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The Nokia N90 Phone Review – down and dirty part 2

March 15, 2006 in Nokia Phone Reviews

Back and ready for part 2 of my little Nokia N90 phone review series.

Here’s a quick one-sentence summary of my last post: The N90′s nice and shiny but is also one of the most colossal flip phones known to man.

Today I’ll focus on the Down and Dirty aspects of the phone. (meaning information that people should find important, not stupid things like the little “Pop Port” cover on the side of the phone that is near impossible to remove)

Size and Weight
The first thing that’s already been discussed here is that the phone is big and heavy. This is a big turnoff for most people.

Battery Life
Down and dirty with the 760 mah battery. I’m actually a little impressed with the battery life. I expected much worse as 760 mah is pretty damn low considering how much technology is integrated into this phone. But I suppose any larger of a battery would’ve just made the phone that much fatter than it already is. So far I’ve taken about 10 pictures and made a couple short calls (in total about 30 min) and the battery meter hasn’t taken any kind of a hit. Stay tuned for more info on this one as I definitely need to test this some more.

There’s no vibration device on this phone. Big negative. On the other hand, you can turn up the volume on the ringtones to an ungodly level.

The loudspeaker’s located inside the little camera piece on the top of the phone. Music and voices are surprisingly clear especially compared to the Nokia 6260 which has an average loudspeaker. The musical sound quality is actually very impressive.

The Screen
The N90 has 2 screens, a 352×416 inner display and a 128×128 outer display. The outer display does its job – it’s not very impressive, but it works. Note that if you rotate the camera piece while the flip is closed, you can use the outer display as a viewfinder. Nice feature.

The inner display is VERY sharp. The pixels are just so tiny that it looks unbelieveable – two thumbs up.

The downside is since the N90 uses its own custom screen size, programs and applications that use normal S60 screens get stretched. And this is very noticeable. Not to mention that a lot of applications do not work on the N90 but that’s a completely different topic altogether. The good news is the newer versions of Smartmovie (Symbian divx movie player) take advantage of the high resolution screen and video looks great on this phone.

This phone is all about the camera. The only reason you would buy this phone is for the camera. I can’t think of any other reason.

That being said, as expected the camera takes very good pictures (for a cell phone). There’s a couple nice features that you can play with such as white balance, exposure, color tone, etc. The flash is quite bright too. Video is above average compared to other phones – you can only do so much with 15 fps. On the other hand the quality of the video is excellent.

Of course, this all comes with a price, which is having an extra camera accessory piece adds a bit more dimension to the phone. To be honest, that camera piece is more than a little annoying as your fingers will bump into it and rotate it around by accident. Since it also rolls underneath the phone when you open the flip, you don’t have a lot of space to work with when holding the phone in one hand. Personally I feel like I’m going to drop this phone whenever I’m entering numbers of texting or whatnot.

STILL laggy. I’m surprised Nokia hasn’t done anything to correct this. Most menu options take about a second to open with the default theme.

Pretty good in this department. For a completely different look you can change the theme, or you can change the backgrounds of both screens (outside + inside). If you’ve never used the Nokia Theme Editor before, a huge word of warning. The program sucks big time, and it will take you hours upon hours to finish a theme. I know this because I actually spent the time making every single little icon for the phone and I ended up hating my theme in the end.

The outside cover has a bunch of options that lets you change brightness, power saving, wallpaper, screen savers, etc.

Switching Phones
One of the basic pleasures of GSM is that it’s supposed to be so easy to switch phones. You just copy your SIM contacts from the old phone, drop the sim card into your new phone, and voila! right? Unfortunately this never ends up being the case as sim cards don’t let you store multiple numbers for people (such as office + mobile numbers). Instead the info gets separated as two different people which completely messes up the whole thing.

It turns out however that newer Nokia phones include a “Transfer” symbian application that lets you copy contacts, messages, etc from another symbian phone. Yeah, this is somewhat limited but it works VERY well if you’re transitioning from another series 60 phone. The best part about this is that the application will “transfer” the Transfer program to the other phone which is just so freakin’ cool. Big plus for this.

Summary – The good and the bad.

The Good

  • High resolution screen – good for watching movies/tv shows that are full screen and not widescreen
  • Well designed and very solid phone
  • Loudspeaker sound quality is excellent
  • Lots of camera features, great quality pictures, and a flash
  • Runs symbian 8.1a

The Bad

  • Way too oversized for a flip phone
  • No vibration – you WILL be missing calls
  • Laggy menus
  • Application compatibility with the N90 is sketchy
  • Extra camera piece adds more weight/heft/size to an already large phone



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