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Nokia N96 - Future phone

Nokia N96

Nokia N96

12 February 2008
Written by David Hall

Nokia announced four phones as part of World Mobile Congress 2008, and marked the occasion in Sydney with a river cruise through the harbour. The N96 is a high-end multimedia computer (Nokia are moving away from the term ‘phone’ for obvious reasons…) that has been optimized for video and TV viewing.

The N96’s LCD is proof of this: at 2.8” inches and capable of displaying up to 16 million colours, the display is perfectly suited for multimedia playback. The display has a standard 240 x 320 pixel resolution and can be oriented horizontally (widescreen) or portrait. Nokia’s Series 60 Feature Pack 2 platform powers the user interface, with 128MB of RAM and 256MB of system memory.

For any multimedia-oriented handset to be successful there needs to be enough memory to handle a wealth of video, audio, and other files. There’s been no beating around the bush by Nokia: the N96 has a whopping 16GB of onboard storage. This rivals many of Apple’s signature iPod music players, and many other dedicated audio players currently on the market. If you ever find that 16GB isn’t enough, a microSD card can be used to boost the memory that little bit further.

The mobile television standard DVB-H is supported by the N96 (Class C 470-750MHz) allowing you to tune into television stations while out and about. The DVB-H standard is not publicly available in Australia as yet, but plans are in the works to bring it Down Under.

Static video files can, of course, be played back by the N96’s built in media player. Video formats supported include MPEG4, WMV, RealVideo, and Flash Video – with support for OMA DRM 1, 2, and WM DRM.

Additionally, the music player supports MP3, AAC, eAAC, and WMA file formats with full support for ID3 tagging and album art display. Playlists can be edited and shared directly from the N96, with an equalizer and special visualisation features also included. The Nokia Music store allows you to purchase and download tracks directly to the handset, using the Windows Media DRM protection algorithms.

Furthering the multimedia functionality of the N96 is the handset’s built-in 5mpx digital camera. The camera uses a Carl Zeiss Optics Tessar lens to capture still images up to 2592 x 1944 pixels. The lens has auto-focus capabilities and is accompanied by auto-focus assist light a dual-LED flash. Video recording is possible at VGA (640 x 480 pixels) and 30fps, with digital video stabilisation to get rid of unsightly shakes and wobbles.

Using the N96’s built-in GPS module, images captured by the camera can have precise location information added to the file information, allowing you to organise your images based on where they were taken. The GPS module supports aGPS (assisted GPS) for faster lock-in times, and with Nokia Maps software pre-installed, getting around couldn’t be easier. Nokia are offering free maps of over 150 countries, millions of locations, and satellite imagery. That said, you must pay your operator for the download charges if using an OTA download protocol.

GSM 900, 1800, and 1900MHz 2G networks are supported by the N96, along with the high-speed 3G WCDMA 900/2100MHz networks. GPRS and EDGE data protocols can be used on the 2G bands, with HSDPA (3.6Mbit/s) available on the 3G band.

A WLAN chip has also been built in to the N96, with support for WiFi networks utilising the IEEE 802.11 b or g standards. UPnP support is also included for easily connecting to compatible devices over a wireless LAN network.

Bluetooth and USB can be used for local connectivity with mobile phones, PC’s, and other devices, with Nokia’s PC Suite and a USB data-cable included in the sales package. For audio enthusiasts, a 3.5mm stereo headset plug can also be found making it possible to connect standard headphones without need for an adapter. Bluetooth A2DP is also supported for wireless stereo audio streaming.

Powering the N96 is a lithium-ion battery pack with 950mAh capacity. Talk time is anything up to 220/150 minutes (2G/3G), with standby time up to 220/200 hours (2G/3G). Nokia estimate around 5 hours of video can be played back whilst in offline mode, or up to 14 hours of music playback – also in offline mode. TV playback using the DVB-H protocol is estimated at approximately 4 hours.

The exciting new Nokia N96 is expected to ship in the 3rd quarter of 2008 with an approximate price of 550 euros ($883AUD at time of writing).

FYI .:. Nokia N96
(ETA 3rd quarter of 2008)

Basic specifications
Network system 2G: GSM 900/1800/1900MHz (tri-band)
3G: WCDMA/HSDPA 900/2100MHz
TV: DVB-H Class C, 470-750MHz
Form factor Two-way slider
Size 103 x 55 x 18mm (possbile 20mm variations)
Weight 125 grams
Display 2.8", 16.7 million colour TFT LCD display @ 240 x 320 pixels
Battery type used Lithium-ion battery @ 950mAh
Talk/usage time* 2G: Up to 220 minutes*
3G: Up to 150 minutes*
Standby time* 2G: Up to 220 hours*
3G: Up to 200 hours*
Accompanying features
Connectivity options Bluetooth 2.0, USB 2.0, and WLAN 802.11b/g
Camera support 5mpx digital camera with Carl Zeiss Optics Tessar lens, auto-focus, focus-assist light, dual-LED flash, and VGA video recording
Data support EDGE, GPRS, and HSDPA (3.6Mbit/s)
Exchangeable covers None
Internet applications Nokia Web Browser with MiniMap, HTML, JavaScript, Flash Lite 3.0, and Flash video support
  Internal -
  External -
Yes, 16GB (128MB of RAM and 256MB system memory)
Yes, microSD
Messaging capabilities SMS/EMS, MMS, and e-mail messaging
Ringing tones Polyphonic MIDI, MP3/AAC and WMA ringing tones
Synchronisation with PC Yes, via Nokia PC Suite
System for...
  Add-on applications -
  Gaming -
  Phone -
Java MIDP 2.0
Java MIDP 2.0
Nokia Series 60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 platform
Extras supported
(not listed above)
3.5mm stereo headset jack
Video-out support
Video Centre application
aGPS module with image location-tagging
FM stereo radio

* As per manufacturer's specifications (with supplied battery)
^ Final specifications to be confirmed

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