Nokia N96 is the latest Nokia smartphone in the N-Series range of products. The handset was publicly announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 2008, and started shipping in September 2008.
As the N96 is a slider phone, the 2.8" screen dominates the front panel. With a resolution of 240x320 and capable of displaying 16 million colours, it looks superb in the majority of situations. The N96 runs the Symbian S60 9.3 operating system with the excellent Feature Pack 2 installed. Underneath the screen is the usual array of call buttons and softkeys, plus the introduction of a Navi-wheel, which works by moving your finger around the edge of the D-pad in order to move the onscreen cursor.
The N96 takes great pictures with its 5 megapixel camera. Once again it benefits from Carl Zeiss' input and is of course autofocus with a dual-LED flash for those darker situations. The camera allows you to adjust the basics such as the ISO and picture contrast levels, it also shoots 30fps VGA video.
The Nokia Maps GPS navigation program was pre-loaded into the phone. It is possible to install maps of selected regions to the device, or to download them as needed while on the move. Searching addresses and using the maps doesn't cost anything. A GPS-assisted turn-by-turn speech navigation is available for a small fee. You can find more information about the application in our Nokia Maps review.
The GPS on the N96 can do more than just maps. It can automatically mark the location of every photograph taken on the built-in five megapixel camera. The exact geographic coordinates are saved in the image information. When a photo like this is uploaded to a digital map on the Internet, like Google Maps, the picture is automatically attached to the correct location on the map.
The N96 is perfect for anyone wanting to make the most of Nokia's N-gage gaming service, as not only do you get a selection of titles pre-loaded - and the chance to activate the full version of one for free - but the dual slide mechanism brings the gaming experience to life! It does this by the buttons hidden under the upper slide adapting to the function you're using, so when you're playing a game they become gaming keys, instantly giving two handed operation!
Of course, this wouldn't be an N-series phone without all the connectivity options you could want and unsurprisingly, it's all here, from 3G with HSDPA support to Wi-Fi and A2DP Bluetooth. The media side is well covered too, with the usual music and video player, FM RDS radio, a 3.5mm jack plug and TV-out, plus a DVB-H tuner. It even has a little flip down stand for resting the N96 on your desk and watching the latest iPlayer downloads!
DVB-H digital TV signal wasn't available in the location where we tested the N96, but access to the TV has been made easy. A dedicated button on the control panel below the display takes you directly to TV screen. It is one of the best displays on a mobile phone have seen.
Summary Nokia N96
Feature-wise, the N96 has everything we expect a high-end smartphone to have (phones with touch screen or qwerty keyboard are another matter). Nokia has also integrated some of the features, like GPS and photos, into easy-to-use solutions. There are thousands of free and commercial applications available for the N96 and other Symbian OS/S60 smartphones. Additionally, new N-Gage games and Nokia's music store are compatible with the device.
Features Nokia N96
- Series 60 Symbian interface (version 3.2)
- 5 megapixel camera (2592 x 1944 pixels) with Carl Zeiss optics, Tessar lens, autofocus, dual LED flash (auto redeye reduction), 20x digital zoom
- Video camera: MPEG4/3GP VGA video capture at 640 x 480 pixels and 30 frames/second with digital stereo microphone (AAC format) and 10x digital zoom
- Front camera for video calling: CIF resolution (352 x 288 pixels)
- Video and still image editors
- Display: TFT, 16 million colours, 240 x 320 pixels (2.8 inches)
- Live TV (DVB-H based mobile TV with internal antenna)
- Digital music player (supports MP3/AAC/AAC+/eAAC+/WMA/M4A formats) with playlists and equalizer
- Stereo FM radio RDS with Visual Radio support
- Built-in GPS navigation with Nokia Maps application
- Speaker independent name dialing
- Voice commands
- Voice recorder
- Talking ringtone
- Integrated hands-free speaker
- Speed dialing
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, Email (support for attachments)
- Push to talk (PoC)
- Java games
- Advanced contacts database with support for multiple phone and e-mail details per entry
- Memory: 16 Gbytes plus microSD memory card slot
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 2.0, USB 2.0, TV-Out, WLAN (802.11 b/g), 3.5 mm stereo headphone plug
- WAP, EGPRS class B, WCDMA/HSDPA (3.6Mb/s download)
- Quadband plus 3G
- Size: 103 x 53 x 20 mm
- Weight: 125g
- Talktime: 150 minutes (3G) - 220 minutes (2G)
- Battery standby: 200 hours