REVIEW: The followup to the sensationally popular N95, the Nokia N96 is a veritable Swiss Army knife packed with all the mobile communication, multimedia, location and computing tools you need. With a large 2.8-inch screen, 16 GB of internal memory, additional MicroSD expansion, and support for high-quality videos in a wide range of formats, the dual-slide Nokia N96 represents an exciting new chapter in mobile media.
The Nokia N96 multimedia computer has a large 2.8-inch screen.
Its face slides up to reveal an alpha/numeric keypad.
It's based on S60 software operating on the Symbian OS, enabling you to personalize the N96 by choosing from a wide choice of compatible applications that can be downloaded--including games, navigation, entertainment, and productivity titles. Other features include a 5-megapixel camera/camcorder with Carl Zeiss optics, assisted GPS (A-GPS) for navigation using the Nokia Maps application and geotagging of photos, FM radio, USB 2.0 connectivity, TV-out capability for displaying photos and videos on external televisions, access to live TV (operator service using DVB-H or streaming over 3G, where available), and up to 3.7 hours of GSM talk time.
This unlocked cell phone can be used with a GSM network service provider and it provides quad-band connectivity (850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 1900 MHz). It does not come with a SIM card, and it requires that you provide a SIM card for usage with your selected service provider.
Offering a design similar to the N95, the N96 has a large 2.8-inch LCD screen with a 240 x 320-pixel resolution and support for up to 16 million colors for terrific depth when viewing photos or playing immersive 3D games. The screen also offers Auto UI rotation based on the integrated accelerometer. The innovative 2-way slide concept makes it easy to switch between different modes, going from reading maps to watching a video with a simple slide. A numeric keypad slides out from one end of the device while dedicated media keys slide out from the opposite direction, converting the display into full screen landscape mode. In addition to the internal 16 GB memory, the N96 also offers memory expansion via optional MicroSDHC media up to 8 GB in size--providing a whopping 24 GB of mobile storage, enough for up to 40 hours of high-quality video.
The phone also slides down to reveal media playback controls, and the screen auto-rotates from portrait to landscape for optimal video viewing.
Capture vivid still imagery with the 5-megapixel Carl Zeiss lens, as well as smooth DVD-quality video.
With the Carl Zeiss optics on the 5-megapixel camera, you can capture print quality photos and DVD-like quality video clips. Carl Zeiss, a world leader in high quality camera lenses, brings an award-winning legacy to the Nokia N96 with state-of-the-art optics for mobile photography and mobile video. The Zeiss name has been associated with cameras from Hasselblad, Rollei, Yashica, Sony, and Nikon. This auto-focus Carl Zeiss Tessar lens has a 5.2mm focal length, F2.8 aperture, focus range as close as 10cm. The camera also features a flash, video light, auto-focus assist light, self-timer, white balance and exposure compensation settings, scene settings, and digital video stabilization.
Images are saved as JPEG or EXIF files while videos are recorded in the MPEG-4 file format with the .mp4 file extension, or in the 3GPP file format with the .3gp file extension (sharing quality). Photos and video clips can be enjoyed on a compatible television thanks to the device's TV out feature and support for Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) technology.
Accessing internet videos is quick and simple. The Nokia N96 supports common video formats including MPEG-4, Windows Media Video and Flash Video, making favorite videos easy to view. The Nokia Video Center also offers one place to discover and access a variety of mobile content ranging from movie trailers and comedy to news from world-leading content brands such as YouTube, Reuters, and Sony Pictures. Transferring and accessing videos is even faster with the high-speed USB 2.0 connection and WLAN and HSDPA support. In select markets, the integrated DVB-H receiver offers live broadcast TV with an automatically updating program guide. For added convenience, the Nokia N96 features a "kickstand" on the back cover that allows for hands-free viewing.
For a superb music experience, the Nokia N96 features media keys, a 3.5 mm headphone connector and built-in 3D stereo speakers. You'll easily be able to control playback with the dedicated media keys, and the digital music player supports playlist editing, equalizer and categorized access to your music collection. You'll also enjoy podcasts, Internet radio, and access to FM radio with RDS.
The back of the phone includes a kickstand for easy handsfree viewing of videos.
Side profile of the N96.
With A-GPS functionality, you'll be able find your route quickly and easily, whether walking or driving (A-GPS is a network dependant feature that requires a data plan; additional charges may apply). The Nokia Maps application offers richer maps with urban details and satellite views and the ability to search and download information about points of interests, such as restaurants, hotels, companies, travel agencies, airports, and more. It also provides optional upgrades such as City Guides, turn-by-turn pedestrian mode and voice-guided car navigation.
The N96 has all the bases covered when it comes to messaging. Support is built in for sending and receiving text, video, graphics and sound via messages. It also enables you to check your email on the go (supporting POP3, IMAP4, and SMTP protocols). T9 text entry, which is a technology that makes it easier for people to enter words and text on handsets, is built into the unit--a plus for mobile text messaging users.
View web pages as they were originally intended with the integrated Nokia Web Browser, which enables you to zoom out to a full screen view of the entire page using the Mini Map feature. Find the section you want and then zoom in to the content you need. The text instantly adjusts to the size of your screen. The browser also keeps a history of your browsing so you can quickly get back to where you started.
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) technology means that this Nokia phone will discover, interact with, and control other compatible home electronic devices. This includes PCs, media centers, home entertainment systems, new smart appliances, home automation systems, networked peripherals, and Web-based services. With compatible equipment, you can stream video from your Nokia device directly to your TV, or hear music tracks stored on your PC through your living room's sound system.
Other features include:
- Supports the Ovi family of Nokia internet services, including maps, music, media sharing and more
- N-Gage application with try-and-buy games
- Music playback: MP3, AAC, eAAC, eAAC+, WMA
- Video playback: MPEG-4 / SP and MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, up to 30 fps, up to VGA resolution (scaled max QVGA on device, SDTV on TV-out); RealVideo up to QCIF at 30 fps
- Bluetooth version 2.0 with the following profiles: A2DP (stereo music streaming), AVRC (remote control), HFP (hands-free car kits), HSP (communication headsets), BIP (for sending images to another device), DUN (dial-up networking), FTP (file transfer), OPP (object push for business cards, calendar items, and pictures)
- 128MB RAM, 256MB system memory (operating system plus dynamic user data area)
- 3.5mm stereo headset plug , TV-out support (PAL/NTSC)
- Wi-Fi supports WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security settings
- Speaker-independent voice commands
- Document viewer (compatible with Excel, PowerPoint, Word, PDF, ZIP)
- Flight mode
The Nokia N96 weighs 4.4 ounces and measures 4.06 x 2.17 x 0.71 inches. Its 950 mAh lithium-ion battery is rated at up to 3.7 hours of GSM talk time (2.5 hours on 3G networks), and up to 220 hours of GSM standby time (200 hours on 3G networks. It runs on the 850/900/1800/1900 GSM/GPRS/EDGE frequencies as well as the 850/1900 MHz HSDPA 3G frequencies found in the US.
Customer Review: A comprehensive Review - Crossplatform MAC/PC
Here in starts my multiple day review of the Nokia N96.
Background: I am an IT person and like to be at the bleeding edge of
gadgetry... I currently use a Blackberry Bold 9000, and an iPhone 3g 16gb. I
will soon be getting a google g1 and a blackberry 8900.
I am no stranger to mobile technology and 3g networks....
Day One is Today: 1/11/2009
I charged the battery overnight and inserted an AT&T sim card to get it
running. The N96 walked me through a quick setup wizard for the usual date
and time, etc... We were up and running in less then 5 minutes. GREAT!...no
I went ahead on an exploratory mission. Having used Nokias in the past, this
was easy for me. I set up my wireless network at home which is usually at
about 80% signal in most of our home. Setup was easy and I was online with
I started to do the obvious - I kept navigating through the icons to see
what features were available, what ringtones were included, sample videos,
etc. So far so good....I thought the speakers on the phone were a bit out of
shape...but I didnt expect home theater sound either....
I setup my POP3 email account, again very easy, and began to test email,
messaging, etc.... This is where my woes began. Every few minutes the phone
would ask me if I wanted to use AT&T medianet to connect since it had lost
internet connection to the wireless network. This kept happening....for
about 30 minutes...until I finally gave up. I went and checked my router etc
and there were no internet issues. I rebooted the router, just in case, and
started to test the phone again about 15 minutes later. Again...it would get
on our WIFI and keep dropping it every few minutes...this time I was about
25 feet away from my router.
Day 1 is over - Day 2 is tomorrow and I will update the reivew then. Please
do NOT Vote for me until you have read my entire review for this phone...
I am disappointed thus-far.
Day 2 01/12/09
One note of caution before I begin day 2 of testing. This is a dual slider
phone....from the bottom up you get the keypad for numeric dialing...from
the top down you get media controls, play/pause etc. I find that the balance
of the phone is thrown off when revealing the keypad and thus dialing is a
bit difficult on the go....
I am a cross platform computer user but prefer to use a mac for most digital
media related solutions. Today I will attempt to get the N96 connected to
the mac and do some downloads. I will also be attaching the phone to my
wireless network in the office to see if the problems from yesterday
re-appear. (i will update the review as I see fit during the day).
I have downloaded the iSync plugin and the Multimedia transfer software from
http://www.nokia.com/mac. So far so good...easy to install and get going.
The N96 seemlesly integrates with the mac in that iPhoto launches showing
the device and images that are on it. It also allows for synchronizing all
photos onto the device....I like this so far. The Nokia Multimedia Transfer
suite allows transfer of iTunes music to the device...and now that iTunes is
DRM free this will be a nice feature considering the N96's 16gb of memory.
The iSync plugin allows you to launch iSync on the mac and add the N96 as a
device...very easy. I can now sync all of my contacts and calendars from my
mac to the N96. I dont think too much detail is required on the above two
topics...they are very easy and work well.
You must remember to download the software from http://www.nokia.com/mac as
it is NOT included on the CD's in the box. The phone can then be connected
via micro usb and or bluetooth. (Did I mention my gripe due to the fact that
they chose micro usb instead of mini usb...now we need all new chargers...)
My opinion of the phone seems to be improving a bit due to the connectivity,
but the wireless lan still remains as a challenge...I have had to turn of
the WLAN so that I can test and review the phone.
Now on to some other features: (brief one liners)
FM Radio - Excellent Feature and very clear reception in and around New York
Camera - Great 5mp Resolution and can be used as a pocket camera when
carrying a 2nd camera is not feasible. However it should be noted that even
in bright daylight the images show some noise..
Allows for music and podcasts, which I love. I am a podcast listener due to
long 3-4 hour commutes.
(NOTE that the Nokia Software must be running at all times when phone is
connected via usb or bluetooth)
Great applications out of the box, not to mention the very refined Symbian
OS which allows for great flexibility.
Capacity at 16gb is amazing and allows for all of your media to be stored on
Application/Game downloads from the phone are easy...when the WLAN works.
Now for the final portion of my review - Amazon Video on Demand.
First things first...you have to use the Amazon Unbox player which is only
PC compatible for the time being. The VOD service is awesome and the prices
are great. I have seen friends using this in the past but have not tried it
myself until now. The download of unbox was very quick and installation was
perfect. I was able to install the player on Vista 32 Ultimate, login to my
amazon account, and download my rented copy of Hancock to watch on my new
N96... My first experience with this type of service (other then itunes) has
been great. I have always used AMAZON For mp3's but never for Video....I am
a blu-ray type and thus enjoy my home theater experience...however I now
have an alternative to getting movies for viewing while travelling etc....
I feel that this phone has a lot more to offer then what I am seeing as a
result of two days of usage. The overall feature set is nice but it is
frustrating to use at best. Considering the $600+ price tag I am sure that
there are other smart phones out there that can do what the N96 does and
much more. The iPhone 3g is a perfect example.
The 3g service, while in its infancy in the US, is definitely working well
on the N96. The iPhone 3g and Blackberry Bold will drop out on occasion
where as the N96 is still showing coverage. I think this is because Nokia
has years of experience running on 3g networks and this phone shows it.
I apologize for the long review but I felt that an item like this was worthy
of a detailed test run...not a quick and dirty review.
Media Syncing Abilities
Camera (5mp - a bit noisy)
Bad WLAN Usage
Bad balance while using keypad.
Controlling the phone is somewhat difficult.
Chargers for both AC and Car.
Headset for use alone or with adapter that has media controls.
A/V Cable to attach to TV, etc.
USB to Micro USB Cable for Computer hookup.
Documentation and software for Windows.
Overall I would say this device is worthy of a great review...but I left it
at 4 out of 5 because of the unsatisfactory wlan performance. I love the
fact that the software Nokia provides makes it very easy to synchronize
media and contact/calendar data from both a mac and a pc. The price tag is a
bit on the steep side.
It is very hard to review a product with so much power in a short period of
time, thus I am sure I will be updating this review as time goes on. I am
hopeful that a firmware upgrade of sorts will fix potential issues on this
device and that the future will be bright.
Features I still need to test include GPS and Applications.....updates will
Customer Review: nokia n96
i seem it is a littel big and the keypad is very but very dificult to write a message , 50% recomendable .
despite its 16gb memory it does not rum quycly