So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Video camera performance, features, native Wi-Fi, included 1GB mini-SD card, TV-output option, swivel design, mirror front
- Still a chunky handset, sluggish user interface, average still camera performance
The N93i is basically the N93 on a slimming diet, but the improvements in design are more than welcome.
Price$ 1,399.00 (AUD)
Nokia has added to their N-series range with the Nokia N93i, a cosmetic upgrade to the N93. The N93i retains the same form factor, but adds a stylish, metallic silver finish, and mirror front. The N93i has also been trimmed down considerably, although it still remains a chunky handset. Once again, Nokia has created a distinctive, swivelling 3G camera phone that offers reasonable video quality, TV out and an array of wireless connectivity options.
The N93i has good voice call quality, although the volume could have been louder, especially when calling in a noisy environment. In terms of regular phone features Nokia is generous, offering SMS, MMS and e-mail support and also providing full T9 predictive text input. The N93i runs the Symbian Series 60 interface, so a 1000-entry phone book and regular call logs are included, along with calendar, alarm, calculator, converter, notes and voice recorder functions. Unfortunately, the N93i still has a sluggish interface. Navigating the menu and opening applications is slower than expected. Start-up time is over 20 seconds and swivelling the handset to change the orientation resulted in a couple of seconds delay as the screen realigned.
The N93i has Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0, infrared and USB 2.0 via a Pop-Port interface. A USB data cable is included in the package, which means users can transmit and synchronise data between the phone and their PC straight out of the box using the supplied Nokia PC suite software.
The N93i is capable of playing MP3, AAC and MPEG4 files thanks to the supplied RealPlayer software and there is also a stereo FM radio with 10 presets. Unfortunately, the included headphones are proprietary and no 3.5mm adapter is provided in the sales package, so you'll have to purchase one separately from Nokia if your heart is set on third party headphones. The sound quality produced is above average for a mobile phone. Users can store their multimedia files on the 50MB of internal memory, and there is also a mini-SD card slot for greater storage capacity. A 1GB card is included in the sales package, although the N93i can support cards up to 2GB.
Imaging and Video
The N93i has a 3.2 megapixel auto focus camera with Carl Zeiss optics. The camera features 3x optical zoom and an integrated flash and can snap photos up to 2048 x 1536 pixels in resolution. For video calls, a secondary VGA camera is located on top of the internal screen and this can also capture images.
For still images, the N93i doesn't live up to expectations, exhibiting the same problems as most mobile phone cameras. Photos suffer from excessive image noise, a lack of sharpness and colour reproduction is below average. The saving grace of the camera is the amount of options available; there is a night mode, the ability to adjust white balance, colour tone and exposure value, all controlled via the convenient camera joystick.
Thankfully, the N93i performs much better when recording video. Although it isn't good enough to replace a standalone video camera, it is more than capable of being used for the occasional party clip. We were particularly impressed with the sound quality of recordings, which are saved in MP4 format and captured at 30fps. Our main complaint is with the location of the record button and zoom ring; they rest at the very top of the device when held on its side, making them too high to access without stretching your thumb. Once again, the camera joystick is used to adjust settings including night mode and colour tone. While recording video, the N93i can be operated with one hand, but Nokia recommends using both hands for optimal stability.
A noteworthy feature of the N93i is the TV-output option, which means users can connect the phone to any television with a composite AV input using the supplied TV-out cable. Connecting the N93i to a television also allows navigation of the entire phone, including reading and sending messages, playing games, listening to music and watching video.
Although the N93i has been slimmed down from its predecessor's size, it remains one of the larger 3G phones on the market, measuring 101mm x 44mm x 18 mm. The best improvements have been in weight, the N93i weighing 163g, compared to the N93's 180g.
The N93i flips open and then the screen can be twisted sideways, automatically starting the dedicated camera mode. The design resembles a video camera, with a record button and zoom switch on the right hand side. Below this is a five-way navigational joystick and dedicated buttons for flash and for switching between still and video photography. The phone can also be opened sideways, ideal for watching video. We quite like the flip mechanism as it's fairly practical.
One advantage to the unit's size is its keyboard, with large keys and plenty of space between each button. Users should be able to achieve fast typing speeds when messaging or emailing. The rest of the controls are standard; two selection buttons, a five-way navigational pad, answer and end call keys and dedicated buttons for edit, menu, multimedia and clear.
The N93i has a 256,000 TFT internal screen, with a 240 x 320 pixel resolution. The standout feature of the 2.4in display is the light sensor, which automatically adjusts the screen and keypad brightness depending on lighting conditions. An external OLED display on the front of the handset displays caller ID information and the colour can be changed from a selection of red, green, blue, white or pink. Also on the front is a status LED, for any incoming calls or messages. Users can set different colours to correspond to events including missed calls and e-mails, unread messages and battery charging.
According to Nokia, battery life provides up to five hours of talk time and 240 hours of standby time. Although these figures aren't outstanding, they are significant when you consider the video recording capabilities of this phone.
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