Nokia N90

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Nokia N90
  • Nokia N90
  • Nokia N90
  • Nokia N90
  • Expert Rating

    2.00 / 5


  • 2.0 Megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and autofocus, external screen, distinctive design, crisp internal screen with high resolution, display light sensor


  • Size and weight, small displays, lack of regular headphone jack, poor external speaker, extremely slow interface, no vibration, poor sound quality for MP3’s, slow loading times at start-up, expensive

Bottom Line

The N90 is certainly an excellent camera phone but its size and weight and extremely slow interface, amongst other issues, leave a lot to be desired. At this inflated price, we expect much better.

Would you buy this?

Nokia's N-Series line of phones has been highly anticipated for some time. In the clamshell N90, Nokia has created a distinctive, swiveling 3G camera phone which takes quality photos, but has sacrificed size and weight to do so.

Measuring 113mm x 51mm x 24mm and weighing a hefty 173g, the N90 is one of the largest Nokia's to hit the market and its bulky frame does not sit well in your hands. While we appreciate the stylish swivel design that Nokia has developed, we don't think this justifies the units sheer size and weight.

The design of the N90 makes it one of the most unique phones in the market and those who enjoy mobile phone imaging will surely appreciate the camera operation. The clamshell design N90 flips open after which the screen can be twisted sideways, automatically starting the dedicated photography mode. The design resembles a small video camera with a red record button and a small joystick to adjust camera settings that can be controlled by your right hand. Other functions are accessed by the two buttons at the top of the screen, which are controlled with your left hand. While recording video or taking pictures, the 2.0 mega pixel camera can be operated with one hand, but Nokia recommends using both hands for optimal image stabilisation.

The record button on the camera is sensitive: just a slight press will focus the image and a further press will begin recording when in video mode or take a photo in still shot mode. Supporting a resolution of up to 1600 x 1200 pixels, the quality of images we uploaded to our PC were very impressive to say the least and the Carl Zeiss lens that the N90 boasts certainly lives up to expectations.

The N90 has both an internal and external screen. The 2.1 inch internal screen was striking, but considering there is plenty of extra space, we feel Nokia could have accommodated a much larger display. The external screen displays basic information such as battery life, signal strength, operator information, time information, status indicators and the name of the currently active profile, The standout feature of the N90 display is the light sensor, which automatically adjusts the screen or keypad light brightness and dims or brightens these depending on lighting conditions. This is useful when you don't want the phone lighting up an entire room, such as in a movie cinema.

The N90 is capable of playing MP3 and AAC files with the supplied RealPlayer software. Unfortunately, the sound quality is poor for a unit which emphasises its multimedia features. The external speaker is extremely harsh, especially at louder volume levels. The supplied headphones are an improvement, but still far from the quality you should be expecting from a handset in this price range. The lack of a standard headphone jack is also a limitation as only the Nokia headphones supplied in the package can be used with the N90. Other multimedia handsets, like the Sony Ericsson W800i, use their proprietary jack but provide an adapter in the package so that any headphones can be used, but Nokia has failed to include this with the N90.

The N90 only contains 27MB of internal memory which can be used for contacts, text messages, multimedia messages, ringing tones, images, video clips, calendar notes, to-do list and applications. Thankfully, there is an option to expandable the memory with a MMC (MultiMedia Card) slot and a 64MB card is included in the sales package.

The N90 is well equipped with standard mobile phone features. The unit offers SMS, MMS and e-mail support and also provides full T9 messaging. We had no problems with the keypad which was quite responsive, but those who message frequently may be disappointed with the slow interface. Much to our surprise there is no included vibrating alert on the N90, which is puzzling to say the least. This is a feature which is generally standard across the entire mobile phone range. It is even seen on most low end pre-paid units, so it's omission from a handset in this price range is a mystery.

Calendar, alarm, calculator, converter, notes and voice recorder functions are all present, as is support for GPRS and WAP 2.0. For connectivity, the N90 provides integrated Bluetooth 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.

The biggest drawback of the N90 is the interface, which is shockingly slow. Start-up times were over 30 seconds, shutter lag was about one second and writing the image to the phones memory took an inconceivable four to five seconds. Browsing through the menu was also slow and delays were experienced when selecting a menu item. We found the menu navigation was frustrating and not what we have come to expect from Nokia. In a multimedia device such as this one, such delays are unacceptable.

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