Nokia N95 Lazy Review

I mentioned a while back that I’d probably be laying out for a Nokia N95, the all singing all dancing new 3g phone from Nokia. And, my predictions were right. I’ve been playing around with it for a few days now so I feel safe in putting out my initial thoughts. This is, of course, a lay review so don’t expect a load of pictures or technical specs, quite frankly Google will be better at providing them than me.

Feel in the hand

The first thing that has to be said, this phone is a heck of a lot smaller than I thought it would be. Even compared to my old Sony Ericsson K750i it looks reasonably svelte. Also, considering what it contains it is incredibly light. For the record, if you pick up the instruction manual, it weighs about the same as the phone. That could be a comment on how think the manual is, but its actually a comment on how light the phone is. The downside of this is that the phone doesn’t feel as solid as it could. I especially noticed how loose the slider is, it far too easy to accidentally pop open when taking it out of, or putting it into, your pocket.

The dual slide form factor is a very clever approach to a common problem. How do you combine a business orientated phone with a multimedia device. Nokia’s solution was to completely separate out the media keys from the main keypad, and it really works. Both sets of buttons are very usable and the display orientates appropriately, and instantly. My only gripe, and this is a minor one, is that if you open the media keys, and then close them, the display remains in landscape mode, which isn’t necessarily what you expect.

Series 60

The phone is running Series 60 3rd Edition, so there’s nothing new to see there. Its reasonably snappy but there are noticeable delays, these are especially evident when using the media features such as calling up the media browser or browsing through videos/photos. My biggest problem with this is that Nokia forces you to use their own software to install software. This software is, unfortunately and rather bizarrely for a device of this type, Windows Only. Syncing is easy enough using iSync on a mac (and a small plugin to support the phone) but the lack of other support is a shame (see below for a similar gripe).

You’ll also be familiar with the apps on the phone, such as the calendar and contact application. So no surprises.


See this picture for an example of how the N95 camera looks. Its OK, not in the same league as my point and shoot (even though they are both 5 mega pixels) but it’s usable in a snap. There does appear to be the trademark Nokia blue tint to the pictures though. You would have thought that with so many phones having the same problem, obviously software based, they would have fixed it by now. But alas, no.


This is a quad band GSM phone with UMTS (3g) support, bluetooth, infra red, mini USB and Wi-Fi. For many people the wi-fi will be a killer feature, and with good reason, the web browser on this phone is excellent and will easily get you by when checking your gmail or rss feeds when you can;t get to a full sized machine. You can also view numerous types of documents using the incorporated document viewers. One problem I have experienced is that the phone simply doesn’t like wi-fi networks that don’t broadcast their SSID. I’ve had to start broadcasting my home networks SSID to get the connection to work reliably. Other users have reported that unhiding the SSID, connecting and then re-hiding the SSID works, not in my case.


Another killer feature is the GPS, a.k.a Satellite Navigation. There are a few myths out there regarding this feature so I’ll try and clear them up. Firstly, the software is from Smart2go which means the maps are free to download. Also, navigation and directions are also free. You will only pay an additional fee for spoken directions. This is important. Spoken directions will set you back around £5 a month per region (UK is one region, western Europe another). What you may get hot for however, is data charges. Unless you pre-download the maps the N95 will stream the maps to your phone as you move around (or search for a route). Fortunately, the smart2go website (as well as the Nokia website, as smart2go appears to be down at the moment) provides software called Map Loader, which allows you to select maps and download them to the phone. This is a must do for anyone planning on using this feature.

The software itself is mightily impressive. The responsiveness when scrolling and zooming around the map and the speed with which route calculations are done really give you an impression of how powerful this device is. The spoken directions are well worth the nominal fee as they are clear, loud and come in good time. Having said that I would like some further options so I could reduce their frequency.

Battery Life

Out of all the reviews, blog posts and forum comments I’ve seen, this has been the most popular subject. My experience may not be typical, I’ve already had the battery replaced once due to an obvious fault (four hours battery life with everything off!). Since getting the replacement, its been much better. With Wi-Fi off and no GPS use I can get 2 days usage, comfortably. At the moment GPS is a real battery drainer, although thats to be expected and, quite frankly, considering the fact it’s streaming the maps over the air wile navigating, speaking directions, re-routing and displaying on full brightness, the 2 hours I got is actually quite impressive. If you intend using it for navigation regularly, I would invest in a car charger.

Another thing I noticed, and this may be down to the original faulty battery I had, is that the time it takes to locate a GPS signal has dropped considerably. When I first got the phone it would take over five minutes, sometimes fifteen to locate the required 3 satellite signals. Now, in the same conditions (in car) and the same location, its less than 30 seconds. Again, very impressive.

The Basics

I’ve left the basics till last because they may not influence whether you get this phone or not. Lets face it, Series 60 is Series 60, we’ve all used it and you either like it, or not. Calls are easy to make and of an impressive quality. The speaker phone, on the other hand, is mind blowing. Easily the best I’ve ever used in terms of both quality and volume. And as media plays through the same speaker, you have enough power to easily fill a hotel room. The screen is bright, large and very crisp. There is also a mini usb port (thank you Nokia, about bloody time!) and a 3.5mm audio jack, which is the industry standard and means you can use any headphones you like. Thankfully, Nokia provides a media remote/handsfree kit which plugs into the audio port. The great thing is that this remote has its very own 3.5mm port so you can use the supplied headphones or roll your own while still maintaining the handsfree and media functions.


As you’ve probably gathered by now, I’m impressed by this phone. It does an awful lot right and not alot wrong. The only concession you have to make, and admittedly this may be a deal breaker, is battery life. However, use it as a phone, and you’ll get a decent life out of it. Use it as a laptop and you’ll get a laptops battery life. Stands to reason really.