Hands-on with Nokia N96
A rule, the average consumer’s thought pattern isn't characterized by sophistication or depth – all he cares to consider when choosing a phone is index and functionality. Take the Nokia N95 for example – it is a do-it-all flagship, so the average Joe readily assumes the device that has one rung added to its index, specifically, the N96, should outdo the previous offering in every single way. The logic seems solid at a glance, but as we go deeper into the N96, it loses a fair share of its soundness.

Nokia has a clear-cut goal: to roll out a variety of solutions in order to settle down in different niches and for this they need similarly styled phones that pack in unique feature sets. Being resembling design-wise helps offerings that stand close together within the range appear identical to those who buy this trick, even though as far as philosophy and hardware are concerned, they couldn’t be more polarized. Basically, that’s the story of the Nokia N96 that got stuck with the “flagship” title, so now it is considered as the best S60-based solution around, which is not how things really stand. Effectively, it is a niche product that’s meant to open the range of similarly featured solutions, a feeler, if you like – dubbing an all-round new solution that hasn’t stood the test of time yet “the flagship” is somewhat reckless. Moreover, Nokia has never done such thing, but gossips care very little about that.

Nokia’s portfolio offers a couple of DVB-H capable solutions, specifically the Nokia N77 and a more dated phone, the N92. Neither of them was widely available, since they were used either in pilot television projects or tailored for particular regions (like the N77 in Taiwan, starting late fall 2007). Indeed, given that the vast majority of markets still have no DVB-H television enabled, a replica of the N73, yet armed with this functionality, was uncalled for. In March 2008, the European authorities standardized on DVB-H and from this point on will put in their efforts to support it. In this sense the Nokia N96 has a good chance to avoid the role of an ugly duckling that will never see release – thankfully, mobile television isn’t a big focus in the N96, it is rather included among all other things there.

Much like other Nseries-branded solutions, the N96 is heavy on multimedia, and delivers especially with its video department. There is a handful of things going for it – the display diagonal, hardware support for H.264 decoding, speedier videos and a folding stand that allows having the N96 on flat surfaces at a video-friendly angle.