A follow up to my retro review featuring the N series, the N91 was announced along side the N90 and N70 in 2005. This unusual design which seem unrelated to the Nokia N90’s aesthetics became an iconic cult classic! This device became a status symbol as it was not only the most premium priced device at that time, but it also packed hardware unlike any other Nokia phones at that time. This radical decision was intended to highlight the purpose of the device. This is their first premium music centric device.

The Hardware

Unlike the N90 with its complex hinge and swivel design and plasticky body, the N91 stands out to look more futuristic. With a metallic body that would remind you of the advance and futuristic T1000 from the classic Terminator 2 :Judgement Day , the Nokia N91 is a symbol of elegance meets functionality. The wider top compared to bottom gives a satisfying grip. The stainless steel body  gives a sense of durability and reliability.

So , what makes the Nokia N91 unique? The mechanical hard drive! While we are spoiled by terabyte storage and RAM options more powerful than an average computer these days, this humble journey began with a shrunken mechanical hard drive to fit the compact N91’s body. While it wasn’t the first manufacturer to do that (that goes to Samsung), it was certainly the first for a Nokia device and the more popular one. The gigabyte storage option opens a new possibility. Seemingly endless photo storage and music option , nearly 17 years back. Nokia doubled down their efforts with the N91 to create an all in one device and in that process created one of the most iconic N series.

The N91 was considered heavy at its time, weighing a cool 164g. It houses a 2.1 inch TFT display with 256K colors which was as advance as it gets at that time. It runs on Symbian 9.1 , series 60 UI and powering it is a dual CPU setup at 220MHz and a modest 64MB RAM. A 2MP rear camera which lacks auto focus and flash adorns it back. No Zeiss branding on this one though. And no dedicated camera button either.

The top of the device houses the power button, a dedicated button to lock and unlock the device, a 3.5mm head jack with an addition connection for the remote. At the bottom, it has the mini pin charging hole and microphone. On the right side, it has a volume rocker, extra large speaker and a mini USB port to transfer files! On its right is a dedicated menu button and a button to release the back cover. On the front , is a solid 5 way navigational joy stick along with the dedicated call buttons . And the other unique addition here is the sliding keypad cover that houses buttons to not only launch the music app but also to control it. And that means you don’t have to spend precious time, unlocking the device, fiddling through the menu just to enjoy music. All that’s needed is to unlock the device using the dedicated unlock button on top, press the dedicated music button and presto, enjoy your poison anytime ,anywhere instantly!

But the keypad cover isn’t the only impressive design here. Underneath it is a beautiful sea of keypad buttons that gives a great tactile feedback !

Nokia’s bold decision to be something different was a key differentiating factor and a gamble that paid off. Instead of following the common route taken by other manufacturers, the N series was something larger in the mobile arena. The innovation here paved way for future devices especially the dual sliding N95.

I do hope you enjoyed this retro review as much as I did, so do stay tuned for my next review. Stay healthy and stay blessed!

Don’t forget to catch my video of the Nokia N91 right here with some more photo and video samples!

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