How to make your Nokia N95 more like an iPhone

My recent switch to an iPhone after using a Nokia N95 for the last year and a half has been great, there’s a load of features on the iPhone that just make a load of sense.

I’d always been keen to try out the various apps available from the Nokia Labs website on my N95 so I thought I’d just do a quick post with links to apps that can make your N95 just a little bit more like an iPhone! These will also work on many other S60 Symbian OS Nokia phones and they are also free downloads from the Nokia Labs website!


SMS management on the iPhone is great as it gives you a view that’s similar to that found in an instant messaging app like iChat / MSN etc. It’s great as it allows you to see the messages in the form of a conversation. The Conversation app from Nokia allows to you something pretty similar.

Contacts on Ovi

This app mainly provides an Instant Messenger experience but also adds some cool features like status updates and location updates. If you’ve been envious of the Brightkite app for iPhone then this is something similar.

Friend View

If you need a bit of a Twitter fix (ok, I know that you can get actual Twitter apps for Symbian!) or want more of a Brightkite experience then Friend View offers location and micro-blogging service.

Nokia Audiobooks

The iPhone is, obviously, a great music player that will also play audiobooks with various controls. The N95 in comparison is an ok music player but isn’t up to playing audiobooks. However, Nokia Audiobooks fills that gap by allowing playback of highly efficient audiobooks by using tools like bookmarking and browsing chapters.

Set your camera to low quality and don’t record video

Ok, this last one is a joke. It’s true that in comparison to the N95 the iPhone camera is not great, it’s poor in low light and doesn’t support video recording at all. So if you want an authentic iPhone experience on your N95 change your picture settings on the N95 to their lowest and you’ll get something similar to the iPhone! (although probably still better!).

Goodbye N95, Hello iPhone

It’s been 18 months since I got my Nokia N95 and I’ve enjoyed using it, the combination of a phone with a good quality still camera and also pretty good video camera along with wifi access has been great to use.

Since getting an iPod touch last christmas it was pretty much inevitable that once my phone contract was up that I would switch to an iPhone. Although the N95’s killer app is a great camera, the array of applications for the Nokia N95 pales in comparison to what is available for the iPhone and iPod touch.

In contrast to the N95 the iPhone’s biggest weakness is its camera, much lower resolution stills and no video support at all. However, overall the iPhone is a much better device so I will live with the camera as it is and will probably keep a pay as you go sim in my N95 and still make use of it for filming and photos. The iPhone’s killer app is the fact that there are many killer apps available for it due to the success of Apple’s App Store.

When I got the N95 back in June 2007 I called it my iPhone substitute, it’s served me well but I’m enjoying using my iPhone a lot. It’s sure to be the subject of a few blog posts in the months to come.


Nokia N95, more thoughts, token iPhone reference ;)

Well, I’ve had a week or so to play around with my Nokia N95 now although I haven’t really made use of the music or video playing aspect of it other than to record a little bit of video myself. But here’s a few more thoughts about my experience with it so far.

Get a case

On my old Nokia N80 I used to find it sometimes slid open whilst in my pocket, although I don’t think I ever called anyone by accident fortunately. But with the N95 sliding open both upwards and downwards I find this happens way more easily. I’m going to buy myself another Crumpler PP90 neoprene case to, hopefully, keep it from opening up. On the plus side though with the N95, it will auto-lock itself whether it has been slid open or not if the keys are not touched. So if it does get unlocked accidentally it will at least lock itself again.

Use the camera in good lighting

Despite the fact that there is a 5 megapixel camera in the N95 I’ve found that it still likes reasonably light environments to take good shots. Although a couple of test photos and video that I shot at home definitely performed better than my N80 would have done, so there is an improvement there and a lot closer to performing like a regular digital still camera worth it’s salt would do. You do need to give the autofocus / image stabilising time to kick in before you can take a shot so it’s not great if you need a snap in a hurry. I also like that there is a lense cover so you can stop dust getting into it, although I keep forgetting to close it!

Here’s a couple of sample shots, one taken with my N95 and one with my N80 for comparison.

Photo taken with Nokia N95
Picture taken with Nokia N95 – Click image to view full size image

Photo taken with Nokia N80
Picture taken with Nokia N80 – Click image to view full size image

WIFI Connection much easier to use

Connecting to wifi with the N95 is much easier than the N80, using the N80 you could browse for open WIFI networks using Connection Manager (Connect->Conn. mgr->Availab. WLAN) but when you tried to use ‘Options->Define access point it basically redirected you to go into ‘Connection Settings’ and do it there instead. A total wild goose chase and very unuser-friendly. I don’t know if that is just on the Orange firmware or not, maybe that works for some people?

On the N95 you can simply click browse for a WIFI network and simply select and join it by providing the appropriate password etc. Much better.

It’s available in the UK, unlike the iPhone

Unlike an iPhone you can get it here and now in the UK! I really don’t intend to compare the N95 with Apple’s iPhone as I don’t think it’s right to compare them feature by feature. Also the fact that I don’t have an iPhone means I can personally do it! My friend Alyn in Toronto has gotten his hands on one though (and has managed to activate it!), Alyn has written a pretty good overview of his experiences with it so far, minus the phone calling part, although he’s going to test that out on a visit to the US very soon.

I got Alyn to send over a couple of photos of it with Suburbia in the browser just so I could see he wasn’t faking it ;) on the iPhone! portrait mode in Safari on iPhone

I also got Alyn to send over a picture of it next to some of his other devices just for size comparison.

Dell Axim, iPhone, 5G iPod, Motorola phone
Left to right: Dell Axim 51v, Apple iPhone, 5G iPod with video and Motorola L7 SLVR

That’s all for now, I will probably write some more about the N95, I still need to properly put the video camera through it’s paces and see how the claims of DVD quality footage live up.


Nokia N95 first thoughts – my iPhone substitute!

Picture of Nokia N95I just got a Nokia N95 today, I’m pretty stoked to get this phone especially as I got it for free, although on condition of an 18 month contract with Orange. I notice that Amazon list the N95 without sim card for £459 so I’m happy with the deal I got from Orange.

iPhone substitute?

The phone is pretty slick, it’s a slider phone but it opens up both ways, one way for keyboard, the other for media player controls.

Although not quite as easy as simply rotating the device like the iPhone it is very easy to toggle from portrait to landscape view in most applications. This is especially good for web browsing I’ve found.

This is a rough list of features of the N95:

  • 5 megapixel camera, Carl Zeiss optics
  • DVD-like video, 640×480 pixel MP4/AAC
  • WIFI
  • Integral GPS & mapping functionality
  • 2.6" display 320×240 pixels
  • 160mb internal memory, Micro SD card slot
  • Symbian S60 Series 3.1 OS

I’m beginning to play around with it so I’ll write some more once I’ve gotten into it. I’m interested to see how the still images and video footage works out, the little I’ve used them so far is indoors with fairly low-light conditions and it’s definitely an improvement over my old Nokia N80 for still images.

Snappy interface

One thing I did notice is that it felt very responsive when navigating around the various applications. I read a few reviews of the N95 which criticised the N95 for being sluggish, I found the total opposite, maybe there was an earlier version of the firmware which didn’t work so well for the people who wrote these reviews. It’s certainly a lot better than any other Symbian based phone I’ve had.

Symbian Applications

One of the reasons I love the Symbian OS is the various applications that are available, not just commercial apps but various freeware / open source apps.

I’m going to have a good look for some interesting applications that really make use of all the hardware thats packed into the N95. One application I came across already is Movino:

Movino is a collection of applications for streaming and broadcasting live video from smartphones. The main applications are the following:

  • A client for S60 smartphones
  • A smartphone client for J2ME
  • A gui application and a QuickTime component for OS X
  • A video server for linux
  • A drupal web front end

Basically it lets you use the phone as a webcam source for things like Skype chats etc. I’m going to have to try this on my G5 tower at work and see how it goes, it sounds pretty cool though.

I’ll write more once I’ve used it a bit more.