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At first glance Nokia’s N90 looks like a pretty standard clamshell phone albeit a chunky one. Weighing 173g it feels like a bit of a monster in the hand, and at 112 x 51 x 24mm it’s unlikely that you’ll slip it into a small pocket and not notice that it is there.
The N90 is a tri-band GSM and 3G handset, but its 3G capability is not the headline feature. That accolade goes to the same feature that accounts for the N90’s size - the camera lens. Nokia proudly announced at launch that the N90 would feature digital optics courtesy of Carl Zeiss, including autofocus, 20x digital zoom, and two megapixel image capture, as well as a macro mode for close-up shots.
This has been all the excuse needed for Nokia to come up with a unique three section hardware design for the N90. The camera lens sits in a space at the top end of the handset. You can swivel it independently of the rest of the phone through more than 300 degrees and can do this when the clamshell is either closed or open.
If you've got the N90 in standby mode when you swivel, the outer screen suddenly springs into life and becomes a viewfinder while a pair of side buttons allow you to control the camera. One of these is a mini joystick which you can use to cycle through flash options, access features like the self timer, choose a shooting mode (close-up, night, sport, portrait, landscape) even change the exposure. The other button takes your photo invoking the autofocus if you half depress it, and shooting if you press it fully.
The outer display offers 128 x 128 pixels and 65 thousand colours, and performs a few other functions apart from being a viewfinder. In standby mode it shows the time and date, signal strength and battery charge level. It also tells you who is trying to call, and can display text messages. It is controlled again by that handy little side mounted joystick.