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Thread: My Nokia N97 MEGA Review: Nseries Flagship

  1. #1
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    My Nokia N97 MEGA Review: Nseries Flagship

    Anticipated by millions of people for over a year, the Nokia N97 is Nokia's flagship product for 2009. It features the new S60 5th edition touch focused user interface with a slide out QWERTY keyboard and all the multimedia goodies that distinguish an Nseries like 5MP camera, wifi, and integrated GPS. The box contains the phone, AC-10U charger, CA-101 USB data cable, Nokia Wired Headset (AD-54, HS-45), Nseries pointer, screen wiper, and Nokia CD with utilities and programs.



    I've had the N97 over a month now and I want to share with you my experiences with it. I wanted to make this one big review but there was just too much to talk about the N97 that I'm breaking it out over 3 posts: Hardware, Software, and Multimedia.

    Thanks to WOM World for supplying me the N97-1 in this review.

    I originally received the N97 with the V 11.0.021 (15-06-2009) firmware but midway through my review Nokia shipped the much improved V 12.0.024 (04-08-09) firmware. As with all Nokia S60 devices, Nokia has been very diligent improving the user experience based on user feedback. Nokia also makes it very easy to update with their fantastic over the air (OTA) software update. The next firmware, V20, is rumored to arrive in October and will carry a number a significant user experience improvements like OS wide kinetic scrolling.

    Quick facts:
    Name: Nokia N97-1 (RM-505)
    Network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 WCDMA 900/1900/2100
    Weight: 150 g
    Dimensions: 117 x 55 x 15.9 mm
    Battery life (stand by): 700 hours (WCDMA), 280 hours (GSM)
    Battery life (talk): 320 minutes (WCDMA), 320 minutes (GSM)
    CPU: 32bit Freescale MXC300, 434 MHz ARM1136JF-S
    RAM: 128 MB

    My phone was manufactured in: (your phone's country of manufacture could vary) Finland.

    The N97 closed:



    The display half of the phone is very flat and undecorated.
    The top has a thin slit for the speaker rather than the usual Nokia grill. 3 circles are beside the speaker slit: the proximity sensor, forward facing camera, and light sensor. The bottom has two touch sensitive call keys and a really stiff multimedia key.


    The multimedia keys is very stiff. I wasn't fond of the call keys are they don't consistently respond.

    The N97 opened:



    Opening up the phone will slide the display out and up at a nonadjustable 35 degree angle to the QWERTY keyboard half of the keyboard. The slide mechanism is smooth and assisted so it'll snap open. Closing it requires a little more force but it'll also snaps to the closed position. The slide mechanism is very sturdy and never felt loose - very comparable to the E65 in slide quality. I've never had the phone accidentally slide open and the slide mechanism doesn't feel it got any looser over the month of usage.



    Keyboard lighting

    The N97 while closed:


    The N97 while opened:



    There was little to no light leaking or spilling. It's nice to see the D-pad finally lighted on a Nokia phone.[/I]

    Aesthetics
    The N97 doesn't look like the typical Nokia Nseries of its era. Its use of circles and round corners give it a softer appearance unlike the sharp square-ish designs found in the N95 or N82. The N97 is also surrounded by a chrome trim to give it a higher class appearance that is more typical of Nokia's Eseries line of phones.



    The SIM card card holder is a slide out type which is a lot easier to switch SIM cards in and out than the E71.


    In terms of thickness, the N97 is almost double the thickness of a E71:

    Nokia N97 compared to the Nokia E71

    But the N97 is inline with other high multimedia phones:

    Nokia N97 compared to the Nokia N82

    Display
    Wow this screen is huge for a Nokia! It's a 3.5 inch TFT LCD displaying 360 by 640 pixels with 16M colors.


    The widescreen and size make watching movies on the N97 enjoyable

    The screen is a resistive so it requires you to push on the screen unlike the capacitive screens found on the iPhone and many Samsung touch screen phones. However, unlike captive touch screens, the resistive touch screen does not require human touch so it is still usable with your gloves on or a stylus pen. Since the screen requires pushes, the screen has a slight flex. Although a number of reviewers bemoan the use of resistive over captive, in practice you don't notice it as much since the accuracy is still impressive right out of the box. You can also go through the calibration wizard if you're picky. A sore point to the touch screen is that the N97 doesn't currently support multi-touch. The vibration feedback for the touch screen was comfortable - being noticeable but not overwhelming.

    The higher screen resolution of the N97 mark a significant improvement over the 320 x 240 pixel screens of previous S60 phones. Text and icons no longer look blocky. Screen legibility is on par with the N82 under sunlight the E71 is better however. Noticeable lines run diagonally on the screen when you reflect light off the screen. While closed you can see the top layer having a top right to bottom left by light reflecting off the screen while the lower layer runs top left to bottom right seen by looking closely at the screen in the dark

    Sadly the software blanks the display while the phone is locked. It would've been nice to have a clock and phone status displayed like the E71.

    During my normal usage, I noticed a few hair-thin scratches, only visible by reflecting off the screen, appear.


    Keyboard

    As enjoyable using the kinetic finger swiping to navigating pages may be, it was easier to click small links found in a group of links, like a tag cloud, using the d-pad. Having the option of using both the touch screen and physical keys is a strong selling point of this phone.



    D-pad is shallow. Used nails to left and right side a lot. Some reviews have commented on the unusual left placement of the D-pad but this makes a lot of sense for gaming and you compare it to most video game consoles where the D-pad is always on the left.

    The keys are very shallow so there isn't a lot of feedback when you push them. A number of times I didn't know whether I pushed the function key at the bottom right for number input. Part of the issue is that different keys provide a different feedback such as the 'H' making a click sound while my 'M' key is a lot more muted. Keys also vary in stiffness such as the 'O' character was stiffer than 'H'.

    The placement of the function key is so far bottom right that it's hard for my right thumb to reach making apostrophes, numbers, or anything needing the function key a chore. If you're coming from the E61 or E71 then you'll immediately notice the 'Z' character no longer sits below the 'A' character. I made a number of typographical errors hitting the CAPS key instead of 'Z'. Highlighting text is difficult with the keyboard as the shift key is far to the left along with the d-pad. Someone at Nokia was listening as the newer N97 mini addresses many of the key placement issues.

    Why are the decimal, comma, and apostrophe all on the same key? They are the keys I use very often. I much prefer the E71's keyboard putting comma period beside each other and don't require a function or caps lock key press.

    The flatness of the keyboard and spacing made it less enjoyable to type on the N97 and directly influenced the reduction of emailing from the N97 compared to the E71.


    The N97 keyboard compared to the E71

    Overall the N97 keyboard is useable but not great. It pales in comparison to other Nokia QWERTY equipped phones like the Nokia E75 or Nokia E71.

    Build quality
    The battery cover hinges are small and fragile so don't break them by forcing the battery cover on.



    The battery cover creaked and the area around the lock/unlock key (extremely annoying as the unlock key is so frequently used) but the rest of the phone was solid.


    The key lock is frequently used but also creaked the most so it keeps reminding me of bad build quality

    I remember worrying about the display ribbon being exposed behind the hinge but I haven't heard of anyone complaining about it. Under heavy usage, the bottom half of the phone gets noticeably warm.

    Stay tuned for my next post that will review the N97 software.


    Software

    The Nokia N97 is the first Nseries to run Nokia's touch screen optimized S60 5th operating system and only the second Nokia phone to use it. I've had the N97 over a month now and made it my primary phone so I hope to give you a good idea what it feels to use the phone. In my first N97 review I covered the hardware aspect which is only a part of the phone. Here I will be reviewing the software that powers the N97.



    Thanks to WOM World for supplying me the N97-1 in this review.

    S60 hasn't gone through much of a change - great for people already familiar with S60.

    Nokia E71 with S60 3rd edition, Nokia N97 with S60 5th edition, and N82 with S60 3rd edition

    Firmware Updates
    It's not common to see firmware updates being reviewed so early in a product review but I want to emphasize to both current N97 users and prospective N97 owners on the importance of updates and Nokia's dedication to their products.

    During my review process Nokia had updated the firmware for the N97 from V 11.0.021 (15-06-2009) to V 12.0.024 (04-08-09). This gave the N97 much better response and screen redraw speed throughout the phone. I also ran into less system errors and reboots. To put it simply, the N97 is still a work in progress, much like the N95, and Nokia is two or three firmwares away from a great phone.

    Thankfully Nokia has included a very convenient easy to use over-the-air firmware upgrade software powered by Red Bend. Just start SW update under Applications and it'll automatically check online for software updates and one click downloads and installs it just like Microsoft's Windows Update.


    Nokia's software update is a fabulous tool to help keep your phone working at its best.


    Operating System

    Home screen
    The much hyped widget based home screen is a big customization improvement to S60. There are still limits as you can only add each widget once. So you can't display an Accuweather widget for both your home city and the city you're visiting on the home screen. But Nokia has given the user much more flexibility by including 2 shortcut widgets so you can add up to 8 application shortcuts and 2 contacts widgets to put 8 of your favorite contacts. Too bad Nokia didn't include 2 e-mail widgets so users can follow both their work e-mail and their personal e-mail. To configure any of the widgets, click Options > Edit Content and click on the widget you want to edit or tap and hold the widget to change the positioning. One annoyance with the home screen is that a slight flick of the finger on the widgets will hide them all instead making it more useful like revealing another home screen. To re-enable the widgets you can flick your finger again on the empty space or click Options > Show content.



    The e-mail widget is improved over previous incarnations allowing the display of up to 2 of the latest e-mails and number of new e-mails or just displays the number of new e-mails.

    Navigation
    Double clicking and single clicking isn't annoying as I thought it'd be but it gives the impression the phone is too slow and not capturing all touch input. You just have to realize that it's not an iPhone but S60 done up with touch so you still get scroll bars.

    Screen rotation is fast enough. There is a noticeable delay where the screen goes blank with just the background color but it is very livable. The v12 improved the screen redraw speed considerably.

    Nokia has gone through S60 and reorganized many of the menu items - more so compared to previous attempts. If I wasn't so accustomed to S60 I would think they made some good decisions to grouping similar functions together.

    For example:
    App manager is now in settings. Use Organize > Delete to remove applications.
    Connectivity in Settings
    Music Player, Radio, Music Store all merged into the Music application
    Landmarks, GPS data, and Positioning all merged into the Location application

    There's no smart dial on the homescreen. It would've made the dialpad much more useful.


    Nokia, please add the letters to the numbers for the next firmware.

    It would have been nice if Nokia included the letters associated with the numbers in the dialing user interface. Otherwise making a call to something like 1-800-CALL-ATT would be difficult. They fixed this on the N900.

    When you finish an incoming call while the phone was locked and "Show call duration" is enabled, the N97 immediately locks after finishing a call so the call duration popup is quickly lost. This doesn't happen on S60 3rd edition so I believe it's a usability bug. I still hate how S60 doesn't keep call duration for each call; even my 3 year old SE W810i did this.

    Scrolling with the narrow and small scroll bar is very frustrating. In a long note like this reviewing I'm writing, the scroll bar is narrow and small making it difficult to select and stopping it at the right spot in the file is hard as slight movements scroll a lot. This is where kinetic scrolling is sorely needed.

    Input methods

    One of the draws to the N97 is its full QWERTY keyboard but for those times when you just can't be bothered to open up the phone or need one-handed operation, the N97 offers numerous input methods:


    T9 for the older schoolers


    It even works in landscape


    Handwriting recognition

    The handwriting recognition is fairly good. I just had problems with having the N97 recognize my 'i' which turns into 'j'.
    Handwriting recognizes both lowercase and uppercase input but it makes fewer mistakes with uppercase.

    Typing software - it doesn't have some of the little usability enhancements found in Blackberries for typing like capitalizing 'I' when it stands alone or placing a period after hitting space twice.

    Predictive typing is disabled by default but it's something every user should consider turning on to address some of the poor keyboard layout. For example, if you need an apostrophe you can just hit the period and the software will suggest apostrophe above which you just hit up on the d pad to accept. I never used predictive typing on the E71 but it makes a difference on the n97

    With predictive typing turned on, the N97 is sluggish and can't keep up with my typing - and I don't even type fast!

    Unfortunately the N97 does not offer an on screen QWERTY keyboard, as found on the 5800, for the few people that want it.

    Bug - with keyboard locking turned on, if you leave the phone open, let it dim and autolock, the N97 won't unlock even if you open it or hit unlock key. I had to take out the battery to reset the N97.

  2. #2
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    Included or Nokia Software
    For a smartphone to be successful it has to include some useful software and Nokia spent a lot of money in the last few years differentiating its products with a wealth of included applications like Ovi Mail and Nokia Maps.

    Contacts
    The S60 contacts holds information the same way it did in previous versions of S60 with each contact having first name, last name, various phone numbers, and various details. The number of contacts limit is the memory of the phone.

    For S60 5th edition, they've added an additional page as above that makes calling, texting, and video calling easier to click but it's 1 more click to look up phone numbers. You can no longer switch to the details of the previous/next contact by hitting left or right on the Dpad.

    Mail & Mail for Exchange
    If you've used Mail or Mail for Exchange (MfE) on other S60 devices such as the E71 or N95 then you won't notice any new features. If you're just using it for mail I highly suggest installing Nokia's new Nokia Messaging to replace the built-in client. MfE provides Microsoft Exchange synchronization support to your Nokia S60 device. If you want to know a little more about MfE I wrote a little review a while ago here. Unfortunately MfE users are stuck with the built-in client.

    Some changes to the mail client are:
    The top tab for Inbox, Sent, Draft, etc. is not scrollable.
    Scrolling through a large list of e-mail is difficult as the scroll bar gets smaller as number of e-mail increases. When the scroll bar is small, the slight movements put you somewhere else on the list, likely not where you wanted to be.


    Mail still doesn't support HTML or rich text email so all email appear as pure text
    Also the much used Search, found in the latest S60 devices, does not support mail for exchange.

    Oddly, turning off date grouping was found under messaging > other.

    Bug: The mail indicator at the top of the standby screen won't disappear even after having read all my messages and email.

    Calendar


    This is a big improvement over existing S60 devices. The event details now open instantly in contrast to the E71 where you needed to wait a second. Each of the listed details is now also a link to the full description of the event. The Change view, add meeting, and add to-do note buttons at the bottom are very useful. With the N97s much larger screen, the week view is much easier to read than on the E71.

    With the phone locked, the N97 will blink with the meeting alert once very quickly and not blink again as my E71 does.

    Nokia Browser
    Powered by the WebKit, the same technology found in the iPhone and Android browsers, the Nokia Browser was one of the first firmware embedded full browsers. Unfortunately, the Nokia Browser hasn't undergone much of a change since then and still runs an old version 412 of WebKit while the iPhone and Android run version 528. The Nokia Browser is considered slow to render pages compared to more contemporary browsers. Many power users have switched to using Opera's Java-based Opera Mini, which now supports touch.

    The browser is one of the few included applications that support kinetic scrolling within the browser. While scrolling it will display a thin scroll bar on the right that gives you a visual indication of where you are on the page but you cannot click on the scroll bar.

    Like previous Nokia browsers, it does not include the built-in function to new windows and navigating the multiple windows opened by Javascript is clumsy at best.

    With the added CPU speed over the last generation of S60 devices like the E71, page rendering was faster and the in-browser flash played smoothly.

    My computer ran into problems so my n97 became my computer. Too bad the browser doesn't support activeX which is required for my work.

    Photos
    Gone is the flashy but useless carousel photo viewer in the N95. Replacing it is a very plain but functional photo viewer:

    Pulling up the full image takes a long time - much longer than my N82. You're treated to a zoomed in version of the thumbnail while you wait. Zooming it done through a scroll bar.
    Bug - photos crashed a number of time when zooming in on specific photos.

    Photo Browser
    This is a little beta project of Nokia's but I thought it'd be nice to include here to show my readers that Nokia is trying to improve the user experience but hasn't gotten it stable enough to include it with the firmware.


    All those white outlines boxes should have photos in them but the software is slow pulling the thumbnails

    The photo browser is much more geared to the touch screen of the 5th edition with support for kinetic scrolling and nice eye candy while scrolling. Too bad that pulling up the full photo is slow like the included Photo application. Moreover, zooming on this app is fairly useless as it magnifies the area directly below your finger so your finger blocks what you're trying to see.

    Music

    The music player remains the same as previous S60 devices.

    Ovi Store

    Many users have complained about Ovi search not working well. AllAboutSymbian even made their own. You'll need Ovi account to download anything, including the free things. You'll find a few useful applications like Bloomberg, AccuWeather, and Drawing in Ovi but absent are useful staple software like YouTube.

    Nokia Maps

    When I got my N97 I immediately upgraded Nokia Maps to 3.01 v09wk26 b02. Unfortunately, a number of users have reported that Nokia Maps 3.0 causes the GPS to become unstable having difficulties holding a satellite lock and giving jumpy data.

    Realplayer
    Realplayer has been the default video player with S60 for as long as I can remember. As expected, it will play mp4 and 3gpp formats but doesn't support the popular DiVX format.

    Realplayer has been touch enhanced and made to look less cheesy and cumbersome than in S60 3rd edition

    Flashplayer
    The flashplayer powers flash within the Nokia browser but you can also open flash FLV files within the included File Manager in Office.

    Great to play those saved FLV videos from YouTube but lack of play controls limit its usefulness.
    Bug: For FLV videos, audio shutters near the beginning and audio shutters after a few minutes of play it will shutter again and continue.

    Drawing

    It's a fun simple application. No OCR support to convert notes to text. There are only a limited colors and editing tools. It's also not vector based.

    You can even open photos captured with the N97 and make some interesting drawings:



    Third Party Applications
    No smartphone is complete without even more software! The main draw to a smartphone is the wealth of compatible 3rd party software to make the phone more useful to the user.

    Similar to the transition between Nokia's older S60 2nd edition like the N70 to S60 3rd edition like the N73, the transition to 5th edition breaks compatibility with a lot of applications. Although some of your older S60 3rd edition application may install, not all will run (i.e. Garmin XT version 4) and not all will work well (i.e. Mobitubia doesn't have back button). So before you make the jump to a S60 5th edition, make sure your favorite applications or a viable alternative are available. Unfortunately there aren't a large number of applications designed specifically for S60 5th edition just yet.

    PhoneTorch
    Big Bug - open PhoneTorch and leave in default settings, turn on light, open camera lense cover, and close camera lense cover. The N97 will now display lines and then reboot.

    Garmin

    Garmin now works on 5th edition and, of course, works with the internal GPS.
    Bug - Gamin is still buggy with frequent crashes, performance problems, and map drawing bug in landscape mode.

    YouTube

    Changing Connection doesn't let you choose the specific connection so you're left guessing if it's using WiFi or your carrier's network

    It would've been nice if Nokia displayed the left and right soft keys on the screen for non-compatible S60 3rd edition software since 5th edition doesn't include left/right keys. I tried Mobitubia on the N97 but couldn't navigation back as it's done with a soft key which isn't displayed.

    Overall
    The Nokia N97 software felt like it was still a work in progress even after the firmware update to v12. I encountered more than a handful of times I've had to either restart the phone or pull out the battery to fix the phone. There are a number of navigation inconsistencies throughout the operating system such as scroll bars or kinetic scrolling, single clicking or double clicking, and using soft keys or holding your finger on the screen. And a final big sting to S60 5th as a smartphone platform is the lack of quality 3rd party software compared to its competitors.

    Multimedia

    The Nokia N97 is the flagship Nseries product for 2009 and includes many of the expected multimedia features like 5 MP camera, integrated GPS, and WiFi and includes some new ones like a digital compass and FM transmitter. But what sets the N97 apart from its predecessors is how well these multimedia functionality are integrated together in the software.



    Bug: While typing this review, my Note application kept crashing without saving when the note got too long. Turning off predictive typing stopped the crashing.

    Camera
    The Nokia N97 includes a 5 megapixel camera sporting Carl Zeiss Tessar lens with dual LED flash, autofocus, and macro mode.



    Photos
    The N97 camera application looks different than other Nseries devices with an emphasis on simplicity. But that's not to say there's a lost in control as the advanced functionality is hidden in the menus. The camera retains white balance, color tone, light sensitivity, high-level ISO, exposure, and contrast controls.


    A simplified camera app makes capturing great photos a click away.

    The new camera application features a simple one press camera taking button that handles autofocusing and photo capture - just like on the blackberry and iPhone. The one click photo taking button is useful for quickly taking a focussed photo and for people not accustomed with a camera phone having focussing. The physical shutter release is still very useful for manually setting the focus before taking the photo and for taking self photos. In any mode, the camera will automatically use macro-mode if you're focussing on something near.


    Advanced camera settings are hidden in the 3 horizontal bar bar button on the right

    The camera software still doesn't save your settings, like contrast, after each use.

    Just to see how the N97's camera compares, I pitted it against Nokia's premier camera phone, the N82:

    Indoors (N97 to N82):


    The N97 handled the incoming sunlight a lot better than the N82 in auto mode. However the N82 photo is sharper showing better detail in the bolts of the plane.

    Outside (N97 to N82):




    I think the N97 produced a sharper image but both cameras produced very similar results.

    Macro Mode (N97, N82 without macro, N82 with macro):


    The N97 produced a more colorful photo than the duller N82. Although the focussing area was slightly different (the N97 was higher than the N82), the focus area on the N97 is 25% narrower than the N82.

    Dimly lit interior with flash:


    The camera software and dual LED flash on the N97 did not work well together as a number of photos were washed out with a flood of white in dimly lit. The dual LED is overly bright and can't be turned off when focussing so it's not ideal for taking photos in light sensitive places like the art gallery.

    Dimly lit macro (N97 to N82):


    The N97 produced a warmer photo with more accurate colors than the N82. However the N97 had more noise compared to the N82.

    Photos in the dark (N97 to N82):


    The N82 produced a much brighter photo and had more accurate colors. The N97 photo was grainly and dim.

    The photo processing time after taking a photo was slow, taking about 4 seconds to finish saving the photo. This went down to around 3 seconds with the v12 firmware.

    Bugs - if you require a passcode on your phone, you'll run into frequent problems with unlocking the phone where the screen wouldn't light up. For exanple, the flipping down the camera cover won't unlock or prompt for passcode and the camera application doesn't start in both cases.

    Video
    Although the N97 camera sounds very 2007 (i.e. the Nokia N95) on paper, it really is. It adds widescreen support but accomplishes it by reducing the video height.



    The video recording software saves some settings like flash but not all, such as scene, after each use.

    Video quality settings:
    4:2 aspect ratio high: MPEG4, 640 x 480, 29 FPS, ACC Mono @ 48 KHz, 2.93Mb/s
    Widescr. high quality: MPEG4, 640 x 352, 29 FPS, ACC Mono @ 48 KHz, 1.95Mb/s (default)
    Sharing quality: H.263, 176 x 144, 15.5 FPS, AMR Narrowband Mono @ 8KHz, 107Kb/s

    Other settings: Show GPS Info, Audio Recording, Scene modes (auto, low light, night), White balance, Color tone.

    The N97's large screen makes watching captured videos on the N97 look especially nice.

    Sample Widescr. high quality video:


    Connectivity
    The data connection software, called Destinations, is a vast improvement over previous S60 software. It works like Birdstep's SmartConnect by grouping a mix of multiple access points like home wifi, office wifi, and carrier network into a single point for use by all your applications. As with SmartConnect, you can define priorities to the access points so it will use your home wifi network before trying to use your carrier's network. Unlike SmartConnect, if you set your software to prompt, Destinations will search through your access points and suggest the best access point based on your priority. And any access point you successfully connect will be automatically added to the bottom of your group of access points. It's so intuitive that I rarely need to manage access points for my mail synchronizing.

    WiFi
    The N97's WiFi antenna is weaker than my E71 even when its keyboard is opened. As you may remember from my E71 review, the E71 is weaker than the N82 in pulling WiFi signals.

    Bug: Wifi wizard, connected then it wouldn't respond. Switching to the application showed a dimmed screen. Couldn't kill app and it started to slow down the whole phone. Had to shut off the phone. Got stuck connected to an access point and not possible to connect back to it and the connection manager doesn't show the active connection

    Integrated GPS
    I turned off assisted GPS to test the integrated GPS. Lock on time from cold boot (no prior lock ons) and stationary was twice as long as my N82 but beat my E71 which never managed to lock on within 10 minutes. However, in motion, the N97 had a lot of difficulty locking on compared to both the N82 and E71 - sometimes taking up to 20 minutes to lock on.


    The N97 has a weak GPS with v12 firmware.

    While locked, the GPS was jumping all over the place and frequently didn't report me moving even in an open area with direct access to the clear skies. With both my E71 and N97 running the same version of Garmin XT driving in downtown of a major Canadian city, the N97 frequently showed me driving between streets and easily got disoriented when I was stopped at traffic lights.


    The N97 is very jumpy so you'll frequently see yourselve between streets while driving

    Some users report the internal GPS was better before installing Nokia Maps 3 but I couldn't report that. I'm hoping firmware v20 will resolve issues with the GPS. I wouldn't rely on the N97 as my dedicated GPS.

    FM Transmitter
    Just like other recent Nseries devices, you can broadcast the audio from your N97 over FM frequencies - great for cars without an auxillery input. The frequency is configurable so you just have to find a frequency not used by your local radio stations. The audio produced was had a noticable amount of static and more muffled than listening through headphones. I would say it's worst that a real FM radio station but it's great for road trips into areas with no radio stations.

    Speakers
    The two small speakers at the top and bottom left side of the phone are tiny and weak.
    Audio through the headset was also weak

    Memory
    The Nokia N97 includes 32MB of internal memory and supports removable microSDHC support.

    The removable memory card lies under the back cover but you don't need to turn off the phone to access it.

    I tested the N97 with a 8GB microSDHC and it had no problems with it. The internal memory and the removeable media both act the same in the phone - as a separate drives. One major advantage of the internal memory is that it's formatted in FAT32 file system which is better space usage over the FAT format of SD cards.


    Battery
    The BP-4L 1500mAh battery is the largest used in Nokia's line of phones. It's the same battery found on Nokia's E71, which is known for having a long standby time. Unfortunately, the N97 doesn't fare so well with the same battery, lasting only 2.5 days long with my typical usage of some camera, light GPS usage, light WiFi Internet browsing. My E71 would last 4 days under similar usage but my N82 wouldn't make 2 days. The longer battery life made using the N97 as my MP3/video player compared to my N82.


    Conclusion
    Being Nokia's biggest product launch this year against the mounting pressure from competitors such Apple and Google, there's bound to be criticism when expectations are so high. The N97 retains the legacy S60 platform which can be both a good thing (easy for previous S60 users to get around) or a bad thing (not as intuitive as it could be). Nokia made a significant effort to revamping the S60 software with a widget home screen, more intuitive reorganization of menu items, and improving the ease of use for beginners.

    The new form factor is a welcome addition to the Nseries line of phones. With the qwerty keyboard and powerful 5MP camera, the N97 can easily replace my N82/E71 combination. But for those looking for a combination business tool while taking quality photos, you should also consider the E75 and upcoming E72.

    To be honest, this isn't a groundbreaking product like the N95 was when it was launched but it's a natural evolution of the S60 platform. But it is worthy of the title of Nokia's flagship device, a big improvement over Nokia's previous flagship, the N96, and I think it'll do very well in markets where Nokia is strong.

    Ratings:
    Performance...........8
    Build quality...........7
    Keypad...................5
    Connectivity...............7 (a weak GPS hurt this score)
    Features for $.........8
    Software................7 (still buggy)
    Camera..................8
    Battery life.............7

    Overall.....................8


    PROS:
    *amazing screen
    *WiFi
    *very impressive camera under sunlight
    *Great incoming sound
    *landscape screen
    *longer lasting battery
    *touchscreen or QWERTY keyboard when needed
    *better data connection handling
    *built-in FM transmitter

    CONS:

    *thick phone
    *no HTML in e-mails in built-in Mail client
    *grainy camera in dark
    *Paying for navigation in Nokia Maps
    *creaking phone case
    *smudges easily
    *screen scratches
    *software bugs throughout the phone
    *lack of quality 3rd party software
    *really bad GPS lock on and stability

    Originally posted on Eric's Corner
    Currently writing for FeedingMobile
    My Reviews: HTC One, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S7

    Looking for a new unlocked phone? Check out the Smartphone Buyer's List

  3. #3
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    Excellent review, haven't seen one that in-depth for a while.

    Also, is it just me, or does the software look a bit...dated? For a flagship product, Nokia certainly decided to take the simplistic route when it came to the color scheme and layout.

  4. #4
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    @mecha2142 thanks! yes, the UI does look fairly dated. No really pretty transition effects.

    I made a typo, the N97 has 32GB of internal memory. A little typo but a big difference.

    Too bad I can't edit the original post.

  5. #5
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    Awesome review!
    iPhone XS Max | OnePlus 6
    www.blueearlbrewing.com

  6. #6
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    Really an excellent review! The ONLY thing I like about N97 is how it looks when closed. V5 is almost a joke compared to other touch screen OS's. Too bad because I had high hopes for it when N97/5800 was announced. Having used 5800 I came to a great disappointment. I still like V3 though.

  7. #7
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    I edited the correct information about the memory in for you.

  8. #8
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    @Baldilocks thanks! tho i still see 32MB under my "Memory" section.

    @Loriolus the N97 is still a good phone. I really like how the new camera app works. It looks pretty nice open too. The hinge is very solid. I wouldn't call V5 a joke but it probably wasn't revamped enough for most of us.

  9. #9
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    wow, that's quite an indepth review. thanks for sharing your findings of this phone.

    i myself, am about to head back to the S60 camp after a long love affair with Crackberries..

  10. #10
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    i never had seen such a huge information on one topic.
    great work man carry on.

  11. #11
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    That is a very nicely constructed/informative review.
    -Sam
    Oh, shut up.
    Just shut up!
    I can't beleive you don't shut up!!!

  12. #12
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    great review. thank you!

  13. #13
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    my favorite part of the whole review is the pic of teenage mutant ninja turtles next to your pc's mouse! TURTLE POWER!
    Current Device: Nexus One
    Phone History: |N97 Mini| |5800| |E71-2| |N95-4| |N95-3| |N75| |6131| |6230| |SE T616|


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