Review: Nokia N95, North American Edition

By Troy Dreier

September 29, 2009

There's a lot to like about this amazingly powerful 3G smartphone, which is popular among Wi-Fi users.

Originally published in April 2008, this review appeared at our sister site, PDAStreet.com. We have reprised it here because a recent survey showed it to be one of the top ten most popular devices among certain Wi-Fi hotspot users.


The Nokia N95 keeps getting better, thanks to major improvements from Nokia. We've been testing the N95-3, also called the North American Edition, an updated version that was announced in August, 2007 and available to U.S. buyers a month later.

Like its predecessor, it's a powerhouse of a smartphone, combining a big screen, audio and video playback, a fantastic camera, integrated GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. This improved version also adds 3G support, more memory, and better battery life.

Couldn't one of the carriers pick up a great phone like this? Without that support, you can only buy it unlocked for $699.

This edition of the N95 has the same appearance as its earlier version: it measures 3.9 x 2.1 x 0.8 inches and weighs 4.4 ounces, setting a new standard for smartphone size. It's a dual-slider phone, meaning it's able to slide two ways: slide the front up to see the keypad, or slide it down to see the multimedia playback controls.

The designers at Nokia have kept the physical controls nicely simple, which is unusual in a phone with so many abilities. Below the 2.6-inch screen you'll find a clickable navigation pad framed by eight small buttons. Use them to start and end calls, call up the menu or multimedia application browser, and more. Above the screen you'll find the lens for the self-portrait camera.

The left side holds the audio jack (a standard jack, thankfully, not a proprietary one), an infrared port, and the microSD card slot. This edition can support cards up to 4GB, although our test model came with a 1GB card. The right side holds buttons for calling up the photo gallery or snapping a picture, as well as the volume buttons. Both sides hold small speakers.

The rear holds the lens for the 5 megapixel camera, which uses a Carl Zeiss lens. If you've been waiting for the day when your cell phone could take excellent, digital-camera-worthy photos, wait no longer. We were consistently impressed with the quality of the photos that the N95 produced. Not only that, but the N95's excellent image software lets you crop and edit photos, and even remove red eye. The N95 can also shoot video.

Improvements

If you held off on buying the first edition of the N95, you might want to take a serious look at it now. The 850/1900 MHz 3G HSDPA compatibility lets the phone connect to the Web at speeds rivaling broadband home connections, as long as you use it with the AT&T network.

The phone now contains 160MB of built-in flash memory, up slightly from the previous version. Battery life is much improved, and the phone is rated for four hours of talk time and nine days of standby. 

Accessories

The N95 comes with a microSD memory card (2GB is the advertised card, although our test model came with a 1GB card), headphones, a TV connection cable, and a surprisingly cheap protective cloth bag. The headphones are a little difficult, as they come in two parts.

One part contains just the headphones themselves, but no microphone. Use them for music, but if you take a call you'll need to remember to talk into the phone. The second part of the cord contains music playback buttons and a microphone. Plugging in this second cord, however, and using both together makes the whole cord too long, as well as awkward to use.

There's a lot to like about this amazingly powerful 3G smartphone. While the price is certainly high, many will be glad to have it at any price.

Article courtesy of PDAStreet.com.



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