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Review of Nokia's Zeiss equipped N90

Review by Jin Khang Ong on Tuesday October 04, 2005.

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After the release of the 6680, Nokia launched the N-series of phones bent on changing the mobile phone world with outstanding multimedia features. Like the 6680, the N90 is also a 3G-enabled mobile phone. It is equipped with a 2-megapixel auto-focus CMOS camera, which boasts a Carl Zeiss lens and a flexible form factor so users can snap their pictures in style.

The Nokia N90 is a Dual Mode phone, featuring UMTS and GSM operation, and tri-band GSM coverage (GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz). The N90 is capable of switching automatically between bands and modes. I do not have access to any 3G SIM cards so this review will be about the N90's capabilities in GSM mode. Our review unit is from Malaysia and its firmware is version 2.0527.2.3, 06-07-05, RM-42.

With a long list of features, and a camera with world renowned Carl Zeiss optics, does the N90 do justice to your images, communication needs, and of course, its hefty price tag?

Physical Aspects

When you first set eyes on the N90, the first word that comes to mind is 'bulky'. The silver and black N90 is a huge clamshell that measures 112mm x 51mm x 24mm (4.4" x 2" x .9") and weighs 173g (6.1oz). Its size is comparable with a Sony Ericsson P910, and it weighs a bit more! This makes the N90 Nokia's biggest and heaviest Series 60 smartphone. However, the N90 is no ordinary clamshell, as it has four mechanical modes. Confused? Well, the N90 can be made to look like an ordinary closed and opened clamshell (Fold open, and Fold closed modes). The next moment, it looks like a camcorder (Imaging mode) to capture photos or videos. With the flip closed, the N90 can be transformed into Camera mode to snap only pictures, not video. We'll go into more details later on in the review.

When viewing the front of the N90, you will find the camera module attached to the top of the phone. It is attached to a centre portion that works as the hinge for both the front and back flips. It also allows the camera module to be swiveled 315 degrees so that you can point the lens almost anywhere you wish. The external 128 x 128 pixel display is capable of displaying 65K colours, and it works as your viewfinder when you rotate the camera module, enabling you to snap pictures with the flip closed. It is adequately bright, but a bit difficult to use in direct sunlight. The display's low resolution makes photos look blurry and pixelated, even when they aren't. As such, it doesn't function accurately as a viewfinder. On standby however, it works just like a miniature version of the main display, giving you information like signal strength, battery life, operator name, alerts for missed calls and SMS, and it also shows you call details when you're on a call. You can also read SMS, view missed calls, and change your profile via this external display. Very useful. However, I would have liked to have been able to go through my call list as well so that I could make a call (via speaker phone or with a headset) without having to flip open the phone.

The camera module takes up about 18mm of the length of the N90, which means it is pretty large. As mentioned earlier, the module can be swiveled 315 degrees, not 360. I guess this limitation was made to ease the phone's task of flipping the viewfinder to the correct side so that you do not have to turn your phone upside down every time it's wrong. The lens is located to one side of the camera module along with the LED flash. The lens is slightly recessed, and is protected by a raised silver border. The camera module also houses the loudspeaker and Power button, located on top of the N90. Behind the camera is the battery cover with a release latch.

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About the author

Jin Khang Ong
Jin Khang Ong writes phone reviews for MobileBurn when he gets a few spare moments away from his day job as a doctor in Malaysia.

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