Smartphone review preview: Nokia N96

The N96 from Nokia, the latest Symbian/S60 smartphone, was recently announced.

The N96 from Nokia, the latest Symbian/S60 smartphone, was recently announced. Nokia has unveiled its latest high-end Symbian/S60 smartphone with a multimedia focus, the N96.

This model will be an upgrade for the N95, and will offer 16 GB of internal storage, twice as much as the current model.

This smartphone is on display now at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and Brighthand's Kevin O'Brien was able to spend some time with it.

He said:

The phrase "would you like some coffee in that sugar" comes to mind when you look at the Nokia N96. It seems more like a media device with a phone strapped on than a phone with media capabilities. Users can decide if they find this a good thing or a bad thing, but overall I think it works out well.

The Nokia N96 is very media oriented, with duplicate controls for music and video applications. In portrait mode users can operate media functions through the center control, which lights up media controls beneath the black surface. In landscape mode the hardware function keys to the left of the screen are used, and the other media keys disappear.

Going further with the media device role, the N96 has a flip-out stand that pops out from around the camera, to let the user prop up the movie player... err phone when watching movies.

Video preview

An overview of the Nokia N96
Like its predecessor, the upcoming smartphone's two-way slider concept will make it easy to switch between different modes. A numeric keypad slides out from one end of the device while dedicated media keys can slide out from the opposite direction.

Nokia is emphasizing this smartphone's ability to play video on its 2.8-inch, QVGA display. These can be in MPEG-4, Windows Media Video, and Flash Video formats.

To play music, this device will feature dedicated media keys, a 3.5 mm headphone connector, and built-in 3D stereo speakers.

The Nokia N96 will sport a 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, flash and video light. It will allow DVD-like quality video capture at 30 frames per second. With the integrated A-GPS, users will be able to 'geotag' their pictures with location data and share them with online communities.

To hold large amounts of multimedia files, the N96 will have the aforementioned 16 GB of storage, and it will also include a microSD slot with support for multi-gigabyte SDHC cards.

More high-end features
This Symbian smartphone will have S60, Third Edition, Feature Pack 2, the latest available. It will also include 128 MB RAM and 256 MB system memory.

The Nokia Maps 2.0 application also works with the A-GPS, and offers richer maps with urban details and satellite views, and has upgrade options.

This GSM smartphone will have 3G support, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Naturally, the N96 will support Nokia's Ovi family of Internet services, including online maps, music, media sharing and more.

Pricing and availability
The Nokia N96 is expected to begin shipping in Europe in the third quarter of 2008 with an estimated sales price of approximately 550 Euros, before subsidies or taxes.

Initially, this device will include only the frequencies used by GSM and 3G in Europe. However, if this smartphone follows the same path its predecessor did, a version for N. America will be released late in the year.

This was last published in February 2008

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