Nokia N95 – A Mac User’s Perspective

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Date: Tuesday, September 4th, 2007, 23:51
Category: Mobile Phone

nokia-n95-400.jpg

iPhone SchmiPhone
Having recently sold my iMac G5 I can now say my MacBook Pro has truly become my desktop replacement. That said, I often don’t want to lug the silver slap around town but would still like to surf, email and keep in touch with all my elife. As a Euro user iPhone is an option quite yet but I wanted to try out the mobile platform after many years of owning a simple mobile phone.
Enter the Nokia N95. This unit has been reviewed and out since March 2007 so I thought by now with firmware and software updates I would give it a go. I also need a phone that would work between two European networks from one provider so Vodafone was the carrier of choice in this case.
The N95 was released on 26 September 2006 and features a unique two-way slider. Slide it down to reveal a standard keypad, slide it up to reveal multimedia controls (play, pause, etc.)
The N95 is a Symbian-based smartphone that features integrated GPS, HSDPA, 802.11g WiFi, Bluetooth, 160GB HDD, microSD slot and a 5MP still/video camera with flash, digital zoom and a lens cover. The 2.6-inch QVGA screen and standard 3.5mm audio jack round out this mobile powerhouse. The N95 costs US$750 (€550) and is available unlocked directly from Nokia.
The phone wasn’t originally destined for the US but there was such a demand for its full-featured package Nokia sold it unlocked in the U.S. This review is based on the original international version.
Click on the headline to read more…


nokia-n95-400.jpg

iPhone SchmiPhone
Having recently sold my iMac G5 I can now say my MacBook Pro has truly become my desktop replacement. That said, I often don’t want to lug the silver slap around town but would still like to surf, email and keep in touch with all my elife. As a Euro user iPhone is an option quite yet but I wanted to try out the mobile platform after many years of owning a simple mobile phone.
Enter the Nokia N95. This unit has been reviewed and out since March 2007 so I thought by now with firmware and software updates I would give it a go. I also need a phone that would work between two European networks from one provider so Vodafone was the carrier of choice in this case.
The N95 was released on 26 September 2006 and features a unique two-way slider. Slide it down to reveal a standard keypad, slide it up to reveal multimedia controls (play, pause, etc.)
The N95 is a Symbian-based smartphone that features integrated GPS, HSDPA, 802.11g WiFi, Bluetooth, 160GB HDD, microSD slot and a 5MP still/video camera with flash, digital zoom and a lens cover. The 2.6-inch QVGA screen and standard 3.5mm audio jack round out this mobile powerhouse. The N95 costs US$750 (€550) and is available unlocked directly from Nokia.
The phone wasn’t originally destined for the US but there was such a demand for its full-featured package Nokia sold it unlocked in the U.S. This review is based on the original international version.

nokia-n95-black-150.jpg

On 29 August 2007 Nokia announced a new version of the N95 for the U.S. Market (pictured, right in black) with real 3G support and assisted GPS (A-GPS) for faster navigational fixes while using the included enhanced Nokia Maps application, a full 124MB of operational RAM memory (to complement the included 1 GB microSD memory card and the 160MB internal memory), and a higher capacity battery for extended operating time. The new Nokia N95 is expected to start shipping in September to independent retailers in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco, as well as the Nokia Flagship Stores in New York and Chicago. In addition to Nokia’s Web site the new N95 will be available through multiple online retailers. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is US$699.
I was heartened to learn during my research that the N95 has Mac support out of the box from Nokia. How many smartphone buyers insert the bundled software CD only to find it loaded with useless .exe programs? Once you install the iSync rpfile the phone is recognised and then syncs with the address book and ical programmes
Nokia’s Device Browser and iSync allows you to install programs and upload photos and music to the phone. The Mac software is a little quirky, but at least it’s a native Mac application and not one of those awful Windows ports.
Apple knows iPhone is in direct competition with the N95 they even put it on their iPhone press release under “competive data.” And despite Steve trashing them I think competition is good for both Nokia and Apple‚Äìit keeps them on their toes. Apple could learn from Nokia‚Äôs mobile experience and social networking stuff and Nokia could tune Symbian to be easier to use.
The N95 is a veritable all-in-one device and includes a raft of good to bad programs. The Symbian interface is serviceable but definitely not as slick as the new iPhone. It works wells but can be a little laggy at times. The Web browser, maps with GPS and 5 megapixel camera are really superb. There is one big downside with the Nokia maps is that the downloading software isn’t Mac compatible so I got round it by buying the maps for Western Europe pre-installed on a 2GB micro card. Maps with GPS is a very cool program that is extremely useful for those weekend trips to other European cities.
Music and photos on the N95 are integrated with iTunes and iPhoto although the music software is not nearly as cool as iTunes. Both iPhoto and iTunes have a N95 folder installed on them which can be manually uploaded by song or photo or you can set them through the Nokia Media Browser and then your choices automatically sync. This is also a handy way to transfer new programs to the N95.
From the back, the N95 looks just like a everyday digital camera complete with a flash and Zeiss lens. The camera application starts as soon as you open the lense cover and you have your choice of capturing up to 5 megapixel images or recording VGA video at 30 frames per second. It takes great pictures but don’t hope to use it to snap falling rain drops or to take a quick pic as the camera applications needs at least five seconds to boot via the very challenged software.
As for installable free software, these are my pick of the bunch (so far):
Fring ‚Äì A free mobile VoIP client that allows you to talk & IM via your handset’s internet connection via Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Google Talk, SIP and Twitter, at no extra cost. Absolutely fabulous.
Yahoo! Go – Provides easy access to all Yahoo! services such as Flickr (upload and browse), email, search, weather, news, maps and driving directions are also part of the application. It’s a little slow but has good interface.
Opera Mini – a refined browser with a few nifty feature like full page overview and click in.
Widsets – Widgets for the N95. Over 1000 available for download including eBay, Wikipedia, Flickr, Twitter, Technorati, TechCrunch.
QuickOffice ‚Äì lets you view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents and optimizes pages for the phone’s screen.
Nokia LifeBlog – keeps a multimedia diary on your N95 and PC desktop of the items you collect with your mobile phone.
Setting up the phone was easy and difficult. I had a few helpful calls to Vodafone to make sure all the mail and SMTP settings were correct but after I got used to both their WAP and Internet connection points it was all go.
One strange thing is the SMS and Email are in one program and your mailboxes are set up within the messaging program. I still have to find a good email program which I can substitute.
I’m a little peeved that Vodafone gives you 100MB of Internet access for 30 days but that does not include access you dedicated email boxes.
In Portugal unless you are classed as a business user your email usage and internet are split by the mobile provider so sending and downloading email can be very dear. You can by 1GB of Internet use for just over $10 but I unwittingly sent two photos to a friend and it ended up costing me over $15.
The are 13 buttons on the front of the phone that despite many functions are very slim and sometime at little confusing and easy to slip fingers over. I have feeling the emergence of the iPhone will dictate the next development of the physical look of media communicators.
Battery life is a challenge when using the N95, the GPS feature sucks the juice big time and I have not been able to achieve more than four or five hours of run time. I am not one to bang on about this, if you want to do a lot of stuff on a handheld then you have to accept the trade off, and perhaps old Steve had a point about the 3G chips being power hungry too. That said the N95 comes with a cool little charger no bigger than you’re a matchbox and that is so nice to travel with. And at least you can swap out the replaceable battery (unlike iPhone) when it dies.
Now that I have had the phone for 10 days I’ve gotten used to the UI and set up the main features I am going to keep going at it. At the All Things D conference Bill Gates and Steve Jobs said these were interesting times for the emergence of the personal communicator device, and looking at my two year old daughter it will be kind of funny to see what she will be using in 15 years to access all these techno stuff. I am sure it wont be a two-inch thick cigarette box shaped N95 but at least she can see where they came from.
Pros
– Real internet browsing
– Good screen and contrast
– Fab camera and photos
– No fixed monthly plan
– Cool little charger
– Useful GPS, Maps and directions programs
Cons
– Learning curve to usage
– Screen just a tad small
– Screen a little small
– No Map loader for Mac
– Symbian software a little slow and odd sometimes
Further Reading:
Good U.S. Review
Comparison chart with iPhone

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