Review of the Nokia N96

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Nokia N96

The Nokia N96 is a stunning N-Series smartphone or more of a mini multimedia computer. It was announced in February 2008 and released later in September 2008. The Nokia N96 is a slider phone with a feature rich design focusing a lot on dedicated hardware keys for some of its best features. The Nokia N96 is an N-Gage compatible smartphone that is very easy to handle and operate. It has a large enough screen and a support at the back that lets you manipulate the phone even when placed on a surface such as a table top. Let us dive right in and see what else is in the design of the Nokia N96.

Design (4 out of 5)

The Nokia N96 measures in at 103 x 55 x 18 mm and weighs a hefty 125 grams. Out of the box, it comes in either Black, Quartz or Silver.

The Nokia N96 is a side slider phone with the front face fitted with the ear piece and a secondary camera. Below that there is a 2.8 inch TFT display followed by the softkey panel at the bottom. The softkey panel has the two softkeys at either end. Below the softkey there is the green call button and the red call end buttons respectively. There is a five-way Navi key in the center surrounded by dedicated media keys for stop, play/pause, skip-forward and skip-backward on some versions. There is also a dedicated menu key on the softkey panel.

Upon pulling the slider out the bottom, you will find the alphanumeric keypad. Upon pulling the slider out on the top you get the media hardware keys instead of having them around the five-way Navi keys.

The left side of the Nokia N96 has got a slot for the microSD card. The right side of the Nokia N96 has got the stereo external speakers, the dedicated camera key, and the hardware volume-up and volume-down keys.

The top end of the Nokia N96 is fitted with the power button, slide lock and the 3.5 millimeter audio jack while the back of the Nokia N96 is fitted with a 5MP camera with LED flash.

User Interface (4 out of 5)

With Symbian S60 third edition feature pack 2, the Nokia N96 comes with the traditional Nokia navigation sequence. You can use the menu key to access the four by three grid menu layout. Using the Five-way Navi keys you can scroll in any direction to highlight the application of your choice and select it by using the center key on the five-way Navi key. Accessing multimedia on the Nokia N96 can be done via the dedicated media keys.

Input of text and numbers can be done using the alphanumeric keyboard in either traditional format or using T9 text input features. Calls can be made by selecting an entry from the address book then going to option and selecting whether you want a video or voice call. You can also make voice calls by directly typing in the number then pressing the green call button. All calls, video or voice can be canceled using the red call button.

Features (5 out of 5)

Nokia N96

The Nokia N96 TFT display supports 16M colors on a display resolution of 240 X 320 pixels. There is an accelerometer sensor for auto rotate of the display on this Nokia phone. As far as audio output goes, there is the option of a speakerphone or headsets that support the 3.5 mm audio jack.

With the Nokia N96 you get the benefit of a Stereo FM radio with RDS and Visual Radio. There is a video player that supports WMV/RV/MP4/3GP formats, while the music player supports MP3/WMA/WAV/RA/AAC/M4A file formats.

Still on multimedia, the Nokia N96 has a TV-out connector, a DVB-H TV broadcast receiver, Java support for applications and games which also includes support for Nokia’s N-Gage gaming platform.

Included in the Nokia N96 is a GPS receiver with A-GPS support. Also on board is a document viewer for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF documents.

With the Nokia N96 you get an RSS reader in addition to the (X)HTML browser. These come through connectivity channels including GPRS, EDGE, 3G at 3.6Mbps and Wi-Fi. Connectivity to other devices is supported via Bluetooth and microUSB.

There is a 5MP camera with support for up to 2592 X 1944 pixels on the Nokia N96. This camera comes with auto-focus as well as an LED flash and support for video recording at 30 frames per second. There is also a secondary camera on the Nokia N96 for video calls.

Internal memory on the Nokia N96 is 16GB with 128MB RAM. External memory is supported up to 32GB using microSD cards.

Performance (4 out of 5)

The Nokia N96 packs a Dual ARM 264MHZ chip running Symbian S60 with feature pack 2. This phone has a good response when launching applications and better still when running them. There is a decent amount of RAM to support the gaming and other multimedia features.

Call quality on the Nokia N96 is great and playback audio is just as good. Reception for calls is good. Radio reception is a little bit dodgy and you need to be in a place with a strong signal. Internet connectivity is pretty fast and practical. GPS without the cellular networks can take a few minutes to respond, but with cellular network assistance it takes a few seconds to zero in on your location.

The camera could do with improvement, even though the picture quality is reasonable. All in all I would say this phone performs well.

Verdict (4 out of 5)

The Nokia N96 is a great and feature rich phone for the more adventurous Nokia phone lovers. It comes with great multimedia features that let you watch live TV, listen to music and watch videos and even catch up on the latest radio while on the go. This phone would be almost perfect with a faster processor and a touchscreen. Without those and even at a steep price of US$600 the Nokia N96 is still a phone worth getting.

Check out the Nokia N82 and the Nokia N98 from the same family of Nokia phones.