Nokia 019
I am one of the blogger-testers of the new Nokia N95. I received one of the first phones two weeks ago and have been using it now as extra phone. As I was also one of the beta-testers of the Nokia N91, I’ll concentrate on the differences between these two high-end smartphones.

N95 vs N91

  • GPS: this I have never experienced in a phone before. The phone came with maps for Benelux on its 1GB card. The mapping functionality is free, the routeplanner too, but if you want the phone to read you the instructions (“in 500m, turn left”) you need to pay: per year, per month or per week. Interesting business model. TomTom e.g. charges you for extra countries, but the instruction reading is always included. To be honest, you cannot compare the N95 GPS to the TomTom One (of which I am a very happy user). The GPS sensor is not as strong, so you need more time to lock into the satellites, and you lose them more easily. But it’s still an impressive feature, certainly when combined with the camera function (geo-tagged photos on Flickr). As more and more location-based services will become available for mobile devices, a built-in GPS might become a more common feature. Strictly speaking, just a GPS sensor (not the map data, not the route planner) is already worth quite a lot.
  • Internet: the N95 uses the same browser as the N91, but the screen is much better, certainly when you switch to landscape mode. I also have the impression that Proximus Live! is a faster and robuster way to connect to the Internet than Mobistar’s “Orange World” which I’m using now. I’m switching to Proximus soon anyway.
  • Camera: quality-wise it’s a big step: from 2 megapixels to 5 megapixels, with better contrast and better focus. But while the N91 is a slow photo camera, the N95 is super slow. There are easily 2 to 3 seconds between the moment you push the button and the actual photo. You won’t be using it for sports photography. But the image, even after maximum digital zoom, is still way better. There’s also the option to upload your pictures to Flickr right away. On the N91, you still needed Shozu (excellent program by the way), with the N95 that functionality is built in. To be honest, Shozu is still better: it also supports uploading videos to YouTube, geotagging and upload queuing. Shozu is free and works on the N95, so no worries.
  • Wifi: I’m spoiled, I’m already used to this on the N91. But the N95 can scan continously and connects automatically. And the adding of new access points is finally more intuitive. Wifi on a mobile phone opens a whole new world of applications. The browser benefits from it, obviously, but also the photo uploading, RSS reading … There should be more applications for the wireless network, or if there are already, Nokia should promote them more.
  • Gallery: the application that lets you browse the photos and videos you made is much slicker than the N91.
  • Storage: the Nokia N91 has a 4GB of 8GB hard disk inside, which takes up a lot of battery, and it obviously cannot be removed. The N95 uses these itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny Micro-SD cards, which now go up to 2GB, but 4GB soon. The N95 has the better future ahead.

Software

Some of the stuff I’ve tried out on the Nokia (Symbian-based):

  • Google Gmail Mobile: killer app #1. Gmail on your phone kicks ass! You won’t be typing long replies, but having your email in a familiar application on your phone is something addictive.
  • Google Maps Mobile: killer app #2. This gives you a glimpse at what will be possible once we have enough bandwidth: no pre-installed GPS program, but a web-based solution with maps on-the-fly, points-of-interest (speed cameras, resaturants, ATMs) always up-to-date, routes calculated at the server and maybe even new voices (speech TTS) delivered over the network.
  • I mentioned Shozu before: it uploads photos and videos to Flickr, Youtube, Blogger, Typepad …

Battery

A GPS, a video camera, Wifi … you can imagine that these things suck your battery empty in no time. When using the N95 on a regular basis, don’t count on lasting two full days on a full battery. From my experience with the N91: the power consumption might improve with new versions of the firmware. In the mean time: when your phone dies because you were recording a video of your cat playing the piano, you might be mad at yourself.