Review of the Nokia N93/N93i:Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Mobile Device ReviewsDevin Balentina

At the Nokia Open Studio 2006 event held on the 25th of April in Berlin Germany, Nokia released the third wave of their Nseries line; it consisted of the N93, N73 and N72 smartphones. Each of these devices was aimed at a certain market: The N72 was aimed at the fashion market, the N73 was suppose to be their top imaging phone, while the N93 was marketed as the “next story in video” with extraordinary video capabilities (for phones at least) while also being their flagship device. Right before its announcement a few leaked photos of the silver version hit the net, from these leaked pictures it was obvious that imaging/video was going to be an important part of the phone as the huge barrel containing the optics took a big part of the phone. With its releases it was clear that Nokia was aiming in getting just about every feature available at the time into this phone, it was also very obvious that cramming every feature imaginable would have an adverse effect on the overall size. So will the large feature set make you forget its size? Does the N93 succeed? Also, with the release of the N93i is it really that much better? This is mainly a Nokia N93 review, but I will compare it to the N93i to see what has changed. Especially for newer owners it would be interesting to know if it really is a no-brainer to go to the N93i instead of the N93. Read on to find out!

Before we continue with the review let’s have a look at the N93 specs:

General
Operating Frequency
-Dual mode WCDMA/GSM and triband GSM coverage on up to five continents (EDGE/GSM 900/1800/1900 + WCDMA 2100 MHz networks)
-Automatic switching between bands and modes

Dimensions
-Volume: 133 cc
-Weight: 180 g
-Length: 118. 2 mm
-Width: 55.5 mm
-Thickness: 28.2 mm

Memory Functions
-Up to 50 MB internal dynamic memory for messages, ringing tones, images, video clips, calendar notes, to-do list and applications
-Expandable memory: 128 MB miniSD card
-Memory card slot supporting up to 2 GB miniSD memory cards

Power Management
-Battery: Lithium Polymer battery BP-6M 1100mAh
-Talk time: up to 3.7hrs (WCDMA) / up to 5.1hrs (GSM)
-Stand-by time: up to 10days (WCDMA) / up to 10days (GSM)

Form and Function
-Twist and Shoot form factor with 4 modes: Imaging mode for capture, View mode for reliving memories, Fold open mode for talking and Fold closed mode for carrying.
-Dedicated keys for camera control
-Support of applications in both portrait and landscape orientations

Displays
-Active matrix 2.4″ QVGA color display with wide 160° viewing angle: 320 x 240 pixels, up to 262,144 colors
-Automatic brightness control for main display
-1.1” second display: 128 x 36 , up to 65,536 colours

User Interface
-Operating System: S60 software on Symbian OS
-5-way scroll key, selection keys, menu key, edit and clear keys, call and end keys
-Multimedia key for quick access to your favorite content
-Additional selection keys for landscape mode
-Side 5-way scroll key, camera mode key and flash key
-Dedicated keys for capture and zoom
-Active standby screen

Call Management
-Contacts: advanced contacts database with support for multiple phone and e-mail details per entry, also supports thumbnail pictures and groups
-Speed dialing
-Logs: keeps lists of your dialed, received, and missed calls
-Automatic redial
-Automatic answer (works with compatible headset or car kit only)
-Supports fixed dialing number, which allows calls only to predefined numbers
-Conference call
-Nokia Push to talk (PoC)

Messaging
-Text messaging: supports concatenated SMS, picture messaging, SMS distribution list
-Multimedia messaging: combine image, video, text, and audio clip and send as MMS to a compatible phone or PC; use MMS to tell your story with a multi-slide presentation
-Automatic resizing of your megapixel images to fit MMS (max. 300 KB attachment size depending on the network)
-Predictive text input: support for all major languages in Europe and Asia-Pacific

Data Transfer
-WCDMA 2100 with simultaneous voice and packet data (PS max speed UL/DL= 384/384kbps, CS max speed 64kbps)
-Dual Transfer Mode (DTM) support for simultaneous voice and packet data connection in GSM/EDGE networks. Simple class A, multi slot class 11, max speed DL/UL: 177.6/118.4 kbits/s
-EGPRS class B, multi slot class 32, max speed DL/UL= 296 / 177.6 kbits/s

Connectivity
-Integrated wireless LAN (802.11 b/g) and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)
-Integrated Bluetooth wireless technology v.2.0
-USB 2.0 via Pop-Port™ interface and mass storage class support to support drag and drop functionality
-TV out support (PAL/NTSC)
-Nokia PC Suite connectivity with USB, Infrared and Bluetooth wireless technology
-Local synchronization of contacts and calendar to a compatible PC using compatible connection
-Remote over-the-air synchronization
-Send and receive images, video clips, graphics, and business cards via Bluetooth wireless technology

Digital Services
-Java and Symbian applications available from Nokia Software Market

Imaging
Imaging and Video
-3.2 megapixel (2048 x 1536 pixels) camera, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens, 3x optical zoom, MPEG-4 VGA video capture of up to 30 fps
-Direct connection to compatible TV via Nokia Video Connectivity Cable (CA-64U, included in box) or wireless LAN/UPnP
-Sub camera, CIF (352 x 288) sensor
-Video call and video sharing support (WCDMA network services)
-Integrated flash (operating range up to 1.5m)
-Digital stereo microphone
-Flash modes: on, off, automatic
-Rotating gallery
-Online album/blog: photo/video uploading from gallery
-Nokia Lifeblog support
-Video and still image editors
-Movie director for automated video production

Mobile Video
-Video resolutions: up to VGA (640×480) at 30 fps
-Audio recording: AAC stereo, 48kHz
-Digital video stabilization
-Video clip length: max. 60 min per clip
-Video file format .mp4 (default), .3gp (for MMS)
-White balance: automatic, sunny, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent
-Scene: automatic, night
-Color tones: normal, sepia, black & white, negative
-Zoom: (optical / digital) 3x / up to 8x

Mobile Photography
-Image resolution: up to 3.2 megapixel (2048 x 1536 pixels)
-Still image file format: JPEG/EXIF
-Auto focus
-Auto exposure – center weighted
-Exposure compensation: +1 ~ -1EV at 0.5 step
-White balance: automatic, sunny, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent
-Scene: automatic, user, close-up, landscape, night, night portrait
-Color tone: normal, sepia, black & white, negative
-Zoom (optical/digital) 3x / up to 20x

Camera Specifications
-Sensor: CMOS, 3.2 megapixel (2048×1536)
-Carl Zeiss Optics: Vario-Tessar lens
-Focal length 4.5 mm (Wide) /12.4 mm (Tele) 34.25 – 94.1 mm (35mm equiv.)
-Focus range 10 cm ~ infinity
-Macro focus distance 30 cm (macro @ Wide) 10 cm (macro @ Middle to Tele)
-Shutter speed: Mechanical shutter: 1/2400~1/3 s

Software
-Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 software gives you the power to edit great movies on your compatible PC and create a DVD to relive special moments again and again (requires -Windows XP operating system)
– Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0

Music
Music Features
-Digital music player – supports MP3/AAC/AAC+/eAAC+/WMA with playlists and equalizer.
-One click CD ripping, converting and transferring music to your device using Nokia Music Manager
-Share playlists with your friends over Bluetooth wireless technology, MMS, or e-mail
-Synchronize PC music library with Windows Media Player
-OMA DRM 2.0 support for music
-Stereo FM radio (87.5-108MHz /76-90MHz)

Visual Radio
-Listen to music and interact with your favorite radio stations
-Find out what song is playing, who sings it, and other artist information
-Enter contests and answer surveys, vote for your favorite songs

Voice Features
-Speaker independent name dialing (SIND)
-Voice commands
-Voice recorder
-Talking ringtone
-Integrated hands-free speaker

Explore
E-mail
-Easy-to-use e-mail client with attachment support for images, videos, music and documents
-Compatible with Nokia Wireless Keyboard (sold separately)

Browsing
-Nokia Web Browser with Mini map
-Web feeds support (RSS)

Digital home
-Play video, music and photos on home media network – compatible TV, stereo and PC over WLAN/UpnP

Java Applications
-Java MIDP 2.0, CLDC 1.1 (Connected Limited Device Configuration (J2ME))
-Over-the-air download of Java-based applications and games

-Other Applications
-Personal Information Management (PIM)
-Advanced S60 PIM features including calendar, contacts, to-do list, and PIM printing
-Settings Wizard for easy configuration of e-mail, push to talk and video sharing.
-Data transfer application for transfer of PIM information from other compatible Nokia devices.

Video
-RealPlayer media player
-Full-screen video playback to view downloaded, streamed or recorded video clips
-Supported video formats : MPEG-4 , H.264/AVC , H.263/3GPP, RealVideo 8/9/10

The N93
Nokia’s N93 is a Dual mode WCDMA and triband GSM (EDGE/GSM 900/1800/1900 + WCDMA 2100 MHz networks) smartphone sporting the Symbian OS with the S60 3rd edition UI. The N93 is available in two colors: Pearl Black and Aluminum Grey. A quick check online shows some online vendors selling the Aluminum Grey at a higher price, I’m not sure if it’s because the grey model is harder to get, but specs wise they are the same. Besides the “regular” N93 Nokia has also released the N93 Golf edition that includes a golf application called Pro Session Golf that enables you to capture your golf swing, analyze and improve your game by split screen swing comparison and other analysis tools. That model actually comes with a 1GB miniSD memory card, a golf instruction DVD as well as a Get Started guide. After that they also released the N93 M:i:III package. This is basically Nokia’s N93 phone in combination with the full length M:i:III film playing at 25 frames per second, which is supplied on a 512MB miniSD card,. There’s also the Nokia N93 Internet Edition aimed solely at the Asian market (just recently I found about this model) and not long ago Nokia released the N93i, an “improved” version of the N93 in a smaller mirror like design. This model is available in Deep Plum / Warm Graphite and comes with a 1GB miniSD card. More on N93i later on. Our review unit is the regular Pearl Black N93 with the latest V20.0.058 firmware. Noteworthy is the inclusion of a 512MB instead the reported 128 or 256MB cards in the package.

The package is just filled to the brim with stuff, it truly has just about everything you could want and includes:
-Nokia N93
-512 MB miniSD-card
-Nokia Battery BP-6M
-Nokia Stereo Headset HS-23
-Nokia Travel Charger AC-4
-Nokia Connectivity Cable CA-53
-Nokia Video Connectivity Cable CA-64U
-Protective Pouch CP-83
-Wrist Strap CP-84
-DVD-ROM with Nokia PC Suite, Lifeblog, Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition, -Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0, Home Media Server software
-User guide, Quick Start guide, Get Connected guide and Add-on Application guide

The N93 can be considered the spiritual successor to the N90, even though the N90 was more aimed as an imaging phone while the N93 is positioned as a video capture device. The good ol Nokia 6260 can be considered the forerunner to these two models, this was way back before the Nseries was conceived. Until the N95 arrives later this month, both the Nokia N93 and N93i hold the crown as Nokia’s flagship multimedia devices. Although it’s obvious that the N95 is overall technically more advanced, both the N93 and N93i sport a 3x optical zoom-equipped camera, an area where the N95 can’t compete as it doesn’t offer any optical zoom. It’s also not yet clear whether the N95 will support stereo audio- recording like its flip-type siblings. The N93i recently just hits the stores and sports a smaller redesign outer package, with a more polished sotware. Basically it’s a N93 in a nicer outershell.

Being a model of the N9x family it’s obvious that Nokia uses these flagship phones as pioneers to included new introductory features. This sometimes leads to the bigger-than-usual size of these phone, good examples of this are the N90, N91, N92 and the N93/i. It’s only later on that they pass this technology to more mainstream phones with N7X The exception to this rule is the N80 that was aimed as an all-in-one solution pioneering some new features like UPnP but yet the N9x designation was not used.

Design
First time I saw the N93 first thing that came to my mind is: It’s huge!! Chances are that that will probably be your first thought too. My second thought was that it looked quite expensive, solid, well-built like the tank it truly is. Definitely function over form.
My N93 came in the pear black color, I pretty much like this more than the silver one.
It is made mostly of plastic with some metal parts and the overall design is composed of many sectional areas as opposed to something like the LG Chocolate that’s mostly smooth. It looks like mane pieces came together to form a phone as apposed to being one piece. The N93 might look like an average oversized clamshell phone, but upon closer inspection you’ll notice something’s up.

With the phone closed the camera barrel takes a big chunk of the front part of the phone, it does give an interesting design element. Below the camera module you will find the tiny 1.1’’ color screen. It’s surrounded by a black shiny plastic. Below the screen you will find the loudspeaker. Moving to the right side of the phone you’ll see the shutter button, the side joystick and two extra buttons. Pressing the shutter button activates the front display showing signal and battery status. Most of the screen is taken by the digital clock. Pressing the lowest side button activates the flash giving you a handy torch. All of these buttons are finished in a shiny metallic looking material. Opening the phone completely will give two reassuring clicks. The upper part of the phone is dominated by the large 2.4’’ display, it also houses the light sensors, the front camera and the two upper soft buttons. As a clamshell phone you would expect a large area of the screen to be attached to the body of the phone. This is where they had to do something different to give the N93/i the extraordinary ability to change its form depending on its usage. The upper part is attached by a fairly small metal bar to the body. This gives the impression that the upper part of the phone including display is floating in mid air. This way the display can not only open and close but also move to both sides. This way it can take 4 positions: closed, normal clamshell, viewing mode a.k.a laptop mode and video/picture mode.

Just under the lens barrel you can find the left microphone. Moving down you will find the keypad. Not much can be said about the keypad, there is a large area here so the keys are large and very comfortable to use. They have an almost spongy feeling when pressed, one of the best keypads I have used till now. The keys are surrounded by a metallic frame.
On the left side you will find the pop-port, the memory card slot and the lens area of the camera module. A bad decision to put the pop-port on the left side, it should be at the bottom where the lens cap cord/neck strap are attached. The upper side of the phone is where the power button resides, not else can be found here as it’s fairly clean here. The only thing on the bottom part is a hook to attach the neck strap and lens cap strap
On the back part of the N93 you will find the latch to open the battery cover, the Nokia logo and the right microphone.

While using the N93 I noticed that it got a lot of attention. This especially happened whenever I flipped the phone into camera or laptop mode. People would just keep staring or ask all types of questions like: What brand is that? Is that a phone? Is that a camera?
Or give comments like: That looks expensive! If that’s a phone it looks cool! It’s big but I like it. Women tend to like thinner or really small phones, so I was especially shocked by the comments some women where making about this phone, they actually liked it. The N93 is not the most beautiful phone (it’s nice in it’s own interesting way),but it will definitely get you some attention and can be quite the conversation piece. The N93i continues the trend with a design that’s similar yet smaller and can actually be called beautiful. The front is made out of this mirror-like material concealing the front screen when off. Too bad you’ll spend most of your time wiping this finger magnet. The keys on the N93i are now flat Razr-like keys that to me are a step backwards coming from the almost prefect N93 keypad. The N93i does correct the flimsy memory card and pop port covers. The basic design of the N93i is very N93-like, but more refined and elegant.

Overall Nokia did a great work on the design using quality materials on both models and being rather innovative with the twisting screen. It’s not clear cut choice what is best. Design is a very subjective matter and some might find the N93 better looking than the N93i. One thing is for sure some design flaws are corrected on the N93i, yet some things like the new flat keys are a step backwards.

Features and Specs
Just like the N80, the N93 got a lot of attention due to the overload of features packed inside. It’s also in part due to these features that the phone got a bit larger than normal flip phones. The feature list is long and I do mean long! At its hart it features the Texas instruments’ impressive Omap2 2420 single-chip applications processor. The OMAP2420 includes an integrated ARM1136 processor (330 MHz), a TI TMS320C55x DSP (220 MHz) and 2D/3D graphics accelerator by Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR MBX core. The OMAP2 also has added imaging and video accelerator for higher-resolution still capture applications, multi-megapixel cameras and full-motion video encode and decode with VGA resolution of 30 frames per second. An added TV video output supports connections to television displays for displaying images and video captured from the handset. 5-Mb internal SRAM also boost streaming media performance.
Key Features:

-Dedicated 2D/3D graphics accelerator at 2 million polygons per second
-Added imaging and video accelerator enables high-resolution still image capture, larger screen sizes and higher video frame rates
-Supports high-end features including 4+ megapixel cameras, VGA-quality video, high-end interactive gaming functionality and analog/digital TV video output
-5-Mb internal SRAM boosts streaming media performance
-Software compatibility with previous OMAP™ processors
-Parallel processing ensures no interruptions or degradation of service with simultaneously running applications
-Optimized power management companion chip, TWL92230
-12 mm x 12 mm, 325-ball MicroStar BGA, 0.5-mm pitch

The same thing is found on the N93i and N95 making these one of the fastest performing Symbian S60 phones available. Below you can see an architectural overview of the OMAP2 icluding some impressive tech demos using the included PowerVR MBX, but running on a Dell Axim X50v platform:

Coming from something like N80 or N70 you will definitely notice the speed with which apps open. With the latest version 20 firmware the phone starts up incredibly fast (about 12 secs), other Nseries phone phones take 20-30 seconds to startup. The OMAP2 also enables it to be very capable in the 3D gaming department; this is allows Nokia to have real Open ES 1.1 support. Moving on to storage 50 Mb’s of internal memory is included but this can be expanded with miniSD cards up to 2GB. For running apps it has 32MB of RAM of which 25MB is available on startup. It’s quite a shame that Nokia doesn’t support higher then 2GB memory cards, and the newer N93i doesn’t offer it either. In my opinion 32MB is juts not enough to have many apps open at the same time.

So what else is onboard? Besides the impressive OMAP2 controlling all of this, the main multimedia features are:
-VGA (640×480) video recording at 30 fps with 48 kHz AAC stereo audio: In the mobile phone world both the N93 and N93i can be considered the best in video recording.
-3.2 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar optics and flash (with auto-focus)
– Front camera, CIF (352 x 288) sensor (for video calling)
-320 x 240 pixels, up to 262,144 colors 2.4” display
-3x optical zoom
-TV-out
-UPnP
-Visual Radio
-Music Player with OMA DRM 2.0
-RealPlayer media player with MPEG-4 , H.264/AVC , H.263/3GPP, Real Video 8/9/10

These can be considered the main multimedia features, the rest I will talk about in different dedicated sections.


The Camera
Just like its predecessor the N90, the N93 features auto-focus and Carl Zeiss optics, but the enhancement comes in the form of the 3x optical zoom, something the N90 lacked. Also, more pixels have been added; this time it’s a 3.2 megapixel (2048 x 1536 pixels) camera. The N93i has the same camera, so hardware-wise nothing has changed. Earlier reports indicated that prototype models of the N93i included video auto-focus, but sadly this feature has been disabled in the production models due to this feature causing a lot of zooming noise during recording. While more pixels don’t necessarily mean better pictures, the advantages of optical zoom over its digital counterpart are obvious. “Digital zoom is done by cropping an image down to a centered area with the same aspect ratio as the original, and usually also interpolating the result back up to the pixel dimensions of the original. It is accomplished electronically, without any adjustment of the camera’s optics, and no optical resolution is gained in the process. Because interpolation disturbs the original pixel layout of the image, as captured by the camera’s image sensor, it is usually considered unfavorable to image quality.”

The N93 has dedicated side buttons to control both video and pictures: you have the shutter button, the side joystick and two extra buttons: one to toggle between picture/video and another to set flash to ON, OFF or Auto. The joystick can be used to browse through menus and make selections. The shutter button interestingly features a half-press action: you press it half way through to focus and than push it all the way through to take a picture. Just like a digital camera.

Camera UI: Picture/Video
The Camera UI in the N93 is good and has enough settings and features to customize the end result. The camera UI found on the N93/i is about the same as for example the UI found on the N80 or N73. The one found on the N73 is more advanced though as the ISO levels can be freely adjusted in the range of 60 to 200. On the N93/i this cannot be changed at all and to be honest I’m pretty sure this was done to give the N73 the slight nudge in the picture taking department. There doesn’t seem be any hardware limitation to impede this and this could probably be added through a firmware update, but knowing Nokia they probably won’t do it.

The Camera can be conveniently activated by holding the keypad with one hand and using the other to push the display to the side. This way the lens is point forwards, while the display is pointed at you. The display’s angle can be adjusted for those hard-to-reach shots. When the camera is activated the app you were using is not closed, but stays open (multi-tasking) but goes into the background, while the camera UI pop-up. The N93 does include a lens cover with a handy cord that you can attach at the bottom of the phone, but the lens cover is a bit hard to get on or pull off. And I have seen many cases of this breaking. Oh well, it does the job to protect the lens and anything is better than nothing.

Once the camera is activated the main screen is used to frame your shot. It shows the necessary options and info. On the top left side there is the “Exit” option and on the bottom left side there is the menu option. In here you can: Turn icons off, Go to gallery, enable Sequence mode, enable Self-timer (2, 10, 20 seconds), switch to video mode and go to an extra Settings menu. In this second “settings” menu you can: Set image quality (ranging from 0.3 to 3mp) enable showing of captured image, adding images to Gallery and Extended Zoom. On top of that there is the option to set Flicker cancellation, Shutter tone, Default Image name, Memory in use and restore camera settings.
Now let’s return back to the main framing screen. On the top right side there are icons that tells you if you are in video mode and whether the flash is on. On the lower side we can find the resolution used and how many shots you have left using the current free space on your memory card. Most importantly we can also find a “floating bar” that allows adjustment for Color tone, Exposure Value, White balance and lastly you can also set the Shooting mode (Automatic, User, Close-up mode, Landscape, Night and Night Portrrait).
The options are quite complete and come close to what your average point-and-shoot camera offers. Again only ISO level adjustment is really missing.

Switching to video mode slightly changes what you see on screen. The left side is left unchanged, while on the right side the camera icons are replaced by a video icon. Instead of showing the resolution used and how many shots you have left using the current free space on your memory card, it now shows video resolution and the number of minutes of video recording left. The floating bar now only has three options: Shooting mode (Automatic, night), White balance and Color tone. In the option menu on the left you can: Turn icons off, Go to gallery and Switch to image. The is a extra Settings menu where you can set things like video quality, Image stabilization, audio recording, optical zoom and memory in use.

Picture/Video quality
Let’s get one thing straight: the Nokia N93 and N93i models have the best video recording quality on the market right now, no competitors in this area. With the added optical zoom not even the N95 can compete. It’s just impressive to see how good the video is during the day or reasonable low-light conditions. In extreme low-light conditions the video get’s grainy and with the latest firmware the video is in black and white. I have yet to see a phone with good quality video in these dark conditions. That’s why I’m not going to hold this against the N93/i. It’s no secret that the Sony Ericsson K800 and Nokia N73 are the best camera phones (picture) on the market. The N93/i come closes, very close even, but due to the aforementioned models having better low-light performance they get the slight edge. The picture taking abilities of the N93/i are impressive and still one of the best in the world, but just slightly behind the N73. Due to better image processing the N93i offers slightly better picture quality and video quality when compared to the N93, nothing dramatic or that noticeable. So while the N73/K800 offer slightly better pictures, the N93/i overtakes them in the video department, making it the overall winner in the imaging category. Below are a couple of N93 sample images:

Sample Image 1 Sample Image 2 Sample Image 3 Sample Image 4

When done the N93 also has some basic image and video editing accessible from the Gallery.

Connectivity
On the connectivity side, both the N93 and N93i are well equipped. There doesn’t seem be any apparent differences either in this area. Both feature WLAN (802.11 b/g) with UPnP, Bluetooth v.2.0, USB 2.0 via Pop-Port interface ( mass storage support), TV-out, Pictbridge to connect to compatible printers, Infrared and Remote over-the-air synchronization. I can understand that the older N93 doesn’t support HSDPA, but it’s an unforgivable omission on the just released N93i. It would have been great if it would have built-in GPS receiver, but hey had to leave something for the N95 right? Let’s get the usual stuff out of the way. I’m glad they still are offering infrared, it seems this is still popular, especially amongst businessman. As for Bluetooth, version 2.0 is onboard, as compared to the older Bluetooth 1.2 specs it has:
-Three times faster transmission speed, up to 10 times in certain cases (up to 2.1 Mbit/s).
-Lower power consumption through a reduced duty cycle.
-Simplification of multi-link scenarios due to more available bandwidth.
-Further improved (bit error rate) performance.

Great to see Bluetooth 2.0 implemented, the only drawback here is the lack of the A2DP profile (stereo headset).
WLAN has been available since the N80 and N91 days and to me it has become a must, it just nice to just sit down and download or surf at the full WLAN speeds. Not to mention using the free open networks in downtown or in other cities while traveling. Nokia used UPnP for the first time with Nokia N80 and now both the N93 and i model have this feature. The soon-to-be released N95 will also have this. This technology is great but has yet to prove itself truly useful. While I don’t have any UPnP enabled media servers to try this out, I gave it a try using the included Home Media Server software. I don’t like the interface but it does what it’s supposed to do: I was successfully able to wirelessly send and receive songs, pictures and movies to and from the PC. I was also able to wirelessly display specific images on my PC’s display that resided on my N93’s memory card. Another neat trick was the ability to use the N93 as a remote control for the music being played on my PC. I did fin that Windows Media Player 11 is able to do most of the same things except for wirelessly display pcitures and use the N93 as a remote control. A feature newly introduced in the N93 and now standard on the N93i and upcoming N95 is TV-out through the use of Nokia’s CA-64U cable. TV-out is nothing new in the mobile world as phones like Samsung’s D600 have had this feature for some time now. But the N93/i goes a step beyond that with 3D gaming. With its impressive 3D power you can hook it up to your TV and play games a la PS2. It displays exactly what your phone is showing allowing you to use it as PowerPoint presentation device or how about playing some tunes on the TV or showing grandma what S60 looks like. Another neat use I found for this is connecting a Bluetooth keyboard to the phone and using my TV as a huge monitor to browse the web.

[b]The Power of S60
To me one of the best features of the N93/i is the Symbian OS using S60 3rd edition( can’t wait for 3rd editon feature pack 2). What’s so great about it you may be asking yourself? Well, there are many reasons. First of all I can point out its ability to multitask. Here is something I wrote for a Nokia N80 review (that also uses S60 3rd edition.) It’s not the same phone, but this also applies to the N93/i and can give you an idea of a typical multitasking scenario using the S60 platform: “My PC broke down the other day so that gave me a good chance to really use all the features. With the N70 I knew what it could do but didn’t bother to use it all, but with the N80 I decided I will use everything at once: I turned my router on and of course was connected very quickly as it automatically connects and scans for available connections. I fired up the music player and setup a play list to play in the background, in the mean times I also opened the browser and went to hotmail to check my mail, I also started Agile Messenger to do some chatting, I took my Logitech diNovo keyboard (Yes it’s a Bluetooth PC keyboard, not mentioned that it is for use with mobile phones) connected it using the wireless keyboard app, and in no time I was surfing and chatting using the Bluetooth keyboard while I played songs in the background. At the same time I was downloading some podcasts for listening later on….this is all very impressive.”

The second thing I like about the S60 platform is the ability to literally add the features you want, hence the S60 slogan: open to new features. On a PC you install programs to add functionally, right? Well with S60 based phones it’s the same thing. There is this huge library of both free and pay apps available online made and supported by the very active S60 community. There is literally an app for any task you could think of. Let me give some examples. If you want to make free Skype calls there’s the wonderful (and free) Fring app. There are various IM clients like IM+ or Agile messenger. Or how about an app to track your daily work out? For that there is the Nokia Sports tracker. Or are maybe more interested in astronomy? For that there’s an app called Micrsoky that can show you the sky with points-of-interest, while also being able to sync with a GPS module to pint point your exact coordinates. There even a widget app called Widsets. There’s literally hundreds of apps available. Next Week I will put up a list of some recommend apps for the S60 3rd edition platform.

Worth mention is also the ability the copy and paste between apps just like on your PC.

N93 vs. N93i
For current owners of the N93 there is no compelling reason to upgrade to the N93i, heck there not much reason to even upgrade to the N95. But that last part I’ll leave up to you. For those thinking of getting this phone will probably go for the N93i, but it’s not a clear cut choice as most would think.

N93i is basically the N93 in a smaller and shinier package. It’s also lighter in weight shedding 25 grams of the N93’s weight. The software has been somewhat polished and given extra features like the Vox uploading tool and some few extra themes. Most of this has been added to N93 with the v.20 firmware or can be installed later on. The N93i’s camera does seem to have an improved software algorithm producing slightly better shots, but it’s nothing that will give a dramatic difference. The screen has been much improved with the ability to show 16 million colors instead of the previous 262 K.

On the other side the N93i is a finger magnet and the keypad is a step backwards compared to the almost perfect N93 keypad. In the process of making the N93i smaller some sacrifices had to be made: it now sports the 950 mAh BL-5F battery instead of the BP-6M 1100 mAh battery. The outer screen is not a color screen anymore, but an OLED screen with the ability to change the font color. Prices of the N93 have been dropping, so there is more reason to get the N93.

So basically there is no reason for current N93 owners to upgrade, most new buyers will do just fine with the N93i. But some may need to look at the N93 as the prices are lower and there actually some advantage in having the older model as I pointed out.

Conclusion
The N93 is a true enthusiast’s phone; it’s this group that will look mostly overlook function over style. And the N93 truly is function first, while the N93i goes in the right direction to do something about the styling factor. Both offers the best Video recording quality in the mobile world with no apparent competitors. In the picture taking department botht has to bow down for the lightly better N73/K800. But seeing that these are just marginally better, while the N93 offers exceptional video quality I would choose the N93/i as the overall winner. One of the N93/i strongest feature is the ability to add more features through the use Symbian with the S60 platform. The features and specs of the N93/i models is just impressive having almost every feature imaginable leaving only GPS and HSDPA for the upcoming N95. Impressive though that not even the mighty N95 sports the 3x optical zoom (and maybe not even stereo audio recording.)
All these features do come at a price: the phone is large to say the least. For some this is a setback while for other like me it’s a plus. It gives the phone a lot of presence and I just like big and solid feeling phones. The N93i is smaller, but not by much. The overall styling of the N93i sleeker, but both are eye-catching phone that will get you a lot of attention. While we are on the subject of the N93 vs N93i I have to say that N93 users don’t have any compelling reasons to upgrade, but it’s safe to say that most new users will be happy with the N93i. Some should still consider the older N93 due to it’s better keypad, increased battery life and color screen.The N93i does have a better screen, slightly improved software and is smaller in size.

The N93/i is not all perfect and there are some things that could be corrected. On the software side I can pinpoint the poor video/picture performance in low light and the omission of the ISO level adjustment. On the hardware side the S60 platform is only hindered by the lack of RAM, forcing some applications to sometime close by themselves. And why would such a big phone sport such a small external display?
Other things worth mentioning are the lack of support of HSDPA. With it’s shortcomings, the N93/i is an impressive phone, it’s perfect for you gadget lovers out there, but do expect to pay a lot for it, both gets an equally impressive 9.5 out of 10.

N93
Pros
-Overabundance of features
-Best video recording in the mobile phone world
-Show stopper
-Very large and nice screen
-Unique flip design
-Tv-out
-Power house of a phone
– Auto focus
-One of the best keypads around (large spongy buttons)

Cons
Not enough RAM
No support for HCSD memory cards
Small external display
No ISO level adjustment (While the N73 can??)
– No A2DP

N93i
Pros
-Attrative styling
-Overabundance of features
-Best video recording in the mobile phone world
-Show stopper
-Very large and nice screen
-Unique flip design
-Tv-out
-Power house of a phone
– Auto focus

Cons
-Flat Razr-like keys, N93 are more comfortable
-Not enough RAM
-No support for HCSD memory cards
-Small external display
-No ISO level adjustment (While the N73 can??)
-Fingerprint-magnet
– No HSDPA

Written by Devin

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