Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Nokia N95 8GB
In terms of reviews, the Nokia N95 8GB is relatively simple to handle, thankfully. Not because it's a simple or trivial product, but because the original N95 is so well known and has been written about so many times that there's really little point in going over every function that's common to both devices in minute detail.
Setting the scene
But a short summary is in order, at least. The original N95 was intended to be the last word in the classic S60 phone line, i.e. with a typical phone form factor, with (and I'm judging it by the last released firmware, v12 here):
S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1, with the combined Web/WAP browser and miniUSB connectivity
HSDPA, UPnP and Wi-Fi (all fairly cutting edge in a phone when announced but more commonplace today)
a largish, recessed 2.6" screen
an utterly superb 5 megapixel stills camera with great optics, light sensitivity and options, protected by a physical shutter and spoilt slightly by slow image processing and slow camera startup
a great VGA-res video recorder (producing good video images but only mono sound)
a very full set of media software, with all audio and video codecs, video and image editing suites, online integration
the facility to work in portrait or landscape mode
a built-in low power GPS with 'Assisted GPS' for fast lock-on times
great and tactile d-pad and button set
TV out for video echoing of any application or media item to a TV or other video equipment
It was quite a package for a 'phone', but despite the plus points above and even with latest firmware, two big negatives remained. The 950mAh BL-5F battery just wasn't up to the job of powering all the multimedia and comms goodness, with power users of the N95 finding that the battery sometimes didn't last the day and with casual users irritated by having to recharge every single night. Secondly, the free RAM after booting, around 20MB, while enough for lesser S60 3rd Edition devices,
wasn't really enough for a device of the N95's ambitions and RAM was prone to run out while (for example) browsing a largish web page, prompting various 'memory errors'.
Although much of the N95 8GB's hardware and software are identical to that of the original, there are more changes than you might think at first glance.
The microSD slot is gone, replaced by a fixed 8GB flash disk mounted internally. This appears to the smartphone as disk 'E' in the usual Symbian OS way and all programs should treat this just as if it were an 8GB microSD card. This capacity matches Apple's iPhone and is more than enough for the vast majority of users. For example, it represents 6 HOURS of video recording at full VGA resolution or around 30 hours of commercial movies at QVGA resolution or around 160 CDs worth of music (in WMA format at 64kbps).
The system RAM has been doubled to 128MB, meaning that there's now around 95MB of free RAM after booting. This figure is slightly higher than you might have guessed because the N95 8GB also features 'demand paging', i.e. only the bits of applications that are strictly needed are loaded into RAM, other bits are left on disk until needed. Although demand paging is really only for Symbian OS 9.3 and above, the OS 9.2-running N95 8GB has had the feature back-ported specifically for the OS and S60 built-in applications. In fact, it may even be possible to include demand paging into a future firmware release for the original N95. Watch this space. In summary, you'll never run out of RAM with the N95 8GB, even on the largest web pages, while simultaneously viewing the largest image and keeping ten Java games running in the background.
The back of the N95 8GB has been redesigned, with an extra millimetre or so of depth allowing the use of the BL-6F, rated at 1200mAh. This would appear to give 25% extra battery life, but in fact extra optimisations in the OS (and possibly the use of demand paging) mean that the real world increase is closer to 50%. Although this isn't exactly capacious, the use of the BL-6F does mean that very few people will exhaust the N95 8GB's battery in a day, even if they try quite hard.
So, quite a list of changes from 'original' to '8GB'. Most are very positive, but it's also worth noting a few of the negatives, which may, just may keep people using the original design. There's the lack of a physical lens shutter, which may be an issue if you're rough with your smartphone, there's the lack of a built-in video editor, the fixed flash memory, with no option to take out a card and stuff it into a printer (for example), and finally there's the black finish, which is slightly less tactile than the original N95 and the 8GB model slipped from my fingers more than once while testing it....sources.allaboutsymbain