Nokia's N95 superphone is complicated, taking days for even the most experienced gadget journo to digest. That's why lots of reviews I've seen so far are either extremely light or 10,000 word stunners: This is one of those long ones. It's likely easier to pore over the phone yourself in our hardware and software gallery walkthroughs, and come up with your own opinion. But If you want the text heavy version, here's what's great and terrible about this phone.
Aside from call quality, why Nokia's N95 Rocks:
1.GPS: The GPS is really GPS, not some assisted-GPS that Sprint and Verizon have in their phones. That means you can really navigate with it, like I did, to streets around SF I wasn't too familiar with. (Specifically, the corner of Washington and Cherry, close to where the Zodiac killer blew away a Cabbie so many years ago.) The point of interest database is sizable and you can search for things by proximity (the nearest ATM or liquor store), and then get the phone dialing right up. Turn by turn is a subscription that'll cost you about $10 a month, and the voice nav won't read street names, but that, and the phone's persistant Lag aside, it rocks.
2.Camera: I detect a decent level of grain in these 5mp shots, and the shutter lag is horrendous, but WTF, it's a 5mp camera with a Carl Zeiss 2.8/5.6 autofocusing lens in a phone. There are great controls for ISO, white balance, sharpness, contrast, and flash. And video comes in at 640 by 480 at 30fps. Not shabby. And the editing programs are powerful, especially the photo editor's clip art feature. Proof is in the pudding: Check out Flickr's N95 photos.
3. Lifeblog: Like other N-series phones, this one can post any text/video/image you take with the phone to a blog. I'm addicted to this. This can be done through the Lifeblog software, which will combine text and images into a blog post on Typepad. The phone will send pictures Flickr's API, too. (And via Flickr's blog API, can send photos to most other blog ware.) Right now, Vox is the only site that will accept automated upload videos. But I'm willing to bet there's even a youtube uploader out there, considering the Symbian OS's dev community.
4. Media Playback: The mp3/video player is fairly straight forward, and that's why I like it. The speakers are unreasonably loud, in a good way, for a device of this side — as loud as the Samsung K5 with external speakers — and there's an EQ as well as visualizations. File support includes MP3/WMA/M4A, and AAC support for those soon to be unlocked iTunes/EMI files. The media playback buttons aren't the easiest to press, but they add to the simplicity and dedication this device has to AV. Add in support for Podcasts, even those of the video variety, and you're talking. (MPEG-4, H.264/AVC, H.263/3GPP, RealVideo 8/9/10)
5. Extras: I admit this is cheating on a list of 5, but all the little included apps really help bring the Nokia up. There are office document readers/editors, a standard convertor, calculator, zip utilities, GPS utilities, VOIP (Gizmo Project), a uPNP media server, and all your basic txt/sms/email/browsing/bluetooth, on and on and on. Feature-wise, it is what a phone could be, given today's technology, minus phone carrier greed. (All in our feature walkthrough.)
Why Nokia's N95 Sucks:
1. Battery: No matter what anyone says, the battery life on the N95 isn't good. You can justify it by considering how much power true GPS, WiFi, and those booming speakers take. Even turning off 3G access, as you won't find reception in the US, the phone will be begging for DC after an 18 hour day of moderate/heavy use.
2. HSDPA Europe only: This phone is a European variant, and its WCDMA 2100 radio can't tap Cingular's US band HSDPA. So, you're stuck with EDGE speeds when you're not close to WiFi. Here's a tip: Turn off the 3G support to save some battery life. And get used to using WiFi for the heavy Audio/Video Tranfers.
3. Laggy OS: I don't know whether to blame Symbian or Nokia, but I don't really care, who's fault it is: This phone is sluggish.
5. Hardware Feels Junky:Two words: Fisher Price. They should have packed these components into a denser package. The world's most powerful handset is also the thickest modern phone without a QWERTY. But consider all it does, and the fact that its still pocketable, and you can over look its rather portly 0.8 inch thickness. Full hardware rundown here.
5. Price: $750 dollars is an unsubsidized price, and I commend Nokia for bringing this unlocked beast of a phone to the US without carriers who'll lock up both the SIM slot and the multimedia features. But that's a lot of money. I'd find that more acceptable if the GPS didn't require a subscription, the office software edited without buying an upgrade, and if the rest of my complaints were firmly answered. You have to use this phone for yourself (or go on through the walkthroughs below) before you spend this much cash on a portable computer/phone/thingy. Even then, only the die hardest phone geeks and those who can benefit from the phone's liveblogging capabilities should consider it.
As Mark from Laptop Mag said to me, "$750 is the price of a laptop!"