Nokia N96 - A long review!

The Nokia N96 Long Review by Jupstejuho
v. 1
(Please notice that this is the first published version so I will
be making this much longer a bit later if you just want me to do so)
In this case I have only reviewed the phone's main software
things, not many of its good-too features.
--> A BIT INFO -->
Firmware used: Unbranded Scandinavian v11, upgraded to that from v10 wich was originally branded
Phone used: Elisa Finland network branded, simlocked Nokia N96-1
Operator used: Elisa Finland
Memory card used: 512MB (have not actually even touched it as the 16GB has been fine for me
More settings used: Screen brighness set to full 100%, display light set to disappear after
30 seconds of inactivity, Online mode always on. Screensaver set to none.
1. THE FIRST WORDS
OK, as all of the active Nokia people around the internet already know, there
are many reviews in the internet considering about the famous, all-new Nokia
N96 smartphone. It is a new part of the Nokia´s 3rd generation phone series,
the N-Series. The Nokia's N-Series is a quite big group of some really good
phones using much more advanced technology than the previous camera phones
that Nokia, and many other well-known phone companies have made. That is the
Nokia's N-Series in short. But, I am not writing this long review for all you
Nokia-People to just tell you what Nokia N-Series is, you basically did not
come here to read about that. I am writing this because I want to show you
my first feelings about the Nokia N96. I hope you have time to read the whole
review
2. ABOUT THE PHONE'S DESIGN, LOOK ETC. ALL ITS OUTSIDE-SEEING THINGS
So let's start from the usually first things that most people want to know
about a phone before buying it, the phone's ergonomy. The Nokia N96 feels
really, really good in my hand. Althought the phone seems to be quite big,
it fits in almost anybody's hands really well. It is not so thick, comparing
to my good old Nokia N91. And that impressed me pretty much. The phone is
relatively wide, but does not weight much (about 120 grams). The phone's
outlook is something I like, it is somehow much like the Apple's iPhone
within its big screen and black'n'white and grey colours. But, I was very
sad when I actually realized the biggest mistake made in the phone's
design. Its outer casing is actually made from cheap plastics, wich leads
to the very unliked feature... The Nokia N96's cheap plastics are in all
only not good-looking, but also really effective fingerprint magnets! The
phone's outer casing takes fingerprints really easily, and you can see
them very well in a bright sunlight, that is something I really hate. But,
that is luckily the only problem on the phone's design, I think. Just that
the phone's front side is quite widely crowded with many buttons. I really
like the phone's frontside's media button, as it reminds me of my good
old Nokia N91's Musicmenu-key. It is surrounded with the play/pause, stop,
forward and backward keys, and the already-known menu key, C-key (also known
as the backspace key) plus the green & red answering keys and the two
softkeys. All this is has been made to fit around the phone's joystick,
wich also had to include the handy Naviwheel option, but they removed it from
the software, wich is sad in my opinion. They have removed the handy
pen-key, wich formerly worked pretty well as a shortcut for many nice
programs that i used to play around with my old Nokia N91, that is sad but
I guess they had a good enough reason for removing the key.
>>> To the phone itself, features etc.
3. PHONE'S USER INTERFACE IN ALL
The Nokia N96 uses the same OS that almost all N-Series devices use, the
Symbian S60 3RD. But this time it is not just that. The Nokia N96 is one
of the first phone's to get the new, famous Feature Pack 2 (FP2). A feature
pack is like the "Microsoft Service Pack" for phones. Just that you cannot
upgrade any NON-FP/FP1 device to FP2 unless you really are an employer of
Nokia, and that the Feature Packs are for phones, not for computers
Symbian S60 3RD is the 3rd edition of the famous Symbian OS for phones,
wich has all the features that are required in order to say that a phone
is REALLY a Smartphone. OK, I am now comparing the FP2 Nokia N96 to my old
Pre-FP1/Non-FP1 Nokia N91. The phone's standby screen is pretty much the
same. Just that you can also set the standby screen to be in 3 different
modes. No active standby at all (The old S60 style), the normal already
known active standby row of 6 different program shortcuts and a new
arrangement, the one that is more complicated. It has the icons in the right
side of the phone's standby/idlescreen and you choose the icon and you see
its features at right side. Anyways, I chose the good old S60 3RD arrangement
as it is not too complicated for me. Going to the phone's menu is easy, you
just press the menu-key and that's that. The taskmanager is renewed, this
time it is horizontal and looks better (I guess they have made the idea from
the nice IQ AltTab program wich I used to use with my old Nokia N91. Yeah,
well pretty much nothing has changed. The phone's messages application has
been also renewed... It now has only 2 message types: Text Message and Sound
Message. If you want to send somebody a MMS wich contains a sound clip,
that means you have to choose the Sound Message-option. If you want to send
a normal SMS, or an MMS wich contains picture or video etc, you have to
choose the Text Message-option. Just choose that and write your message.
If you only add text into that, you are sending a normal SMS automatically.
Add any MMS-content in it and it will automatically be an MMS message.
That is a quite nice new feature. The phone also has a new Themes-application
and its icon has been removed from the phone's menu! You can get to it by
setting up an active standby shortcut for it but it will take you straight
to the Active-Standby Themestyle option wich is a part of the Themes
application. The phone still lags pretty much, as it is brand new.
The same problem was with the Nokia N95 when it first came. I guess the
phone does not have so much features that the Nokia N95 does not have.
Well that's all about that.
4. MEDIA COMPLETION
The Nokia N96 is advertised as a Videoplayer phone. That is true, but that
was not the reason why I bought the phone. The phone can play MP4, 3GP and
surprisingly they are advertising that the phone can also play WMV9 videos.
That is actually true, but the phone did only play the video's sound, not
the video itself Well that is OK for me as I do not have a reason for
playing WMV videos with my PHONE. The phone can also of course play music
but supports only a little amount of filetypes. Pictures are (surprise,
surprise) supported too.
4.1 DVB-H
One of the phone's new main features is the DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting
Handheld) receiver. That means that you can watch digital television wherever
that is available. Here in Finland we can only receive DVB-H signal in the
big cities (luckily I live in Oulu and I can receive DVB-H signal in here...)
But I would be pleased if I could be able to see that signal in places like
cars, trains, planes and ferries but that is not gonna be possible ever,
because only a really small amount of phones have the DVB-H and hardly anybody
watches it. I do not look it unless I have a good reason as it takes a lot
battery. You can also record DVB-H and schedule recordings, that means you
actually have a recording television receiver in your pocket But I do not
have any reasons to do such a thing.
4.2 VIDEOS
The phone, as I said earlier, is being advertised as a pocket-sized video
player. The phone has some pre-loaded factory videos (Some advertising
videos and 1 Transformers Movie). I tested DivXPlayer and it played
small video files (like 100-200MB) really well but when I tested a 350MB
TV-Series episode, it lagged all the time after playing it for 2 minutes.
I also tested CorePlayer and Smartmovie and they both had the same problems
except that the CorePlayer played the file hardly for 2 seconds and started
lagging. But I converted the same file with SmartMovie converter to a 80MB
file and it had much worse quality but still it played with no lagging at
all You can also convert any video to a .3GP or .MP4 file but I guess
that it is better to play your video files with SmartMovie or DivXPlayer.
The videos captured with the phone's camera are relatively big, a 4minutes
long video with the best possible quality that the camera has, is over
50MB big. Oh, and one more thing: I just also realized that the phone
supports Winamp Remote really well. Just for all of you who are not familiar
with the Winamp Remote: Winamp Remote is an application wich lets you watch
any videos from your computer´s hard drive over an internet connecton with
quite high quality. I tried that and I was amazed that it worked. Althought
you have to put the flash player as default way playing the video, because
it laggs too much when watched using the Real Player. Oh, and that brings
one another thing to my mind: The Nokia's default web browser now also
supports Flash videos I tried youtube and it worked pretty well. And,
as I said earlier the Winamp remote Flash Videoplayer also was able to play
my PC´S videos So, Nokia N96 is good for what it is originally meant for:
PLAYING HIGH-QUALITY VIDEOS ANYWHERE, ANYTIME whenever you need to do so.
4.3 MUSIC
The phone has music keys and I just love them. But the music player is not
anymore being started automatically when the phone is being started and
that means you have to manually put it on if you want to be able to use
the music buttons for playing music. That sucks. The phone has really nice
stereo speakers and they are very loud and I just love them. The earphones
supplied with the phone are really, I mean REALLY bad. They suck, but with
20-40 € you can get some good earphones like KOSS. They have also removed
an old really nice feature. The phone always lists the newest added music
tracks to a list, but you cannot anymore add the newest tracks easily to
another self-made playlist. That is what I hate as I used to do that with
my old Nokia N91. :@ That sucks, I don´t know why on earth they made such
a change in the Music Player. Quality of the music played with good
earphones is quite amazing. But also playing music eats the battery as fast
as a worm diggs itself into mud, you cannot play the music so long time,
but as I am not a music freeak that does not matter so much to me (I prefer
listening to .XM keygen music with my computer and Logitech speakers) But
I can also listen to Keygen music with the LCG Jukebox, I have done that
once for real at school and I just loved that as it made me more creative
at the arts lesson
4.4 PICTURES/CAMERA
The phone has a 5MP camera with a LED flash and a red LED light
to "help" with taking videos The phone takes really good images
especially when the phone's flash is used. It can take amazingly good
pictures even when there is no sunlight at all The flash is really
amazing. I don´t know why, but I even think that it takes better pictures
at night comparing to the pictures taken at daylight. Umm, I guess you
can use the phone as a camera in emergency situations when you need to
be able to take a picture of a good situation. The front camera wich is
intended for Video calls takes really awful pictures when there is not
enough light, especially the videos ARE JUST AWFUL but that is just because
who would use the front camera to take pictures of anything else (just for
testing purposes and taking some stupid images of yourself Um, and yeah I was
surprised about that, but it does not matter at all anymore Taking videos
with the 5MP camera at the back is nice because they have quite good quality!
But they are also relatively big and I guess that is one more feature that sucks,
as the video quality is not too good! One more new and really nice feature is
that you can set the phone to automatically save the location where the picture
was taken into the picture's metadata and view the location in the Nokia Maps
application. Almost all photos that I have took with my phone have a "geotag".
5. NAVIGATING/GPS
The Nokia N96 also has a GPS receiver with A-GPS support. I was first surprised
that the phone really knows where you are in just 10 seconds or a bit more. But
when I noticed that it is only caused because the phone has A-GPS and I had set
it on. And what is so bad about that? The A-GPS does not know where you are so
specifically, the accuracy in A-GPS is almost everytimes something like 100
meters so using the phone as a navigator is not so good but I guess it is just
fine for me! The phone has 1 year navigating license for the Nokia Maps application
(wich BTW sucks), but I prefer Garmin wich is better in all ways But while I
was testing navigating in the car, it was working fine. When Garmin said that
"waiting for better GPS signal", it only took about 5 seconds for it to already
show me that it had a full signal with 5-10m accuracy! Yum that is going to be
a nice feature because I am going to use it while travelling at Europe next summer.
Navigating is much, much better comparing, for example to the Nokia E90 and
some external Bluetooth GPS receivers. I am pleased that I know that I am always
carrying a really powerful GPS navigator in my pocket, and it is ready whenever
i just need it to be used
6. N-GAGE/GAMES
Nokia N96 also has pre-installed Tetris and an activation code for that is being
given with the phone (wich BTW WAS NOT WORKING FOR ME!). I installed brothers
in arms AND IT LAGGED LIKE A HELL?! What the hell is the problem with that, they
did not add a 3D Accelerator chip to the phone and they are still advertising
it as a "Good N-Gage gaming phone" Haha, I just shall laugh about that. I guess
I WILL NOT BE USING THE PHONE FOR GAMING THEN. So overall, if you did not already
understand my opinion about the Gaming features in the phone: DO NOT THINK THAT
THE PHONE IS GOOD IN GAMING... Also, tried Vampent´s vNes and it was not able
to start emulating (it was when I tried with my Nokia N91! Well, also the joystick
is a limitation wich makes it nearly impossible to play games with the phone.
It actually isn´t a joystick at all (they do not even advertise it to be that
I liked my old Nokia N91's joystick as it was really nice for playing games! But
playing games like Tetris should be fine. Also I will be going to try playing
games with the numeric keys, maybe that will be fine ;D
7. THE 16GB MEMORY + SDHC Memory Card place with hotswap support!
Yep, that´s true. I was first really impressed when I heard that the Nokia N96
has a HUGE 16GB memory and also A SDHC memory card spot. That was one of the
main reasons why I really said myself: If I am going to buy a phone, it will
definitely be the Nokia N96 unless something REALLY impressive will become
to the markets. I put my favorite tracks and kept almost all of the factory-loaded
videos in the phone and I still have a bit over 10GB free space (I also took about
hundred photos) not even mentioning that I also have installed Garmin Mobile XT
with all European maps to the phone (also Navicore and TomTom, they just weren´t
working and I was too lazy to be able to remove them or try solving why they
weren´t working) They are advertising that the phone can take up to 40 hours
of good guality video. Yeah that is just amazing and it is true too. Borrowing
to one guy's words who has been showing the N96 prototype at youtube: "So you
really, really have enough space on this phone" That is so true. I just wonder
what the hell I am going to do with all that 10GB left space ;D
8. A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE BATTERY LIFE
Many have complayed about the Nokia N96 battery life. I cannot understand why!
It has better battery life than in by Nokia N91. Two listed examples by me:
* I just charged the phone at around 7pm. I went to sleep and the clock was about
10pm. Before that, I decided to put a 1 hour long TV episode to a scheduled
recording. The phone did that very well. And I was surprised that when I looked
at the phone's battery state: It showed me that it had 100% full battery life!
And it kept there until I watched the whole 1 hour episode, then it still had
6 bars left of the 7 bars maxium. Pretty impressive.
* I put the phone to charge itself a few minutes before I went to sleep.
At morning I went to school. At there I watched TV episodes using Winamp
Remote for about 30-45 minutes. Then I listened to .XM keygen music with
LCG Jukebox for about 2 hours! Also I was playing with the phone a bit more
time too. When I went to home, it had something like 2 or 3 bars left. That
is not a very good example but that is already enough for me, and the
phone has had much better battery life after this case
---> [OVERALL REVIEWING] ---
* The Nokia N96 is a good mediaphone but it is also enough
good to be used as an officephone. The stereo speakers,
DVB-H, GPS and a good camera, 16GB mass memory and a
SDHC memorycard slot... That is just everything I would
ever want from a phone! But all this comes with a price
wich will make most people just dream about the phone,
or buying it from an operator with a cheap price like
I did. Even thought the firmware is buggy, I can still
recommend the phone for anybody who likes to have a
good-looking phone with all possible mediafeatures!
The phone is still buggy but that was with the Nokia N95
too. I cannot understand why people are saying that
"Nokia N95 is soo much better and looks better..." that
is so not true. The N96 beats N95 hands down! And overall,
the phone would be too perfect if it would not have bugs,
all new phones have bugs! Think about the iPhone, it was
not even able to send a MMS message but it has been enabled
in the new firmware update. Also iPhone has been buggy when
it first came but it has been improved much. The same will
100% surely happend with the Nokia N96 too! They already
have released v11 wich has made my phone a bit faster too
+ A big screen with bunch of colours!
+ 5MP camera takes good quality photos
+ GPS finds location fast with the A-GPS feature
+ Really good stereo speakers!
+ Supports WMV
+ The phone is not too thick and it is smaller than N95
+ The phone just looks sooo good!
+ 16GB memory + A SDHC memorycard slot!
+ The phone's 1-9 keys are nice and they can be easily pressed even
thought they are really flat! Writing with the phone is fast
+ The phone just looks so good!
+ DVB-H with scheduled recording and awesome quality!
+ Battery life is just enough!
- The GPS is fast but mostly not accurate except at outside
- Music-Player no longer gives an option to add a freshly added
music track to another playlist I have to find all the
freshly added tracks manually from the All tracks-section if
and when I want to add them to a nice playlist
- The front camera has a really bad picture and video quality
- The software in the phone still has many bugs
- A fingerprint magnet & Cheap plastic materials
- Price!
- OH, the gaming features just suck
Phones history: Nokia 3210 > Nokia 5210 > Nokia 9210 Communicator > Nokia 3230 > Nokia N91 > Nokia N96
Current phone: Nokia N96, Elisa Finland Network Branded, v11 Unbranded Firmware [MADE IN FINLAND] Product Code: 0573582
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Um, yes I can (BTW, nice that there are other N96 likers too, as I am also very surprised that there are so many haters )
You can get Winamp Remote from here: http://www.winamp.com/player/free-download-full?lang=en-us When you install it, choose Winamp Remote as a part of the installation. You can get more help from the Winamp Forums. Winamp Remote should be easy to use, but if you need more help ask from the Winamp Forums or PM me (One of the main things is that you have to have ports forwarded fine, that is quite hard to explain but go to: www.portforward.com and follow their instructions meant just for your router, I am not sure that do they have instructions just meant for Winamp Remote but if you are lucky enough you just should be able to do the tricks in half an hour )
DivXPlayer is available at here: http://labs.divx.com/system/files/private/DivXPlayer_S60_3rd_0.sisx AND PLEASE NOTE that DivxPlayer takes so much memory that it CANNOT PLAY FILES OVER 200MB. I tried a 150MB DivX .AVI video and it played very well but I tried a 350MB DivX .AVI video and it lagged like a hell. You can use Lonely Cat Games (LCG) SmartMovie to convert about 350MB file to a 80MB file with just fine enough quality. I know that talking about "illegal" things is forbidden in here but just a small tip: Find a good Mobile Phone stuff forum, they are giving some good and [email protected] applications for free (normally they are asking huge prices for them) There are dozens of good mobile forums just waiting for somebody who needs all that stuff For example the SmartMovie will put the video's image grey after two minutes (if you have converted the video with that tool) of playing it. But just some little googling and you are fine to go But supporting software studios is also important, so if you just have enough money I really suggest that you buy all your softwares!
Phones history: Nokia 3210 > Nokia 5210 > Nokia 9210 Communicator > Nokia 3230 > Nokia N91 > Nokia N96
Current phone: Nokia N96, Elisa Finland Network Branded, v11 Unbranded Firmware [MADE IN FINLAND] Product Code: 0573582