Nokia's super-high-end N95 handset with it's dial pad showing.
By Columnist
updated 5/10/2007 8:27:46 AM ET 2007-05-10T12:27:46

Normally, I write about cell phones based solely on my testing of what’s inside. 

But, when it comes to the Nokia N95, what’s inside is only half the story.

That’s because in addition to its sleek exterior, bountiful features including built-in Wi-Fi, GPS and a very sophisticated digital camera — this super-premium handset sports a super-premium price: $749.

Nokia’s N-series of cell phones are special. The entire line highlights the “best of” what Nokia is currently offering to technologically advanced users. But, at that price, this phone has got to be very, very special.

The N95 is a diminutive handset with a 2-way sliding screen (2.6-inch, QVGA). Slide the screen up and you get the N95’s keypad on the bottom. Slide the screen down and you’re greeted by the dedicated digital media player’s controls on top. 

The phone measures 3.9 by 2.1 by 0.8 inches and weighs a scant 4.2 ounces.  In person, the phone is quite deceptive. It looks like it should weigh a lot more than it actually does. The lightweight battery is capable of providing up to 160 minutes (WCDMA) or 240 minutes (GSM) of talk time and 225 hours of standby.

N95 is a quintuple-band, GSM/EGSM/GPRS/EDGE/WCDMA/HSDPA world phone which runs on the 850/900/1800/2100 MHz bands. HSDPA is a super-fast wireless data network equivalent to Verizon and Sprint's EV-DO networks in the United States — except that HSDPA phones work overseas as well.  They’ve also included Bluetooth 2.0 and wireless LAN (802.11b/g) connectivity inside. 

Nokia calls their N95 a computer.  That’s because it does a lot of things that bigger PCs and laptops can do, like GPS. The N95 comes with a built-in GPS navigation system and Nokia Maps software as standard equipment. 

Slide the screen in the other direction and you get the N95's media controls.
Same for the RealPlayer audio and video media player.  Anything you shoot or download to your phone can also be sent over the Web. Plus, you can watch your phone’s output on your TV or computer with the (included) TV-output cable.  There’s an FM radio inside (87.5-108MHz and Japan’s 76-90MHz) plus, in addition to the built –in speaker the (included) stereo headset plugs into a full-sized, 3.5 mm output jack.

The N95 runs on Symbian’s Series 60 operating system and supports JAVA applications.  Synchronization is handled by Nokia’s PC Suite via USB, Infrared and Bluetooth wireless technology. 

The built-in camera is a very, very big deal. We’re talking 5 megapixels (2592 by 1944 pixels) through a 5.6mm Carl Zeiss Tessar lens with up to 20x digital zoom. High quality color, black and white, sepia as well as VGA-quality video at 30 fps. I was able to shoot really terrific photos and videos from this cell phone. As for storage, the N95 camera comes with a 1GB miniSD card. For the record, my test sample has a 2GB card. Expect 4GB cards to become available later this year.

In my tests, the N95 performed perfectly as a phone too. Calls sounded terrific on both ends, Web sites loaded quickly and downloads were speedy and accurate. I was very impressed with all operations. The N95 exudes quiet elegance. If the phone allowed me to access my Microsoft Outlook e-mail system at work I would even consider buying one for myself.

If you’re interested, this exclusive little handset is available online, or Nokia Flagship stores in New York and Chicago as well as selected retailers and local dealers in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. 

Is it a feature-laden phone with a high-class camera and terrific pedigree?  You bet.  Is it worth the price?  That’s up to you. 

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