New Toys – Phone

My new Nokia N91 arrived on the same day as my new laptop so I’ve been playing with it for a few days. Here are some first impressions.

It’s a large phone. Far heavier than the k600i that it’s replacing. But then, it does more so that’s probably to be expected.

As a phone, it does all that you want it to. It supports all of the flashy ringtones that young people seem so enamoured of these days. Me, I like a phone that just rings.

It runs the Symbian OS and the Nokia S60 platform on top of that (I think that’s a bit like running Gnome on Linux). Apparently it’s the first phone that runs the S60 version 3.0 and that’s causing me a few problems as this is incompatible with older versions and many applications are not yet available for this version. I’ve already discovered that the BBC Doctor Who Tardisodes won’t work on it (a minor irritation) and that there’s not a compatible version of Shozu yet (a major irritation). I suppose that’s just a problem that early adopters need to get used to :-)

One thing I really like is the wireless network support. I now don’t need to waste my monthly GPRS bytes when reading email or checking the BBC news. I can just look for a convenient open wireless network. As an aside, this makes the phone a useful device for finding wireless networks. At one point last week I was standing in the middle of the Barbican Estate and could see about a dozen wireless networks.

The screen is a lot bigger than the k600. This makes reading email a lot easier. I’ve successfully set up my email account for reading, but I seem to have made some error when configuring it to send mail. I need to investigate that further over the next few days.

The camera is also better quality than on the k600. You can see a sample photo here. There would be more but until I can get either Shozu installed or email working, it’s a bit of a trial getting the photos uploaded.

Of course, the main selling point of the N91 is its support for playing music. And that’s why I probably wouldn’t have chosen this phone for myself. I already have a 40Gb iRiver. I don’t really need another device that only has 4Gb of storage that doesn’t play Ogg Vorbis files. Of course there’s probably an Ogg player for Symbian, but it probably hasn’t been ported to S60 version 3 yet. Once I find that, I’ll probably be happy to use the N91 for those times when I only need a limited selection of music. Having said that, the sample music and video (there’s apparently over an hour of Live 8 video included on the phone) demonstrates that playback quality is very high.

The big “nice to have” for me would be to have the phone interfacing nicely with my Linux computers. Of course the PC integration software that comes with the phone is all for Windows – so I’m largely on my own here. I’ve managed to transfer files from the phone to the computer over Bluetooth, but I failed when trying to mount the phone as an external USB mass storage device as Linux couldn’t detect the type of filesystem.

My ultimate goal would be to have the phone and PC automatically synchronise my calendar, contacts, to do list and notes whenever they are in Bluetooth range. They both support SyncML so that sounds like an achievable task.

But all in all, it’s a nice phone and I’m enjoying experimenting with it.


  1. Hi, thanks for the review, they’re pretty short on the ground atm for this phone, except The Register one of one year ago!From reading the above, and some of your other blogs, I’m getting the impression you don’t especially need the N91…iRiver, other phones, incompatible with Ogg etc…Depending on how your day has gone, I thought I’d float the idea of, ahem, giving it to me, as I want one so bad!Anyway, I thought it was worth a try and it filled a few minutes of my lunch break…back to it.(Hope you’ve had a day that’s made you feel stupendously generous)ed

  2. ed,Nice try, but I’ll be hanging on to the N91 for the time being. It’s not the phone that I would have chosen for myself, but it’s still far better than my previous phone (a Sony Ericsson k600i).

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