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Nokia N96 16GB smartphone

Heavyweight upgrade packs in a hefty multimedia punch

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The N96's sound quality was extremely good through our reference Sennheiser headphones, offering a rich, deep and well-balanced music presentation. The supplied earphones aren’t bad either. Volume is notably loud, with a fierce stereo performance possible too, thanks to a pair of speakers that are also well placed for video watching. An FM radio is a low-key but useful addition to the N96's audio arsenal, as is the podcast pick-up app.

Nokia’s been steadily expanding its satellite positioning phone repertoire, and the N96 is another quality addition. Its A-GPS system is quick to lock on to satellites, usually taking under 30s from initialisation in our tests, though Nokia says it can take up to several minutes, depending on conditions. It works very effectively and reliably, with Nokia Maps software and maps for the UK and Ireland pre-loaded on our review sample. Other regional maps can be downloaded from Nokia when required, or updated over the air.

Nokia N96

The N96 can comfortably carry out duties as a music player

The addition of N-Gage gaming further broadens this handset’s appeal. The sophisticated game-playing is aided by the additional buttons provided on the media player slider, giving it more of a console feel than most phones have. Gamers may be keen on the neat graphics, multi-player and online community elements of the N-Gage service, but even so-so players may be tempted to try out some of trial N-Gage games available.

With Wi-Fi and HSDPA, the N96’s browsing experience is pretty good. Not iPhone good, but pages are swiftly delivered and quickly rendered, and Flash is supported.

A decent helping of regular Nokia apps are included as standard, including instant messaging and email. Organiser tools include calendar, notes, calculator, clocks and converter functions, plus there are Office and PDF document readers, which can be used to view files sent as email attachments or copied over to the phone. Other apps include a voice recorder, voice commands and text reading apps. Plenty more S60 apps can be downloaded.

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Next page: Verdict

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