The second and final installation of our write up of the Nokia N95 takes a closer look at the phone's many software attributes and multimedia capabilities. Kicking things off is the crux of the Nokia N95: operating system. Nokia has long been known throughout the industry as a major advocate of the Symbian operating system that is specifically tailored for mobile devices. The company's 46.7% stakes in Symbian Ltd should illustrate the confidence and mileage Nokia has and what it hopes to achieve with the operating system.
Powering the Nokia N95 is Symbian OS v9.2, first released in Q1 of 2006. This is a notch up from the version installed in the Nokia N80 and while it is only newer by one revision, it is only in this permutation that OMA Device Management is finally introduced. By having this, many aspects of the Nokia N95 can be managed. Configurable features such as settings and parameters of the phone, software updates/patches and even status can all be configured and/or monitored (if integrated within corporations).
From an end-user perspective, the Symbian operating system lends incredible flexibility and expandability to handsets by offering upgradeability. Indeed, there is a vast application ecosystem supporting the lean operating system. Just perform a quick search online and you'll easily track down applications that you can either purchase or use for free in your Nokia N95, for example.
In its stock form, the Nokia N95 is, expectedly, bundled with your usual suite of PIM (Personal Information Management) tools such as Notepad, Voice Recorder, Calculator, Calendar and Contact List. More than that, the phone is also a portable mini office that allows you to view Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Powerpoint slides and Adobe PDF documents. There's even a Zip equivalent to help you collate and compress files in the same way as you would on a PC. With this ability to add software to beef up the Nokia N95 as and when you please, it will be a long while before your requirements outgrow the handset, if ever at all.
On a more lighthearted note, the Nokia N95 supports many multimedia formats that you can store in either the onboard XXMB memory or microSD cards (up to a maximum of 4GB with the latest release). Supported video formats in stock form include MPEG4, Real Video, H.264/AVC and 3GPP. Supported audio formats on the other hand are much more impressive. Virtually all popular formats that you listen to are supported, which is all the more perfect considering it has a 3.5mm earphone jack and built-in stereo speakers with 3D surround capability.
As expected, the speakers sounded very tinny, certainly not ideal for listening to music for a long period of time. It's only when earphones/headphones were used did the Nokia N95 showed its true potential. Through our Grado SR-80 headphones and OVC TC20, jazz pieces and rock tracks sounded rich and lively enough to convince us that the Nokia N95 was indeed a capable multimedia player. With its smooth video playback, the entire multimedia experience (with video) was most enjoyable when a pair of earphones/headphones was used.
The one area where the Nokia N95 failed to impress was the responsiveness of its animated multimedia application. Yes it may have a novel 2-way slide to switch the phone from normal usage to multimedia mode, but the sluggish manner in which it executes is a disappointment. For a flagship handset banking on multimedia satisfaction as one of its key selling points, we couldn't help but feel that Nokia could have made the Nokia N95 a painless and seamless all-in-one mobile computer. Mind you, this is currently Nokia's most expensive N-series phone to date, which means users would be expecting nothing less than a smooth interface to go along with all its bells and whistles.
Taking a step back and looking at product proposition again, there's no denying that the Nokia N95 is an amazing phone for what it's worth. It is hopelessly steep but let's not forget you are getting a lot for your money, and all in a compact package.
Click here for Part 1 of this review.