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N97: Nokia Gets Touchscreen Serious At Last

Gordon Kelly


N97: Nokia Gets Touchscreen Serious At Last

So finally Nokia has declared its touchscreen intentions...

Yes, I know the Tube/5800 XpressMusic was technically the first offering but that feels like mere dabbling compared to the 'N97' - so let's cut straight to it. With its 3.5in touchscreen the N97 makes no secret of who it is going straight for and its 640 pixel wide resolution means it is already managing some impressive one-upmanship.

The positive turns don't stop there however with a whopping 32GB of native memory and a microSD/SD HC 16GB compatible expansion slot meaning a potential 48GB of total storage. Throw in WiFi, HSDPA, aGPS and a five megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens and the Finns clearly mean business.

Downsides: well, this is a subjective one, but for me the decision to go with a physical Qwerty keyboard will turn away as many as it attracts and I remain a firm believer that if a manufacturer is going to go with a full touchscreen display it should have the stones to commit to a virtual keyboard and less chunk. Consequently one tellingly absent stat is just how big/heavy the N97 is - and I'd suspect you'll need big pockets.

You'll also need a hefty wallet since Nokia is asking a sim free price of 550 euros when the N97 arrives in early Q1 - though to be fair that's a lot more realistic that the 600 euro+ N96. Oh and if you did just splash out on an N96 on a long term contract then 1. We told you not to and 2. Na nah na nah na...!

Update: Thanks to ILoveGagdets for digging out the weight and dimensions and as suspected the N97 is quite a beast at 117.2 x 55.3 x 15.9 mm (18.25 mm at the camera) and approximately 150g so you're going to have to really want that physical keyboard. Without and I'd say around 11mm thick and 100/110g would've been the outcome...

Update 2: We're hearing initial reports that a resistive touchscreen (why oh why not capacitive) means sadly this is no iPhone killer at present - let's hope retail versions tighten things up a bit...


Press Release


December 2, 2008, 3:29 pm

They should release a model with onscreen keyboard and (either included in box or (preferably) as an optional extra) have a physical keyboard which complements the phone. It could either dock with the phone or connect over bluetooth, but in either case it should be able to be stowed on the back of the phone. So you'd have a touch screen for day to day use with a keyboard for bashing out longer messages - best of both worlds!

Alternatively, just make a decent touchscreen keyboard like the iPhone's?

Andy Vandervell

December 2, 2008, 3:37 pm

Yeah, lose the keyboard would be my choice ala Touch Diamond and Touch Pro. Like the look that interface, though, and the specs are undeniably impressive.


December 2, 2008, 4:05 pm

Well, I hope they make a better job of the touch-screen than the 5800.


December 2, 2008, 4:15 pm

BTW, the dimensions are apparently 117.2 x 55.3 x 15.9 mm (18.25 mm at camera area), but at approx. 150g it's pretty weighty.

Andy Vandervell

December 2, 2008, 4:38 pm

Hmm, weighty, but not as much as I expected tbh.


December 2, 2008, 5:10 pm

I think the important question is: will it blend?

That and: is the touchscreen interface actually comparable to (i.e. as easy to use as) the iPhones?

b o d

December 2, 2008, 5:28 pm

Looks nice and I also like the keyboard. Touchscreen keyboards are fine, but they take up alot of already limited screen space.

For all the impressive specs it'll probably be the software and the ease of availability that will make it great or just average. That is one thing the iphone is certainly leading at the moment.


December 2, 2008, 5:33 pm

resistive touchscreen - no thanks

Phil A 1

December 2, 2008, 6:23 pm

"Alternatively, just make a decent touchscreen keyboard like the iPhone's?"

You must be using a different iPhone to me - I've tried several, and since I have large fingers I get about 30% mistakes in everything I type, so unless I type REALLY slowly it's a case of type, backspace the word, type, backspace the word, etc.

I much prefer a REAL keyboard like the Blackberry or HTC phones, although they're too small to use day to day.

I hope they make the keyboard similar to the Google Phone, because that's about the most usable one I've found.


December 2, 2008, 7:22 pm

@Phil A - clearly we are, I can type faster on an iPhone onscreen keyboard than any BlackBerry or HTC phone I've ever owned.


December 2, 2008, 7:22 pm

@ILoveGagdets - thanks, updating the article now - with credit, naturally ;)


December 2, 2008, 8:18 pm

@Gordon, np but the credit goes to the guys at AAS - they do appear to have actually got their hands on it here http://www.allaboutsymbian.com...

Regarding the resistive touch screen - that is the same screen as is on the 5800 and TBH I hated the two I played with (despite different f/w versions). I really don't like touch screens (I'm already hearing shouts of "Philistine") but if I had to use one then much though I loath the product, the iPhone's touch screen is the best as long as you don't need the acuracy of a stylus.

The only thing I like about the specs on the n97 is that it has an extra 16gb on board over the n96. Everything else I'm happy with my son-of-n95 (once the damn f/w gets sorted).



December 2, 2008, 11:33 pm

When it comes to phones I personally find good ol' T9 to be the fastest way to enter text. I love how my Diamond gives me a choice of different software keyboards and not just a qwerty as I always use the normal phone pad but have other options if required.

I can get by with the touch screen but find hardware kepads way faster. The other benefit of hardware keypads/keyboards is that (with practice) you don't have to look at the screen to use it and its easier to input text one handed.

Ultimately the thin form factor of the Diamond just about makes up for the lack of proper keys.


December 2, 2008, 11:35 pm

I've always owned Nokia phones, the user interface is good and they've always been free on a contract upgrade :) However recently, at least in my experience, Nokia have gone for the "lets stuff everything we can in to a phone" and forgotten the relabilty factor. My recent phone, not hugely advance ones the 6233 and 6300 have both stopped working and had to be repaired/replaced/refunded less than 6 months in to their life and I read and hear from mates that there has been the same problem with the N series. A rep in the Nokia shop put this down to people's expectations of the phone but if you put a camera in it and other bells and whistles, you expect them to work not to go "oh well what should I expect".

Although the phone sounds enticing and might convince me not to defect to a certain well know touchscreen phone, Nokia has to sort its relability issues and I for one will wait to see how early adopters find the phone to work.

Although I may just go for it irrespective of reviews being somewhat of a Nokia sheep ;)


December 3, 2008, 12:20 am

be nice if it was completely the other way around - had a virtual letters keyboard and physical number keypad...I like my number buttons and t9...but also want to dabble in this phone touch screen malarkey :)


December 3, 2008, 12:22 am

@ravmania - no way can you judge the usefulness of a virtual keyboard by the horror show that is the one on the Diamond

@mrtinkles - "Although I may just go for it irrespective of reviews being somewhat of a Nokia sheep ;)" a dangerous, dangerous tactic. No company makes good products 100% of the time...


December 3, 2008, 1:03 am


If you like T9 its perfectly fine. Admittedly I find the Diamond qwerty poor without the stylus. But, my point is that I like the choice as I prefer T9 to qwertys on mobile devices. With the iPhone its Apple's way or the highway.

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