Nokia n95-3 review

February 9th, 2008

Here’s my review of the Nokia’s n95-3. The ’3′ means it’s the North American version of the n95. The original n95 will work fine in NA but the HSDPA won’t operate on the frequencies here.

It’s got almost every feature you can think of: 5 megapixel camera with autofocus, GPS, WiFi, HSDPA, etc, etc.

Make sure you check out the gallery for some pictures.

Physical Impressions:

The n95 fits nicely in your hand. If you’re used to carrying a really thin phone around you might find the n95 a little chubby for your pocket.

Since the n95 has plenty of space on it, most of the keys are nicely sized. If you have really big fingers you may find the soft keys a bit slim. The keypad is alright, I can’t complain too much about it.

The screen has a resolution of 240×320 and looks great. I did notice that the actual LCD display is closer to the screen cover than most phones. If you accidentally touch it you can see patterns on it.

Hands-free usage:

There is support for Bluetooth headsets, stereo Bluetooth headphones, 3.5mm stereo headphones and a speakerphone. The 3.5mm headphone jack is a nice feature if you listen to a lot of music.

Miscellaneous:

There’s a microSD card slot on the right side. It works fine with my 8gb Sandisk Micro SDHC card.

There’s a mini USB slot on the bottom. The mini USB slot is only for connecting to your computer which kind of sucks since most of the competition allows you to charge and sync from the connector.

Menus:

The n95 runs Nokia’s s60 user interface. It’s pretty standard. There’s a menu button which takes you to the menu. If you press and hold it, it will bring up a list of running programs. There’s an edit button (the one with the pencil) which you can use to copy and paste text. The ‘c’ button is like a backspace button on a keyboard plus you can use it to stop programs when you bring up the list of running programs.

There’s another menu button (the one to the right of the nav pad) which brings up a different looking menu. This menu has nice animations and looks fancier than the normal one but it takes longer to draw. It’s one of those things that looks nice in the store but you don’t use often once you bring it home.

What’s special about the n95 is that while it can slide open like a normal slider (screen on top, keyboard on the bottom) it can also slide open the other way where the screen’s on the bottom with multimedia keys on top.

The multimedia buttons work okay with the music player. They work even when you’re in a different application. I like how they allow for background usage but the novelty of sliding the phone the other way wears thin quickly. I would prefer if they were moved to the side and if they needed to be pressed and held to operate.

When you’re using the phone, the left softkey brings up a context sensitive menu while the right one is usually a back button.

Phone Related Features:

As far as phone features goes, the n95 is similar to other S60 powered phones. The n95 has a front facing camera so you can use it for video calling.

The phonebook works well. It’s easy to navigate plus it’s easy to add stuff to it. You can sync it with your computer using Nokia PC Suite (which is a massive 100MB+ download).

Connected Features:

S60′s best feature is probably it’s browser. It has the same engine as that of the Apple iPhone’s browser though they work differently. Of the two, I prefer the iPhone’s browser; it’s faster and easier to use though the n95′s is easier to use with one hand and has more features.

You can get connected using the built in WiFi or HSDPA. Unlike many phones (and like the iPhone) the n95 has the processing power to really take advantage of the faster connections.

The email client works well. It’s fast and supports IMAP and POP3.

There’s a built-in GPS. I’m not an expert on GPS but the n95-3 is pretty fast when it comes to getting a fix.

The built-in mapping program downloads map information as you go which is nice since presumably the map data will be more up to date. You can also download maps to the n95 using your computer with Nokia’s Map Loader program.

You can search for addresses, show location on map, search for nearby points of interest, pick a point and route from there, pick a point and route to, navigate to, send a location and save it.

You can search points of interest from many categories.

There’s a 2D top down view or a 3D view. The views are good if you want to look around and get a general view of where you are. They aren’t so great if you’re using it for guidance while you’re driving.

Now I tried using the n95 as a replacement for the GPS in my car, TomTom One and Garmin 350. Compared to the TomTom and Garmin, the n95 wasn’t that great. You have to pay extra if you want voice guidance (you can demo it for a few days) and the n95′s views aren’t great for when you’re driving because the street names are too small. I also found a few places that were in Garmin that weren’t in the n95 (no doubt this will change eventually since the n95 downloads it’s mapping data). Also, using the n95 for navigation isn’t very intuitive compared to the touch screen on the TomTom and Garmin.

There are city guides you can download and pay for (I didn’t cause I’m a cheap bastard).

While I wasn’t crazy about the included mapping program you can always download a third party solution.

Multimedia Features:

Like most of music players you can view by artist, albums, genres, composer plus you can create your own playlists. You can control the player by sliding the phone open the other way and pressing the buttons. They work in the background even if you’re in another program (such as browsing the web or checking email). They won’t take the focus away from your current program.

There’s a graphical equalizer. I have a 8GB micro SD card full of music. The reason I mention this is because USB transfers to and from the n95 are pretty slow. If you’re going to transfer a ton of music to the n95 I suggest you pop the microSD card out and use an external reader.

You can listen to music using A2DP wireless Bluetooth headphones (there’s AVRCP support too so you can skip songs, play/pause) or regular 3.5mm headphones like the kind you’d plug into an iPod. The build-in speakers are very loud and sound pretty good for a phone.

There is a 5 megapixel camera with auto focus and a LED flash on the back of the n95. It takes really good pictures. It’s so good you might consider not having a separate digital camera if you’re not a demanding user. The LED flash works much better than most other LED flashes.

If you’re used to a regular camera phone you might find it odd that the n95 takes about a second to focus before it actually snaps a picture.

There’s a shutter release button on the right side so you can use the n95 sideways like a regular camera.

My only complaints about the camera is that it’s on the slow side and that there’s no camera lens cover.

There’s a FM radio. You need to use wired headphones if you want to use this feature since they’ll act as an antenna. I didn’t test the radio.

If you get your n95-3 from a Nokia Store in North America, you can get Sling Player Mobile for S60 for free (it’s normally 30 bucks). I have a Slingbox and found that it works really well using WiFi or HSDPA.

Organizer Features:

The to do list is part of the calendar (as opposed to it being a stand alone program).

You can view MS Word, Excel or Power Point files with Quick Office. You’ll need to pay if you want to be able to create and edit them.

Adobe PDF let’s you view PDF files. It works okay but most PDF’s are designed to be printed or viewed on a bigger display.

The list of other organizer programs include: recorder, calculator, convert, alarm clock and file manager.

Impressions:

Sound quality was okay. I found the n95 to be slightly harsh sounding plus there’s noticeable hiss. On the plus side, the maximum ear piece volume is quite good.

RF performance is very good.

The n95 isn’t super skinny so it’s easy to hold if you’re going to talk on the phone for a long period of time.

Despite all the features packed into the n95-3, you can get a very respectable 2 or 3 days of battery life with light usage.

Conclusion:

I like the n95. Unless you like touch screens or want a full QWERTY keyboard, you don’t really feel like you’re giving up anything. Feature wise Nokia has taken an ‘everything including the kitchen sink’ approach to the n95-3′s feature set. You get everything: GPS, North American HSDPA, WiFi, memory card slot, loud stereo speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack, etc.

There isn’t much to complain about. I couldn’t really find any serious problems with the n95. I didn’t like the fact that the n95 has a terrific camera but no lens cover plus I wasn’t crazy about the mapping program. Both these aren’t deal breakers. I guess some may find the n95 a tad complicated too, there are a lot of features in there.

In the end, the worst thing about the n95-3 I guess is the price. It’s not a cheap phone. Then again it’s not aimed at the ‘free on a 3 yr contract’ crowd.

Ratings (out of 5)
Build Quality 4.5
Battery Life 4.5
Phone Related Features 4
Ease of Use 3.5
RF Performance 4
Degree of Customizability 4
Overall (not an average) 4.5
*Please note these ratings are temporal and are really only valid for the date they were assigned. A phone which receives a rating of 5 a year ago will probably get a lower rating today.

Pros:

  • GPS
  • WiFi
  • North American HSDPA
  • Camera takes good pictures
  • 3.5mm headphonejack

Cons:

  • Slow USB transfers
  • Mapping program not useful for navigation
  • Camera has no lens cover
  • Complicated

Discuss this review at HowardForums.com | See the gallery here
Written by Howard Chui 02.09.2007
This article may not be reproduced without the the author’s permission.

Entry Filed under: Phones

15 Comments Add your own

    george  |  February 10th, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    the map software comes with a map loader app for your pc so you can download maps in full before you travel. It also comes with a few days of free voice nav so you can try before you buy.

    Howard  |  February 12th, 2008 at 3:17 am

    Thanks, you’re right about the map loader app. I’ve updated my review.

    j2me applications  |  February 14th, 2008 at 5:35 am

    In smart2go is very easy to load maps via pc.

    Test Nokia N95 | MobileHu&hellip  |  February 15th, 2008 at 11:06 am

    [...] HowardChui [...]

    don  |  February 17th, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    the n95 is so easy to use if you are a nokia user for a long time. compare it to windows mobile or palm os. there are a lot more user friendly features.

    Jessica  |  February 21st, 2008 at 7:42 am

    Nokia N95 is the biggest hit, the beauty about this device is screen size. Using many application like MobiTrack, PocketStreamer and other free games on it. It is the most user friendly and handy device that i have used so far.

    hfgc  |  February 22nd, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    The N95 seems to fail ins switchig between GSM and 3G when it comes to voice. now it is 2 units (Nokia axchanged one already) and the unit goes to no signal if i goea out of 3G into a an EDGE with Normal GSM for voice. Other than that it would have been great and the above issue foced me to stop using the N95.

    abrifor Joseph  |  February 24th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Would like to purchase 1 (one) how much?

    frank lebeouf  |  March 2nd, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    bonjour
    j’ai trouver votre portable jolie je suis en cote d’ivoire je suis de
    nationalitèe francais

    AlphaTeam  |  March 8th, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    You can buy one from many online retailers and direct from Nokia USA.

    Erik  |  March 18th, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Anybody used this phone on a VoIP network, over WIFI ? Is there a builtin app to do that?

    I am not used to Symbian, I read somewhere that with that phone you could do VoIP (not Skype-type, but with SIP on a corporate network with Asterisk), with fallover on GSM. anybody tried that ? how good was it ?

    thanks, good review!

    James  |  March 22nd, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Erik, yes Symbian S60v3 has Voip built in.

    This means that you can select a contact from the standard contact list and select ‘Internet call’ and it will call them over Voip. The Voip/SIP configuration is done in the system configuration.

    What I’m getting at is that there isn’t an app for it as you would normally think…it’s built in to the normal calling functions.

    boobalan  |  April 5th, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    nokia n95 8 gb has no cover for the camera lens.its some what difficult to safe gaurd the lens in the regulaar usage.

    IJ  |  April 26th, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Did others find the slider comes loose after while like a month or so? I have nokia n95-3 and now its very loose slider., I wonder if can be fix.
    Yes I wish there is a lens cover for the cam!!!

    att phones » Blog A&hellip  |  March 24th, 2009 at 2:28 am

    [...] … For starters, the N95-3 has twice the application RAM that the original had. … HowardChui.com: Batteries included � Nokia n95-3 reviewHere�s my review of the Nokia�s n95-3. The �3′ means it�s the North American version [...]

Leave a Comment

hidden

Some HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Categories

Links

Feeds

Posts by Month

404 Not Found

Not Found

The requested document was not found on this server.


Web Server at howardforums.com