Hands On With The N96

The N96

I have just had hands on time with both the devices and a meeting with the product managers of both devices. They were kind enough to answer everything we wanted to know about the respective devices. In this post I will go over my initial impressions of both devices while trying to incorporate all that I learnt talking to them. More shots here.

Build

Like I said earlier I quite like the design and the bigger size makes using the music keys near the D pad that much easier. The playback keys on the dual slide are flat but can be used for gaming, finally! The slide is similar to the N81, spring loaded and gives the device a nice solid feel. I don’t think there’ll be rumbling like in the N95’s case again, this time they seem to gave got it right. The device also packs a micro USB and a 3.5 mm jack along with a keypad un/lock switch. Lastly, there is no camera cover.

Music

Although the N96 is essentially a video driven device music still continues to play a major role and I have some great news on this front. I asked the product manager if we could expect the N91 quality on the device and yes said no, it’ll probably we better! The 16GB storage will be well used in that case. Another great improvement is in the data transfer speed via USB, on the N96 it will be at least 5 times faster than what you would get on say a N95. Considering the non removable nature of the flash storage that’s a job well done! On the loudspeaker front, it is comparable to the N95 or may be a shade less, I can’t be sure yet.

Video & DVB-H

This aspect of the device was really the focal point of development and is demonstrated by the inclusion of a DVB-H receiver. While I personally was/am skeptical about it, a lot of people see it as something that will pick up and go mainstream. I also enquired as to where there will be a version without it, there won’t be. The product manager felt that it is something that should be available to people like bluetooth or wifi, should they choose to use it someday/becomes available specially because the world has pretty much come to a consensus as it being a common platform across the globe. The device also supports recording TV if the operator allows it, theoretically that is great news; the 30 second recording cap could be history.

As far as video recording is concerned it will be great, specially with the dual LED being available even while shooting video. The reason the xenon was left out is the form factor, the slide design doesn’t leave enough room to get it in without making the device huge. Here is a short clip demonstrating the LEDs in the video mode:

Battery

Down to the all controversial 950 mAh battery. I was disappointed, still am. The product manager has said that they have really worked hard on software optimisations to squeeze more juice out of it. Also, FP2 that the N96 runs does bring improvements on this front, whether or not it will be enough remains to be seen. On being asked why was this done, he said that it was carried out so as to allow for reasonable dimensions and weight which is very important in today’s time.

Gaming

Well, the N96 is not so much of a N95 we might think, it lacks 3D acceleration. Thats right, surprising but true! That means we can forget the Ngage experience on a higher plane. But since Ngage games are suppossed to be compatible with the N73 as well, they wont’t need such hardware support anyway. The TV out is still the same as N95, the VGA resolution continues to be reserved for the Gallery only.

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40 thoughts on “Hands On With The N96”

  1. shit guys…..
    if tht gaming wud hav been thr thn it wud hav been d perfect handset 2 buy…….
    n d 3d accelertion is of use thts y it is thr in d othr handsets…..
    now do i buy a n95 8gb aftr ma n95 or wait fr dis 1?

  2. No hardware 3d acceleration, no lens shutter and a bit worse looks ( I think) than the N95?

    Why are they deliberately crippling the N96? Perhaps some other flagship phone is planned?

  3. Come to think of it, it does look good. Its just less classy and more flashy. Sorta like the difference between an Aston Martin and a Ferrari

  4. So the handset lacks 3d acceleration implying the processor is not OMAP2420 clocked at 400mhz as quoted on various sites. Would it therefore be powered by OMAP2431?

  5. Ish, when you actually play with it, it is quite bigger than the N81 plus is dual sliding too. But yeah the average joe might mistake it for an N81!

    Sahil, The gaming element is still pretty good, with dedicated keys that turn into round symbols in the gaming mode, playing a major role. The N96 won’t be out till Q3, so if you can wait, then yes – the bigger space, music quality etc are nice upgrades.

    As far as 3D acceleration is concened, it doesn’t really matter as currently there is no Ngage game coming out soon that utilizes it. I can’t be too sure about the processor though.

    Jamal, it looks pretty swell, the car referal pretty much summed it up!

  6. I cannot believe they released this “flagship” device without Xenon flash. This seems like it is so obvious that I wonder if there is some technical difficulty to bundling the device with a Xenon flash. However, I am skeptical of that given Samsung’s S60 device released at MWC.

  7. @Sahil:
    I know these days “some” people have difficulties finding the right words or letters, but you just got the jackpot!

  8. Rosh, an explanation could be that they wanted the dual led so that it can be used when shooting video (and to differentiate from N82 too, perhaps)

  9. Will it be possible with the N96 to listen Internet in real time streaming radios in format such as Real Media (such as aspx format) ?

  10. Guys and gals, I’ve posted a pretty thorough article on Nokia’s MWC stuff to http://www.pocketpcmag.com/blogs/index.php?blog=3&p=2480&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1 , packed with tons of shots – feel free to check it out.

    (an answer to ADS7112: aspx isn’t RealMedia (which is already supported – check out my related articles over at the, say, All About Symbian forums) but Windows Media. To my knowledge, not even FP2 allows for WMA streaming. Your only solution so far is either transcoding WMA to another format with, say, Orb or a deskto-based transcoder or wait for CorePlayer, the only one Symbian player to support streaming media, to be bugfixed.)

  11. Rosh, I asked the product manager about this and like I said the reason he gave was that its something difficult to incorporate in the slide form factor and would have added to the bulk.

    Makerocks, having more buttons is a matter of personal choice. Some people like to keep is clean with only one way of doing things. I like to be spoilt for choices!

  12. Sounds dubiously like a ‘test market’ product. I’m still feeling the bitter after that Nokia left me when they released the the N95 8GB soon after the N95 Classic was introduced. It’s like Nokia has a policy of penalising early adopters or something like that.

    I’ll stick to the N95. The N96 is not really a very big jump from it both in terms of form factor and specifications.

    Now, the N78 is really something else. A worthy replacement to the N73.

  13. How ever Nokia develops its product, it still has 2 major drawbacks. 1. Being it does not show name & number while making or receiving a call and 2.Cannot use flash as a torch in emergency.. Paying extra for a Nokia handset but still no point…

  14. Jimmy, that may not be entirely true. The caller’s number is shown in the N82 and with FP2 coming in the N96 that option might be available in it too.
    Plus the LEDs can be used as a torch on the N96.

  15. hi. i just looked up things on forum nokia or somewhere and i found this:

    N95 8GB
    Dual CPU
    CPU Type: ARM 11
    CPU Clock Rate: 332 MHz
    3D Graphics HW Accelerator

    N96
    Dual CPU
    CPU Type: ARM 9
    CPU Clock Rate: 264 MHz

    Why would nokia put a worse processor in this phone? and yeah, the battery bugs me too. Just to see what happens, i tried my n95 8GB with a BL-5F. It lasted just over two hours. Whereas the BL-6F can make nearly a whole day. So.. I dont think this thing is worth the money. I’d rather stick with my n95-8g.. for now anyway 🙂

  16. We’ll know when it comes out, but yes these things are a disappointment. Nokia’s reasoning could be since the 3D accelerator does nothing because we have cripled Ngage to make it compatible with phones such as N73, lets cut back on costs on this front. 😉

  17. True. Well anyway my mates will probably buy one and then i can try how slow it is.. It would be quite cool if we really could record from the tv.

    Oh yeah one more question to the guys who make this:
    One feature that they have missed out from the new phones is expandability. Ability to add things to it, that isn’t already there.
    Lets take the good old N80 with a pop-port at the bottom. In nokia shops you can buy external Xenon flash, external cameras, and so many more things that i have had with my n80. just imagine how great this phone would be with the dual led AND a xenon flash. So yes, this is what i would like to ask from the nokia people 🙂 thanks for listening.

  18. Oh my god i just found out that they have left out the IR port as well.. Big disappointment this thing is…

    But one question to you, Vaibhav Sharma, since you have tried it does it have menu animations like the 6220 or N78? Thanks.

  19. By the way its like my absulute life-time dream to become a so “important” person who can get access to these phones months before they are released to the public. It’s just.. Youre so lucky, Sir! 😀

  20. Yes, but the 6220 has an exra animation when you enter the camera or the images application. This has been missed out from both the N78 and the N96 as far as i know.. But correct me if i’m wrong 🙂

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