone it isn't a surprise that it's the wrong side of compact. The only design issue I had with this phone was with the sliding mechanism, which for me wasn't particularly pleasing. The problem was that when the phone was in a stationary position, it felt like it needed only the slightest movement to open up either way, meaning that it wasn't anywhere near solid enough in the terms of the mechanism.

Aside from that, the materials used and the way they were implemented was relatively pleasing and didn't pose any further issues. Marks out of 10 - 7: good but room for improvement.

Thankfully, the capabilities of the N95 do move it up quite a few notches in such a way that only dedicated smartphones are capable of outdoing it, even over 10 months after release.

Without wishing to sound tiresome, let's list what the N95 is capable of to put everything in perspective; 5 Megapixel camera with autofocus & Carl Zeiss Optics; Wi-Fi; GPS navigation; Bluetooth; microSDHC compatibility with 160MB internal memory; Symbian 9.2 OS; 3.5mm audio jack; FM radio; infrared; 30fps video-recording; 3G with HSDPA and mini USB port with data cable supplied.

On the 26th of November 2007 Nokia released a software update for the N95 and while this kind of thing isn't necessarily relevant to reviews of this nature, the reputed fixes due to this update do deserve a mention. As the battery life on the N95 upon release was a major Achilles heel, barely lasting 1 ? days of moderate usage, the updated software version 20.0.015 is meant to add up to 30% extra music performance. Figures regarding improved battery life for other functions are currently not available.

One small problem present in the N95 is with the screen. Whilst the display quality is of the sort of the class we all expect from Nokia these days (ie; excellent) it seems to attract fingerprints like a moth to a flame, making a screen protector or a carry case an almost essential purchase if you want to keep the screen in decent long-term condition.

The unquestionable main feature of the N95 has to be the 5MP camera which even in the substantial amount of time since its release is still good-enough to be ranked amongst the best in its class. In my opinion the only current device with higher overall camera performance than the N95 is the N82, due to its Xenon flash, but aside from that it's a very close call.

Overall, the Nokia N95 is an extremely high-spec device with capabilities only matched (or bettered) by dedicated smartphones with the bonus of a top-quality camera that still matches up to the competition after all this time.

The only real issue worth bearing in mind upon purchase is the battery life, which as mentioned earlier is very disappointing and frankly not good enough when compared to the rest of the N95's capabilities. If this doesn't bother you too much then there isn't much it can't do making it ideal for the majority of tasks.

Although it has been eclipsed a little by its 8GB update as well as the newer N82, the Nokia N95 does remain a great option for many thanks to its still unsurpassed range of features. Although the issue with the battery life seems to have been resolved with the advent of a software update, this shouldn't have really been a problem in the first place.

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