Nokia is upping the ante in the mobile phone stakes again, this time with TV as the killer app. The Nokia N96 is a multimedia handset with a 5Mp camera and Mpeg4 video filming – and it's equipped for future live mobile TV broadcasts.
An HSDPA 3.5G phone with aGPS (advanced global satellite positioning), the Nokia N96 allows photos to be tagged with geographical information before being uploaded to an online gallery.
Getting online couldn't be easier – the Nokia N96 quickly locates wireless networks, and we were impressed by the critical internet access, call and messaging features.
While you can't yet make use of the Nokia N96's integrated DVB-H digital TV, you can subscribe to and download TV programmes, or stream them if you've a robust web connection.
Nokia has clearly done the groundwork, with Mobile TV in mind, and the Nokia N96 has a dynamic EPG (electronic programme guide) and Last Watched folder for downloaded content.
You can subscribe to online video feeds much as you would RSS for news and blogs. We found a choice of Reuters, YouTube Mobile, and Zoo Vision – a free streaming service. After watching preloaded content we can vouch for the quality of the Nokia N96's screen.
A two-way slider gives access to a concealed numeric keypad below and media playback buttons at the top of the Nokia N96. To aid static viewing, there's a nifty stand behind disguised as part of the camera lens.
We found the Nokia N96's screen very dark, and liable to dim further when any buttons are not used for a few seconds.
The Nokia N96 is a pretty responsive phone, with 128MB of RAM at its disposal.
Navigating the many features and functions is snappy, while the Nokia N96's 2.8in QVGA screen means there's enough room for large, clear icons in its S60 Symbian interface.
The Nokia N96 is actually 8g lighter than the iPhone 3G and has a similarly sized screen, but there's no denying that it's fatter and just not as desirable.
The Nokia N96's display doesn't auto-rotate from landscape to portrait and the keypad is nothing to write home about. We had to press awfully hard to select characters and craved the lightness of touch that's now possible on the best touchscreen phones.
We think Nokia has another hit on its hands – the GPS capabilities of the N95 have been honed further, although it remains to be seen how well the Nokia N96's mobile TV service will fare when it airs.