The N97 Mini runs on the Symbian S60 5th Edition operating system with its associated UI and we really can’t bring ourselves to love it. Along with the screen issues, it isn’t particularly intuitive to use, with some actions requiring a single press and others a double, with no apparent logic.
More pocketable than its former guise
The UI features a busy widget-filled homepage. The blocky arrangement of different-sized shortcut and app widgets appears less tidy than the uniform but endlessly customisable arrangement of the iPhone or Android handsets. Nice to see a Facebook app that announces your status and updates there, though it’s a bit hungry on the RAM – the system runs a little quicker without it. Other handy widget apps include AccuWeather, YouTube, CNN Video, World Traveller, ESPN football news and Elle magazine.
We had no trouble with call quality on the N97 Mini – the speaker proved loud enough even next to a busy road and the tone is pleasantly full, with no trace of raspy tinniness. Conveniently, if a call comes through while you have the keyboard open, it’s automatically diverted to the loudspeaker, but switches to the ear speaker when you snap it shut.
Most email accounts require just address and password to configure and it supports Microsoft Exchange too. With the messaging widget, the latest incoming mail can be displayed on your homepage.
The camera and flash are the same as the N97’s, though the mini has lost the lens cover. It starts up fairly nippily in less than three seconds, automatically switching the screen to landscape mode. Picture quality is pretty good, with colours well reproduced and images generally sharp in good light, though the quality soon tails off in lesser light conditions. There’s autofocus and a heap of options available in the menu, including contrast, colour tone, white balance, light sensitivity settings,
No lens cover but still a good camera for a phone
Other features include macro, landscape and sports options, a multi-shot mode that can take anything up to 18 pics in quick succession, a timer, and geo-tagging using the on-board A-GPS supported by Nokia's Ovi Maps, and an on-board compass. In short, it’s a solidly put together camera package. Video drops the quality level a tad but it records in 640 x 480-pixel resolution at 30fps, or widescreen shots at 640 x 352 pixels resolution which is certainly fit for YouTube use.
Has your brother ever updated the phone? Nokia released two firmware updates (11.0.021 then 12.2.024) wayyy back in july+august which killed most of the stability and glitching bugs, then the 20.2.019 firmware in october which polished the device off a bit and added extra functionality (and is essentially same firmware the n97 mini has used from release) - With this latest firmware your brother shouldn't really be having any sizeable problems, unless he has a fubar unit.
Those are not proper tethering, they are kludges which require clients on the connected device. To tether on Android properly, you need to jailbreak it.
Shame, on S60, you can buy Joikuspot for about 15EUR, and have full standards-based wifi/bluetooth tethering, and work with *any* OS, including certain esoteric embedded things which will maintain a wifi link/have a wireless supplicant, but upon which you can't install client software.
Hell, pay a fortune, and even the iPhone tethers. Android does not, and that just seems like a let down for something which was hyped as more "open". Yeah, I know it used to work, and Google pulled the function at the behest of a telco in the USA, but that matters not a damn to the rest of the work that it affects.
So, meantime, it's a shame, an unjailbroken ANdroid phone does not tether. You can run some slightly marginal kludges on a client machine to get some form of connectivity- but that's not only a pain in the rear, but of very limited use. Having to maintain a zillion different forms of connectivity with defferent OSsen is also more work than it's worth doing. If I boot between MacOS and Linux, I'd rather not have to start up VPN clients and various other crap to get my phone to nearly do something that it's supposed to do anyway.
Ten years ago called, they want their mobile platform back.
The keyboard is the deciding factor
I have the N97 mini, and basically it's as this review says - fundamentally great phone but using it can be a little awkward due to touch screen and OS. But I still like it for the simple reason that the keyboard makes typing a much more productive affair. Not only is it faster (because you make fewer mistakes) but you can you see the full screen while you type.
So that's the bottom line. Why would you want to buy one? Well, hi-res screen, voice navigation and hi-res camera are all nice to have, but not deal makers. But if you send a lot of emails, comment on blogs, or write on twitter whatever - anything involving text input - then the slider format of the N97 suddenly makes it a very attractive option.