Remember Nokia's N90? It was an oversized clamshell with an independently swivelling top section housing a Carl Zeiss camera lens. Well, the N93 is similar in hardware design, but offers improved specifications all round and a new star attraction -- video capture capability.
Nokia wants you to think of this phone as a mini camcorder. But would you want to combine the two apparently quite different functions of phone and videocam in a single device? Nokia thinks so, and after trying out the N93, so do we.
The Nokia N93 is a giant. Weighing an obese 180g and measuring 56 by 118 by 28mm it's definitely one for the handbag or baggy pocket.
It's essentially a clamshell handset onto which a second swivel has been built. In this it's not unlike its near relation, the N90. On that handset, the lens sat above the clamshell mechanism and could be swivelled independently, but this time round the Carl Zeiss 3.2-megapixel camera lens is fixed into the upper part of the base section of the clam, and the lid section has two swivel options, both of which rely on hinges on its lower right edge.
Option one is to open the N93 clamshell style. There's a 'soft' lock at 90 degrees enabling you to sit the handset on a desk and see its screen easily, and another 'hard' lock nearer to 180 degrees. Option two is to open the N93 up like a mini laptop computer with the screen in a landscape orientation.
Combine the two and you get into all sorts of contortions catering for camcorder-style holding of the N93 for video recording and viewing. The handset seems to know what you are trying to achieve and juggles the screen between landscape and portrait formats accordingly.
The optimum position for videoing is to have the lens facing outwards from you and the screen at right angles to the number pad and in landscape format. In this orientation your right thumb sits over a bevy of buttons, including a mini navigation pad for accessing many camera settings, the flash toggle, the camera/video toggle, the zoom control and the all-important shooting button. These are on what would more usually be the right edge of the handset. All you need to do is take care not to cover the lens with a finger while shooting.
As far as the rest of the handset design is concerned, the numberpad area is vast and Nokia has managed to build in huge number keys and still have room for pretty big softmenu, call and end keys as well as a reasonable-sized navigation button and a row of four additional buttons that include the Nokia menu button and multimedia key. This gives quick access to some of the media-rich applications on board.
You don't use the main 3.2-megapixel camera for video calling -- that would be difficult, given its fixed position. A tiny camera for this purpose sits above the screen. On the same horizontal plane are two buttons which come into play as menu keys when you are using the N93 in camera mode.
Given its huge overall size, however, we can't quite fathom why Nokia has put such a teeny, letterbox format screen on the front of the N93 and omitted any front controls.