Nokia's latest 3G smartphone is a small upgrade to the N93 and comes in a stylish package. Loaded with the latest features in mobile phone technology, the N93i is perfect for anyone looking for a reasonable quality camera that can double as a mobile phone or PDA.
The N93i keeps all the features of its N93 predecessor packed in a slightly smaller and more stylish package. Measuring in at 108 by 58 by 25 millimetres, and weighing 163 grams, this clamshell phone remains at the large end of town and always feels like it's weighing you down when left in a pocket. That's the price you pay for a phone with practically every major new technology inside it.
The front of the N93i includes a mirrored finish with a hidden LCD screen that looks very impressive, but we can't help but feel that it will be covered with scratches in no time. The keypad comprises a flat metal surface with well-spaced buttons, while the rest of the N93i is finished in silver plastic with a contrasting dark grey surface used on the underside. The most striking element, however, is the Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar autofocus lens as used in Sony's very successful slim range of digital cameras.
The N93i includes an integrated 3.2-megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom and LED flash, plus a rotating viewfinder. Flipping the screen to its side automatically changes the orientation of the image to landscape mode, while rotating it upwards automatically puts the phone into camera mode. The main display measures 2.4 inches, with a 320 x 240 pixel resolution and 16 million colours, which is a major improvement over the older N93's 262K-colour screen. The N93i also comes with a lot of useful gear, including a travel charger and headset, Nokia connectivity and video-out cables, and a 1GB miniSD card on top of the N93i's built-in 50MB storage space.
The build quality of the N93i is not up to Nokia's usual standard. The plastic on the back cover feels just a little bit too thin, and the screen rotating mechanism doesn't feel very solid.
Nokia has stuck with the standard Symbian S60 3rd Edition user interface, which looks amazing and is very simple to use thanks to the high-resolution display. The menus feature sharp and colourful icons and the text is easy to read. Any application can be run in landscape mode with a simple twist of the screen, and can also be viewed on a TV using the supplied video-out cable. Connecting the N93i to a TV is a plug-and-play affair, and you're able to view the whole user interface of the phone on the TV to make navigating easier.
The integrated digital camera allows you to record high-quality videos in MP4 format at 30 frames per second and with 640 x 480 resolution. There's 3x optical zoom and up to 8x digital, and at the highest quality, the 1GB SD card should allow roughly 45 minutes of recording. With this much storage on board, you can easily store over 500 still images at a maximum 2048 x 1536 resolution.
Connectivity is taken care of with tri-band GSM support, 3G, Bluetooth 2.0, infrared and Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) as standard as well as ports for USB and TV-out. When you're not working, Nokia has provided an integrated FM radio and music player with support for MP3, AAC, M4A, eAAC+ and AAC+ formats. The N93i also comes with RealPlayer and can play most video files including 3GP and MP4 in full screen mode.
When turning on the N93i for the first time, the first thing you realize is how impressive the screen looks compared with the previous N93, which itself had a great screen. The screen is sharp and vibrant, although you'll need to cover it in direct sunlight as it does get washed out. Images and videos taken with the camera are excellent compared with most camera-phones, and even rivals those of standalone digital cameras. We printed several 6x4-inch photos from the N93i and only those taken in low light were deemed to be unacceptable. However, sound recording for videos is a step down from the older N93 but the quality of the loudspeaker is great, even at max volume.
Connecting to Wi-Fi is simple: the N93i will list the networks it detects, you enter the wireless encryption key, and the phone is connected. The high-resolution display and Nokia's in-built web browser make the internet experience reasonably good for a phone.
By moving to a slimmer design Nokia had to shrink the size of its battery, which is now a 950mAh BL-5F unit instead of the longer lasting 1100mAh battery used in the N93. The battery can't cope with filming and watching videos for extended periods, so if you plan to do this expect to recharge the phone every day. Talk time lasted well over three hours and standby, with minimal use, averaged almost a week.