Nokia is heralding the N95 as a revolutionary device that will render anything that contains so much as a logic gate obsolete. Not only has the hype it has generated worked, but to an extent they have gotten it right.
In addition to having all the usual refinements, the N95 sports dedicated media transport controls, a five megapixel stills camera with decent video recording facilities, and a GPS. A standard Mini-USB connector replaces the proprietary Nokia pin connector, and a 3.5mm connector can drive a wired headset, an AV output or (joy of joys) standard headphones. The 3.5mm output is placed at the side of the phone, making it somewhat awkward, but it is a hugely welcome addition.
Some of the phone’s features, including VoIP, are network dependant, so check with your service provider before making the plunge. In addition to this, the GPS navigation will only work after you pay Nokia an additional fee for a licence.
The camera is undoubtedly powerful, but it can’t compete with dedicated 5 megapixel models. Either the images are too heavily compressed with JPEG or the output of the CCD is interpolated from a lower quality source, or both. However the images are startlingly good from a phone, as is the video it can capture and the high intensity white LED that acts as a flash.
Like almost all of Nokia’s phones, the N95 is powered by the S60 operating system layered over a Symbian base. Like so many S60 based Nokias that have come before it, response is sluggish, and thanks to the addition of all the extra features the menu has become more convoluted than it should be. This is offset once you slide the phone downwards to reveal dedicated media transport controls (play/pause, stop, fast forward and rewind), but we feel they wouldn’t be necessary if the OS was better designed.
We love all the additions and the feel of the phone they’ve been shoehorned into. But like every engineering task, all this has come at the expense of one crucial element -- the battery life. Try as we might, we simply can’t recommend the N95 to anyone who expects to be able to use the features of the N95 without a charger in sight for more than a day. We only managed to get 12 hours worth of battery life out of ours after a mere 45 minutes of calls, 45 minutes of audio playback, 45 minutes of video playback and 45 minutes of GPS use. We didn’t even use the inbuilt Wi-fi to access the Internet during that session.
Using the phone without any garnish yielded a mere 3 days of standby. We can only conclude that this is the formula one car of phones. It’s a brilliant piece of engineering (and one we’d have no hesitation buying) provided you can line up a series of pit stops to keep refuelling the battery.
Presumably, companies that manufacture automotive, solar and USB phone chargers are now rubbing their hands with glee.