Nokia N91 review: Real celebrity

Michal Sedlαk, 09 May 2006. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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4 GB hard disk • 2 megapixel camera • Symbian 9.1 OS • brilliant music player • Voice recognition • Bluetooth • EDGE • Wi-Fi • 3G compatibility. With all those rich features the phone packs quite a punch, but would it make it to the final round?

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Official Pictures of Nokia N91

Key features:

  • Steel body parts
  • External music controls on the sliding keypad cover
  • 2 megapixel camera
  • 4 GB hard disk
  • Standard 3.5 mm jack
  • Wi-Fi
  • 3G networks support
  • Symbian 9.1 OS
  • Active stand-by mode
  • Built-in FM radio
  • USB support
  • Extremely fast Java
  • Manual keypad lock
  • A number of extras that come in the original package

Main disadvantages:

  • OS incompatibility
  • Way too many constructional drawbacks for this price range
  • Quite big and heavy
  • Display is poorer than competitors' displays
  • Poor macro mode of the camera
  • No Infrared port
  • Slower than common mobiles

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Box with an image of a lady (comes in a black box in other markets)

Look what the courier brought over

Everybody in our office was overwhelmed with joy. Nokia N91 has finally been launched. We first saw the N91 model approximately an year ago, but since then we would only hear "postponed", "not yet", "be patient and wait a little bit more" etc. And here it is - an attractive box in the courier's hands, which made an entire year of waiting seem as if it had never happened.

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Nokia N91

Not everyone in our office has remained a fan of Nokia N91 ever since, though. Certain colleagues of mine cannot even stand this phone for its pure size and roughness.

Anyway, let me start from the beginning and I am sure that at the end of this review you will have a more precise idea of what Nokia N91 is like and whether it is worth investing the great deal of money it costs.

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Comparison to Nokia 6681 and Nokia N70

I thought that it would not take me long before I started to feel bored with the bluish glossy plastics on Nokia N91's front panel, but it did not. I must confess that N91 is simply an eye-catching device. People in the city transport media would not turn their eyes from it, while my friends would usually first ask me "What's that thing you have?", instead of "Hi, how are you?"

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Size comparison to a credit card • the phone held in hand

Nokia N91 is a serious piece of a phone. It measures 113 x 55 x 22 mm. It makes the N70 model look like a poor relative. When I first had the phone in my hands, it seemed as if its 164 grams made it crane forward a bit. It was a mistake. I managed to make Nokia N91 balance on a single finger placed in the center of the phone body. Apparently, the initial feeling was due to the way I was holding the phone. In other words, I had to learn to hold Nokia N91 like a small baby, underlying its "head" with my pointing finger.

Finger skating

A great part of the phone body is made of real steel. Unlike Nokia 8800, N91 is not glossy, but rather matt. It gives the impression of a device of far more value than its forerunners, even if this may be considered extravagant.

Nokia N91
Lots of luster

The rear cover is the biggest metal-made part of the phone. The lock button is located on the right. Press it to remove the entire cover. At one time I forgot about this button and tried to open the phone without its "permission". It opened seamlessly, which is quite bad. Besides, the rear cover shows a slight gap, which is otherwise invisible when you hold the phone in your hand. In the picture below you can observe the tiny gap in N91's back cover.

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Rear cover gap • lock button

Some members of our editorial team call Nokia N91 "the paddle". I myself, however, do like the enlargement in the top part of the device. I find this solution a good one. The joint is smooth. There were few elements my thumb went into this part of the phone. For example, in the bottom, where I am used to find the Pop-Port connector, Nokia N91 only has a narrow port for the charger and a microphone. The latter is located straight in the sliding cover and thus takes a perfect position close to the caller's mouth, when the keypad is opened.

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Microphone and charger port • microphone location

The left side of the phone features a connector for the USB cable, enclosed in the retail package, and a swing volume control button. The loud speaker grill is just below the volume button. It is a pity that Nokia designers have not mounted another loud speaker on the opposite side of the body. It would have come in handy. Nokia N91 loud speaker is among the best on the market. Yet, its loudness is not sufficient for listening to music on a busy street. As it seems, Nokia 3250 remains the phone with the most powerful loud speaker in the entire Nokia family.

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MiniUSB connector • loud speaker grill

The top part takes after the N70 design. Here you will find the main switch-off button and two untraditional elements, one of which is the manual keypad lock, an easy to use sliding button. Automatic keylock after several seconds of inactivity is also available, but the manual one is more convenient. Here I am obliged to make another reference to N91 constructional imperfection in consideration to its high price. The keylock switch became loose after a mere few days of usage. Nokia designers do disappoint at this point.

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Main switch-off button • keypad locking keys

A pleasant surprise though, is the earpiece connector. This is the first time that Nokia uses a standard 3.5 mm jack incorporated in the very body of the phone. In other words, there is no need to buy an additional adapter; you can simply pick up your earphones and plug them into the handset. The connector itself consists of two parts. The first one is a regular 3,5 mm audio jack and the second one is for the remote control.

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Remote control and its connection

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Finally a standard jack fits in seamlessly

The last element located on this side of the phone is the button for access to the main menu. In other Nokia smartphones this button usually constitutes a part of the functional keypad, while in Nokia N91 it is too far from the front cover. Getting used to its location requires some time. I myself would have appreciated more a solution, where the main menu access button is located a bit lower, at the level of the lock of the rear cover.

Nokia N91
This key takes you into the main menu

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