This page is for anyone thinking of migrating to the Nokia
N95 with a view to using it as their main communicator and entertainment
device. Updated December 2007
Important: if you possibly can, upgrade your Nokia
N95 to v20 firmware through Nokia Software Update or
through your network provider. It transforms many aspects of the
device. Once you've upgraded, you need this tips page
If you're stuck with v11 or v12 firmware, then read
The N95 has lots to recommend it, from the 5 megapixel
stills camera and VGA video capture at 30fps to the built-in GPS, stereo
speakers and standard 3.5mm audio out. There's also the very latest Symbian OS
and S60 versions, with multimedia functionality thrown in by the
- Ignore those 'Exit' buttons? Err... not
Unlike some other previous S60 smartphones (e.g. the
N70), the N95's RAM is rather more limited (does the
error message 'Memory full' ring any bells? Yep, thought it would). Starting
with 21MB free, you'll usually be running with just over 13MB free, even in
optimal conditions. You can still have many of your S60 apps running at the
same time, which means no delays while applications are launched/switched to,
with the usual trick being to ignore those 'Exit' buttons. When you need to
switch to a different application, press the Menu ('Applications') button and
select it from there, leaving the current app running.
don't do this for Camera, Gallery, Web, Java games or the built-in Maps,
any of which can hog RAM and cause your other main programs to close down
gracefully in the background. For each of these RAM hogs, DO use 'Exit'
for these programs, after use, to make sure RAM is freed up. In particular,
make sure to manually 'Exit' Camera (or close the physical shutter) after using
it every single time, if you want to avoid problems.
- Auto-startup? Say no!
In the battle to have
as much free RAM as possible, it's important to avoid any applications or
utilities that try to auto-start on your N95 and hang around in RAM. A good
example is Nokia's Wireless Keyboard utility, which works brilliantly to
connect you to a Bluetooth keyboard but then defaults to staying loaded in RAM
at all times, using up to 2MB on its own. Switch to it and alter its Settings
to turn this behaviour off and then 'Exit' it manually. You know it makes
Several third party 'helper' utilities try to do the same thing,
e.g. Epocware's Handy Weather. Best avoided if you value your
- Far too sharp?
There's a big bug in
the v10 and v11 N95 firmwares that you need to be aware of. When
started, Camera's default 'Sharpness' setting is 'Normal'. But change ANY of
the 'scene modes' (e.g. 'Close-up') and 'Sharpness' gets set to 'High'. To use
the N95's camera in a scene mode, remember to also go down to the bottom of the
camera control icons and reset the 'Sharpness', otherwise your pictures are
going to end up effectively unusable!
This has been fixed in the new
v12 firmware, so upgrade via Nokia Software Update (see above) or pester your
network operator/service centre, etc.
- Faster GPS
version 12 firmware introduced
'Assisted GPS', meaning far, far faster GPS lock-on times. If you're still on
v11 firmware, then make the switch to v12 if it's available!
- Downgrade that camera
Now, this is going to
seem like heresy, but do you actually need a 5 megapixel camera?
Each image will take up well over a megabyte on your memory card. For most
purposes, perhaps printing photos at 7" by 5" or viewing on a TV, 3 megapixel
images are absolutely fine - why waste precious space if you don't have to? You
can lower the camera resolution by opening the camera and using its
- Faster photos
One stat that's not loved much
about the N95 is the shot-to-shot time of its stills camera. This is mainly
because the default setting for 'Show captured image' is 'On'. Loading and
decoding a megabyte plus of JPG does take a while - do yourself a favour - if
you can live without display of what you've just snapped, turn this setting
'Off' and you'll be able to snap photos only three seconds apart, much
quicker than the default!
- Preserving battery life
You'll have gathered
by now that the Nokia N95's battery is a little on the slim side, considering
the amount of high-tech goodies it's got to power. Here are a few tips to last
longer on your daily charge:
- Firstly, make damn sure you do charge the
N95 each night, so at least it's starting the day on 'full'
- The Camera is the single biggest power drain. While
waiting to take shots or shoot a video clip, don't keep the camera with a
'live' viewfinder - better to close it down and then open it again just before
you actually need to take the shot/clip. And if you're going to an event where
you know you'll be using the camera/camcorder a lot, consider taking along a
spare battery or portable charger
- Keep WLAN scanning off, you can always scan
manually if needed, or turn it back on
- Unless you know you're going to be staying in an
area with good 3G signal and you know you have a 3G SIM card, go into 'Tools |
Settings | Phone | Network' and change 'Network mode' to 'GSM' - this will stop
the N95 hunting for 3G signals, expending large amounts of power switching
cells and holding on to weak mast locks.
- Watch what applications you leave running in the
background - some games and Java applications are especially processor hungry,
even when paused!
- When using the N95 as a navigator in car, with
display and GPS both active, do yourself a favour and buy a $10 12V
adapter/charger, so that instead of draining the battery at a rate of knots
you're actually gaining extra charge.
- Camcorder tips
The VGA video capture is one
of the unique selling points of the N95, so make sure you make the most of it.
- Make sure you use a top-spec, high performance
microSD card. At 28MB/min you're going to need it. A SanDisk Ultra II is ideal.
Don't buy a cheap copy off eBay, get one from a
- Don't use digital zoom - you're simply throwing away quality. If you need to get closer to your subject then get closer!
- Don't try and film too close to the N95, as there's no auto-focus in video mode. Stick to subjects more than a metre away.
- As with still photos, film only in good light; you'll be very disappointed by anything shot in dim conditions.
- Don't pan around a scene too fast. Despite the spec of shooting at 30fps, the N95's video will appear slightly jerky.
- Making DVDs and videos
Nokia bundle a version of Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 with the N95 - ignore it, unless you happen to have a twin-processor monster of a PC. As usual, Adobe's software is incredibly inefficient and you'll struggle on a normal computer. In addition, it doesn't seem to like the N95's VGA video files very much and I had lots of problems. Ditto with the simplistic Apple Quicktime Pro. Instead, head over to ulead.com and get the full version of VideoStudio
10 Plus, which, when patched to the
latest service pack, does
an excellent job of handling N95 video files and rendering them to DVD or other
- The ones you love the most
With the Nokia
N95, there's S60's usual 'active' standby screen. Don't just take the shortcuts
given, I'm sure you have ideas of your own as to your most used applications.
You can change any of the six shortcuts in the rather-hidden-away 'Tools |
Settings | General | Personalisation | Standby mode | Active standby apps'
(Phew, you really have to get to know the settings hierarchy on these
- A cleaner, clearer standby screen
You can do
a lot to make your active standby screen brighter, cleaner and more useful. See
over on AllAboutSymbian (though note that some of the Settings menu paths are
slightly different - don't worry, you'll work it out).
- Calendar shortcuts
In Calendar, '#' moves you
immediately to the current day, while '*' toggles between the different views.
And if you need to start a new 'meeting' entry at any point, just start
- The latest and best (1)
Make sure you keep up
to date with PC Suite. Yes, there's a version on the CD that came with your
smartphone, but Nokia are fixing bugs and adding bits and pieces all the time.
Most useful is the way you can explore your smartphone's folders (including
your text Inbox) from within Windows Explorer. Very cool. Keep an eye on the
PC Suite home page
and stay current!
- Quick music
Never mind the pretty but very
slow 'multimedia menu' - you can go straight to music player by pressing and
holding the multimedia key.
- Pump up the brightness
the screen from the default brightness to its maximum. Yes, there's a hit on
the time between battery recharges, but in the meantime you'll see some
glorious colours. Go to 'Tools | Settings | General | Personalisation | Display
| Light sensor' and adjust away. At night-time, if you're actually reading from
the screen, you can use the same setting to turn the brightness right down to
save being dazzled.
- Hangup = Exit
Don't keep switching back to
the Standby screen using the Hangup button. This was OK on old versions of S60,
but in almost every instance it closes the current application on the N95 - in
other words, it acts as 'Exit'. If you want to keep the current program running
in the background, press Menu/Apps instead, twice if you want to get to Standby
- What's running?
The one utility every
computer user needs is a system task manager (i.e. what's running). Luckily,
the basics are built-in. Just press and hold the 'Menu/Applications' button.
For more control, grab the trial version of
- The ones you love the most (2)
If you get fed
up scrolling down the Menu screen lookng for your favourite applications
again, why not shuffle things round so that the apps you use the most
are clustered right at the top? Highlight an icon and use 'Move', and you'll
find you can re-insert it anywhere in the list. If you have lots of favourites,
make the most of the folder system (e.g. 'Games') and then put these folders
near the top of the list, for speedy access.
- Switching to landscape
Perhaps an obvious
tip, perhaps not, but you can run any application in 'landscape mode' by simply
opening the music slide - this can be quite handy for apps like Web and
Gallery. It's also well worth noting that Web can be run in 'Rotated' mode by
using the appropropriate menu option with the keypad open, giving you the best
of both worlds, i.e. landscape web browsing and text input when
- Quicker removal
In the previous tip, you'll
have noticed that App Mgr is a very slow application - don't use it to remove
applications from your N95. A much quicker way is simply to highlight the
program you want to zap and press the 'C' key. Cool, eh?
- The ones you love the most (3)
displays 12 application icons on a menu screen at any moment, as do most other
S60 phones. The numeric keypad also has 12 buttons. You can select menu icons
by pressing the keypad button that corresponds to the location of the
application item on the screen. So '1' activates the topmost left application
and so on.
- Open up your device
By default, the N95 may
(depending on your operator) come 'locked down' in terms of the applications
it'll accept, installing only those that have large companies behind them, able
to afford the expensive 'signing' process. But there are hundreds of other
great applications, many of them free, that are 'unsigned' (although under S60
3rd Edition, totally unsigned applications are heavily restricted in what they
can do). Don't worry about this (see my malware
article to put your mind at rest). Just go to 'Tools | App manager | Options |
Settings' and set 'Software installation' to "All". and 'Online certif check'
to "Off". You can now install any compatible program without being blocked by
spurious security warnings!