Could no one at Nokia, during the many stages of design and development, have said, "STOP!" ? It defies belief that something so ugly could be released. Indeed, my initial experience of the UI was horrible: the widgets look great but suck RAM and impact the stability of the phone. Once I'd got rid of the Facebook widget, and simply used the static widgets for contacts and application shortcuts, the experience improved a great deal.
When buttons go missing: unused screen real estate on the N97
There's a new notification area which provides fast access to alarms, unread messages and Bluetooth, if active. As an iPhone user, I got bored with the repetitive steps needed to set display brightness or toggle Bluetooth on and off on this Apple device. It's a chore, most manufacturers alleviate by making these functions more accessible. So the N97's little notification panel appears quite useful.
Frequently, the UI gets the job done as clunkily as possible. Evidently, S60 has stagnated while Nokia's rivals have invested in some real innovation. Moreover, S60 5th Edition isn't a ground-up UI designed for touchscreens, which makes the iPhone, Pre and Android so elegant to use. When just activating something on the N97 requires two clicks and some latency is involved – such as changing a theme – you find yourself continuing to click because the selection hasn't registered.
Navigating lists and check boxes is far too often a chore. Why does configuring the right soft key show the options – the installed applications – as a list of radio buttons, just as it did in 2002? It's 2009 now, and that's a very long list. The photo browser shows up the UI quite cruelly, and will leave you pining for the multitouch gestures and brilliant rendering of the iPhone, and its most modern rivals.
In other areas, you can see Nokia is working hard to mitigate its legacy burden. Settings have been a disaster on S60 from the start, but it's gradually coming close to matching the clean, consistent organisation of a BlackBerry or a Sony Ericsson.
Settings are more logically organised
Applications gain a toolbar on the right that, while making thumb navigation easy, sucks a lot of usable display area from the application itself. In the messaging client, there's no way to toggle or customise this enormous bar.
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".