capsule review

Nokia N90

At a Glance
  • Nokia N90 Cell Phone (GSM, Bluetooth, 2MP, 31MB, RS-MMC)

    PCWorld Rating

    It's expensive for a phone, but the N90 could substitute for your digital camera and camcorder in a pinch.

Nokia N90
Photograph: Chris Manners

The Nokia N90's unusual design and powerful features--including a 2-megapixel camera--set it apart from most standard cell phones.

The N90 turns heads with its quirky design. A tad chunky, the clamshell phone has a twist--literally. Its body is divided into two main parts: The camera occupies a small area at the top, and the phone (LCD and dial pad) occupies the rest. The camera rotates to various angles, while the LCD cover flips open and swivels perpendicularly to the numeric keypad, making it look almost like a camcorder. You can capture snapshots and videos easily and comfortably.

The resulting photos and videos are impressive, too. At 1600 by 1200 pixels, the N90 provides an unusually high resolution for a camera phone. As a result, our photos looked crisp and colorful--good enough for 4-by-6 prints. The phone comes with handy photo tricks, too. It's a snap to adjust the resolution, set the flash mode (which includes a useful red-eye option), or change the scene mode (options include close-up, portrait, and sports, among others) using one of the hotkeys located next to the 2.1-inch internal LCD. Also, you can rename a file and zoom in and out of images on-screen.

Video clips shot with adequate lighting looked okay. The N90 offers video capture in higher resolutions than most other camera phones. It can shoot video at resolutions up to 352 by 288 pixels, whereas many others top out at about 176 by 144 pixels. For storing the resulting video and image files, the device includes a MultiMediaCard slot.

The N90 comes with a good media player, too. A Norah Jones track sounded fine through the included earphones, but not over the tinny speakers; their output was marred by a hissing noise, especially at maximum volume. You can play the music in the background while answering incoming calls and accessing other phone features--a rare capability on standard phones. A cautionary note: Like many Nokia handsets, the N90 has many layers of menus with tabbed subsections. These might stump some users, but I wasn't particularly bothered by the interface's complexity.

In my test phone calls, I heard callers clearly, and vice versa. A minor nuisance with Nokia phones: There's no dedicated button for the volume control, so it isn't immediately recognizable. Instead, you use the right/left keys on the five-way navigation button in the center of the phone to adjust the volume level. The N90's talk-time battery life was good in our tests, at 6 hours, 53 minutes.

Priced at $600 with a two-year T-Mobile service agreement (as of April 7, 2006), the N90 is a hefty investment. But factor in the great camera, the funky design, and the adequate media player, and you've got yourself a solid multimedia phone.

Grace Aquino

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    It's expensive for a phone, but the N90 could substitute for your digital camera and camcorder in a pinch.

    Pros

    • High-resolution camera
    • Media player works well

    Cons

    • Very expensive for a phone
    • Handset is slightly bulky
Related:
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.