Nokia N96 review: King's new clothes

GSMArena team, 03 October 2008.
Pages: 12345678

Customizations

The Nokia N96 main menu offers four different view modes. Two of them are the well known 4 x 3 grid and a simple list. In addition, you can choose whether you prefer your icons animated or not.

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The standard grid and list menu view modes

The other two available modes are the 3D V-shape and Horseshoe layouts. They have a charm of they own but, if we were to be asked, they aren't as user-friendly and do take their time getting used to. The font sizes throughout the menus are also configurable depending on your preferences.

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The more extravagant horseshoe and V-shape layouts

Finally, you can change the currently active theme. There are only three preinstalled themes on Nokia N96, but you are by no means limited to them only. Downloading additional ones from the internet and installing them on your N96 is quick and easy and the choices offered are endless.

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The three preisntalled themes are quite similar

Telephony has no issues

As far as the in-call performance of Nokia N96 is concerned, the chubby fellow is doing pretty well. It doesn't have any problems with neither low signal, nor interferences.

There is no preinstalled smart-dialing feature on the Nokia N96, unlike e71 or some competing brands. However the aforementioned voice recognition system is just as convenient - you only have to hold the right soft key in standby and speak after the tone. If you have more than one number assigned to the name you should set one as default or otherwise the first entered number will be dialed.

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We had no problem contacting Dexter on Nokia N96

Here are the results from our loudspeaker test. Nokia N96 did manage to impress us here producing an excellent score. It seems that there is a quite powerful voice hidden in the large body. Here is the table comparing the N96 to some of the other handsets we've put to the same test. In case you want to find out more about the test itself or a complete list of tested devices, hit the link.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOverall score
Nokia N8270.2 61.265.9Below average
Nokia E7069.066.370.0Average
Nokia N95 8GB75.7 66.270.2Good
Nokia N9577.3 66.678.0Very Good
Nokia N9673.776.078.1Excellent

Superb phonebook

The Symbian style phonebook of Nokia N96 has practically unlimited capabilities. The storage space can possibly stretch out to fill the whole phone memory, which is impossible to deplete even if you tried intentionally.

Contacts can be freely ordered by first or last name and can naturally be searched by gradual typing of any of the names. You can set whether the contacts from the SIM card, the phone memory and the service numbers will get displayed.

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The contacts can be ordered by either first or last name • searching by gradual typing of the desired name is also available

Editing a contact offers a great variety of preset fields and you can replicate each of them as many times as you like. You can also create new fields if you happen to be able to think of one. Personal ringtones and videos are also available for assigning. If you prefer you may group your contacts and give each group a specific ringtone.

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An endless list of fields is available when editing a contact

Nokia N96 also sports the Call log application to keep track of your recent communications. The application itself comes in two flavors - accessed by pressing the Call key on the stand-by screen or from the main menu. The first one brings 20 call records in each of its tabs for outgoing, received and missed calls.

If you access the Log application from the main menu, you'll see a detailed list of all your network communications for the past 30 days. These include messages, calls and data transfers (even WLAN connections are included). The period can be shortened to save some space but you are quite unlikely to do that, as even with a huge number of calls the log only takes a few miserly kilobytes of memory space. And Nokia N96 is surely not the phone to have you fussed over storage.

Messaging is great too

Nokia N96 is surely going to be appreciated by the people who text a lot. The keypad does reasonably well and the software support is completely up to the Symbian high standard.

Not really surprising, Nokia N96 supports all common message types - SMS, MMS and email. The first two share the all too familiar intuitive editor. It has a counter of characters left to the limit of 160. There is also an indicator in brackets showing the number of separate parts the message will be divided into for sending.

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The SMS and MMS share a really intuitive editor

Switching from SMS to MMS is as simple as inserting some multimedia content. A nice feature allows automatic resizing of pictures that are too large for sending via MMS.

Nokia N96 also features the dedicated audio message editor. You can either record the message on the spot or use a sound clip from the phone memory.

Delivery reports pop up on the standby screen and are subsequently saved in a separate folder in the messaging sub-menu. When you are exiting the message editor without having sent the message, the editor prompts saving it to the Drafts folder or discarding it.

The email client is really nice, able to match almost any emailing needs of the user. The best part is that Nokia N96 sports the ultra easy email setup we came to know in recent Nokia phones. If you are using any public email service (it has to be among the over 1000 supported providers), all you have to do is enter your username and password to start enjoying email-on-the-go. The phone downloads all the needed settings to get you going in no time.

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The email client is doing a great job

Multiple email accounts and various security protocols are supported, so you can bet almost any mailbox (be it POP or IMAP) is set to run on the N96.

The client can download headers only or entire messages, and can be set to automatically check mail at a given interval. A nice feature allows you to schedule sending email next time an internet connection is available. There is also support for attachments, signatures and you can hardly think of something important that the Nokia N96 is missing.

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