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By Thomas McKinnon 3 October 2008

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No review of the Nokia N96 would be complete without some mention of its forerunner; the Nokia N95.The similarities between the handsets are startling – enough so for many a reviewer to brand the N96 as nice, but somewhat boring if not altogether old hat.

While the drawing of parallels is spot-on the relegation of the N96 to the outer-reaches of tedium are wide of the mark. Yes the N96 shares GPS features with the N95, it also has a 5 megapixel camera and it even comes in the same dual-slide form factor. What such reviews are missing is that the N96 offers so much more than the N95 without forgetting to include what we loved about it.

The N96 has a truly remarkable 5 megapixel camera which features Carl Zeiss optics, auto-focus and auto-exposure. The defining quality of its camera, however, is its dual LED flash which genuinely lights up a room – making it of use rather than a mere check on a spec sheet. Geo-tagging rounds off the handsets image capturing qualities allowing for a greater social networking element.

But, what sets the N96 apart is its video features. The phone has a DSPs and video acceleration chip which make its video viewing and capturing features second to none. This chip set has the bonus of enhancing 3D mobile gaming on Nokia’s latest N-Gage platform. As a truly unique feature the N96 comes standard with DVB-H Mobile TV so you can watch live TV broadcasts. What’s more it is a PVR in your pocket – allowing you to rewind live TV. The device’s dedicated multimedia controls, 2.8-inch QVGA screen and standard 16GBs of storage further enhance the multimedia experience on offer.

With all the connectivity features we have come to expect from the NSeries, video calling, Nokia Maps 2.0, a decent music player, much improved battery life and a stylish exterior as basic features the N96 is anything but boring.

PROS
The 5 megapixel camera is fantastic and the DSPs and video acceleration chip make its video viewing and capturing features second to none.
CONS
Questionable build quality, web browser a little sketchy and a Xenon flash would have been a nice edition.
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