It's three years since I experienced low memory dialog boxes on a Symbian phone. The '38MB free' when supplied soon fell alarmingly through the 20s, and by Day Three was around 17MB - despite an empty inbox. Less technically proficient users who accidentally instal applications on the C: drive – which is the default Nokia offers you – will run into problems sooner. The phone should follow the de facto default behaviour of closing down applications to free memory – an annoyance of a different sort – but I was able to run the browser and a major application concurrently.
N97 opened up
You shouldn't take anyone's word about the physical keyboard. Not even mine. Allied to a confusing and eccentric touchscreen handwriting implementation, it makes text input sub-optimal. Ideally, prospective purchasers should try and spend some time with it before deciding. After a week, I still couldn't get on with it.
Like the 5800, the N97 features a resistive screen, which was state-of-the-art until the appearance of Apple's iPhone, with its beautiful glass capacitive screen. This year's high end devices – the Palm Pre, the Samsung Omnia HD, and Vodafone's HTC Magic Android – all feature capacitive screens too. The resistive screen now feels cheap by comparison. In darkness, I found the display was pinsharp and rich but, outdoors on a muggy London June day, the screen was a near washout.
On the plus side, the stylus that's included in the box is never needed in practice, thanks to the Qwerty keyboard. It's there as an option if you want to use the handwriting recognition – one of four input methods supported by the N97, or five if you count voice control. In fact, pursuing the stylus/handwriting route opens a Pandora's box – you really don't want to go there. Leave the stylish pointer, which resembles the nib of a Magic Marker pen, in the box. There's no room for it in the housing of the phone anyway.
Charging and data transfer are both handled by micro USB. Nokia ships an adapter in the box, which can connect one Nokia’s traditional or thin pin chargers. This adapter gets pretty hot during charging and only works with the lead supplied with the N97 itself, a micro USB cable from a Xenon-tastic 6220 classic didn't charge the new device. There's no TV-out cable, which is a pity. But ... Hallelujah! Nokia finally makes a phone with a 3.5mm audio adapter - that's the right way up, on top of the device.
Adopt your position: open or closed – that's it
The build quality of the chassis is excellent. The screen slides smoothly and firmly up to a 30-degree angle, thanks to a sophisticated hinge mechanism, effectively giving it a built-in desk stand. This proved to be useful, particularly when viewing the BBC iPlayer. Unlike the E90, or some HTC devices including the new Touch Pro2, there are no intermediate positions between fully open and fully closed.
I have one and it's amazing!
I have an N97, after finally letting go of my N95. I have had NONE of the memory problems described and find the keyboard very easy to use! No, it's not a traditional QWERTY layout but who cares? The positioning of the space under your right thumb was inspired! I have read a lot of negative reviews which I can only ascribe to lazy reporters copying old pre release reviews! The N97 is amazing to use, feels really well made and is suprisingly light. It is not perfect but it is a very worthy upgrade from an N95! Claiming it is just a 5800 with a keyboard was, quite frankly, moronic!
Ho Ho Ho! Now I have an N97!
I can say my experience with the keyboard differs greatly from Andrew Orlowski in that I find it very useable and can bash out texts, facespace updates, emails etc... a lot faster than I can with, say, my iPod Touch.
I admit I'm still learning how to get the most out of it, coming straight from an N73 (it has a *lot* more that's customisable, for instance) but it's still very intuitive if you're already used to S60.
You won't be jacking in your iPhone to get one of these, the iPhone is much more of a mobile computing platform than a Smartphone, but it is an upgrade from just about any Smartphone out there and now I can point and laugh at anyone with a Blackberry Storm. Ah, sweet vengeance!
OK, fair enough. The iPhone has a couple of capabilities that the N97 can't even begin to compete with - it can change colour and you can fry an egg on it.
Umm - yes, I did.
Thanks for re-iterating my comments anonymous coward. You could just try the N97 for yourself like I suggested before you attempt to ridicule my opinion.
Yes, I did register simply to add my comment. Is there another reason to register other than to add comments?
I feel the review lacks balance and I wanted to share my thoughts on the N97, I think it's a great phone. I have had no problems at all with the keyboard size/layout or the interface. I agree that the touch sensitive screen is not as functionally rich as the iPhone's but it certainly works well for my purposes (it does take a little getting used to though).
Taking everything into consideration, this is one hell of a piece of engineering. Yes, 21st Century Swiss army knife - I stand by every word.
One other thing which is important to me...this phone is damn tough. Have a look at the N97 test videos on Youtube to see for yourself - try that with a [insert latest smartphone of choice].
Was waiting to see...
I was involved with dev of a series 60 device a few years back. Found it unintuitive (how many softkey presses to send a txt???) frustrating, slow and clunky.
Sad to see nothing has changed. Contacts tell me Series60 internals are a mess - that's why they're still producing and releasing buggy handsets.
Nokia are still somehow managing to keep going off the back of the 3300 series years ago, it would seem. I think it's time I relented and bought an iPhone - everybody else is trying to catch up, and failing, with legacy platforms being crowbarred into trying to be slick and responsive, but failing dismally... plus, of course, the existnig major handset manufacturers are struggling under the weight of their own pasts in terms of design methodology.
Good review though, but it feels like all the reviews I've ever read of Nokia handsets. "Disappointing".