Nokia N95 First Impressions: The Mobile King has arrived!

Since the first pictures of the N95 started appearing on the net it made a really big impact not only in the mobile community, but also other tech related media, even the non-tech media covered the phone. Before the release to the public, forums were packed with discussions about this mobile phone and since then it has become some kind of ultimate gadget lover’s phone. When the first leaked pictures were posted it was known as the Nokia N83. Later on it became clear that this would not only be the follow-up to N80 but also Nokia’s new flagship multimedia device, it would be called the Nokia N95. So basically it’s the spiritual successor to the N80, but at the same time it follows the N93 and N93i as the new flagship. But by now you may be asking what happened to the N94? Well, there never was a N94 and there never will be. You see most tech companies shy away from the number ‘4’ as in Japan and China, the word for ‘4’; sounds a lot like the word for ‘death,’ so you can’t use that, using supposedly would bring misfortune. It can be compared to how the number ’13’ is seen as bad luck in Western countries. Seeing that Asia is a big market for Nokia they decided not to have any N74, N84 or N94 in the line-up.
After waiting for a while it was unveiled in September 2006 and was finally released in mid-March 2007. Not since the day of the N80 has a single phone received so much attention and just like it predecessor this attention was due to the overload of features packed in a fairly compact package (tiny compared to N93/N93i dimensions). Just about every mobile technology has been stuffed in this thing. For now I will present my initial impressions, this will be followed by my usual extensive review.

The Unboxing

N95 first impressions
I got the APAC (Asian version ‘ made by Nokia’) version of the N95, but it’s recommended for US customers to get the US version ‘made in Finland’ to get the US warranty. They all have the same N95 but I got the Asian version as it comes with sweet extras like a 1GB card the, screen protector and a very nice looking leather case. Most US versions I’ve seen did come with the 1GB card though. The standard retail package comes with:

-Nokia N95
-Nokia Video Connectivity Cable CA-75U
-Nokia Connectivity Cable DKE-2
-Nokia Stereo Headset HS-45, AD-43
-Nokia Battery BL-5F
-Nokia Travel Charger AC-5

As mentioned the Asian APAC version comes with the leather case (don’t know the right model number), screen protector and Nokia 1 GB microSD MU-22. As you can see the package was filled with (very useful) stuff. This has become a trademark for the Nseries, just fill the package with everything the user will need with cases, pouches and large capacity memory cards quickly becoming the standard norm in the Nseries. The only thing I’m looking in getting is maybe a 2Gb card and if microSDHC will be supported I will get one of those 4gb cards. One thing worth noting is the package itself. It looks typical Nseries except for one small detail, instead of using the typical grey or blue, Nokia is now using purple/pink in the design. Even the guy on the package is wearing pink. The phone’s back has a purple (plum) color. Most of the included themes of the phone are either pink or purple. What’s up with Nokia with pink/purple all of the sudden? What about the phone itself? The form factor can be considered a slide (kind of), as it can slide upwards like a normal slider but also slide downward revealing music control keys, I call this new slider the Angel or winged slider as it look as if it has two wings, one on each side. The keys look like touch keys but they’re not. Overall the N95 looks really good, much smaller then what I imagined and it kind of looks like a mix between the N80 and N73. The front has a gorgeous and rather large 2.6” display, although not as high res as the one on the N80, but due to the size alone it looks amazing! Again visibility in outdoor conditions is top notch, just like Nokia’s previous flagship the N93/N93i. Occupying such a large space on the front you’ll find yourself cleaning the screen as it’s a real finger print magnet. The rest of the device is less of problem, as most surfaces have a matte finish and you will not see those fingerprints.

One thing has to be said about the weight: for such a feature packed the device it feels rather light: this may or may not be a good thing for you. I for one like phones with a little heft to them. Another interesting thing to point out is the material used on the back of the N95, they used this rubbery feeling plastic that add smuch needed grip. Small devices like these normally tend be slippery, this material should help a lot and add the same time avoids being finger print magnet.

Let’s have a look at the device in detail. The front is dominated by the large 2.6” display. Above it we can see the front camera, the earpiece, light sensor and front mounted CIF camera for video calling.
Below the screen we can see the D-pad (5-way), on each side of it we can find the usual soft selection keys, the green call key and red end key. We can also find the multimedia key and menu (multi-tasking key). At the very bottom we can find the clear button and the edit button. I like the fact the menu and multimedia now are really big, but I’m sure I like the position of the multimedia key. I don’t use it a lot so I’m not sure it should get an important placement, but I will give it a try to see if it grows on me or not. All keys except for the multimedia and menu key are done in a very shiny looking material, again finger magnet alert! The slider opens with a loud click, it like it and feels very secure not a single squeak or wobble. They keys are definitely more comfortable to use then the N80, but fall short of the one used on N93. They keys could have been spread apart a bit more but it’s good enough and does the job well enough. Pushing the slider down activates the enhanced multimedia menu and also reveals the music keys, again not really touch controls. On the left side we can find one speaker, the 3.5mm jack, IrDA port and microSD cover. On the left side we can see another speaker, volume control button that also doubles as zoom keys, the review key and 2-stage capture key. On the bottom charger connector, miniUSB and strap hook. The back has the battery compartment latch, the 5 megapixel camera module with a very nice with mechanical shutter.

Again it’s nice to see that Nokia finally ended the use of the horrible pop-port and have finally switched over to miniUSB. I also like the idea of the mechanical shutter, no more dirty fingers to smudge the lens.
The battery life is something that has been talked about a lot and all I can say is it is better then the N80 but definitely worse then the N93. With basic usage you can go one and a half day without a charge, but really using the phone like me expect to charge the phone every single day. Intensive usage of the phone (backlight on, surfing via WIFI with music in the background will drain the battery in less then 4 hours.) I will test this a bit more and bring a more in-depth conclusion.

S60 FP1
The N95 is S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1 software on the Symbian OS (v9.2). It feels speedier compared to the N93 and there is the still good backwards compatibility with the 3rd edition apps. The menu seems to be more logically arranged and there notable enhancement like showing what apps are open (small circles appear next to the open app) and the floating bar in the browser. I’m hoping that Firmware-over-the-air makes its way in the N95. Nokia are you reading this? When Feature Pack 1 was presented it was revealed to be a key feature.

Let’s get one thing straight, the picture quality of the N95 is amazing! Unlike the previous flagship the N93 even in low light conditions the camera is good. The overall controls and menus are just like typical point-and-shoot camera. In fact the N95 does look a lot like a camera when taking pictures. On the not so good side the camera is little too happy about the usage of edge enhancement and closer inspection does show this. For the average person this will not be a problem even when making large print you will not notice this. But upon closer inspection you can clearly see the edge enhancement. All people I show the test shots never guessed that the shots were done using a phone, very impressed with the picture quality overall. I hope they work on the overdone edge enhancement though.

If you really want to see how good the N95 is here’s a full resolution sample picture – the video is the same 640×480 resolution pioneered by the N93 and is expected it’s just as amazing, not really DVD quality but very close to it and is plain and simple the best quality available in the mobile world. The sound is inferior to both the N93 and N93i, still not bad but the N93 used stereo microphones, while the N95 relies on a single mic located at the bottom of the slide. The sound is good enough but not N93 quality, the video is the video is just as stunning as on the N93 , but with better low light performance.

One of the handiest features of the N95 is the 3.5mm jack, allowing you to use just about any stereo headset. The ones it comes with are ok, but for true listening I prefer my Shure and Etymotic earphones. Some initial listening revealed some hiss when there’s no music playing, starting the music and the hiss is gone. The overall music quality is amazing with good sound volume. If you prefer the wireless route the N95 also supports the stereo Bluetooth Profile, didn’t have any equipment to try it out, but I will try to get Nokia’s own stereo Bluetooth phones to try this out, just in time for the extensive review.
The stereo speakers of the N95 are really good, one of the best in the Nseries or any phone for that matter. The 3D ring tone and audio enhancement sound really wonderful but I will try this feature a little more for the final review.

So far so good, the battery seems to be the only weak part of the phone. In my opinion the RAM included is not enough hampering the amount of multi-tasking you can do. Specs- wise this thing has it all with amazing picture and video quality. The menus feel much speedier then even the N93.

I hope this will give you an idea of the N95, expect the usual extensive review Gadgetnutz style.
Edit: If you have any question or comments, just leave them in the comments section and I will try to answer it in the extensive review!

Written by Devin