Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Nokia N97 Preview

Nokia's most highly anticipated and important phone for this year is the N97. It features a touch screen just like the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic before it and a slide out keyboard too.

I was in Monte Carlo last week attending the Nokia Hackathon 2009 to put together my widget idea and test it on the Nokia N97, so I got the chance to play around with one for a few days...

The N97 features almost the same specs as most other recent Nseries phones such as HSDPA, 5MP Carl Zeiss camera, built-in WiFi, USB charging, dual LED flash and GPS. But it stands out from the crowd with its large touchscreen, use of S60 5th edition, and the slide out full QWERTY keyboard. As of this writing, the N97 sales package should include the phone (N97), Extended Li-Ion Battery (BP-4L), Compact Travel Charger (AC-10), Stereo Headset (HS-45), Data Connectivity Cable (CA-101), and Audio Controller (AD-54)

The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic (left) compared to the Nokia N97 (right)

The N97 has a slighter wider and longer screen than the 5800 but maintains the widescreen ratio.

The N97 closed:

Most people complained that the phone was too long and thick for their taste. It took me a while to get used to the thin silver diagonal button being the home key. For most previous N-series phones, the thin silver button was the multimedia key, which I always avoided.




5 Megapixel Camera with Carl Zeiss lens and dual LED flash:

The N97 opened up:

Close up of the keyboard:

The keys are spaced well apart making them easy to distinguish from each other but makes the keyboard too wide to use with one hand. The Q, A, Z keys are no longer aligned above each other as on other Nokia phones (i.e. the Nokia E71, E61) and the space bar is placed at the far right. These keyboard quirks made me initially annoyed with the keyboard but you quickly get use to it by the second day.

N97 opened and behind the screen:

You can spot the display ribbon in there. I hope it doesn't come loose on production models.

Hands on:

First impressions were very good with a large high quality screen. Build quality is exceptional with a solid spring loaded slide mechanism that had little to no rattle. There was little to no creaking while the phone was closed. The OS was responsive in most cases but still faces a number of lags such as switching the screen between portrait and landscape. Browsing web pages on the N97 was amazing with smooth initiative gestures and a screen able to display full readable pages Unfortunately the rest of the UI suffers from issues found on the 5800 such as a single finger swipe doesn't scroll the length of the swipe but just simulates a single push of the D-pad. I didn't find tapping and double tapping on the screen an issue on the N97. The keyboard buttons were the right size for easy typing and provided just the right feedback. The lack of Xenon flash keeps it from replacing my N82 but my E71 is in danger of being replaced.

Look out for a full review once I can get my hands on a retail unit!


Andy Pho said...

Definitely xenon flash would be much better, but that has not stopped me from purchasing a phone, because although MPs are great in a phone, they're really not made to take GREAT photos. I too was initially annoyed at the keyboard which made me shun the N97 for weeks after hearing about it, but after thinking it over, the keyboard seems to be designed well with a lot in mind.

My E71 is not in danger of being replaced as my regular phone--it IS going to be replaced.

Anonymous said...

Great read that, and some nice photos. Did you manage to find out if the light leakage around the touch sensitive buttons would be fixed by retail release.?

Anonymous said...

I will surely buy this one no matter what. For sure I'm gonna get to my emails and SMS and internet browsing a lot far more convenient and hassle-free! Symbian doesn't require uber high processors, as Symbian OS is fully optimized and designed for mobile phones.

Eric said...

@Mickey that wasn't high on their priority. The black didn't leak light as much as the white in case you haven't decided on a color yet

Anonymous said...


Having gotten used to the e71 form factor, how difficult do u think it will take to adjust or even LOVE the size of n97? Maybe u would never like it but just live with the compromise

it does seem a little 1990s blockly phone... The e71 size is just too awesome

Eric said...

@Anonymous I primarily use the E71 as my e-mail phone and I got used to the N97's keyboard pretty fast. I still didn't like where the space bar was placed but you'll get used to it. I definitely type faster on the E71 but I like the wider keys of the N97.

David said...

Hey eric, this is david castro, you should add me to facebook, if you use it. and please send me marco's email. Hope you are fine!! talk to you later!

mobile said...

I liked Browsing experience very much with Nokia N97. Its easy to use and get connected with friends in real time. After N97 Nokia release many new models but N97 is one of the exceptional.
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