Nokia N96 review

£488
Price when reviewed

Despite the griping of the anti-Apple brigade, there’s going to be only one phone on the minds of the gadget obsessed this Christmas – the iPhone. Although there are better business phones around, notably the A-Listed Nokia E71 and the RIM BlackBerry Bold, none has been able to match its all-round consumer appeal.

The N96 aims to change all that. Nokia’s flagship multimedia phone is packed full of features. Not content with cramming in all of the top-end hardware you could want, from fast HSDPA mobile data and 802.11bg Wi-Fi, to GPS, a 5-megapixel camera with dual xenon flash and 16GB of storage, the N96 can even access the BBC’s iPlayer service.

The iPhone has been able to do this for some time now, by streaming the programme over Wi-Fi. But the N96 has a trick up its sleeve: not only can you stream iPlayer content on it, you can also download it and save it to watch or listen to at a later date. You can’t download over HSDPA, but over Wi-Fi programmes take a matter of minutes to land in the gallery.

The N96’s 2.9in 240 x 320 display can’t match the iPhone’s 480 x 320 3.5in touchscreen, but it’s bright and colourful enough to enjoy video on, and we liked the kickstand on the rear – a real boon for watching longer programmes or movies. There’s more to come from the N96 on the video front. In addition to its iPlayer ability, the N96 has a DVB-H tuner ready for mobile TV broadcasts, due sometime next year, and SD video output via its 3.5mm AV socket.

it_photo_6181Elsewhere, however, the N96 is a bit of a disappointment. Build quality, although better than the cheap-feeling N95, is still creaky. The flat, glossy backlit number pad feels plasticky, and the navigation pad is cramped. Plus, battery life leaves a lot to be desired – you might just get three days out of the 950mAh lithium-ion battery if you try hard not to touch the video, music and GPS capabilities, but this would be missing the point. With a fresh charge and pushing it hard, downloading a few BBC programmes and watching just one, we barely crept over the 14-hour mark before it died.

A bigger battery and better build may have just tipped the balance, but as it stands the impressive N96 is neither an iPhone killer, nor worth its rather high £415 asking price.

Physical

Dimensions 114 x 13 x 60mm (WDH)
Weight 133g
Touchscreen no
Primary keyboard Physical

Core Specifications

Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp

Display

Screen size 2.9in
Resolution 240 x 320
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Symbian

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