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Living with the N95

Ronn spends some time with the highly vaunted Nokia N95.

The N95 has a hidden set of media buttons if you slide its faceplate the other way.
The N95 has a hidden set of media buttons if you slide its faceplate the other way.

Second only to the iPhone in hype, the Nokia N95 has finally made it to the U.S. And like the iPhone, there's lots to like, some negatives, and the same qualified recommendation from me so far.

The mp3/video player is strong, the 5-megapixel camera is outstanding, the GPS is superb, call quality is perfect, the display is clear, the feel is balanced...so where's the downside?

For one, despite that balance, there's kind of a toy-like tactile build quality overall. I think I feel that way mostly because the slider(s) don't lock with the firmness I like. I say slider(s) because it has two of them--sort of. You slide the faceplate one way to expose the phone keypad. Slide the other way and you expose a set of buttons for media playback.

The Symbian OS still doesn't feel comfortable to me yet, and there seems to be a bit of lag-time switching applications. And overall the N95 is thick, like a deck of cards, and by my rough calculations, it's about 35 percent greater volume than an iPhone.

Side-by-side comparison of the thickness of the iPhone and N95.
Side-by-side thickness of the iPhone (l.) and the N95 (r.) Big difference. Apple Inc. (l) and CNET Networks Inc. (r.)

And then, of course, there's the price. At $699 and so far not supported or subsidized by any U.S. carriers, huge expectations have to be met, including admiring looks and words from others--and that hasn't materialized yet for me.

But this is one that's going to need some more daily use before a final opinion. Give me a few more days and I'll have more to say.