The N96 is another chunky, multimedia friendly handset from Nokia. In this case the size of the phone does seem to make it a bit unwieldy, and we aren’t entirely convinced about the dual slider system, though as an update of the popular N95 it does a good job.
In terms of size, the fact that this is a slider accounts for its 19mm of thickness. It is 103mm tall and 55mm wide. If you’ve small hands it is going to feel a bit hefty. It is reasonably light at 125g.
The dual slider mechanism means that you can reveal a keypad at the bottom end of the phone while at the top you can pop out a set of media control keys. It is a bit odd that these controls – forward, back, pause and play – are repeated in a chunky panel that surrounds the D-pad. At least the slider based media controls double up during gameplay and this is an N-Gage handset, so there are plenty of games to be had.
One plus on the hardware front is a small stand that looks like a frame for the back-mounted camera lens but pops out to let you prop the phone up at a good viewing angle on the desk.
We aren’t too excited about the screen. At just 2.9 inches across diagonal corners and offering 240 x 320 pixels it is rather lacking when compared to today’s large screened, touch controlled handsets. Admittedly the N96 is older than some, but our disappointment with the screen size just goes to show how things have moved on at the top end of the mobile phone market in a short space of time.
This is a 3G handset with HSDPA to 3.6Mbps. Wi-Fi is here too, making fast data access at home and outside distinct possiilities. There is a generous 16GB of onboard memory with a microSD card slot for adding more. And there is also a GPS antenna.
Having all that memory to hand matters because this phone excels at multimedia functions. Its audio playback is clear and sharp, the headphones are two-piece and both the connector to the handset and the one just past the headset mic are 3.5mm so you can easily use your own headphones and keep handsfree voice calling if you want to.
There is an FM radio and BBC iPlayer support as well as DVB-H TV, the latter being useless in the UK as no operator broadcasts using that technology.
The 5-megapixel camera has twin LED flashes and Carl Zeiss optics which produce good, well focused photos, though there is some shutter lag.
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