Ninja Mania Month with WOM World – The Challenge is on!

My N96 trial device arrived from our friendly WOM World a couple of days ago, and during the next month, i will be putting together this review during this time, breaking down my experiences with the device.  Why a month you ask?  Well, not only did WOM World send me a nice new shiny Nokia N96, they also sent it in a big black box, with a Ninja suit, which I will come to in a moment.   Im in the running, along with several other bloggers, Mark Guim of The NokiaBlog, Norman John of SymbianWorld, Rita, AKA Dotsisx, our only Female Ninja in this challenge from Symbian Guru.  Also in the running, are, NokiaAddict, Erazer007, XJ911, and last by no means least, JonnyBruha.

All of us have to complete a weekly challenge set my WOM World, where we have to use the N96, and its many features.  The first weeks challenge is to Get several geo-tagged photos of us wearing these ninja costumes, but not just any photos, they have to be creative, and enthusiastic, and then once done, these images need to be uploaded to Nokia viNe, which we have all been given a Closed Beta application pre-installed on our N96 devices.  I have no idea at this time what the next challenge is, but will be carrying out the challenge in hand at the weekend, beginning of November.

The winner of this WOM Ninja N96 trail Challenge will get 5, yes, FIVE N96 devices to send out to five lucky readers of both my blog, and to trial for themselves for a couple of weeks.!

Here are some photos from the first challenge, I certainly have some touch competition thats for sure.

JonnyBruhaMark Guims friendNokiaAddictNormanJohnRitaXj911

Im running way behind everyone else for some reason, I was last to get my box of tricks, and not only that, I was missing some parts to my costume.  I have also been getting over flu, and an ear infection, not to mention a recent MRI scan, but we won’t go into that.  I will compiling my review here, and challenges too along the way.

Ok, onto the Nokia N96, and my initial thoughts upon unboxing it(video to follow).  Well, my first impressions were that it certainly does not feel like a £500 handset, it weighs 128g, but don’t get me wrong, it don’t feel cheap either, well, apart from the back design, which I do not like at all.  The built-in kickstand is incorporated within the this plastic battery cover, which does feel cheap, and pointless, as when pulled out, and placing the device on a flat surface, it seems to be unstead, and almost tried to topple over.  The actual kickstand itself is metal, but I can actually see this being broken on many N96’s in time.  Nokia should of focused more on lens protection rather than a kickstand, and I believe this is echoed in many reviews of the device.

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Looks wise, the N96 is everything I thought it would be, that being very sleek, and stylish, and does grow on you, it certainly has presence amongst other Nokia devices I have, however, looking like an N81 on steroids it makes you wonder what made Nokia to keep to this all too familiar design on such a high end handset.

Now onto the dual slide of the N96, its rock solid, and so much better than that of the N95, if peels very positive in both directions, and is spring assisted to, with a nice positive end stop in each position.  Thumbs up in the slider department so far.  Lets see how its fairing in a few weeks.

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The key pad is a little tricky to get used to after you have been using an N95, or N81 for quite a while, you appear to have to reach that little further to get the key you wish to press, but in time, you start to realize, it aint that bad, and you hardly make any error key presses whilst performing a text, or document.  Illumination of the keypad is just right too, a nice soft glow, with no noticeable leakage, however, there is a little light leakage around the multimedia keys.

While talking about the multimedia keys, these, again, are very similar to the layout of the N81, but obviously spread out a little more.  I have to admit, I have not yet made one wrong key press, which Im impressed with, I was dreading it thinking it would be the same as the N81 where you try and press the green call key, and you end up in the menu, but no, perfect, not too sure about the multimedia silver key though, this key is silver, and sits slightly higher that the other piano black flush keys.  The Navi wheel, if you can call it that seeing as its not actually got that feature of being a touch sensitive navigation wheel such as the N81, I hear this was scrapped.  There is a setting in the device for the Navi Wheel, that being turning on and off the breathing.!

Whilst we are talking about the settings, there are several additional settings in this device differentiating from the N95.  The N96 has Feature Pack 2, which looks almost identical to Feature Pack 1 of the N95, but with some great additions, the first one being Photos, when you go into photos, you will be pleasantly surprised that you can now actually keep your various photos, and videos in a personalized order, with captured, Moths, Albums, Tags sub folders.

Im disappointed in the dual LED flash, and so wish Nokia had fitted a Xenon flash, same as that of the N82.  If the N96 was fitted with a Xenon, this would of made the device, almost perfect.

The N96 shares the same BL-5F 950mAh battery of that of the N95, and its fitted across the width of the device, and not the length of the device like in the N95.  Due to the software changes, and the underclocked processor in the N96, the battery lasts a lot longer than it does in the N95 running V30 firmware.  I have personally tried to fit into the N96, an BL-6F 1200 mAh battery that is normally fitted in the N95 8GB, now although the battery fits nice and snug in the N96 itself, and powers the device, you cannot get the plastic back to fit, and, clip into place fully.  Maybe with the same method of DIY that was done to get this battery into the N95-1, where the actual battery surface was sanded down a couple of mm, then the BL-6F should fit, not that I would recommend anyone to do this.

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Exterior buttons of the N96 are similar to other Nokia devices, on the top (Right side) we have the camera capture button, which depresses well within the actual outer casing, which a fellow N95users forum member experienced problems with this, and said it made taking photos that much more tricky.  On the same side of the N96, we have the Volume up and down, which are very responsive.  No other keys on that side, as the multimedia key now sides on the front, same as the N81.  On each corner of this side of the N96, there is a wrap round speaker gill, hiding a pair of great speakers.  They don’t sound as tinny as I expected, and also while we are talking about sound, Im guessing the N96 has some kind of miniature pre-amp circuit, because when I connected my Bose in-ear headphones (the cause of my ear infection!) briefly, the sound quality was a hell of a lot louder than my N95 experience, more lower end sound for base, and higher tones were more pure, and listening to Accustic Guitar tracks was superb!  I could actually hear more detail than I could on my N95.

Back to the exterior of the N96.  On the opposite of the device, we have the MicroSD door, which I found quite tough to open at first.  This should support upto 32GB, however, being as this size MicroSD is not available just yet, seeing as the 16GB MicroSD has only just become available, I can confirm that this 16GB MicroSD does indeed work very well in the N96.!

Why of why didn't Nokia allow usb charging on the N96?  Instead, we have the new micro USB, and mini charge port on the bottom of the device, and on the top of the device we have the power on button, 3.5mm audio socket, and a neat keypad lock spring switch, which I have used a few times already, and is very responsive.

When I relieved this N96, it was running its first release firmware, V10, which was buggy as hell, and really slowed down the device, I quickly upgraded firmware to V11.101 OTA (Over The Air), this was the first time I have tried this OTA update, and was a little concerned about losing everything on the device that >WOM had preinstalled for me, however, after just 5 minutes connected to my home WIFI, the new firmware was downloaded to the device, and then another 5 minutes went by, and the phone was asking for my sim card pin number.!  10 minutes, and all done, and dusted, and not only that, everything remained on the phone, and all works how it should, no need to reinstall anything, super smashing great, however, you would of thought such a new device, just coming out of its box, it should have the latest firmware available, and if not, then when the new owner switches on the device, and starts setting it up, he or she should be notified by a push service that there is a new firmware version available, with maybe a brief explanation of bug fixes, known issues, and maybe a changelog, so everything is known, and understood what they will benefit from with a new firmware version.

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Onto the N96 GPS, being fitted to the back of the device has improved gaining a lock so much quicker,, there is no need to open the slide like on the N95 to get a lock, I managed to get a lock in less than a minute, which amazed me to be honest, I was just getting comfortable sitting on our balcony, and bam, full lock, and position, thumbs up in this department, well done Nokia!

As many of you already know, but for those that don’t, the N96 shares the same screen size as the N95 8GB, 2.8” which pretty much dominates the front of the device.  Also on the front of the device you will find the secondary CIF videocall camera to the right of the ear piece.

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The main camera of the N96 is the same as the n95 models, 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, Tessar 2.8/5.2 Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, video(VGA 30fps), with dual led flash.

What I would like to see Nokia incorporate into the build of future devices with such great cameras, is a standard half inch standard tripod thread, maybe embedded in the outer casing, with a slide over dust cover.  I feel this would encourage more people to use their handsets as cameras, taking advantage of their devices capabilities.

More to follow soon, including my first challenge in the N96 Ninja Trial Challenge from WOM World.

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2 Responses to “Ninja Mania Month with WOM World – The Challenge is on!”

  1. Just discovered your blog. Great review!

  2. Thanks.! I thought you were already in my neighbourhood, don't know what happened there lol.

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