back to article Nokia N95 multimedia slider phone

It's the Swiss Army Knife of mobile phones: a compact handset that does everything. Music, video, mobile and wireless broadand, photography, satnav, email, blogging, office work, web surfing, messaging - heck, it'll even help you talk to people over long distances. But is Nokia's top-of-the-range N95 trying too hard to be too …

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VOIP?

The critical question is... will any of the networks allow VOIP on this? Did you try?

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Anonymous Coward

Video is very good

If you playback the videos on your PC, which has a better resolution then most TVs, you'll really appreaciate the quality of the recording. I don't need a camcorder now :)

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I'm impressed

I had my doubts about the N95, as I often do with smartphones (even more so now they're coming to the "mainstream" market) but that sounds like a glowing review. That said, when I upgrade my MDA III at the end of the month, I'll probably end up with the Ameo. As nice as the N95 seems, and as buggy as Win Mobile 5 apparently is, I simply appreciate the convenience factor that Win Mobile gives.

Urgh, I never thought I'd say THAT! But it is true. I never have any worries about compatibility between files types and the like, and the applications available for free-or-almost-free on the Windows Mobile platform are diverse and excellent. I've got several games, a surprisingly accurate guitar tuner, a decimal/binary/hex converter, screenshot software, GPRS traffic monitor, TomTom, etc, etc, etc. It's the usual Windows story - Windows itself is rubbish, but what you can put on it and then do with it is brilliant. I pick up my MDA every morning and start reading the university newsgroup posts it's downloaded overnight - that sort of automated convenience isn't quite so readily available on devices without such a wide scope of 3rd party development.

That's not to say that the N95's applications won't be good also - simply that there will be more available on the WinMobile platform for the customisation geeks like me. Plus, the Ameo isn't quite as ugly as I first expected, and it's rather beefy. Nice. :-) But I can see the N95 being an excellent smartphone for users that aren't quite so interested in ripping the OS to bits, and it certainly has the "cool" factor.

By the way, hands up all those who think the Apple iPhone is already obsolete?

Keep your hands up if you thought it was obsolete the moment you heard the development spec? (Mine's still up.)

Now keep your hands up if you think it'll sell well anyway!

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Vodafone seem to hate them

I called Vodafone twice a couple of weeks ago, asking about an upgrade, and both reps I spoke to had nothing nice to say about the N95. Battery life in particular seems to be a major complaint (the Nokia 9000i I had almost a decade ago sported similar battery life, ffs) as does the uber-buggy OS/app suite.

Not taking Voda's word for it, I asked around, and of the acquaintances I could find who'd one them already, all had sent them back after a week or so as unfit for purpose.

Not quite the near-glowing recommendation this review suggests.

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Anonymous Coward

I like it

I've had mine nearly a week now and, coming to it from an O2 XDA mini-s I can say that I'm very impressed overall.

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Anonymous Coward

NOT a barcode reader

Good review for the N95. Just a few bits and bobs for your information; I was initially confused about the barcode reader too, until I realised it doesn't actually scan normal barcodes - it scans "semacodes" which are basically URLs done into a strange pattern that your phone can read from the screen.

Take a look under google for "semacode" and you can generate your own on www.semafox.com. The only two uses I can think for it are the http://www.semapedia.org idea of putting them in public places with links to a wikipedia page, which is novel, or, my own use, to save you typing out a long url you want to surf on the phone; just type it into semafox and scan the code in. That worked for quite well for all but the most obscure web addresses (things like download links with lots of underscores and weird characters).

Also, possibly worth a mention is the lifeblog, which if you are willing to pay works really well; I am and found the ability to post a photo directly to a blog was quite impressive.

Mike Renwick

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Anonymous Coward

Nokia has already updated the firmware...

The latest N95 firmware was made available yesterday and it is even faster now and less buggy. There are tools available to 'de-brand' branded N95s so that you can add the VOIP feature back. The Office applications are for read-only but for a small investment you can run the full Quick Office suite which is fully compatible with MS Office. The support for push email seems not to be as good as for the 'E' series of devices.

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No Push Email Though

It's a pity that for all it does it doesn't do push email. So what, right? That's for crackberry junkies? Well, I enabled it on my K800 just because I could and I was surprised to find that I really like it, so the N95 does 99% of what I would like (not need!).

I agree with Greg that there seems to be more software for Windows Mobile but right now I'm looking at the empty cradle where my iPAQ would be sitting if only it would sync, so going the whole Microsoft route is far from straight forward as I am painfully aware.

I'll wait for the slimmer and slightly better N95i, assuming it follows the trend set by previous models such as the N93->93i.

Still, it's impressive and it's the way I think phones should go.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re. VoIP

I tried VoIP, but without much success. There's an Internet Telephony app on the handset, but I just got a 'no internet call services' message when I ran it. I tried Fring too, but it failed to install. This was on an N95 not tied to any network but with an Orange SIM fitted.

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Anonymous Coward

Semacodes

They have those 2D barcodes everywhere in Japan. They're called QR codes over here and near all cell phones can read them and go to the URLs. Except for the rubbish Samsung thing that I picked, of course.

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WiFi and IP connectivity hobbled on Orange

Had the phone for a week now and the review is pretty spot on. However, our phone is from Orange and as such, it's been crippled.

The only use I can get out of the phone's IP functions is to surf the internet at home - and even then the Orange OS made it as fiddly as possible. VOIP? Nothing, no programs and no mention in the manual (kinda as I expected).

I cannot find any file explorer software either, so I can't access my music/movies from my file server - only via USB. Groan.

The GPS has never worked once, and Nokia Maps is all about getting you to spend as much as possible over your data tariff. I haven't tried installing Symbian TomTom yet, but I don't hold out much hope for the GPS reciever then either.

As a phone it's excellent. The camera's good and music/video playback (once you've got it on the phone) is very good. Signal handling etc is superb and the menus are easy to navigate and use.

Shame Orange have restricted so much of the more interesting elements of the phone. TBH, probably would have been just as well off with a SE Walkman phone or an O2 Orbit for less of an onerous contract given how much functionality has been crippled.

Will keep plugging at it, some of these features may just be well hidden. However the lousy battery life doesn't help.

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Anonymous Coward

Quad-band

Minor question/nitpick: Nokia's website claims the N95 is quad-band, not tri-band as this review states. Who's right?

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Loads of problems - Im on my 4th

This phone isn't ready or possibly it's not ready with the Vodafone software..

I'm now on my 4th handset is 21 days. Everything from wifi not working, camera not working ( at all ) , camera taking blues and purples and the GPS is woeful...

However now i have one that works i love it.. The ability to snap and upload to FlickR almost instantly will change citizen journalisms ..

It's like owning an Alpha Romeo ( yes i have one too ) , when it works you'll love it , but until either Nokia get a firmware out for it or Vodafone sort their software it's a Sunday phone only !!!

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Bronze badge

Corrections and comments

Firstly, the webpage quoted for the barcode is not the right one (SemaFox is a software company with technological expertise...). Secondly, Orange has limited VoIP on the phones, so internet telephony won't work as intended (same with Vodafone, not with T-Mobile though).

N95 is excellent, although battery life is a bit disappointing.

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N95 - A gem - it works really well!

I've had mine for two weeks or so, and it has worked flawlessly. It is on T-Mobile and so comes without overt restrictions on VOIP or Wireless access etc.

Nokia clearly expect the user to focus on non-call features (The chapter on 'Make calls' appears on page 93 of the user manual supplied... out of 135 in total). To begin with having the manual nearby is pretty essential, as while most apps sort of work straight out of the box, getting them set up right makes them much more useful.

Everything we've tried here has worked very well - including connecting to our WPA2 protected wireless network. Once you have paid for the upgrade, the GPS navigation works pretty well. It takes a while for the phone to pick up the GPS signal, but once it has got a fix it works pretty reliably. Others have said it is quicker to get a fix than Garmin dedicated GPS navigation gadgets - so not too shabby.

Worth noting that support for device is still emerging - since we got ours Nokia has released an iSync driver that makes connecting to our Macs much easier, and Fring has released a version of its VOIP and Skype chat app that works with the N95. Suspect others will follow soon. With a bit of messing you can get the supplied real-player app to connect to the BBC's 'Listen Again' service, so I was listening to cricket commentary over internet during world cup (not that it was worth listening too... ;( ).

Only real issue we've found is that the firmware update utility only runs on Windows - and the battery life is *short* if you start using multimedia or GPS apps. But Nokia do sell a very cute USB charger for the phone (a CA-100) that (with a suitable car-charger and supplied mains charger) means that usually you can keep the phone charged up when not using it. Alternative is probably a second battery in your pocket...

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It's great - including Maps!

Had the N95 since it came out and haven't had any problems yet. Wish the VOIP wasn't locked out (Orange!).

Regarding Maps: The application seems fine, but it's the GPS chip that isn't too great. It's a SIRF II, not a III chipset that you'd find in a Tom Tom or such like. However if you give it say a couple of minutes to get a lock then it's works really really well. The comment regarding data tariffs is crap as Nokia provide an app with the disc to download the maps from a PC before you even set off.

If you're a propper road warrior, then the N95 GPS isn't for you, but for your average Jo that doesn't already have a dedicated GPS then it works fine and saves on having yet another device and a £100+ shell out.

Battery life isn't great. I charge mine overnight every night, but normally stretches to a day and a half / 2 days tops. Whilst not great, it does so much stuff that I don't mind taking a single mini-charger with me in my over night bag compared to 3 or 4 charges and associated devices! (PDA, MP3 player, Camera etc.)

For everything it does, it does it either pretty good, or very good. PDA, Camera, GPS etc - all 'OK'. Won't replace a dedicated device for power users but fine for most people. Phone, MP3 player, portable web-browser - all fantastic.

All this in one device? For me cost wasn't an issue (blagged it free on Orange), so the only negative I have is the battery life, which is the same as the N80 but with 3 times the features and looks stunning in comparision.

All in all, a great handset for any power user of mobile devices.

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2GB?

I currently have an N80 and was looking forward to this phone. But 2GB max?? Please tell me this is some kind of joke! Surely it will support the new 4GB and future higher capacity cards? No? No?

I have about 800 songs encoded at 64 which is ok. But that doesn't leave much space for pictures. And now since its a 5MP instead of 3MP the memory is going to run out even faster... And then if you buy this - you will want to have some GPS maps downloaded. But you just won't have room!

Ok yes you can carry round a few 'spare' cards. That was my plan for the N80. one for music, one for pics / videos, one for a few divxs etc. But the reality? I don't bother carrying them around. They are a pain to stop/take out/insert a new one/ wait for it to recognise it etc etc. Just because I need a bit more space to take a photo. And then any apps installed on the main card don't work until you swap it back again... It seems like a good idea - but in the end it doesn't work out like that.

The phone looks really really nice and i'd buy it tomorrow but not with a 2GB limit. Its an Alpha-Romeo alright... with a lada engine...

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Tom

gps reciever

i have one of these and the gps works fine, if you read the instructions you'll learn that the reciever is under the number keypad so that needs to have a clear view of the sky, eg. slide the phone up and hold it in the palm of your hand or sit it on something flat in an open area, once it had locked onto some satalites it will generally work anywhere and i found it to be accurate enough to tell which side of the road i was on. my view for this phone is thats its great but has been missold to people who dont have a clue on how to use half the features.

oh and one more thing... if you get it on o2 it comes with a 1gig memory card with the uk maps preloaded

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More about Semacodes

In Japan, Semacodes are HUGE! Everything from books to billboard adverts to canned drinks will have semacodes listing I-Mode addresses, web addresses, phone numbers and other sorts of info for special offers, content, etc.

Music stores usually have semacodes with addresses to special content on the web or via I-Mode for your favourite Dir en Grey or Ayumi Hamasaki style artist. Also you can print them out over the web.

Semacodes are HUGE in Japan and the Far East, and they're only just starting to take off over here too. Awesome that Nokia noticed the trend in Japan and are getting in there first and I'm seriously surprised LG, NEC and Samsung haven't got Semacode compatible phones yet!

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VoIP

I too have the Nokia N95 and have to say its fantastic, i got mine direct from Nokia without any firmware locks (vodafone and orange lock the firmware) and with a contract sim from Voda. It works like a gem. Its not laggy at all and camera shutter spead is fine. I've been told by Nokia its a Quad band. Would have liked to see more games on it tho and 2gb max is rubbish for a phone of that build.

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Anonymous Coward

GPS & Maps

1. With the latest firmware the GPS locking is quicker

2. You don't need to spend money downloading maps, Nokia have an application called Map Loader that allows you to download all the maps and store them on your MicroSD card (i.e. using a home broadband connection)

3. The N95 SIM free is now only £440 from online sites

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Anonymous Coward

Good enough

Had mine for nearly 4 weeks now. After I'd got the fuss out of the way (complaining to Phones4u until they dropped my contract from £40 to £30 a month, with the phone still free), it's been pretty good.

The GPS is fairly abysmal. You'll be pleased to hear TomTom 6 works on it, although I've not managed to get TT6 to use the onboard GPS successfully yet - only the TT dongle. It takes a /long/ time for a cold start, although it seems to track your position fairly well once you're moving.

For the love of god, though, don't press a button whilst it's in use. The backlight likes to turn off, so you hit a button to turn it on, and your position stops being central to the screen - so after a few moments you're looking at where you were a minute ago. Then comes the mad rush, whilst trying to steer one-handed and look away from the road, to find the 'GPS Position' button and hit it with a chubby finger on the first attempt.

Moving on, the camera is bloody good. Great macro, although it doesn't like to focus too closely. I know it can - you see a live preview of what it's focusing on screen as it does it, and it hits a spot of perfect sharpness. However, the actual picture taken is always focused on something behind. You really do need to stick to their distance recommendations.

Sometimes the edge sharpening / colour balance works beautifully (sun behind you, bright day), other times it lacks clarity and gives a nasty purple haze to lots of stuff. However, as long as you don't mind smaller pictures, photos taken at 5mp, and scaled down (with some auto-levels in Photoshop) look absolutely great.

The animated menu thing looks great. Wow. It's slow as hell. You tend to use it a few times, then relegate it for the near-instant traditional menu.

Texting.. takes a fair while to bring up the menu for a new message etc, but strangely opening a received text is perfectly quick. Perhaps the messaging application is already active after receiving an interrupt from the GSM stack?

Mine's with Vodafone. Yes, the VOIP is buggered. No, you're not stuck - get "fring" (which I found out about through el reg), works brilliantly, although you need a strong WiFi signal to get decent clarity. It has its ups and downs though - sometimes everything's robotic.

Pleased to hear from another commenter about the debrand/etc firmware/patches that re-enable the VOIP - be nice to see how it's meant to be!

Yes, biggest blow on this one is the battery life. But a free phone, a cheaper contract than I was on with Orange (and with 4x the texts and 5x the number of minutes, with all voda's passport/stoptheclock etc).. can't complain.

If you're getting this for mobile browsing though, and can't use WiFi (thecloud, etc) leave vodafone alone. Vodafone Live! is absolutely crap. And their video calling? One 4-minute call to a friend cost me £2!

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Firmware??

Where can i find the latest firmware? i went on to http://europe.nokia.com/softwareupdate and it didnt find any software for my phone?

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Details...

I have had one of these for two weeks:

1) It is (GSM) Quad-band: It supports WCDMA2100 (HSDPA), EGSM900, GSM850/1800/1900 MHz (EGPRS) as per http://www.nokia.co.uk/A4344017. No phone in the world is 3G `Quad-band' (sic) yet. I have tested this functionality and this was a small mistake in the post.

2) I have one from O2 UK: In responce to an earlier post it supports VOIP via the SIP stack and Fring works perfectly by 3G or WiFi, so I can do Skype calls and MSN messenger messages perfectly. GoogleTalk is also supported.

3) The device is very good IMHO but such a small device will always have compromises. The main limitations/bugs/faults are:

A) Poor battery life via the BL-5F battery

B) Poor quality GPS receiver; has great trouble maintaining a signal - post and pre firmware upgrade. Better chipsets exist that Nokia could have used.

C) WiFi has connectivity issues: Using advanced settings and disabling power management helps, but then this sucks the battery dry.

All in all though - the best phone I have owned (from 17) i the last 9 years.

Phil

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Anonymous Coward

Firmware update

For the record (and if el reg allow this post ;) to update the firmware whilst on Voda / Orange etc, you use a tool called 'NSS', which allows you to change the product code.

Nokia uses the product code set to your phone to identify the network operator. With Vodafone, for instance, when Nokia release a firmware update, they send it to Voda for altering to suit their customisations.

So by changing your product code from say Vodafone to Plum Euro1, the N95 will update.

1. Back up phone to mem card, etc

2. NSS your product code to euro1 (or w/e)

3. Update the firmware

4. Change back to manufacturer code.

5. Restore backup

6. Change back to euro1.

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2Gb limit

I believe the 2Gb limit is a software issue as the larger cards are FAT32 and not FAT16.

I did read a review that said the larger cards would/are supported and in fact SanDisk show the N95 is being a compatible phone for their 4Gb cards.

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Anonymous Coward

NoKia N95 and Vodafone

On the way to a friend yesterday (7.5.07) I popped into my usual Vodafone retailer. This follows a 90 minute helpdesk call during the week regarding settings issues. I

left 2 hours later. Again a most helpful techno went through all settings

contacted vodafone twice by phone. They sent settings by email for wap

and email which he printed out to manually re input. He changed the sim

card in case by chance it was corrupted with vodafone settings. He got

vodafone to send all settings for sim. Re installed them. Got my

vodafone email password changed to try vodafone email in case yahoo settings

were not correct. Guess what ? No email ! Web works ok and vodafone

setting is Vf wap. Agreed my use of broadband would have proved it was not

vodafone settings. Advice given bring back with

box etc and they will send it off to engineers to check the phone

completely. Agreed another replacement would not solve issue. What to do ?

The camera is wonderful. Downloaded Yahoo Go works like a dream (using it

now with broadband when at home in bed ! ) can I live without phone email and gps -

yahoo maps good!

Basically I think it has been Vodafone-ised and who knows what that has left from the original Nokia intentions. So I have to decide whether to live with applications that don't work, wonder whether Nokia software upgrades will be 'allowed' by Vodafone, enjoy the convenience of having a good camera or, take it back and go back to my old Sharp and wait for the N96.....or whatever. Also, maybe I should save up and get a 'free of Vodafone' version. Views would be welcome from those with more knowledge than I.

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VIDEO - Flash player

is it possible to give us the list of files that the N95 can read ? above .flv ?

an install of flashlite is possible ?

what are the real performance (size of video , quality , encoding etc.) of the video player ?

the streaming proposed by nokia is it sufficient could

we talk about dvd -like ?

thx great job

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