Sorry, this Nokia N95 isn't perfect

The Nokia N95 super smartphone is being put to the test by reviewers and early adopters so every flaw (whether it is extremely minor or not) is being exposed and revealed. There are many positive aspects of the hardware, but also a few issues that concern me. Some issues may be solved by future firmware updates and some may be related to the specific device I am testing. Check out all my thoughts to see if these hardware issues concern you.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

It has now been about a week since I have had the Nokia N95 and I think I have had enough time to pass along my experiences with the quality of the hardware to help you make informed decisions regarding the device. I highly recommend that you read several reviews before making a purchase of this magnitude. Also understand that not every unit that comes out of production is the same so the issues that I am going to discuss may not apply to all the devices. Also, some may say that I am being nit-picky, but I just want to give you all the information I have about the device and let you decide if my concerns are trivial.

Nokia N95 display flaw

Let me first talk about the positive aspects of the hardware. The RF reception with T-Mobile USA has been OUTSTANDING and blows away the reception I have seen with over 100 other mobile devices. I am getting a signal in buildings and areas where I have never gotten a signal before. Thus, if phone reception and call quality (as well as camera quality on a phone) are your primary needs, then the N95 is worth serious consideration.

While some people may feel that the Nokia N95 feels cheap or plasticy, I have to strongly disagree with this perspective. It is amazingly light (120 grams/4.23 ounces) for all the features that it packs into it and I think people are expecting more heft and ruggedness when they first pick it up, like that found in the Nokia N93. I admit that it isn't as solid feeling as the N93, but it does seem to be of rather high quality and not cheap. The back has a scratch resistant, grippable, colored casing that I think adds to the quality of the device. The battery cover locks securely in place and is flush with the back. The keypad keys are large and have a nice contoured design to help make entering text and numbers easy with very few errors. The top row is also very accessible, unlike the N80ie where the display is a bit too close to the keypad. I also like the feel and operation of the directional pad and all the various hardware buttons (11 counting the power button). The camera shutter locks solidly into place. Callers have also reported that my call volume and quality is good and it is fine on my end as well. The WiFi and Bluetooth radios seem to work well and have good range and I am able to get a WiFi signal throughout my two story house. The camera takes very good photos and video. The display looks great and rotation from portrait to landscape is quick and responsive (as I showed in my video). 

There are also aspects of the device that concern me a bit, especially when someone has to shell out over US$750 for the device in the U.S. As you can see in the photos in this blog entry, there is a gap in the display part of the device on both sides where light actually shines through along most of the length. I can squeeze the top and bottom pieces of the display together so it definitely could have been secured better when it was made. While the display slides up and down and locks into place securely, when in the closed mode there is slight movement up and down and some slight (and I mean slight) rotation. I bought a couple of Boxwave retractable USB cables that charge all the other Nokia devices fine, but on the N95 the tip frequently moves around and loses contact with the charging port. One cable I have locks in securely, but I wonder if the female end in the N95 I have is a bit larger than it should be. While the quality of the photos and video are great, when I take a photo I am seeing a 4-6 second delay before the photo is previewed on the device and I can take another photo (this may actually be more of a software issue). Lastly, the GPS receiver is a cool feature to have on the device, but I have found that it takes a long time (2-3 minutes) to get a signal in a static location. I also found the device losing the signal if I move the N95 even slightly back off the dash of my car. I have CoPilot and Nokia Bluetooth GPS receivers and they obtain and keep an excellent signal every time so I am not that impressed with the GPS performance and think a two piece solution may be a better choice. The GPS functionality and camera lag may be improved by firmware updates, but there are still a couple of other quality issues that are hardware related.

N95 display flaw1

Reviewers have also been slamming the Nokia N95 battery (950 mAh capacity) and while I would love to see a higher capacity model, I am seeing it last longer than the N80ie under the same usage patterns and even with push email coming to me via RoadSync, listening to 30-45 minutes of music, taking a couple of photos, surfing about 20 minutes, and talking for about 15 minutes (GSM connection) I am able to go a full day on a charge. With a device packed with all these radios and features I don't think power users could ever expect to go for more than a day, but a standard user who primarily makes calls and occasionally checks email may go a couple of days between charges. The reviewers and enthusiasts like me are not the norm for usage of these smartphones so consider that too. Then again, Nokia threw all these features into a handset and at the price it is selling for you should be able to use them all and go at least one day on a single fully charged battery.

The N95 is a wonderful device and I plan to keep using it exclusively for a couple of more weeks before deciding which device will be my daily driver again.

Editorial standards