With GPS, Wi-Fi, music, video and a 5Mp camera, Nokia's N95 iPhone killer does it all.

Can one mobile phone succeed at everything? We've had our doubts, but Nokia's N95 mobile phone might yet sway us. The Nokia N95 is being touted as an alternative to the Apple iPhone device (click here for Apple iPhone hands on preview). And while it's difficult to say how good the iPhone will be, we found the Nokia N95 a promising device with premium features: WCDMA HSDPA and quad-band GSM connectivity; GPS; 802.11g Wi-Fi; a music player; stereo speakers; and a 5Mp camera.

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We really liked the Nokia N95's responsiveness and buttons, but it misses out on perfection because it lacks a touch screen.

Not surprisingly, the Nokia N95 carries a premium price to match: £549 for the unlocked phone via Nokia's direct sales site.

Design

The first thing that impressed us about the Nokia N95 was its design. Although it will rank among the largest phones we've tested, the Nokia N95 is lightweight (120g). It feels comfortable to hold, in spite of its dimensions. The Nokia N95's 2.6in, 240x320-pixel (QVGA), 16-million colour display can be oriented vertically or horizontally (more on that later), and displays sharp text and bright, colorful images.

The Nokia N95's dual-slider design helps the device better accommodate its phone and multimedia playback needs. Slide the display portion of the phone up to reveal a numeric keypad with generously sized, easy-to-press keys.

Slide it all the way down, and the screen and button orientation shifts to horizontal (the Nokia N95's large screen is a huge benefit when playing videos). And at the top of the Nokia N95 you'll see four multimedia playback buttons (for play/pause, forward, back, and stop). The slider design impressed us. It felt solidly constructed and convenient to move one-handed, even with just a thumb.

The Nokia N95 runs the Symbian Series 60 operating system. The icons and displays are mostly attractive, well-organised, and easy to navigate.

You can browse through the Nokia N95's animated menus using its five-way button navigation pad and several surrounding buttons. Our one major complaint with the software interface: the language is unclear when you're trying to save a picture or video. Nowhere among the diverse options does it say "save"; rather, it says "New Image" - which translates to saving the image or video and letting you take another.

While we appreciate the short cut to taking additional images, sometimes we might want to save the image only to the included 2GB microSD card, and not to the included 160MB of memory, for example - and for those circumstances, the Nokia N95's lack of a save option becomes noticeable.

Taking pictures - or video

From the back, the Nokia N95 looks just like a slim point-and-shoot camera. To use the flash-enabled camera, simply slide open the Zeiss lens cover. The camera app starts automatically, and you have your choice of capturing up to 5Mp still images, or VGA video at 30fps (frames per second). When holding the phone as a camera, you have a dedicated button at the top right for snapping pictures, and the volume up/down keys double in camera mode to adjust the 20X digital zoom.

We found the images we captured on the Nokia N95 to be lively and far better quality than those from other cameraphones.

Other camera-related niceties worth mentioning. You can transfer images via Bluetooth, multimedia text message, or even send them directly to a Flickr or Vox photo-sharing account.

Making calls

As a phone, the Nokia N95 is good. According to those we spoke with on the N95, conversations sounded great. However, voices sounded a bit thin to us. We had no difficulties hearing the other party, but even when the volume was pumped up, the audio was not as robust as we'd have liked. The Nokia N95's speakerphone is sufficiently loud and clear, and it is easy to invoke and deactivate while on a call.

Nokia rates the phone's battery for up to 210 minutes of talk time for GSM, and 215 hours of standby time.

So many features...

The Nokia N95 has almost too many other features to concisely enumerate them all. Standard functions include email (SMTP, IMAP4, POP3), text messaging, web browsing, and support for viewing email attachments in .doc, .xls, .ppt, and .pdf formats.

But we also enjoyed using the Nokia N95 to listen to music (you can even build playlists on the fly) and watch videos via the preloaded RealPlayer app. Music sounded good, even when piped through the modest built-in stereo speakers. Videos were fun to watch, although we noticed some hesitations when we played 4MB gymnastics videos encoded using RealVideo.

The phone comes with links to YouTube Mobile's beta, but it's unclear from this beta implementation how much content you'll really have access to on the phone. The N95 supports an array of formats, including MP3, AAC, M4A, WMA for music, and MPEG-4, H.264/AVC, H.263/3GPP, and RealVideo 8/9/10 for video.

Transferring content is simple. The phone appears as a USB mass storage device when connected to your PC using its a built-in mini-USB 2.0 port. Unfortunately the phone's pre-configured folders don't make it clear where you should put your music or video files.

The Nokia N95's integrated GPS runs Nokia's own Nokia Maps application. Click here to read our dedicated review of the Nokia 95 as the Nokia Navigator satnav device.

Nokia N95: Specs

  • Bluetooth, EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA
  • dual slide functionality
  • 5Mp camera, Carl Zeiss optics
  • 802.11b/g wireless
  • email (SMTP, IMAP4, POP3)
  • integral GPS & mapping functionality
  • 2.6in display
  • FM radio and media player
  • 160MB memory, MicroSD slot
  • lithium ion battery, 240 minutes talk time, 225 hours standby time
  • downloadable applications, widgets and RSS feeds
  • 99x53x21mm, 120g
  • 2-year warranty
  • Bluetooth, EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA
  • dual slide functionality
  • 5Mp camera, Carl Zeiss optics
  • 802.11b/g wireless
  • email (SMTP, IMAP4, POP3)
  • integral GPS & mapping functionality
  • 2.6in display
  • FM radio and media player
  • 160MB memory, MicroSD slot
  • lithium ion battery, 240 minutes talk time, 225 hours standby time
  • downloadable applications, widgets and RSS feeds
  • 99x53x21mm, 120g
  • 2-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

We enjoyed using the Nokia N95. The Nokia N95 is the first phone we've seen in a while that does a great job at combining style with function. But the Nokia N95's hefty £549 price tag is off-putting.

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