Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Must Have Nokia N97 and Have Nots

Finally had the opportunity to review the Nokia N97, the flag bearer for Nokia in 2009. First of all, what a phone!! With the introduction of a touch screen, Nokia has shown why they are still the leading mobile phone manufacturer in the world. The "mobile computer" as it is also called, lives up to its name but still seems to give a future for E series phones by leaving out some things. With 32GB of space and a 5MP camera, meet the phone that attempts to tick all the boxes and still has some surprises up its sleeve. 

We'll look at the practical aspects of the Nokia N97, your daily experience once the glamour of showing off your new phone to friends wears off.. 

Look and feel The phone is quite a big phone, but then again, so is the iphone and the similar devices that the N97 is competing with. That's the point really, having a large screen which allows you to read a website easily. The slide out keyboard is actually quite good, making the screen stand up in a way that can be quite useful for word processing. 

NEW Standby screen As you look around at the marketing of the Nokia N97, you will notice that it is the standby screen which is being pushed the most. The option of having data continuously streamed to your front page seems like a great idea, however the battery is still a smartphone battery begging to be a laptop battery. With continual use and streaming data, the battery hardly lasts one day. However, you can always turn the streaming off for the standby screen. 

The touch screen gives one-tap access to virtually anything you want in your phone from your stand by screen. Apart from tapping the shortcuts which you can customise to display on  the stand by screen, 

  • Tapping the clock will get you into the alarms and clock settings. 
  • Tapping the current profile will give you the profile options (eg Silent, General, Meeting etc)
  • Tapping the date will take you to the calendar
  • Tapping the top right corner of the screen will give you the available networks and also show you whether a GPS connection is available.
  • Sliding your finger across will hide all your "widgets"

Touch screen I never really thought that a touch screen was all that big a deal, content with the Nokia four-direction navi-key which has served me well. However, applications such as Google Maps and Nokia Maps and even navigating through a website was so much easier with the stylus or the back end of a pen. Whilst the touch screen offers an alternative to using the fold out keyboard, I found messaging and finding contacts quite tedious with the touch screen and usually defaulted back to the keyboard.

Many iphone people would be familiar with the slide-across motion to unlock the phone. This is unavailable for the N97, which uses a toggle key on the side to unlock the phone. However, people on Ovi have already uploaded a program that deals with this issue. 

Snoozing We talked about the problem of the 6 minute snooze recently and this has been dealt with by the N97. Whilst you wouldn't pay $400 extra for a phone that allows you to choose how long you snooze, this is a very welcome new feature for the Nokia N97. 

Turn-over-to-snooze The phone can also enter snooze mode if you turn the phone over when the alarm goes off. Turning the phone upside down can also be used to silence the phone in the middle of a meeting when someone calls. 

Vibrate on touch One common issue with touch screens is that people are concerned that you do not get any "feedback" from the phone as you would when you press a keypad. However, this has been addressed in the N97 with a tiny vibrate every time the screen is tapped. This can also be turned off. 

The disappointments 

  1. I guess you can't have everything but what good is a Mobile Computer if you cannot use the Powerpoint, Excel and Word without paying more? Unlike the business Nokia E series phones, the Nokia N97 still requires that you buy QuickOffice. 
  2. Also the default Nokia email application does not allow you to open or even see attachments such as DOC files. Instead, it shows a "winmail.dat" attachment which cannot be opened. 
  3. As mentioned earlier, the battery life of the Nokia N97 must be improved. At the end of the day, the stand by screen "live-feeds" are just too battery intensive and the lack of customisability of the stand by screen is a little disappointing (eg been trying to work out how to add a twitter or rss feed to the front screen).

In the next post when I get around to it, we'll look at how the Nokia N97 handles some of the various "must have" software applications such as Gmail, Google Maps, Nokia Maps and Nokia Sports Tracker. 


  1. Wow looks like a beast of a phone, if only I was rich and not a scab.

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