30 May 2005

new nokia n90 preview comments

as nokia starts running out of cool 4-digit numbers to name their phones, they are now also running out of cool ideas to make their phones look unique. they've tried hideous lipstick cases, curved dialing pads, and even the fisher-price my-first-phone!

it is no surprise they have fallen back on the tried and tested patented clam-shell design pioneered by motorola. yes, in fact the rumour was that nokia never used the clam shell design because they had to pay motorola license fees. problem is that nearly all the phones in japan are clam-shell, so there must be some reason it is so popular.

mobile review has a nice preview of the new n90, which features a carl-zeiss lens on a phone. for those who don't know, carl-zeiss is a very famous lens brand on high-end lenses, and now also features in isights. this phone and the sony ericsson k750i are the high-end cameraphones to look out for. they approach the 2-3megapixel mark yet maintaining their phone look to encourage people to carry them around.

 Review Image Nokia N90 Pic3

the phone has a weird clamshell design containing a swivel joint so they can fit a nice big lens to solve the big complaint about camera phones on their low quality lenses. actually, if you look at that, it's kinda like the isight's construction. EXCEPT, that someone has taken apart the isight and the lens isn't actually that big!

back to the phone itself, it is part of nokia's new n-series, which i guess stands for nokia? i'm actually more interested in the other n-series phones, especially the n91 which is basically the ipod mini killer with phone. the only thing that can stop the n91 from being the ipod mini killer if it gets the software wrong. and that is something that nokia has proven it can screw up time and time again! (btw, why is nokia's website so hideously covered with flash?)

anyway, back to the n90, i'm more interested in the software. it seems like they've prettied up their icons a bit to make them look more like sony ericsson's icons (some weird 3d perspective). the phone physically is quite big, bigger than my nokia 6600. the phone has two colour LCDs, one on the outside, one on the inside. this one actually has an MMC slot that doesn't need you to remove the battery to access. finally they learn their lesson from the n-gage disaster!

 Review Image Nokia N90 Pic47-1

the thing i notice, and the review also talks about is the screen fonts. notice the photo above, the n90 is on the left and an old nokia phone is on the right. they've seemed to have swapped the title and the button bar fonts around. the top fonts are fatter and the bottom fonts are thinner. i'd prefer if they used a consistent font in the interface rather than whatever suits their mood on the day.

other notable thing on the software side is it is still symbian series 60. also plays AAC and AAC+ (what is that?) that is the same for the n91 i was talking about earlier. i noticed that realplayer is on the n90, so maybe the music playing features for the n91 is also from realplayer. if it is, then i'd stay clear from the phone if my experience with realplayer on palm is anything to go by.

realplayer on palm looks nice, but is clunky and hard to use. i ended up using aeroplayer on my palm zire 71 to get any decent performance. realplayer would also refuse to play mp3s with low bitrates, etc. all sorts of gotchas that you wouldn't expect. i hope their version on n91 is not going to be as crap.

finally, there are some videos in the preview on the operating speed. suffice to say, i'm disappointed with the speed of the menus. please, can we have something faster than my nokia 6600 menus? i don't want to wait 3 seconds for my menus to show!

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