Preview: Nokia N95 (HSDPA, Wi-Fi & GPS)

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It has only been three months into 2007 but Nokia hasn't been taking things slow, especially not with its flagship N-series. Even before the commotion surrounding the recently launched Nokia N93i settles, the Finnish giant is already preparing to unleash its meanest addition to the N-series yet, the Nokia N95. If you thought the Nokia N93i was as good as it got, the Nokia N95 would have you scrambling for your credit card in no time at all.

A hybrid of 'N's

Just about the best way to describe the Nokia N95 is that it's a fusion of the imaging oriented Nokia N73 and web centric Nokia N80. Like the former, the back of the Nokia N95 was designed to mimic a digital compact camera. You'll find the integrated 5.0-megapixel sensor with autofocus capability fully protected by a lens cover and accompanied by a flash unit, all of which are convincingly packaged together to produce a familiar camera fascia. Everything else about the Nokia N95 however, has more in common with the Nokia N80, with its slider form factor and built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi being the two most striking similarities.

Different off the bat though, is a vastly bigger screen than both the Nokia N73 and Nokia N80. At 2.6-inch across, there's little to debate that the Nokia N95 has more to offer in terms of viewing pleasure. Though it does make the phone look bigger than it is, the extra bit of screen space is very handy when the phone is used in its multimedia form. By sliding down the LCD screen, the Nokia N95 will instantly become a portable media player (PMP), complete with its own set of multimedia controls. Predictably, mainstream file formats are all supported out of the box. Exotic formats however, require 3rd party codecs and applications.Adding to the experience is a specially designed carousel that presents all multimedia applications in an eye-catching and foolproof icon-based graphic user interface. It also helps that there is a regular 3.5mm earphone jack to output sound directly to your earphones/headphones.

Take on the world with HSDPA & GPS

A new technology to trickle into the N-series with the introduction of the Nokia N95 is High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), a high-speed 3.5G digital service that allows users to experience near broadband download and web browsing speed on compatible mobile phones. What you can expect is a notable boost in transfer speed through underlying 3G standards such as UMTS and W-CDMA.

In an impressive feat of engineering, Nokia has managed to pack in a GPS module into the N95 in addition to all the radio units mentioned so far. Including GPS however, is not just for navigation purposes. Nokia's grand scheme of things is to bring Location Based Services to the table. If the plan pays off, we'll soon be seeing hordes of Nokia users downloading maps of cities and use those maps to search out amenities such as restaurants, pubs, hotels, hospitals and etc in relation to their location. All these could well be an ubiquitous sight and it's all done through GPS-enabled Nokia handsets.

Where we are right now, the Nokia N95, along with the Nokia E90 business phone, is the first batch of marquees materialized to highlight Nokia’s push for Location Based Services over cellular networks. The company’s acquisition of in addition to embracing GPS technology is all but a clear indication of where Nokia is heading with its handset roadmap.

Like the Nokia N73, Nokia N93 and Nokia N93i, imaging is also the selling point of the Nokia N95. Autofocus and a built-in flash are standard but unlike the 3.0-megapixel count of the former three models, the Nokia N95 is equipped with a whopping 5.0-megapixel sensor mated to high quality Carl Zeiss optics and Tessar lens instead. This together with near DVD-quality video recording allows the Nokia N95 to take pictures and videos with more details for higher quality photo printouts and video archives. It's all the more sweet considering it has image stabiliser for video recording.

Closing thoughts

Even with its plethora of functions, battery life of the Nokia N95 was not a major tradeoff as we thought. Instead, it managed to last two full days with short sessions of Wi-Fi web browsing and the usual bout of messaging and chit chat.

Together with the software expandability, wireless data freedom provided by HSDPA (3.5G) and its ability to execute both bundled and 3rd party applications, the Nokia N95 is indeed a dream device come true. At USD771 (SGD$1,288 without contract), it's miles away from being affordable, but look at it from a practical standpoint and you might think differently. You see, anyone with an Nokia N95 can simply get up and go, knowing they have a dependable mobile phone that's not only capable of voice and data communication but also photo imaging and video capturing of memories and candid moments. A job well done to Nokia is in order no less.

Click here for Part 2 of this review.

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