Nokia N95 8GB review
We review the Nokia N95 8GB Series 60 smartphone - is it really bigger, better and faster than its famous predecessor?
Verdict: Ticks all the right boxes with a well-targeted upgrade to the heavyweight N95
Pros: 8GB of internal storage, WiFi and HSDPA, fine quality music player, 3.5mm headphone socket, video playback
Cons: Chunky build, no lens cover for camera, no memory expansion
Design: Still slightly chunky but the black finish is an improvement on the original silver
Operating System: Symbian Series 60 version 3
More Info: Nokia N95 8GB official site
The Nokia N95 8GB is more than just a lightly freshened-up version of its earlier N95 multimedia heavy-hitter. Nokia has taken the opportunity to beef up the specs across the board, as well as adding a little cosmetic enhancement to go with the gadgetry.
As well as the obvious storage upgrade – it now has 8GB of internal flash memory – the N95 8GB has upgraded software, providing a slicker multimedia experience, with improved A-GPS location finding and Nokia Maps software. It also has a larger capacity battery than its predecessor, providing a welcome increase in staying power for this gadget-rich smartphone.
Look and feel
It sticks with the N95’s novel two-way slider mechanism – one way reveals the numberpad, the other its media player controls – while the display is now a 2.8-inch QVGA screen rather than the N95’s 2.6-incher that flips automatically into landscape mode when the upper media key tray’s slid out.
There’s little difference in weight or size. It’s still relatively chunky, at 99mm(h) x 53mm(w) x 21mm(d) and weighing 128g, but the extra screen space has been accommodated mainly by the reduction in key size on the navigation controls below the display – though this doesn’t affect the usability of the controls.
The S60-powered N95 8GB is equipped with HSDPA 3G as well as WiFi, offering a solid combination of high-speed data connectivity for browsing, plus downloading and streaming content. It has very capable music and video player functionality, with a standard 3.5mm headphone socket for adding your own ear-gear.
The N95 8GB supports Nokia Music Store over the air tune-buying as standard. It's also available in a version as one of Nokia’s Comes With Music service handsets – providing unlimited download of music tracks.
Nokia has again included a decent quality five-megapixel camera, equipped with Carl Zeiss optics. This model ditches the snaggable lens cover of the original, however, though there is still an LED flash. A secondary front-facing camera provides an additional option for face-to-face video calling.
The black bodywork is a touch snazzier than the earlier N95’s silver. The N95 8GB engages Nokia’s usual selection of S60 standby screen shortcuts, all user-definable from dozens in the phone menus. Along with other app and status info, a WiFi option enables WiFi set-up in just a couple of clicks.
The N95 8GB’s S60 icon-based main menu set-up is typically manageable and easy to operate. The numberpad is nicely responsive, so the handset is comfortable to handle and use.
The N95 8GB has plenty of headroom for storing video content or music. However, it doesn’t have additional memory card expansion.
Its handling of media is impressive. The music player offers a conventional MP3 player interface, with familiar categories for tracks. Audio quality is very good, providing a pleasantly balanced, dynamic sound performance. The supplied earphones are decent enough for an in-box set, but upgrading to higher quality headphones will optimise the audio performance. An FM radio is built in too.
Video playback on the decently-sized display is vivid and smooth, the RealPlayer application offering a rich full-screen experience. In some versions, the handset comes with feature film content pre-loaded, though you can, of course, sideload your own movies or video clips. Nokia’s Video Centre app can also fast-track you to download and streaming services online.
The Nokia N95 8GB does a better than average job at mobile video shooting, too, capturing footage at up to 30 frames per second in VGA (640x480) pixels resolution, delivering acceptable quality playback. A TV-Out cable is supplied in-box, so you can output this directly to a TV via its AV sockets.
The five-megapixel camera software on this model has been enhanced, and it’s quicker to process images than the earlier N95. It can produce cracking images, with plenty of rich detail, natural colour rendition and crisply focused shots, thanks to an effective autofocus system. It also has a fine macro mode for close ups. A solid range of camera adjustments for various shooting conditions or to add effects are onboard. Low-light shooting with the LED flash is reasonable, though not particularly powerful.
The N95 8GB supports Nokia’s Ovi online multimedia service and content/applications download portal. Users can upload images and video directly to the site, and to other supported sharing services, such as Flickr and Vox.
Onboard A-GPS (Assisted Global Positioning System) software enables spot-on satellite positioning. Nokia Maps software is provided for street-level 2D and 3D mapping, route-planning and search for places of interest, businesses, addresses and so on. Map data for the UK and Ireland is stored on the handset rather than having to be downloaded over the air, so it’s very responsive. The system is quick to lock on to satellite fixes, and is reliable holding on to signals. You can also subscribe to a voice-directions turn-by-turn package, for a fuller in-car Sat Nav experience - though the device doesn’t match up to a larger-screened standalone TomTom-style set-up.
The typical Nokia S60 browser is speedy enough for a mobile browser and does the basics effectively, but doesn’t match the slick usability of the more advanced iPhone browser.
Nokia’s sophisticated N-Gage gaming platform is supported here, offering mobile gamers play-before-you-pay demos, multi-player gaming and connections to Nokia’s online gaming community.
The N95 8GB comes with a stack of additional features and applications, including extensive organiser software. The N95 8GB supports email and instant messaging too, with Quickoffice, Adobe PDF viewer and Zip manager software for attachments and sideloaded files. A decent selection of free S60 apps can be added, too, using the embedded Download! tool.
Thankfully, Nokia has boosted power performance – one of the bugbears of the original N95. Its larger capacity 1200mAh battery extends battery life by around 25 per cent, according to Nokia’s quoted figures – providing up to 280 hours standby, or 210 minutes talktime on 3G networks (300 minutes in GSM-only coverage). Real life figures depend on how much you indulge the headline features, but we found it acceptable in normal usage. Nokia hasn’t forgotten the basics either - call quality is excellent on this phone.
The Nokia N95 8GB is certainly a more refined version of the N95, with some welcome feature upgrades and software enhancements giving it a finer edge. The larger display and that 8GB internal storage provide more multimedia muscle, too, which, combined with the more robust power performance, make the heavyweight N95 8GB an even more attractive out-of-the-box smartphone than the original N95.