After spending a little more time with the Nokia N95 8GB I’m enjoying more and more of its virtues and discovering workarounds for some of its more annoying quirks. Here’s a few tricks and tips I have picked up along the way and some recommended applications I’ve enjoyed using.

1. Nokia start up chime. You know the annoying handshake and music every time you turn on the phone? Turn it off in Menu > Tools > Settings > General > Personalisation > Tones > Warning Tone (set to ‘OFF’)

2. Make Nokia Maps quicker. Using the Nokia PC Suite 2 (get it at http://www.nokia.com/A4544040), download Map Loader and transfer the UK (or applicable area) map to your phone memory. This means each time you start the application, it doesn’t have to download the info to the handset over the air.

3. Sky Plus from your mobile. It’s a bit of a pain to set up, but head over to Sky and download the Remote Record application for Symbian. Once you’ve set-up your details with Sky you can browse the 7 day Sky planner on your handset and set programs to record. There’s occasionally a delay (upto 30 minutes) but it’s a great tool if you’re out and have forgotten to record Match Of The Day.

4. Download podcasts direct to the handset. This is a big bonus for me. Rather than download podcasts to iTunes and then transfer to the N95 8GB via USB, you can just download over the air (WI-FI or 3G) direct to the phone. I do this most mornings. Once you’ve entered the feed address for the podcast, just pick the desired show from the feed list and within a few minutes: voilà!

5. Weather screensaver – there are a few decent weather applications for the N95/Symbian. Sadly, the best ones are payable (unlike iPhone that includes a great weather application for free). The best ones also allow the user to set the powersaver screensaver to weather – meaning instead of the usual time/date bar, you get a nice two day weather summary. Both the weather applications can be updated manually or at pre-defined intervals (it happens invisibly in the background and uses very little data – about 2K per city so using GPRS for connection is fine). The first recommendation is Handy Weather which is payable yearly, whilst the second, Micro Weather needs only a single payment. Both programs have trial versions you can try.

However, whilst the N95 is endearing is some ways, there are still some unanswered questions:

1. On the active standby desktop, the calendar reminder takes you straight to the detail of the entry – is there any way of making it go to a month view of the month in question instead?

2. I’d like another row of active standby applications. The limit seems to be 7. I’d like to see another row of user selectable applications below.

3. Occasionally my back light stays on after using the phone. I mess with the slider a little and eventually it goes to sleep – I’d like to know what causes this or if it’s a known bug?

4. The camera quality is dreadful. It might be a 5 Mega pixel camera but don’t let that convince you it is on a par with even a an average compact digital camera of 3 Mega pixel. It simply isn’t. There also seems to be a lot of compression taking place on the images. Shots at the 5MB setting often weigh in around the 600k mark. Way too small for a decent quality snap of this size. It’s hard to know whether the optics are fine and the compression is ruining the pictures or the optics just aren’t up to par. Either way, the quality of the camera given it’s specification is a disappointment. I hope a future firmware finds some way to address this problem.

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