Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Slim is in - Nokia 6300 vs Sony Ericsson w880i

Looking around now at the mobile world these days, it seems that there is a battle between all brands. A battle to see who can lose the most weight, who can shed every ounce and hint of fat, and at the same time, pack in as much features as possible. Sounds like madness? Not for us as customers though.

And why would we complain? Everything's about being slim now. "Slim is in". Look around us... plasma Tv's, digital cameras, desktop pc's, notebooks, mp3 players, FASHION MODELS... everything's getting slimmer. It was inevitable that mobiles would eventually follow heed. Remember when the Moto's RAZR first came out? It blew everyone away! The size, the weight, its slimness - it was unheard of! Now, everyone's in on the action. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG, Samsung and even the smartphone makers are slowly getting in on the action.

It is with this in mind, that I now do a brief comparison between the latest Nokia 6300 vs Sony Ericsson W880i. And, since it comes in looking similar to an Apple iPod Nano, I decided to throw in one too in my review! (well, only for photo size comparison anyway)

So, is the 6300 better? Or the W880? Having a hard time deciding on which of these slim beauties is the feather-weight champion for you? The 6300 with almost-smartphone capabilities or the funky and fashionable W880i with its Walkman features? Read on...

Nokia 6300 vs SE W880i

SE W880i Colours: Silver/Black and Black/Orange.

SE W880i inbox

Nokia 6300 and SE W880i inbox
Free gift - Sony Ericsson speakers! (exclusively from Incomm only!)

Nokia 6300 inbox
1 x Nokia 6300 unit
1 x Battery

1 x travel charger

1 x pop port stereo headset

1 x 256MB microSD (with adapter)

1 x hard leather pouch

1 x User Guide and other reading material

1 x PC Suite software CD

SE W880i inbox
1 x Sony Ericsson W880i unit
1 x Battery

1 x Two port Std charger

1 x USB cable

1 x Sony Ericsson Stereo earphones

1 x 1GB Memory Stick Micro

1 x User guide and other reading material

1 x Sony Ericsson PC Suite software CD

Sony Ericsson Stereo Speakers!
(Only available at Incomm while stocks last!)

First Impressions
Having both the n6300 and w880i in hand, I was bubbling with joy at the slim beauties I have been admiring for so long.
  • The Nokia 6300 is slim, feels very sophisticated, classy and very solid in hand.
  • The w880i feels like it looks; super slim, very funky-cool and has a blow-me-away look.
Although both are slim, one exudes sophistication and simplicity whilst on the other side, the wild and adventurous. It almost doesn't feel like a fair comparison. If you ask me which one I'd choose, it would be EXTREMELY difficult to choose between the two. (Can I have both?)

Physical aspects / Build quality

Nokia 6300 keypad

Comparison shots; 6300, iPod Nano & w880i
  • The Nokia 6300, available in only one colour; Silver, has a slim candy form factor. It feels very solidly built in-hand with its steel casing. There's a slight weight while you're holding it, but this is a good thing. Both front and back are brushed silver in colour, with black edges surrounding the screen and the camera at the back. There is an issue which I do have with the silver casing though; the likelihood and ease of getting fingerprints all over.
  • The right side sports the usual volume increase / decrease keys, which will also serve as the control for the music player. Do note, however, that there are no dedicated camera buttons on either side. (Another issue)
  • The 6300 can be considered as rather basic in its looks. Someone did comment that it looked like the old Nokia 3230, except slimmer.
  • The keypad is well spaced out and typing sms's or dialling phone numbers should be without any hassle.

Sony Ericsson w880i; Silver and Black colour schemes.

  • The Sony Ericsson W880 comes in a either Silver (with black back) or Black (with dark orange back), in a (slim) candy bar form factor as well. Personally, the black/orange colour scheme looks really hot. Whilst the front (Silver or Black) looks brushed metal in their respective colours, the back is made of a rubbery matt material, serving perfectly as a non-grip surface. There's even a little hole for you to hook your lanyard-of-choice and since the w880i's so light. What a brilliant location SE!
  • The left side sports only the pop port on the left (for charging and for the included earphones) and, on the right side, a dedicated camera button with the volume increase / decrease on the top right corner. This design blends in well with the w880's slim appeal, with just a little flip-like toggle. Personally, another good design from SE.
  • On the back, you see the camera on the far right, making it ideal for snapping away with the camera button ideally placed as well.
  • The keypad, on the other hand, is the main appeal on the w880i. The newly designed keys are now slimmer, which seems to be the direction that SE is moving towards. Sms-ing or dialling numbers caused me to be sceptical at first, but after some practice, I got used to it.
Display / User Interface
  • The 6300 sports a 16M colour TFT display with QVGA resolution. Utilising the familiar S40 3rd edition interface, the display will not be unfamiliar to users. You will see the same software on other S40 edition phones like the 6280, 6288, 6233 etc, as well as wallpaper / theme customization. I won't touch on this too much since it is nothing unfamiliar.
  • The w880i sports a 256k TFT colour screen with a QVGA resolution. Again here, if you are familiar with SE models, then the w880i's interface will be no different.
Overall, its a matter of choice really. Whether you prefer Nokia's S40 OS or SE's interface. Both have their strengths, and their own weaknesses, which I won't dwell too much on here.

  • Call quality (and loudspeaker) on the 6300 is excellent, so no need to elaborate further on this issue. For Messaging, the Nokia 6300 supports SMS, MMS, Email and Instant Messaging (network dependent). This is typical of most Nokias. And like most Nokias too, the 6300 feels good to SMS with. Feedback is tactile enough and keys evenly spaced out.
  • Call quality (and loudspeaker) on the w880 is also excellent, with no complaints. For Messaging, it also supports SMS, MMS, Email and Instant Messaging (network dependent). As pointed out earlier, the keypad will take some getting used to.

Multimedia/Camera quality
Music wise, it is obvious who the winner will be here. The w880i. Branded with Walkman, the 6300 doesn't stand a chance! BUT, for the sake of this comparison, I'll briefly mention the quality of the sound.
  • The 6300's built in Music player is more than capable of handling any playlist which you may have, depending on the size of your microSD card of course. With its equaliser, you can choose any set preference for your listening pleasure. Volume wise, you would have no problems hearing the songs, but for some reason, Nokia's output, to me, sounded almost very shallow and bassy. However, with the included headset, the quality is slightly different. But, as I said, its more than enough to satisfy the average user. The 6300 has FM radio too.
  • The W880i, on the other hand, sports the Walkman brand which is (now) synonymous with SE's. The ease and functionality can rival even the iPod. Browsing through your songs, setting your playlists and just generally using the W880i is a pleasure indeed for the music junkie. Sound quality is better than the 6300, but again, I'm not sure if its just me, the output's very sharp, almost as if there is an absence of bass. BUT, when you plug in the earphones, the whole picture changes! You will be BLOWN AWAY with the quality. With the W880i's (great) battery life, you have on your hands (and in your ears) and very very good mp3 player! Since the w880i comes with the free speakers, I will touch on this too. In a word, its unbelievable. I didn't expect much from the speakers to be honest, on the first impression. So small in size, I half expected it to be just mediocre. But, when I plugged in the W880i, the sound was fantastic! (for such a small creation!) On full volume, my whole office could hear my song quite clearly! Definitely a worthwhile inclusion from SE (and Incomm).
  • Another cool w880i feature worth mentioning is the Track ID feature. Basically, if you hear a song in the car/club for e.g, and you are not sure what the title is, just let the w880i "hear" it, and it will help you to identify it, from downloading through its internet connection. Cool or what?!
Camera wise, I will let photos speak for themselves. Both the 6300 and w880i sport 2 megapixel cameras. Both have adjustable settings for you to tweak how you'd like your pictures to turn out. Both do not have autofocus capabilities, but zoom functionalities are there at least. Perhaps the only difference is that the 6300 does not have a dedicated camera button (which is one of my issues). So without further ado... (photos on left are 6300's, and those on the right are w880i's. Click to enlarge)

Features worth mentioning
What I liked about the Nokia 6300
  • Great Active Standby features on the beautiful 16M colour screen. I've always been a fan of Nokia's PIM capabilities.
  • Browsing around in the S40 menu is easy, and straightforward. This includes setting your profiles, customizing your themes, wallpapers and ringtones.
  • It feels very nice in hand. Slim, very solid and weight distribution well balanced, doesn't have a plasticky-toy feel. Classy...
What I liked about the Sony Ericsson W880i
  • First and foremost, the size! The slim(sexy)ness blew me away.
  • The file manager is fast! Noticably faster than older SE models. Browsing through the camera photos was a joy.
  • Love the Walkman player. Strap it around your neck and you won't even feel the w880i at all since its so light. Also supports Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP stereo profile.
  • Track ID feature! (New to SE)
  • As a 3G phone, it has a front facing camera!
  • Comes with 1Gb memory stick micro inbox!

Problems / Issues?
What I didn't like about the 6300
  • Prone to fingerprints.
  • Not a 3G phone - Why Nokia, why??
  • No autofocus or flash on camera. Camera performance also average.
  • Lack of dedicated camera button at the side meant most photos taken in portrait mode (as evident from photos above).
  • Video camera quality mediocre.
What I didn't like about the w880i
  • No FM radio
  • No autofocus on camera.
  • Video camera quality mediocre.
  • Keypad could be an issue for the fast texters.

d3xlabs recommendations
Having tried out both these slim beauties so extensively, I was so reluctant to return them. I wanted them both!
On one hand, I have the 6300 with its executive feel, its seemingly business type features, its basic and easy to use OS... a strength of Nokia. Fantastic for those who want a phone that just does its job, and does it well! (And looks good at the same time too)

On the other hand, the w880i with its wild funky outlook on life, a mobile that just begs to be showed off to everyone around, and with the SE's equally powerful OS to use, its Walkman powerhouse... its perfect for those who want to stand out, and shout it loud!
This is a hard call. But, at the end of the day, its really up to you. It all comes down to what kind of a person you are. Conservative or Outgoing. Only you will know.
(Buy both if you can afford it)

My 6300 rating - 4 stars
My w880i rating- 4 stars
Selling prices - Nokia 6300 (BND428-00), Sony Ericsson W880i (BND798-00)
(Use your DST Privilege card for better discounts)
From: All Incomm outlets

Other competitors: Samsung X820, Motorola KRZR/RIZR

Monday, April 23, 2007

U tink u cud b txt chmpN?

Interesting news here. I've heard about text championships before, but in US, they just another level. Although not known to be as "txt mad" as Asians are famous for, they sure do take it seriously.. Nationwide competitions.... huge prize winnings (relative to just typing out an sms of course)...... This article doesn't exactly say whether those with standard keypads or QWERTY keyboards are used, but anyway, "fyi, 13yo skool grl is nu US txt mssg chmpN"

Makes me wonder, maybe we here in Brunei should come up with such a competition. Just for the fun of it. It'd be a good publicity stunt, believe me.

I mean, c'mon, EVERY1 knws hw 2txt now. No1 toks anymo nw rememb? N y shld dey? Txting is ez, its convenient, its less intrusv on ppl's lives, it allows d ppl 2reply weneva dey wud lyk 2, n u can xpress urself so mch betta in n sms den in person. Dun u agree? I def tink so. N all fone co's nw r makin der models so mch mo betta 4txting. Der's almos no diff in wat brand u use. U cud ezly learn 2txt, n sn bcme so fast n gd @it, no matter wat fone u use!

Wud any1 b keen on joinin 1? U tink ur fast?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

E61i Out In Stores Now!

In February, I posted news the official release of the new Eseries models (here) and about a week ago, I posted a teaser on it (here).

Well, wait no more, it is now on shore!

The new Nokia E61i!

  • Available now at all Incomm branches at BND768-00, currently the cheapest in town! (Remember to use your DST Privilege card for better discounts too!)
Also, Incomm has also just brought in stock for E65 RED for those interested in another option other than Mocha.
Selling Price - BND738-00

Read my review on it here.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My Sony Ericsson K550i Review

About two years ago, after being a very ardent Nokia fan (if u read my earliest posts here you would know), I decided to make a switch to Sony Ericsson. It was a reluctant decision at that time, having to switch brands, but really, who couldn't resist the (then) fantastic release of the Sony Ericsson K750i! Touted as the best camera phone ever back then, it was THE camera phone to have. Plus, it was black too! And we all know, all real men wear black right?

ANYWAY, I used my K750i with much delight, snapping away at everything, so awed by the (new) SE user interface, the sharp screen resolution, the music capabilities, the ease of learning the new SMS predictive text... it definitely made me wonder why didn't I switch to SE earlier! Sony Ericssons have come a long way from the days of just being "Ericssons". Remember the days of the classics? I used to own a T28 myself. Quite a (small) device in those days.

But I do agree, however, with the survey done in my post here, that SE definitely does cater for the individualistic types. SE phones now seem to be (alot) more funkier, cooler and targeted towards the younger generations, especially with their Walkman brand releases. (Plus, their brilliant adverts are really effective too!)

You would have seen one of Sony Ericsson's adverts on Astro. A curly-haired guy in a classic car, drives up a windy and hilly road, in the midst of a thunderstorm flashing. It is obvious that he is chasing the storm after a while. Close to the top of the hill, he jumps out of the car, pulls out his K550i, cooly flips the camera cover down with his thumb, and snaps away at the lightnings and flashes. Then, he jumps back in, makes a call and drives off again. You will then see the caption, "The Sony Ericsson k550i. I love (SE's logo here) capturing it live." Pretty cool advert.

That advert sparked an interest in me to find out more about this new addition to SE's CyberShot range. (Incidentally, I've read elsewhere, the K550i is actually the K750i's replacement, which has since been discontinued in production). This new K550i now sports the latest layout evident in all SE's latest releases, which are all now more slimmer, better improved and more camera-like, courtesy of its Cybershot brand. But the question is, is it worth its price? Is it really better than the K750i it replaces? Let me capture the moment live with you now, and you can make the decision for yourself. Read on...


1 x Sony Ericsson K550i unit
1 x Battery
1 x Two-port Standard Charger CST-60
1 x USB Cable
1 x Sony Ericsson Stereo earphones
1 x User guide and other reading material
1 x Sony Ericsson PC suite software CD

First Impressions
My sample unit was the Pearl White version. Opening up the box, my initial thoughts was how simplistic it was. The size was about half the size of a standard tissue box. (I really think that this is one of Sony Ericsson's strategies, market their products without wasting too much effort on their respective boxes. Remember the previous W800i's plastic box? It was small enough to see the phone with all its accessories stuffed at the bottom. Simple. And to be honest, I like it. Don't waste customer's hard earned cash on fancy smancy boxes. Most people chuck them aside or lose it anyway). Taking the phone out, placing my SIM card and then the battery, the actual size and weight of the K550i actually feels very light in hand. Switching on the Power button at the top, the start-up was almost immediate, expected of SE phones really. As a new phone, the K550i then asked what language I'd like my unit to be defaulted to and after selecting that, a phone wizard appears, giving tips about how to use the K550i. Then I'm greeted with the all-familiar SE Standby screen. I'm back, I thought to myself, thinking of all the SE models I've used before. Most importantly, my first impression of it... its not bad.

Physical Aspects / Build quality

  • Available in Jet Black or Pearl White, the Sony Ericsson K550i has a candy bar form factor. Its slimmer than its predecessors, lighter than its predecessors and definitely looks different too. This sample unit, being Pearl White in colour, looks clean and crisp. Very nice. There is also only one other colour on the K550i; Brushed silver, which is the colour of all the function keys, keypad (at the front) and the camera cover (at the back). (With the Jet black, the same parts are in brushed silver too).
  • At the back, you'll find the same clean look, with the exception of the camera cover, another newly designed layout, with a circular area where the camera and flash is placed. As you would notice from the K550i advert on Astro, all it takes is a simple thumb flip to activate the camera. Compare it to the flip down cover of the K750i or even K800i, to the flip-switch on the W800i to the non-existent cover on the W810's, this is a nice touch from SE. It feels solid and not easily pushed down supposing it is placed in one's pockets/handbag.
  • On the left side, you will see the brushed silver increase / decrease volume keys (which serves twofold; it acts as a status indicator showing your internal / external memory capacities and battery meter in % when the SE is in standby mode AND it allows you to zoom when in camera mode)(A standard with all SE's these days) and, unusually, the new location for the port for your charger / USB cable / headset. It took me a while to get used to this new location, but it was a nice improvement. How it fared while I listened to my mp3's was another question. I'll touch on this later.
  • On the right side, you will notice, other than a circular dedicated camera button, two tiny clip-switches. This is the tightening mechanism for the newly designed battery cover, which literally folds /unfolds shut. Another revolutionary design from SE, compared to their previous push-open-type battery covers.
  • Perhaps the MOST important change from SE is the new keypad layout. You will also notice that this originated from the very new and fashionable W880i (which I will review soon). The keys are significantly smaller than previous models. But the big question is, how does it feel to type in your phone numbers or SMS's? Initially, I thought I would have no problems with it. The tactile feedback and response is good I must say. But, as I have big thumbs, I felt a bit clumsy with it after a while. This is one of my issues.
Display / User Interface
  • The K550i sports a 262,144 colour 1.9" TFD display with a 176 x 220 pixel resolution, making it a perfect viewfinder for its 2mp digicam as well. This is the same with all its previous predecessors. Having switched from Nokia to SE once before, I have always been impressed with SE's fantastic screen resolution. It is perhaps, one of SE's major strengths. (The above picture probably doesn't do it justice, but take my word for it, its beautiful)
  • Accessing the menu is easy, just press the center button on the 5 way navi pad and you will go straight to a grid style menu (as above). Unfortunately, this layout cannot be changed. Again, this is standard throughout SE's models. The upside of it is that if you're an existing SE user, upgrading to any newer models shouldn't be a problem, as its pretty much the same anyway. Throughout the SE menu, you will find possibly, improved tab style pages which make it so easy to navigate around. I won't go into TOO much detail here.
  • Wallpapers and themes are also fully customisable and best of all, they can be animated graphics too, which is another strength for SE. If you're not satisfied with the built in ones, there are hundreds of other themes which can be downloaded online to complement your style and needs. (I have a link on my right side bar in case you're not sure where to go)
Calls / Messaging
  • SE's call quality brings no issue from me here. It is reliable. Calls made are clear, and should you choose to use the loudspeaker, it is enough to satisfy too. Reception wise, being in Brunei, unless you venture too far off into the "Ulu" regions, you'd still be able to get at least some sort of service. (In Brunei, no where is "far" remember?)
  • The K550i supports SMS/MMS and email with T9 predictive text input. Pretty basic, but its more than enough for the general user believe me. Its not a smartphone either, so don't expect too much. As I mentioned earlier, having switched from Nokia before, I found the new T9 very easy to adjust to. Nokia uses "0" as space and "*" to change words, SE uses "#" and the "down-direction" on the navi pad for selection of words. It shouldn't be too difficult to adjust to. Or vice versa. Of course, hardcore Nokians or Sony Ericssonites would probably differ with me. I just think though, that the new layout of keypad could be an issue for some, especially the fast texters.
Multimedia / Camera performance
  • One of Sony Ericsson's strengths and main selling features is the very established Walkman brand. The K550i is no different from its predecessors with a feature packed and good quality music capabilities. Just the inclusion of SE's own designed ear phones with customizable ear-buds is testiment to how confident they are in this product. Some could argue, soundwise, SE's can definitely provide competition for the diehard iPod fans out there. I wouldn't disagree here. If you're a music addict, then you won't be disappointed. Speaker volume is also very satisfactory. You will hear your mp3's / ringtones without any problems. Especially if the volume is high. Sound quality is just superb on a SE. There is one thing though. The location of the port (on the left side) for the earphones to plug in. It might take a while to get used to. Inconvenient maybe?
  • Camera wise, on the whole, the K550i is supposed to replace the aged K750i. It flaunts the same 2mp digicam as the K750i and has the same auto focus feature. You can also perform the same functions from White balance, effects, timer, night mode and shooting mode, according to your needs. Below are some samples:

  • Personally, I think the K550i packs quite a decent camera, with performance to be quite befitting for the 2mp cam with auto focus. The presence of the shutter also acts as a protection against fingerprints and dirt, unlike the open layout of some of SE's other models, like the W810i. A good inclusion.
  • Video recording, however, although not the best that SE can do, is of average quality; you can choose whether to record in 176 x 144 or 128 x 96 pixels. Again, not quite DVD material, but enough for the occasional MMS's to others.
Other features
  • Connection wise, you have Bluetooth, Infrared and USB 2.0 within your reach. Quite basic and sufficient for any user out there. You also have GPRS and EDGE, supposing you would like to surf websites OR, (a new feature) subscribe to RSS feeds. This is quite easy to set up, just specify the title for feed and its address. The K550i will then connect and you can choose to download only one item, or the whole feed at a time. Useful.
  • The K550i's phone book capabilities can store up to 1000 contacts with fully filled in fields under each name. But, the limit is 2500 numbers. I seriously DOUBT anyone can ever fill in that many numbers, but it is reassuring to know you could if you wanted to.
  • SE's organiser / calendar is one function which I have always always had a gripe against. Although basic and enough to remind you of whatever meetings and reminders which you set, it is no where as detailed as what other brands offer. Maybe it could be enough for the average user, but if you're like me, with my device often running my daily schedule, you might not like a SE here.
  • Under entertainment, aside from the MusicDJ and VideoDJ, I always thought the Face Warp application was cool! Take a photo of any of your friends, and you can warp their faces to look like an insect, an alien, big chin, big eyes and so on. Its provided me with many a belly aching moment when I'm with my friends or family.
  • Storage wise, the K550i supports up to 1Gb with the newly released Memory Stick Micro. (FYI, there aren't any included in the inbox)
  • Battery wise, I have no complaints here either. Using the K550i for a whole day, playing with all its features, making a few calls, SMS-ing my daily contacts, listening to mp3's, snapping away my photos... at the end of the day, the battery was still 84%! But then, SE phones are usually quite reliable in this area. You will never find your SE losing its power on you (unless you forget to charge of course).
Problems / Issues
  • The keypad design is not to everyone's tastes.
  • The new location of the charge / USB cable / earphones port on the left side. Not a major problem, it just takes some adjusting to.

d3xlabs recommendations
Having been able to use the K550i for a few days, its brought me back to the days of my old K750i, W800i and W810. Great models and examples of what digicams should be. But that is also the problem. The screen resolution is standard, the sound quality is great, the camera is SE quality. It would seem that nothing's changed (much). If you're an existing user of any of the above mentioned models, or even the models after that like K610 or K618, and if you're feeling itchy for a change, and you don't mind the new keypad layout design, then the K550i might just be for you. In monetary terms, its not very expensive for what it offers, quite value for money in my opinion.

Effective this review, I will now provide my own rating out of 5 stars instead of personally recommending it. Then you can make your own judgements on whether to get it.

Rating: 3.5 stars
Selling price (now): BND408-00 (Remember to use your DST Privilege card for better discounts)
From: Available at all Incomm outlets.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Nokia N95 review

One of the most highly anticipated phones of 2007 is finally here. The Nokia N95.

When it was first announced last year, there was quite a buzz going around here in Brunei. The big question everyone was asking, "WHEN will it arrive here on our shores?". Barely a week since its been here and already all (limited) units that have been brought here have been snapped up! That fact alone makes it so much more special for me to test this much acclaimed model for just a few days. Its hard to believe that I'm actually holding it in my hands now, finally "feeling" what I've only been reading about before, the ground breaking 2-way slider, the exquisite screen resolution and most importantly, the first Nokia-ever 5 mega pixel camera, amongst others. With a tag advertisement of "The Nokia N95. Its what computers have become.", its amazing to see so much being squeezed into such a relatively small device. So, is it all that fantastic? Is it worth parting your hard-earned cash for? Read on...


1 x N95 unit
1 x Nokia BL-5F battery
1 x Travel Charger AC-5X
1 x Pop port USB cable
1 x Pop port video-out cable
1 x Stereo headset (3.5mm audio jack)
1 x N95 leather pouch
1 x 1GB Micro SD (with adapter)
1 x User guide and other reading material
1 x Nokia PC Suite software CD

First impressions
After admiring the box and its outward packaging, you can imagine how I just couldn't wait to open it up and see the N95 for myself. I was immediately greeted by the N95 unit peering out at me from its window in the centre. I just sat here, admiring it for a few seconds. Then, (slowly) taking it out of its prison, I had such a feeling of anticipation holding it in my hands for the first time. I carefully studied the unit, before putting in my SIM card and the battery after. Gently pressing the Power button, I half expected it to take forever to start up. (2 reasons for this expectation; The previous Symbian Nseries all took a good minute or two before fully starting, and of course, this being Nokia's latest all-powerful creation, surely it would take time to boot up right?). How wrong I was. I was actually quite surprised when it powered on quite fast, and seeing the characteristic Nokia start up theme with the two hands coming across the screen, and then hearing the all familiar Nokia standard start up sound. I thought to myself, "Finally, Nokia IS listening. No more lags". Already, I was impressed. It was a good start. Then, the full glory of the QVGA screen greeted me, in all its radiance and colour. Another good start.

Physical Aspects / Build quality

  • Available in only Silver, the N95 is yet another slider phone, but with a twist, it slides both ways. Size wise, it is reminiscent of Nokia's first original Symbian phone, the Nokia 7650. (See provided photos comparing a Treo 680, N95, E65 and Nokia 6233)(And yes, it was the N95 which was used in the photos from my E65 review too). The top half of the N95 is totally brushed silver in colour, containing the beautiful 2.6 inch screen, a front facing camera and quite a nice layout design for 9 buttons; 2 function buttons, the Call / End buttons, the 5 way navi pad, a menu button, a multimedia shortcut button, a quick edit button and the "C" (Clear) button. (See provided photo above).
  • The bottom half of the N95 is matt black-blue-grey in colour, sporting the 5mp Carl Zeiss camera lens and the battery cover at the back, and a whole array of other function buttons at the sides. The matt finishing is another nice touch from Nokia, as it gives an impression of a non-slip surface (similar to that of the E65, minus the leather touch). How it acts as one, practically speaking, I have my issues. More on that later.
  • On the right side of the N95, you will see the speaker location (which is also on the left side. These are the stereo speakers from where you will hear the radio, mp3's and ringtones), the increase / decrease volume keys, a "Gallery" quick key and a dedicated camera button.
  • On the left side of the N95 you will see, a 3.5mm audio jack (BRILLIANT inclusion by Nokia), the IRDA port location and the Micro-SD card port. I tested my iPod's earphones with the N95 and it worked great! (More on this later)
  • I will quickly mention the bottom tip of the N95, which sports the charger location, and a mini USB connector. It is interesting that this has been included, instead of the standard Pop port connections. But you will see why this is useful, especially if you consider the inbox-packaged Video-out cable.
  • Sliding up the N95, you will see the same brushed silver colour throughout all the keypad, that also lights up in a nice blue colour. I can't explain it, but this blue light gives the N95 a very nice classy look. Also similar to the E65, each key is raised with a ridge for comfortable feedback during use. I did not have any issues here, either with keying in my phone numbers or SMS-ing. Holding the N95 one handed for SMS-ing, on the other hand, felt a bit strange. More on this later.
Display / User Interface
  • Sporting a HUGE 2.6" QVGA (240 x 320) LCD screen with the latest S60 3.1 Edition Symbian OS 9.2, there are NO complaints here. Gone are the days with the original Series 60, like the 6600's, 6630's and 6680's with screen resolution of 244k colours. I actually like this latest S60 3rd edition release. It looks crisp, bright and very pleasant to the eyes. The included themes and wallpapers definitely compliment this screen resolution. And, camera photos taken also look quite good too.
  • Unlike the E65, the N95's menu key is quite prominent and hard to miss on the keypad area. This is definitely easier to access.
  • As with other S60 3rd edition models, you also have the options of choosing your menu layout to be grid or list format. This is a user preference. For me, I like the default grid look. So much more easier to navigate and move around. I'll say this again and again, new Nokia users will have no problem moving about without referring to the manuals and guides much.
Calls / Messaging
  • Nokia's call quality is usually pretty good and faultless, so I won't go into the obvious here.
  • The N95 supports Push Email services from Nokia (Intellisync), Microsoft (Exchange), Blackberry (Blackberry Connect), SMS, MMS and more. Messaging and email capabilities will not disappoint any N95 owners here. As mentioned earlier, the ridge-like buttons are a joy to use. Nice feedback and evenly spaced out. Perfect. I really had a good time using the N95. It was almost like I couldn't wait for friends to SMS me so I could reply them! I have to say though, with big hands like mine, holding the N95 to SMS one handed was a tad bit uncomfortable. But then, that could be from my fear of dropping the unit, so you may not feel the same.

Multimedia / Camera performance and quality
  • The N95 should be renamed, as another reviewer mentioned here, a "Multimedia Beast". It retains and adds to the multimedia capabilities of previous Nseries devices. The new 2-way slider gives direct access with a multimedia key, and a redesigned menu, to all your music collections stored. The carousel-like launcher look is fully customisable - you can add or remove applications, bookmarks and radio presets. Music Player, Visual Radio and Real Player are used to playback music, listen to FM radio and watch video respectively. Utilising the two stereo speakers, you will have no problems listening to your mp3's, radio programs or ringtones. As I also mentioned earlier, I shoved in my iPod's earphones to test out the quality, and I have to say, I loved it. With maximum volume (which is sthg I do not condone usually) my friends nearby could even hear the song I was listening to. Bass and sharpness levels were of satisfactory quality. But then, the brand of earphone you use would be a significant factor here too.
  • Camera wise, the N95 has a 5 Megapixel (2592 x 1944) autofocus camera with Carl Zeiss Tessar optics (f/2.8, 5.6 mm, 10 cm ~ infinity focusing range) and 1/1000th ~ 1/3rd s mechanical shutter provide the best quality you can get from a camera phone. What this also means is that is sufficient for even 28x36 cm (11x14") sized prints (That's HUGE). The mechanical shutter and Zeiss optics put the N95's camera on par with simpler standalone digicams and the only thing that's missing is an optical zoom. The flash is a white LED diode working within a range of about 3-4 meters. Throughout my time of testing, I was certainly enjoying snapping away everywhere I went, at everything I could see. It was indeed a joy having such a device at hand instead of my Fujifilm F10 digicam to lug around. Not that my Fuji's THAT big/bad, its just that an all in one device is handy sometimes. (See pictures below as samples. Click to enlarge. Note: They've been resized to 640 x 480 otherwise you'd have problems opening images sized 2592 x 1944!!)

  • Overall I am quite happy with the camera performance. I DO have some issues though. Firstly, for some photos (not included), it did seem that after the shot was taken, my photo objects came out in an unnatural colour. But then, I am not an expert photographer here I must add. I'll just assume that the lighting conditions weren't ideal at those times. Secondly, there seemed to be a noticeable lag from auto-focusing to the actual "click" (shot) being taken by the N95. Its not a major problem, but just make sure your subject is not moving too much. Read here for more indepth review on the camera quality.
  • The N95 is also a great video recorder! Like other high-end models, it records MPEG-4 video with VGA (640x480) resolution at 30 frames per second. "DVD quality" is probably an exaggeration but it definitely offers quality of amateur single-sensor Mini-DV camcorders. If you noticed, I mentioned that a Pop port video-out cable is also included inbox with the N95. This intrigued me quite a bit. Although I was not able to test this feature fully, the review here gives quite a good indication of what it can do.
Other features
Among the MANY features that are included in the N95, I will just touch on a few.

  • One of the KEY features of this N95 "computer" is the highly touted GPS function. This was definitely something which I was highly interested in checking out for myself. Loading the application "MAPS" I was greeted by some tips to read, and then this screen: VERY interesting, I thought. Of course, I tested it with the built-in WIFI (it doesn't work on GPRS) and began attempting to perform searches on Brunei, just for the heck of it. I half expected it to work, and half expected it not to. And obviously it didn't. Brunei doesn't support this feature yet (our country's not even LISTED in the names of cities in the N95), unlike Singapore and Kuala Lumpur where you can pretty much navigate around with GPS. So, out the window went my GPS testing. Well, you can read more about this feature here, purely for information purposes.
  • Unlike other Nseries models, the N95 also comes with automatic keyguard lock! Finally Nokia!
  • As a 2-way slider phone, once you access the multimedia side of the N95, and subsequently close it, the display screen remains in the landscape mode. Quite useful for viewing any web pages on the built-in new 2.0 version of the Nokia OSS web browser. It's now faster and less memory hungry. This web browser now supports both WWW and WAP, so it is now the only browser preinstalled in the phone. New features in the 2.0 version also include auto-completion for form data fields, video plug-in, RSS and Atom feeds with automatic update, password manager, toolbar, background sounds, saving images and whole pages for offline browsing, operator cache, visual windows manager and user agent profile. This should satisfy even the ardent of surfers, especially with the 2.6" screen.
  • The Quickoffice also looks great on the N95's screen, with files being both readable / editable for those who need this feature on-the-go.
  • Battery life. I will touch briefly on this area, as it seemed to be quite a concern for many potential N95 owners out there. During my time of testing, I started out in the morning with a fully charged battery. Throughout the day, I snapped dozens of photos, made a couple of calls, a few SMS's, took a couple of videos, surfed my blog (obviously) with the WIFI, went through each menu option one by one AND listened to a few mp3's I stored. At the end of the night, the battery had about one bar left. I tried to be as accurate as possible, logging what I'd normally do with my Treo 680, and at the end, it fared about the same. You'd still need to at least charge it overnight everyday. C'mon, with such a feature packed device, with EVERYTHING you could possibly need in your phone, surely the battery would be the one taking the most beating from what you would put it through. And, just to prove its not just my personal observation, read here for more details. Due to this, I will not note this as a problem.
Problems / Issues
  • Being a 2-way slider, although revolutionary, there was nothing to prevent it from sliding and/or unlocking itself in your pockets. Although I was very careful with the N95, there will be others out there who will find this an issue. Or, carry it in a bag.
  • The build quality could have been more "solid".
  • SMS-ing one handed, as many people have mastered, could be a bit uncomfortable. But as I mentioned, it could be from my fear of dropping the unit.
  • The camera lag between auto-focus and snapping the photo. Its not a major issue, but it could be for those intending on snapping at movable objects/subjects.
  • To nit-pick, another issue I had was, to manually (key)lock the N95, aside from setting it to lock each time you close the slider, the only way to lock it is by pressing the "Power" button at the top to select "Lock keypad". This could be annoying for some.
d3xlabs recommendations
I have indeed had the pleasure of absorbing everything the N95 had to offer, and I truly believe in Nokia's tag line, "The Nokia N95. Its what computers have become". Capable of handling everything that I threw at it, and more, I was most impressed with its camera / video camera abilities. All squeezed into this one small and light device. Unbelieveable when I actually held it in my hands. Everything else, you would find typical in the previous Nseries models, with just a few minor improvements.

So would I recommend the N95?
In a word, Yes, but only if you have extra cash to buy it. Afterall, it IS a premium product, with everything you'd ever need.

Selling Price (now) - BND1,288-00 (Use your DST Privilege card for better discounts)
From - Incomm, Gadong.