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Nokia N97 - Nokia N97

By Sandra Vogel

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Scrolling was not as smooth with this handset as it is with the iPhone, and there are occasions when the screen isn't used to its full capability. Web pages initially open full width, which is great. Tap the Menu button and about 15mm of width is lost to it. Tap an option, such as zoom and a further 10mm is lost. It isn't for long, but I think Nokia could have made its icons and options smaller, or transparent, to stop them interfering with the browsing experience. Oh, and there is some irritation in that sometimes a single tap is needed to register a choice; sometimes a double one.

On the positive side, the home screen has a widget-like interface that you can populate with up to eight shortcuts. Four sit on one bar, four more on wider bars so that they can display more information such as music controls, showing weather details, or giving quick access to four contacts.

The features list is long. There is 32GB of internal memory and a microSD card for adding more. Wi-Fi supplements HSDPA, and Bluetooth is here too. GPS and a digital compass are built in. There is a huge array of built in apps including the BBC iPlayer, YouTube player, Nokia Maps and - at last - an Ovi Store link. QuickOffice is here, too, for viewing Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and there is a PDF viewer. An accelerometer takes care of screen rotation and a proximity sensor turns off the screen when the handset is at your ear.

The camera is a 5-megapixel Carl Zeiss offering with dual LED flash, and a sliding cover protects its lens. Move the cover and the camera software starts running, even when the screen is locked. The camera performed well. The coloured dish, photographed under normal household lights, is sharp and clear, and even the chair was shot with a heavy shadow running over it, the camera coped well. The flower shows off the macro mode to good effect. Colour reproduction is very accurate.

Battery life is rated at 570 minutes of talk on GSM, 430 hours standby. I didn't have the phone for very long so couldn't run my usual music playback rundown test. However, based on my experience with it I'd suggest you take Nokia's figures with a pinch of salt and budget for daily charging. There are plenty of features here and if you use them all as fully as the phone warrants, you'll hammer the battery. I did.

Verdict

The N97 is a feature-packed smartphone and has plenty of memory for bulking its software content. But it doesn't do its Communicator heritage justice and I can't see the business community taking to it. For consumers, the touch version of Symbian feels as if it is running to catch up with the best of the competition and lagging some way behind.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

JonHend

July 3, 2009, 6:35 pm

I pre-ordered this phone to replace my beloved 2 year old N95. It was not a success and the phone is now back with Nokia.





The software is not at all finger friendly and I found myself using the point of my fingernail for accuracy whenever using the touch screen.





The keyboard is actually quite good but, with the black model, the secondary functions (in blue) are very difficult to see when the backlight is not on. You soon get used to the space bar though.





I am still a huge Nokia fan but can't help but worry that, unless the Symbian Foundations new interface is a radical departure from the current, Nokia will lose there massive share of the smart phone market.





I am not abandoning the brand as I have now ordered a Nokia N86 to replace the best phone I have ever used bar none, the N95.

Chocoa

July 3, 2009, 8:18 pm

How come the pics in the article of the screen look very muddy and lacking in contrast, yet the (I guess) Nokia derived ones are quite colourful. The viewing angles don't look that special either Could you be showing the phone as it really is!





And what on earth possessed Nokia to put the spacebar so offset what possible benefit ( to the user)is that?





You helped me dcide (NOT) on this unit any way!

bigman

July 3, 2009, 8:26 pm

Not sure how a lukewarm review translates into 9 out of 10. I tried this phone out and was distinctly unimpressed with it. Symbian S60 is feeling tired and others (Apple, HTC and Android) are accelerating away. Yes all the right functions are there but the usability compared to others is what lets it down.

bigman

July 3, 2009, 8:28 pm

Sorry just realised it was 8 out of 10 not 9 as stated. My comments still stand though.

Steve

July 3, 2009, 8:39 pm

@bigman





Many review sites have given the N97 a kicking but still gave it a good score so not to damage their relationship with Nokia or whoever gives them review samples.





I'm sure Sandra is very nice, but I find her reviews absolutely dreadful. This review spans over a few pages thanks to the large images used to bulk out the review. She says she didn't have the phone for very long and was unable to perform the usual tests. So clearly with such little experience of the phone, how can you review it properly? In fact, why was it reviewed at all? Bizarre.

etuoyo

July 3, 2009, 8:47 pm

@ JonHend lol when I saw the first few sentences of your comment I had to look at look at the name to make sure it wasn't me and I had not written that when I was in a trance. I have been using an N95 for 2 years. I have been eagerly waiting the release of this phone. I have had a mobile phone for almost 10 years and have never had anything but Nokia as my main phone. I needed a new mp3 player and so this was the perfect match for me. Nokia phone with a 32gb hard drive. However, I was quite disappointed because the music interface was as dull as it gets (and the phone's whole interface in fact once you get beyond the home screen). The playback options were also very limited. The sound quality/volume was also not really great. So it was clear that there was no way I could possibly use it as an mp3 player. The touch screen controls were also very disappointing. Sometimes you would tap on the screen and nothing would happen. I also found scrolling through lists a nightmare. Also I could not get the FM transmitter to work and there was a day when if someone called me the volume would autmatically start reducing to mute and so I couldn't hear anyone who called. I also did not like the fact that in the address book I could not rename contact details. I have alot of contacts on my phone who live outside the UK and on my N95 I could relabel their UK number Mobile UK so as not to have to check the numbers to see which is UK which is for a different country (boy I really hate it when companies release an update of a product and take out a function that was in the old product). I could also not get a single video on my pc to play on the device despite trying out 5 different video converters (including 2 labelled N97 video converter). Which made about 10gb of the hard drive obsolete since I only have 20gb of music.





In the end I decided there was no choice but to return the phone and go back to my trusted N95. For music I decided to get the ipod touch even though for about 7 years now I have been saying the world would end before I bought an ipod. However, I hear there are so many good apps that make it worth its price for once rather than just being an overpriced fashion statement (although I will still probably ditch it when Zune HD comes out as I don't like being part of the masses). The iphone I quickly ruled out because I hear you can't forward messages, can't use personalise ring tones (very big deal for me) unless bought from apple, can't send txt to more than one person (and only two weeks ago got picture messaging). Basically as a phone for me it seems as backward as a 2002 nokia.





However, I have to put a caveat on any negatives I have said about the n97. I think my phone may have been buggy which is why I had the reducing volume problem and FM transmitter not working. And if I did not need an mp3 player I would probably still have kept this phone. It is still a nokia and I don't think you can't beat nokias when it comes to basic phone functions and usablity. I couldn't justify spending over £250 on an mp3 player as well as jumping from a £25/month contract to a £45. My wife had also been bugging me to get a blackberry for her with my upgrade and then I use her upgrade in December. So I decided to get a blackberry for her. When December comes around and it is time for me to use her upgrade I think I am still probably going to end up going for this phone because I doubt that apart from the 2year old N95 there will be a phone that is just as good. And hopefully, there would have been firmware updates that improve the screen's responsiveness and improve the dull interface.

lifethroughalens

July 3, 2009, 10:40 pm

@ etuoyo





I was as firmly in the Nokia camp as you were, for years...but I took a chance on a second hand 16GB iphone recently and it's been a nothing short of a revelation. I am also a self admitted anti-Apple man, can't stand the smug iPhone owners club!





However - Jailbreak it and you can do everything you could do on your nokia - only on a lot easier and better looking OS and hardware. Battery life's not great and I can't get my beloved BBC iPlayer working since I jailbroke & unlocked it, but that's a small price to pay.





If your tech minded this really is a good option right now as they're going real cheap :)

muthah

July 3, 2009, 10:46 pm

Dont try to do the age old change your product code to get your firmware updates on this baby, i bricked mine last night and a few others have done the same from what ive read on the web. im very experienced at it so it wasnt a mishap on my part. going back to my e71 anyways, a far superior phone. it may lack the big screen and the big memory but for day to day use it's a winner over the n97 which i gave 2 weeks of use for before i bricked it. keyboard on the e71 is far superior. theres almost no tactile feel to the keys on the n97. if you want the most solid feeling and best working cell phone , buy an E71. if you want all the bells and whistles that do most things fairly well and probably the best resistive screen ive used yet then the n97 is pretty good. i get the new iphone 3gs this week , hopefully its alot better than my old 3g's i had . no a2dp and video recording and the awful camera were deal breakers for me. hopefully being chained to itunes wont be so terrible with a better phone this time.btw, my global release n97 came with out an fm transmitter. but, a very sweet stereo bluetooth headset kit.

Geek in Training

July 3, 2009, 11:43 pm

I was going to add details of the availability of a firmware upgrade for the N97 according to one website but most of you appear to be aware of it anyway.





http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_...





The luke warm reviews have put me off the N97 so I'm now holding out for the Samsung i7500. It's either that or I'll be joining the ranks of iphone users despite my reservations about the camera and lack of radio.

jacko

July 9, 2009, 4:25 am

@ etuoyo;





Everything you mentioned about the iPhone can now be done with V3.0 of the OS; certainly you can on my iPhone 3GS anyway.





Some features have been a long time coming from Apple, those Americans don't really get text message for some reason, however, like with copy & paste, now Apple have implemented those features, they are the best you will ever use. Copy & paste on the iPhone is just so brilliant and simple, tried to do the same thing on my not so old Nokia Navigator and it took ages and loads of clicks to copy a bit of text. On my iphone I can copy entire web pages, with images and paste it in an email! It's superb.

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