The Nokia N96
The other phone I got last week was the Nokia N96, though this came from the folks at Nokia’s Blogger Relations program instead of T-Mobile.
My first impression is that it is a cross between the Nokia N95 and the Nokia N81. Unlike the Nokia N95, and like the N81, the headset jack is up top. This is an infinitely more useful place for it to be when I, say, want to set it on the treadmill like is shown here.
Unlike the N81, and like the N95, it has a nice 5 megapixel camera. Whereas the Nokia N81 has a similar quality camera to the Nokia 6301 I used to take this picture, the N96 has a good camera. I’ve posted a few pictures on my Share on Ovi account.
In the “cross between the N95 and N81″ category, it has both a 16gb internal storage memory and a MicroSD slot for additional memory storage. I was able to load all my 4 and 5-star rated song from iTunes on my phone and I still have a ton of space left over!
Speaking of which, it took an order of magnitude less time to sync 7.6 gigs of data to the N96. Instead of the 700k a second I have typically gotten with most other Nokia devices I’ve played with, I was getting around 5000k a second (give or take). The device actually enumerates as USB 2.0 unlike previous Nokia’s that I’ve played with, and it synced much faster!
The phone has a newer version of S60 on it, S60 3rd Edition FP2. It has several enhancements that I discuss on phoneboy.com that I won’t get into here. They are nice usability enhancements over previous handsets.
Some other random things I’ve seen that are improvements:
- A kickstand to allow the handset to stand up on its side.
- The volume increments in 5% increments with a headset plugged in. Nice idea, but it doesn’t actually seem to work.
- A power-save mode the handset goes into when the battery life drops down to 1 bar. I’m not sure exactly what it does.
- Geo-tagging photos. It’s not something I want to do, but it’s nice to know it’s there.
- Slide-to-lock on the top of the phone like the N81. I know people have different feelings on it, but I like it.
- Dual-LED flash. Not Xenon, but it’s still better than the N95.
However, based on the experience with the software build on the phone, I am not entirely happy. It reminds me very much of the early public releases of the N95-1 in that it was buggy, locked up, and otherwise did weird things. I can get this to happen with just the built-in apps and Mail for Exchange 2.7 using the v11.018 firmware. If I were the product manager for this program and saw these problems, I would have at the very least questioned if this product was ready for release.
Some of the weird things I’ve run into include:
- Music Player playing weird, sped-up, garbled audio in the middle of a song or podcast. Pausing and restarting the audio clears it up.
- After several hours of being on, applications will randomly lock up, crash, and hang. Power cycle restores functionality.
- Applications do not always reorient from landscape mode properly. For example, try taking a photo/video and emailing the video to a friend. Screen should orient out of landscape mode, but it does not.
- The phone does not respond to the media keys at all or takes more than a few seconds to do so.
Of course, I have no doubt that my Nokia colleagues will fix these issues in due course. If anyone inside the mothership wants more details on the problems I’m running into, look me up in the Nokia Phonebook.