Nokia N96

The Nokia N96 has been designed to be a stark rival to the iPhone and the T Mobile G1. As far as looks are concerned the N96 is no different from the N95 except for the interior which has been replaced by a high-gloss finish instead of the previous matt look. But Nokia has certainly made efforts to improve its video playback quality apart from adding some extras.

Nokia N96

The Nokia N96's slide mechanism has been perked up with a much smoother movement but the exclusive dual-keypad setting of the N95 has been maintained here. The addition to the simple numeric keypad are the four control buttons, namely play, pause, fast-forward and rewind, that are displayed when you slide the screen downwards. A foldable stand in the rear makes it easy to sit back and watch a programme hands-free.

Nokia has refuelled the video acceleration in order to support the DVB-H which in turn helps expedite the decoding of video formats such as the h,264 which is a necessary component for video on mobiles. This feature has been designed with the idea that viewers will be able to tune into live or recorded broadcasts of channels over the air right from their mobiles. The benefit of this can be seen when you download your favourite BBC programmes from the BBC iPlayer. The exceptional screen makes video streaming look extremely precise.

The Nokia N96 is the first mobile phone that allows users to download as well as stream their favourite BBC programmes onto their mobile phone from the online on-demand TV service. The N96 uses a widget which either comes preloaded or can be downloaded from the BBC website. This enables both 3G and wireless access to the service.

It not only backs up HSDPA but also comes with a built-in WiFi and Bluetooth that come inclusive of A2DP support that helps you stream stereo audio onto wireless headphones. It retains the A-GPS features contained by the N95. The massiveNokia N96 16GB storage capacity gives it an enormous memory but if you are still not satisfied by the storage size, you can put in additional storage through the MicroSD card slot placed on the right-hand side of the phone.

The browser on the Nokia N96, however, does not live up to its expectation - though it backs up a number of video formats and can even display some flash content. This flaw is visible when you whiz in or out of a page while reading texts.

The media buttons can take over as two-handed gaming buttons when you load an nGage game, making it look like a perfect portable gaming machine. The Carl Zeiss lens gives absolute picture clarity while the five megapixel sensor picks up the finest point of detailing. The dual LED photo lights are for use in poor light conditions. Apart from this, you also get a three months free subscription to the Nokia Maps 2.0 service for satellite navigation.

The Nokia N96 is a smart mobile phone, overflowing with the best of features, if a little heavy on the pocket being priced at a good £500.

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