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Nokia N96 Review

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User Interface:

Homescreen - Nokia N96 Review
Homescreen - Nokia N96 Review

Homescreen

The N96 upgrades the Symbian S60 smartphone OS to the latest Feature Pack 2. The OS runs plenty snappy; animations are smooth, and there is rarely any lag. Now and again it would take a bit longer to respond to a key press, especially when opening the multimedia shortcut menu, though the lag was only a second or less and we’re really just nitpicking.

The multimedia key brings up a slick looking carousel shortcut menu for TV and Video, Music, Photos, Games, Maps, Internet and Contacts. Nokia’s OVI suite of N-Gage, Maps and Music Store are on board, but the rest is standard S60 fair. As we have covered S60 in other reviews such as the 6210 Navigator and 5320 XpressMusic we will not cover it here, as there is little new of note.

Multimedia Shortcuts Menu - Nokia N96 Review
Multimedia Shortcuts Menu - Nokia N96 Review
Multimedia Shortcuts Menu - Nokia N96 Review
Multimedia Shortcuts Menu - Nokia N96 Review

Multimedia Shortcuts Menu



Camera:

The 5 megapixel camera has a Carl Zeiss Optics Tessar lens, auto-focus and dual LED flash. The front facing, secondary camera is a simple VGA camera.

Outdoors and in good lighting picture quality turned out very well. Color representation was true and for the most part lines were sharp. The camera performed much better at close distances, as you can see in the close-up flower pictures. The further the distance got the more blurred the lines got, and the leaves of the trees would run together when viewed at full resolution.

Outdoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
Outdoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
Outdoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
Outdoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
Outdoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
Outdoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
Outdoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
half digital zoom - Outdoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
maximum digital zoom - Outdoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
 

half digital zoom

maximum digital zoom

Outdoor Samples


Indoor pictures were decidedly less crisp. Whereas outdoor pictures were closer in quality to a point and shoot digital camera, the N96 showed its cellular heritage when used indoors. Color representation was not as good, and lines were blurred from all distances. As we would expect from any camera with digital zoom, image quality degraded the closer you brought the camera in.

Strong light - Indoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
maximum digital zoom - Indoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
Low light - Indoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review
Darkness - Indoor Samples - Nokia N96 Review

Strong light

maximum digital zoom

Low light

Darkness

Indoor Samples


Videos can be captured in VGA resolution at up to 30fps, and the camcorder mode allows for video stabilization. We were very impressed with the results we were able to achieve on our test video. We shot out of a moving car at speeds up to 50mph near the end, and the N96 had no problem keeping up with us. Of course we’re not going to be shooting professional video, but we actually prefer the videos from the N96 to our point and shoot Canon.
Camera Interface - Nokia N96 Review

Camera Interface


Nokia N96 sample video at 640x480 pixels resolution
* Note that the video is around 38MB in size

Options are plentiful; when taking pictures you have several scene modes: auto, user defined, close-up, portrait, landscape, sports, night and night portrait. You can choose the white balance from five predefined settings, and adjust the exposure from -2 to 2. Users can also adjust the sharpness, contrast and ISO. For videos the options are decidedly less plentiful. You simply have auto and night mode, white balance and color tone adjustment and the ability to turn the light on and off.


Another very cool feature is geotagging, which embeds GPS info into pictures so the user can remember where it was taken. We were pleased with the camera, but have to mention how much we dislike the camera button. Like the power button the travel to engage it is too far, and being small you really have to press it the right way to make sure it is fully depressed.


Multimedia:


The N series has always differentiated itself with its multimedia integration, and the N96 brings this to new levels. The 2.8”, 16M color screen produce crisp, clear videos and the 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss camera produces vivid images. The integrated Nokia Music Store allows users to download tracks.

Nokia lists H.263 and H.264 codec compatibility up to VGA and 30fps (scaled to QVGA on device, SDTV max via TV out) but it was not able to play any of our H.263 files which were QVGA at 24 and 30fps. However, it handled all of our H.264 files which ranged from QVGA all the way up to 480x240 and went up to 60fps. Videos looked very good on the high resolution display, though we have to admit they weren’t as clear as on the iPhone. Either way we found the integrated stand to be very useful, and appreciate the thought that went into the design.

The music player is minimalistic and extremely well designed; though not as pretty as the iPod interface. It had no issues with any of the music we loaded, though it only recognized album art for one of our six albums. Artist and name recognition were flawless though, and it handed subfolders just fine. In addition to loaded music, the N96 offers extensive internet radio solutions and an FM tuner (with the included headphones).


Music Player - Nokia N96 Review
Music Player - Nokia N96 Review
Music Player - Nokia N96 Review

Music Player


Unlike the N95, the N96’s multimedia keys work at any time meaning that the phone does not need to be opened to control your media. Truth be told, the slide out media keys are now worthless as such, and in future devices we’d expect to see a heavier focus on their N-Gage integration as opposed to media control.

Sound quality was very good with the right headphones, but the included ones are sorely lacking. With our headphones the bass was rich and the highs crisp, definitely on par with an iPod. There is really no reason for N96 owners to carry a separate PMP, though sadly it does not support gapless output. The stereo speakers were plenty loud, much more so than the iPhone, and quality was about the same. The highs and lows aren’t there and the sound was hollow, but for watching video and TV they were just fine. Stereo widening, which is not enabled by default, has a very positive effect on the sound output.

Unfortunately we were not able to test out the DVB-H tuner for mobile digital TV, as we are testing this phone in the US.


22 Comments
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posted on 20 Oct 2010, 01:55

1. (unregistered)


so u people decided to use a chinese n96 model to review?i thought all chinese moble phones were dodgy?

posted on 27 Oct 2008, 12:58

12. (unregistered)


What are you talking about? The n96 they used is not a clone, where does it say that? The strokes on the keypad means that it is intended for Chinese input for the Asian market. You do know that there is a huge Asian market that Nokia is targetting right? Millions of Nokia consumers in Hong Kong alone. The best way to tell the difference is that the clloned n96 do not operate under Symbian, and they have a big distorted "Nokia" branding on the front. Are you naive or what?

posted on 19 Sep 2008, 08:01

2. (unregistered)


i remeber ready articles about crap chinese cloned phones saying they were shit,and here they are making a review on using a (possibly)cloned N96 lol

posted on 21 Sep 2008, 07:29

3. (unregistered)


Isn't the processor dual ARM? so the processor isnt actually a downgrade?

posted on 21 Sep 2008, 21:47

4. (unregistered)


the processor of n95 is dual ARM as well...

posted on 22 Sep 2008, 08:07

5. imi (unregistered)


heyyy this phone arena always make mistakee the processor is dual double its not downgrade its upgradeee and also it has Feature PAck 2 nor 3 Feature PAck 3 is not relaease so far

posted on 13 Nov 2008, 11:06

13. Riachu (unregistered)


I agree. Phone arena is crap. Gsmarena.com is better!!!

posted on 22 Sep 2008, 08:38

6. SAYEM (unregistered)


Hey Guys One Question. ... I heard that n96 has DVH-TV... is that gonna work in USA ?

posted on 22 Sep 2008, 19:23

8. (unregistered)


as the review says, no. its not available in north america

posted on 22 Sep 2008, 18:49

7. hmmm (unregistered)


I respect nokia for there amazing camera and great gaming abilities but it just to thick for my taste and not touchscreen.

posted on 13 Nov 2008, 11:07

14. Riachu (unregistered)


Buy the N85. The screen is better, lasts longer and is smaller. It doesn't have TV, but only people with no life watch TV on the go.

posted on 23 Sep 2008, 03:33

9. (unregistered)


almost 18 months, nokia havent released anything great after n95. hope tube will be launched in october n96 is way over prices, n85 is much better than this

posted on 24 Sep 2008, 00:32

10. (unregistered)


come on. n95,n96 is better than d iphone! d only good thing about d iphone is its touchscreen and thats it!

posted on 02 Oct 2008, 00:27

11. RAJHANS (unregistered)


Nokia is always weak on build quality. There is only one an exception and it is E71. In hardware MOTOs are best.

posted on 19 Nov 2008, 10:43

15. (unregistered)


I would like to know why this phone as a better rating than the n85 (8.5 vs 7.5) when the n85 has better results in the individual ratings .

posted on 10 Feb 2009, 17:11

16. kimmyhendrick (Posts: 1; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)


There is a good article review about the Nokia N96 that I find really helpful, it describes the product in a way that is pretty easy to understand. You can check the review here:http://www.articlesbase.com/cell-phones-articles/the-nokia-n96-16gb-751991.html

posted on 01 Jun 2009, 05:10

17. enter.adj (Posts: 3; Member since: 01 Jun 2009)


This is best phone by nokia up to date .. check my review @ http://rockingnokianseries.blogspot.com/2009/04/nokia-n96.html Please leave a comment

posted on 01 Jun 2009, 05:10

18. enter.adj (Posts: 3; Member since: 01 Jun 2009)


This is best phone by nokia up to date ..

posted on 01 Jun 2009, 05:10

19. enter.adj (Posts: 3; Member since: 01 Jun 2009)


This is best phone by nokia up to date ..

posted on 03 May 2010, 16:37

20. phonelover (Posts: 1; Member since: 03 May 2010)


I used to have the N95 - upgraded to the N96 and I have to admin - HUGE improvement !! Got it in december 2009 fromwww.mycellz4less.com

posted on 18 Sep 2011, 08:24

21. netmobileltd (unregistered)


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posted on 18 Sep 2011, 08:25

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Nokia N96

Nokia N96

OS: Symbian 9.3
view full specs
Display2.8 inches, 240 x 320 pixels (143 ppi) TFT
Camera5 megapixels
Hardware
Single core, 264 MHz, ARM9 processor
128 MB RAM
Size4.05 x 2.16 x 0.70 inches
(103 x 55 x 18 mm)
4.40 oz  (125 g)
Battery950 mAh, 3.66 hours talk time

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