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Nokia N97 - Mobile Phone
This review maybe a little late but I had to wait for Nokia to officially launch the N97. I like doing things by the book. But for this particular review, I decided to be a wee bit unconventional, so I'm writing it from the handset itself. These notes will be emailed to my editor from the phone.
Let me just get those off my chest - I was a little skeptical of the N97's 3.5-inch resistive touchscreen working out too well. For the record, it's brilliant. It's as responsive as any other touchscreen handset out there.
The simplistic singular button for accessing the menu is just that... Simple. The touch sensitive call keys, on the other hand are just a little too closely spaced. It took a little while to get used to but the UI compensates with onscreen options. The front camera and light sensor work without a hitch.
The slide out QWERTY keypad and screen angle are every bit as great as any ad or image you've come across. There are arch-sliders and then there's the N97. The keys are a bit small, but I'm quickly getting the hang of it. I found the on-screen alphanumeric keypad extremely handy as well for quick one handed typing with its large keys.
The N97 may not be a sleek handset and it is just a little bit on the hefty side, but its weight seems well adjusted for comfort and portability. It has a 3.5mm earphone socket built in and one on the handsfree as well. Didn't care too much for the bundled earphones. A micro USB is located on one side. It doubles as a charger port as well. A screen lock slider switch is right next to it. A set of volume/zoom keys and a camera button are on the other side.
The 5mp camera with a dual LED flash is at the rear behind a slide protector. My one main issue is the lack of a hot swap slot for the microSD card, then again with 32 Gigs of space, it's no big deal. The rear panel had a problem sitting back into the grooves. I didn't want to force it any more than i did. It stuck out a bit ominously though.
All relevant accessories are included with the packaging. All in all, the N97 is a trendy well designed handset. I like it so far. On to the next section.
Features and Performance -
The Symbian OS version 9.4 with an S60 UI coupled with an ARM 11 434MHz processor makes for speedy usage and virtually no lag while multi-tasking. It's at least a couple of levels higher than the 5800's. There's a smooth flow to the system and a quickness that accompanies it when it comes to opening apps like the N-Series video browser section and files that I've normally had issues with. Touchscreen navigation is no problem either. Like i mentioned earlier it's quite responsive but not annoyingly so that it'll activate features if it grazes your pocket or any other surface.
The desktop can be customized to include all relevant short cuts to various options, settings and features. It's called 'Live Desktop' as you can stay connected to Facebook etc. all the time and access it from here. With a flick of your finger you can easily hide all of the options. In some ways though, the 5800's desktop is better. The History for contacts option is not available here in the N97 for some reason. That was rather helpful to keep track of in coming and outgoing contact with a specific person.
The N97 is definitely equipped with one of the better music players in Nokia's multimedia range of handsets. The tones are clear and quite well balanced. The 8 band graphic EQ and presets with Stereo Widening only make things better and provide for a richer audio experience.
The lack of a Visual Radio application was quite a disappointment. I was expecting it to be part of the feature set as it showed up in the specs all over the place. It does have an FM Transmitter though. The FM radio with RDS was just ok and in no way anything to write home about.
Sadly, Nokia still didn't find it necessary to include a few relevant codecs like DivX and XviD for video playback. Having a great widescreen like this feels like a bit of a waste in this case. So you'll still have to get a hold of a decent converter to alter your videos for the N97 to MPEG4 and 3GP. The ability to Copy Paste videos would have made this handset so much more appealing.
Podcasting, a voice recorder and a quick link to YouTube are available. The games are not impressive so no big deal. A few editing options are also present for pictures taken via the camera. It all supports AV out but no cables have been included.
In this department, the N97 is well equipped, no more than most other Biz class handsets like the E71. It comes loaded with Wi-Fi, 3G with HSDPA, EDGE/GPRS, Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP and USB 2.0. Nokia Maps is on board (limited) for GPS usage with A-GPS as well. The Map app also comes with a digital compass built-in. You can download AccuWeather and Psiloc's Traveler apps from the Download section to enhance GPS usage and of course geotag images from the camera.
This is the first handset in India to come with an OVI preinstalled quick link. Social networkers will find the built in Facebook app very handy as it can be added to the desktop for quick access. There are other apps like Qik for live video streaming from the camera, Hi5 and YouTube that are also preloaded.
Aside from being able to support Mail for Exchange, you can also quickly configure your POP or IMAP accounts. funny thing is although it found all of the appropriate settings, I was still unable to download mails as it kept insisting that my incoming mail server was not found even after manually entering all the settings. The Nokia Mail service and app is also absent.
The browser was pretty easy to navigate and use with no issues. It's also very well designed with full flash support included. The best part is you won't need the stylus at all.
I can't say that the N97 is a business handset. Its business features are limited to a limited edition of QuickOffice wherein you can't create documents of your own but simply open existing files. Nokia's Zip application and PDF reader are also present. The Active Notes apps is by far the most helpful feature. All other regular features like a Calculator, Scheduler with the Calendar, Alarm and Converter are present and accounted for.
The handset comes preloaded with Wavesecure to keep your data backed up and also protect the same in case of theft. Nokia's SystemStatus app is very handy. It acts like a Task Manger in WinMob handsets and gives you clear cut information on details like signal strength, CPU usage etc.
The 5 megapixel camera strapped to the rear is really quite average. I have yet to see a better 5MP mobile cam that can beat the N82's. The features include scene modes, exposure, white balance and others. No sign of smile or even face detection.
Images taken in normal daylight conditions are just ok. There's nothing spectacular to talk about.
Close ups in Macro mode are not bad though.
Considering the handset is designed to be constantly connected to the net, I expected a healthy battery life. Luckily the N97 delivered. On a single charge I was able to use the handset for a little over a day with it being logged in to Facebook and Twitter all the time. I made about one hour's worth of calls, sent plenty of messages, watched 40 minutes of video and even got in some navigation and music. After all of this I was still able to get about 15 minutes (give or take) of calling on a single bar with the battery low warning popping up frequently.
The Bottom Line
So there's been a lot of hype and honestly I'm just a little disappointed. I love the speedy UI and the overall look and feel of the N97, but for the Rs. 36,119 (approx) price tag, I expected... I wanted more. Full apps like QuickOffice, more camera features, Visual Radio and more video codecs should have been included. Even after typing all of this on the keypad though, I am still pleasantly surprised at how easy it became after only a short time. But I don't believe the N97's price is worth a handset that's great for just Social Networking.