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Nokia N90
Mobile Phones | First Looks
Mon 19 Sep 2005

Shooting Star

"...excellent pictures both indoor and outdoor with faithful color reproduction and only slight noise." 

Fully opened N90 with a generous button layout and high resolution screen.

Carl Zeiss lens on the N90 takes great still pictures and video.

RS-MMC slot on the side allows for storage expansion.

Nokia's N90 imaging smartphone is the first of Nokia's high-end Nseries to see retail light. Announced earlier this year in April and originally slated for a Q2 release, the much anticipated smartphone has unfortunately been pushed back towards a September launch. However, the time has finally arrived and® gears up for a test drive.

Twist, Turn, Twirl

The N90 can be more accurately described as a 'rotating flip-phone', with all its moving parts and joints. When in its closed position, the N90 sports a very staid and blocky design, that is until you find out what the phone can do. The top section is actually the imaging unit itself (read: camera), with a 2MP sensor and 'Carl Zeiss Optics' boldly emblazoned on the side. Unlike regular embedded camera phones with limited movement, the top section has a swivel capability to turn 135° clockwise and 180° anti-clockwise. The phone also opens up in two modes, 90° to its keypad and fully unfolded. The LCD section can further swivel along its joint, activating the N90's imaging functions, allowing you to comfortably take still photos or videos. It is no wonder that the phone is as large as it is, although its size does bring some distinct advantages. The keypad is generously spaced out with fairly large buttons, accommodating ease of use and of course featuring an impressive 352x416 resolution LCD display.

My Phone

Being a Symbian Series 60 smartphone, users familiar to such a system should find the N90 an intuitive phone to use with a small learning curve. One of the new perks is an easier way to quit running applications. Unlike previous Series 60 phones that will continue to run applications in the background unless they were completely exited from (or forced to quit by pressing and holding the menu key), the N90 allows you to quit the current application by just pressing the red 'hang-up' key.

While it is good for helping many users instantly free up resources, others who regularly keep useful applications like Messaging and Contacts running in the background may find the habit irksome.

My Camera

The N90 features a dedicated capture button on its side and can use its secondary cover display as a viewfinder whenever you need a quick snapshot. However, full camera mode is where the action is. In addition to the capture and directional keys on the side, users have increased control with softkeys next to the internal LCD as well. The N90 has some decent controls over its camera functions and users can access a setup menu to change image modes, white balance and exposure values. The N90 takes excellent pictures both indoor and outdoor with faithful color reproduction and only slight noise. With an auto-focus function, images were sharp and had a decent exposure. Note that even if you turn off its built-in flash, the N90 will still do a short flash whenever a photo is taken to ensure that subjects know they are being photographed.

For a phone, the N90 captures excellent video as well and if you're wondering how it stores all this data, the phone features an RS-MMC memory expansion slot in addition to its 31MB built-in memory. However, one may get too carried away with its imaging capabilities and forget that it has a limited battery capacity, which will only last for 1.5 days on average.

My N90

Besides its Series 60 capabilities and the fact that it does make decent phone calls (and video calls as well), there is no denying the allure of the N90 is its competent imaging features . For about US$700+, the Nokia N90 is a tad exorbitant, but you get a casual shutterbug's dream of a smartphone built into a digital camera.


Product Specifications

  • OS: Symbian OS 8.1a, Series 60 platform

  • Memory: 31MB, RS-MMC expansion slot (128MB included)

  • Display (internal): 256K-color 352 x 416 TFT

  • Display (external): 64K-color 128 x 128 TFT

  • Camera: 2MP, up to 1600 x 1200 (still image) / 352x288 (3GPP video)

  • Connectivity: GPRS, EDGE, Bluetooth, USB

  • Battery: 760mAh Lithium Ion

  • Dimensions (W x L x H): 112 x 51 x 24mm

  • Weight: 173g with battery