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Nokia N93: First Impressions

A couple of days ago, the Nokia N93 arrived in my mailbox.  This is Nokia’s follow on to the very sexy N90 camera phone (or, as the good burghers of Nokia would prefer me to name it — Multimedia Computer).  It’s a video bloggers dream tool. 

I pulled it out of the box, snapped a charger in, and waited until the next day before inserting my SIM.  The SIM slot is underneath the back cover.  It’s in a fairly obvious spot, but getting the cover off is a bit of a chore.  It seems that every new Nokia phone has a new, and equally obtuse, trick to getting the battery cover off.  In this case?  Well, just pull.  It doesn’t break, trust me, although it seems like it might.

Once back together, the phone has a few extra pieces to add on – a wrist strap so, like a camera, you’re always at the ready for the picture; a lens cap so you don’t scratch the 3.2 megapixel Carl Zeiss optics;  a cute little faux suede bag to carry the phone in, which I would gladly have traded for a belt holster. Here’s the total package.  Is it a camera, or is it a phone?

On first boot, the N93 runs you through a quick setup wizard asking you where you live, what time it is, and what the date is.  It’s a huge improvement over the N90 setup, which had no idea where Ottawa was at all.  And, unlike the N91 setup wizard, the N93 setup wizard knew that Ottawa was in the GMT -5 zone, not GMT -4.  My preference, however, would have been to have the phone identify location, time and date by cell-tower triangulation and network time rather than manual input.  Not hard, and it would have been a nice touch.  Still, it’s nice to see the incremental improvement.

Next, I set up the PC Suite Software.  I’ve reached the point now where I don’t trust the CD’s that Nokia ships, so I headed to the Nokia site, and downloaded the latest software.  Worked like a charm, and now I am bluetooth synching between both my home PC and my work laptop.  My recommendation?  Synch from PC to handset only, and not bidirectionally. Previous versions of PC Synch didn’t handle timezone changes well.  I haven’t tested this one, but I don’t particularly want to spend eight or nine hours correcting changes it might have made in my Outlook calendar.  Better safe than sorry — make Outlook the master, and tell PC Synch to send data only one way.  You’re not likely to be entering address book and calendar entries from the phone handset anyway. 

Like the N90, this phone is a flip phone with a swivel hinge.  Flip it open and it’s a phone.  Swivel the screen, and it becomes a camera.  It even has a  mode where the swivel screen sits horizontally flush against the camera body for video conferencing, previewing your photos, or surfing the web.  Very cool!

The rest of my first day I spent trucking around, using the phone, snapping photos and surfing the web.  I had  a good experience, although there was definitely a learning curve.  as I’ve said in the past, I find Nokia’s software obtuse.  For instance, the very useful function of being able to switch your phone immediately to vibrate mode is buried deep within the settings menus, and heaven help you if this is the first time you’ve ever tried to configure WiFi networking.  Nokia could do themselves a favor by hiring a good UI designer. 

Battery life is limited when you use Bluetooth, Wifi,  the phone and the camera regularly.  I had about 12 short phone calls during the day, shot some video and photos, and used the wifi.  One charge lasted me just one day, which is poor compared to, say, my Blackberry 8700 which can last 3 or 4 days on a single charge.   Still, so long as it doesn’t run out before the day is over, that’s a limitation I can live with. 

I was worried that I’d find the N93 too bulky.  While it is big, it’s not so large that it won’t fit in the front pocket of my jeans.  A belt holster, while convenient, isn’t 100% necessary.  Moreover, unlike the N90, this phone has a vibrate mode, which means that it can actually be used in a business setting. 

Stay tuned… I’ve got lots more to say about this incredible phone.

Other blogs writing about the N93: Steve Garfields Nokia Test Center Blog, Symbian Freak, Ken Camp’s Digital Common Sense, and the early N93 Blog.  GadgetNutz is also reporting a firmware update for the N93 will be available next week.   

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Brandt November 11, 2006, 10:51 am

    It looks kinda corny to wear the phone in a belt holster.

  • Silver Surfer November 15, 2006, 5:04 am

    Hi Alec, if you like to change to silent profile from default screen, just press the # key for > 2 seconds. To activate general profile again, just press # again. Works with the most S60 devices.


  • Alec November 15, 2006, 7:49 pm

    Many thanks for that tip!

  • Holyboy27 December 9, 2006, 3:45 am

    i need to ask. do we need to like charge up the n93 battery like for 10 hours when we first get it? the battery life of my n93 sux… recharge almost daily!

  • Alec December 9, 2006, 4:48 am

    Hi Holyboy — I charged mine overnight. And yes, it does suck through batteries, especially when using the WiFi.

  • UB Hondye February 20, 2011, 6:42 am

    I really want buy one,

    i am living in the other country,how do i pay.


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