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What’s the first thing you look for in a mobile phone? Portability? Good call quality? Good battery life? Great music playback? You’ll find some of these in Nokia’s N93, but not all. Battery life is only average and the N93 is not particularly portable.
But hey, this handset is a movie making machine as well as being a smartphone, so in place of portability you get video recording par excellence, complete with the ability to show said videos at friends and family via a wired connection to your TV.
It is the video recording that steals the show with the N93, but there a price to pay. Most noticeable is the handset’s size and weight. At 180g you are going to be carrying a phone that is double the weight of some of the smallest and neatest handsets around. And at 28.2 mm thick and 55.5 mm wide you are going to need big pockets - this is a PDA sized phone.
I missed out the height measurement there. Here’s why. The clamshell N93 measure 118 mm tall until you open its flip, at which point it tops a massive 225 mm.
Why is this such a huge handset? Well mostly this is down to the lens. A Carl Zeiss setup is present, as it was in the predecessor to this handset - the Nokia’s N90. This time around the lens has a 3.2 megapixel stills shooting capability with 3x optical, 20x digital zoom and 640 x 480 video at 30 frames a second with audio. It has a 3x optical and 8x digital zoom and there’s an autofocus and a flash too.
As with the N90, the lens sits at the head of what would under normal circumstances be the clamshell hinge. However, whereas the N90 had a central hinge and pivoting system on the lens section, in this case the lens is fixed to the bottom part of the handset, and the upper and lower parts of the clam break away from each other via a dual pivot hinge on their upper right edge.
What this means is that you can, should you feel inclined, open the N93 as if it were a tiny laptop computer. The screen locks at about 110 degrees and pops into landscape orientation. You can use the large navigation button to get around within applications, and some of the other buttons are convenient to use in this configuration too, but number dialling is difficult and text entry out of the question.
You can also open the N93 more traditionally as a clamshell handset. And there is a third option. You can open the clam to 90 degrees, at which point it soft-locks in position, then swivel it round counter clockwise.
The lens is now pointing away from you, and you’ve formed a little video camera for yourself. The screen orients itself to landscape format and, anticipating that you want to shoot some footage, turns on the camera. A slew of little buttons (on what we would more usually call the right edge of the phone) is now under your right thumb.
Holding the N93 right handed you’ve got buttons for turning the flash on and off and for switching between video and stills modes. You’ve got a round swivel for activating zoom and a button inside this for starting and stopping video shooting or grabbing stills. There is a tiny navigation button with central select key, and for your left hand there are two softmeu buttons at what was previously the top end of the screen. Between them these give you access to all the camera functions.
The main problem with all this is that it takes a while to set things up – long enough that you may miss the candid picture or video you were after. And you’ll have to remember to remove the lens cover – which is not attached to the main body of the handset.