Nokia N96 Test Drive Episode 1 – First Impression

Rarely do I play around with my wireless phone when I am having a meal with someone.  But when the three lovely ladies from the Nokia and Text100 teams handed me the Nokia N96 for a test drive, not even the thunderstorm outside The Rogues could keep me from having my hands all over this one true beauty.  I know you wish you were me.  And you could well be!

First Impression

This lovely Nokia N96 could well be your early Christmas present.  Or for your loved one.  Or you could email the link of this post to your loved one and hope that he or she would get the hint.  When I first laid my hands on the new Nokia N96, I was much impressed by the elegance of the overall design.  This new design now comes with the eye pleasing rounded corners, new stylish materials for the side and the back too.  

The new Nokia N96 feels lighter, and certainly slenderer than the Nokia N95 that I have.  There is a total redesign of the keypad as well.  I love the flat surface shiny black material with some of the button labels light up or fade away depending on situation.  The new keypad is scratch resistance too.  I have been sms’ing, msn’ing, facebook’ing, gmail’ing, and more for the entire weekend, not a single scratch.

From N95 to N96 in 60 Seconds

When I choose a wireless phone, I don’t just choose a model or a design, I choose a brand that truly care about its customers.  And I have stayed with Nokia since 2000.  Here is one good example of how Nokia delights me.

My wireless phones contain all my vital contact information, together with my notes, to-do list, and calendar items.  And just how easy it is to transfer all that from my old Nokia phone to the Nokia N96?

60 seconds, the wireless way.

First, I logged onto the Nokia’s OVI homepage and added a new phone into my online profile.  A sms was sent to my new N96 and I opened it with my temporary PIN displayed at the OVI website (for my eyes only).  I then used the Sync tool provided by the N96 to download all my latest contact, notes, to-do list, and calendar information I have previously synchronized with my old phone.  60 seconds, with no wire or complicated desktop applications.  I now have a copy of my vital information in my old N95, in the Nokia’s OVI website, in the new N96, and any future Nokia phones I will have.

A detail write-up on the Nokia OVI blogger event can be found in here.

Incremental Improvements that Shock Me Off My Chair

The new Nokia N96 is loaded with so many improvements over its predecessor that some put a smile on my face, some shock me off my socks.

The little stand that is hidden behind the camera near the lens is very good to have.  No longer do I need to hand hold my phone while watching CNN video podcast in the morning with my cup of coffee as I wait for my corporate computer to boot up.  There is also a physical keypad lock latch that makes a lot of sense.  I often find the N95 keypad locking mechanism a bit odd at times.

The music player now allows me to adjust the volume with double the precision than before, which is nice.  And the volume output through the headphone is much louder, which is very car stereo friendly.  I have long replaced the CD changer with my Nokia Nseries.  Did I mention that the new Nokia N96 comes with a car charger in the box as well?  Big deal you may say.  But having the flexibility to perpetually switch on the GPS positioning system (Nokia Map) without worrying that I may run out of the phone battery during my road trip in Malaysia, that is very, very nice.

While it still has the same good old 5 mega-pixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens that works well (see my favorite sunset photo), the newly expanded 16 GB built-in memory with option to extend to another 16 GB and more put Nokia N96 beyond most (if not all) of the MP3 phones in the market today.  The menu feature has been improved too for better productivity and user friendiness.

Above all that are too many to mention in one post, here are two observations that make me a very happy Nokia N96 user.

  1. “5 seconds” is all it takes for the phone to lock onto the GPS satellites.  It is very fast, lightning fast.  And it is free.  Unlike the N95 that takes up to 5 minutes for initial satellite connection, you don’t need to slide the phone open.  The precision is so great now that it can be used not only for driving, but also for walking.  Think of the possibilities.
  2. “4 megabytes per second” is the transfer speed from my computer to the Nokia N96 via the supplied cable.  Big deal?  Well, this is up to 8 times faster than my N95.  Transferring one music album in MP3 format will now only take 15 seconds.  That is fast for a phone.  I timed this myself, loving it.

In Summary and Coming Soon

Throughout the years, Nokia has created wireless phones with better functionality and better design generation after generation.  It is evident when you hold one and try one, like the Nokia N96.  A big thanks to Angela, Evenlyn, and Felicia from the Nokia and Text100 teams who so patiently answered my questions from communication, to product, and to marketing.

It is impossible to cover all that Nokia N96 has to offer in one entry, nor do I enjoy documenting specifications line by line.  Depending on how long I get to hold onto this new phone for my test drive, here are some of the potential working titles for the upcoming episodes.  Stay tuned!

  • Episode 2: So Cynthia Took Over My Old N95 and My Second Impression on N96 (check out the picture above to see how happy she is)
  • Episode 3: GPS in the Highlands
  • Episode 4: Learning Spanish with Nokia N96
  • Episode 5: It is Spore!
  • Episode 6: Satellite Watches Me Jog
  • Episode 7: Geo-tagging Photos of My Year End Trips
  • And more

Related Tag: More Nokia N96 Test Drive Episodes


  1. Darkspore – Be nice! Lol. I think I got that comment a lot when I am demoing the Nokia N96 to my friends and colleagues. They too want to change their phones. Amazing to know how many Nokia users are out there eh?

  2. I love variety and trying new things. For mobile phones I have owned and tried Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Siemens, and Motorola (Samsung was next on my list).

    However, I must agree that Nokia handphones are easiest to use, to transition in (and out), although in the past few years the phone designs are either a bit weird or are more suitable for men.

    Maybe Nokia’s principle is function over fashion (which is fine by me in general) but it won’t hurt to design beautiful phones (for ladies) and yet packed with functionality. Not only men want MP3 player and good camera in their handphones (OK you can ditch the map hehehe…).

  3. The N96 is nice. I liked the N85 better…. And now I think I have my eyes set on the N79.

    Unfortunately, these gadgets are wasted on me – I just use my phone to call, SMS, and take some photos. Maybe surf the web?
    I just need a pretty phone 🙂

  4. Cynthia – Noooo! Not a Samsung please. You need a Nokia, you want a Nokia. Trust me, trust me.

    PS. The Nokia Map got us to The Curve in KL, remember?!

  5. G – You should go for the upcoming new Nokia 6600. I have seen it. It is very beautiful. Suits your need and has a few very innovation functions that certainly will thrill you (like turn over the phone to reject the call or double tap onto the phone to show the time).

  6. G – Ha ha ha. I think I got quite a few friends of mine start to think of which Nokia phone to get for their next one. Yes, that 6600 will suit you very well. Do check it out when it releases.

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