It’s here! I’ve had a play with it and I can tell you everything you need to know about Nokia’s most eagerly anticipated phone of the year. The new Nokia N96…
When you first pick up the Nokia N96 you know from it’s huge 2.8 inch screen that it’s going to be something special. It’s slightly wider and taller than the Nokia N95 8GB but a few mm slimmer. When the two-way slide mechanism is closed, it’s a nice size and it never feels too big or bulky. The N96 has a built-in accelerometer, just turn the phone sideways and the screen automatically rotates into a widescreen aspect. The screen rotation is noticeably faster than other Nseries phones. Beneath the screen are the usual navigation and menu keys, along with media player keys. There are 11 buttons in all. On the side you’ll find the volume control and camera button and on the back is a useful kick stand, allowing the N96 to be placed on a desk for viewing videos or movies. Slide the phone open and you’ll find a standard keypad. It looks cheaper than the keypad on the N95 8GB but it’s comfortable to use, even with big fingers. There are some nice touches though, such as the backlight fade on the keypad when the phone slides open.
The Nokia N96 has the latest N-Gage gaming engine and a powerful Dual ARM 9 264 MHz CPU. It runs on the latest version of the Symbian S60 OS, which is v9.3. I won’t go into too much technical detail about this as anyone who’s interested should already know what it is. A Symbian OS means you can run more than one program at a time and install software applications on the phone. There’s a lot of third party software available that’s compatible with the N96, such as sat nav programs, games, utilities and all sorts of interesting gadgets.
The Nokia N96 has 16GB internal memory which can be expanded up to 32GB using a memory card. I have to admit that after owning an N95 8GB and reading the initial specs for the N96 I wasn’t convinced that it would provide much more. I’m happy to say I was wrong. It has similarities but it appears to be a much better phone. Just before release it was announced that the UK version of the N96 would support the BBC iplayer. This is the BBC’s seven-day catch-up application. You can watch all the top BBC programmes on your mobile for free. This is an incredible feature, especially with the Nokia N96’s kick stand and 2.8 inch screen. It can sit on your desk while you catch up with the latest EastEnders or Holby City. You’ll never miss an episode again and you can watch them any time. The music capabilities on the N96 are equally as impressive. The 16GB memory means it can store loads of music, really loads. You can sort and select by pre-defined playlists, artist, album or genre. Music can be downloaded directly to the phone from the Nokia music store or you can transfer music files from your PC or Mac. The N96 also has a stereo FM radio with RDS. There’s a 3.5mm audio jack for plugging in your favourite headphones or you can use wireless stereo Bluetooth headphones. The media capabilities of the N96 are superb.
The 5 megapixel camera has a top spec and takes brilliant photos, although the camera button can be a it awkward to use. It has a Carl Zeiss lens, autofocus, digital zoom, LED flash, macro mode for close-ups, light exposure adjustment and a range of timers. Don’t be bedazzled by the marketing hype surrounding the 8 megapixel war. To put it in perspective, a 2 megapixel image will show in full detail on a high resolution 22 inch monitor. So if you plan only to view your photos on your computer or even if you want to print A4 sized images then 5 megapixels is already more than enough. The camera on the N96 is absolutely brilliant, you won’t be disappointed. The N96 can also record video at 30 frames per second there’s a secondary video call camera mounted discreetly above the screen.
With Wi-Fi you can browse the web on the Nokia N96 at speeds comparable to your home broadband. If you’re on the move the N96 will use 3G and dual band HSDPA to connect to the web. The Nokia web browser is easy to use and you can also download and install a third party browser, I recommend Opera. The N96 has GPS and has Nokia maps pre-installed, which is another really useful feature. With GPS your photos taken with the N96 are geo-tagged, not only are they stamped with the time and date but also with the exact location.
I was sceptical at first but I’m now convinced that the new Nokia N96 is enough of an evolution for existing N95 8GB users to upgrade. The BBC iPlayer is a wonderful addition. Then there’s the extra memory, which is expandable to 32GB, the new N-Gage compatibility, the nicer design and all the little improvements too. This is a brilliant phone.
Do you want a free Nokia N96? We have it with 600 minutes and unlimited texts on O2. Line rental is £35 per month on an 18 month contract. This is our most popular N96 deal and is highly recommended. No gimmicks, just a free N96 on a top value tariff.