The keyboard looks as though it should be a nightmare to use. Its keys are relatively small and fairly flush to their surround. A chunk of the area it could occupy is given over to a navigation pad, leaving it open to accusations of being cramped.
In fact, for tapping out text it was pretty comfy. But the space bar is way over on the right hand side and there is only one shift key on the left. This took some getting used to and the keyboard is definitely going to turn some people off for good.
There is a softkeyboard for data entry. It is only accessible when the N97 is in portrait format, and it’s alphanumeric. There’s handwriting recognition too. It can be used with a fingernail or a short stylus that you can hang from a lanyard but, either way, the writing window is small and the hard keyboard is streets better.
There’s a lock button on one side of the casing, as well as a camera button, volume rocker and micro-USB connector for mains power. There’s a converter to both standard round pin Nokia mains power chargers in the box. And, joy of joys, there’s a 3.5mm headset connector on the top edge of the casing. As well as good quality music playback there is an FM radio and FM transmitter.
The touchscreen is resistive and quite responsive to finger presses but not as good as a capacitive one would have been. The screen is large measuring 3.5in diagonally, but its 640 x 360 pixels don’t match the highest resolutions that are currently on offer. The already mentioned Touch Pro2, for example, hits 480 x 800 pixels.
The operating system is S60 5th edition, and this is the second time I’ve tried it. When I saw it first, in the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, it felt as though it had been built to sit on top of S60, rather than designed with touch at its heart. I feel the same here and it doesn’t seem as though Nokia has made any significant changes since its first outing.