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Nokia N97 Mini Mobile Phone
For those of you who read my review on the Nokia N97, you’ll know that I was not too pleased with the handset. I was a bit skeptical after the introduction of the N97 Mini as to whether or not it would exceed the expectations I initially had for its bigger brother. Well here’s my opinion.
The new shape is absolutely brilliant. It’s so much easier to mange this device than it was the first. I don’t have any qualms about the display being a mite smaller at 3.2-inches; it’s still clear and easy to use. The weight has been considerably reduced from 150g to 138g making it easier to carry around. That’s because they’ve shaved off quite a lot including reducing the onboard memory of 32GB to just 8GB. A little more metal has been tossed into the mix making it a little more stylish as well and the color options - Cherry Black, Garnet and White also adds a little elegance to the handset.
Slightly dull color options but very business like
The buttons on the outside are still in the same places with the 3.5mm handsfree port located at the top and the micro USB port for charging and PC connectivity on the side. The slide out full QWERTY keypad is slightly different. The nav-pad has been sliced and a set of navigation keys on one side near the space bar have taken its place. The keypad itself is still very comfortable to use. The N97 Mini has retained the 5 MP camera but this one doesn’t have a lens cover, not that I missed it.
Sturdy and well built
On the whole the N97 Mini is what the original should have been like. It’s definitely slimmer, sleeker, sexier and better in terms of its design than its predecessor. On to the features.
Features and Performance
Thankfully the Mini is equipped with the same ARM 11 434 MHz processor as the previous running on a Symbian OS with the S60 v5 for Nokia’s Touchscreen devices. It’s fast and efficient but tends to get a bit sluggish when your battery meter shows you just a single bar. It’s a finger friendly UI as there’s no need for the stylus. Whether you’re using the keypad or the touchscreen itself, it’s easy to navigate and the Live Desktop with its customizable features makes it easy to access all the features and functions you frequently use.
The Mini doesn’t offer anything different in terms of its preloaded features. What you’d find in the N97 you will find here as well and what you don’t, you can just download off of the Ovi Store.
Aside from the fact that Nokia still hasn’t managed to offer its customers the ability to simply copy paste videos for playback, forcing us to convert them to acceptable MPEG4 and 3GP formats, the media functionality of the handset is quite good. The audio player is loud, definitely loud, and clear. For those of you looking for a more personalized audio experience you can use the presets, Stereo Widening option or adjust the tone to your personal preference with the customizable 8 band graphic Equalizer setting.
Well placed ports
The Mini also comes with an FM radio that is unfortunately a feature that I found to be a little below par. In areas that I normally get good reception on other devices the Mini failed to pick up four out of the nine available stations and reception had quite a bit of static most of the time. The voice recorder was pretty good though with a range that was over 3 feet for providing good recoding. It also offers TV out via the handsfree port but an AV cable isn’t provided.
Like I said there’s nothing new here. The Mini offers 3G capabilities with HSDPA speeds up to 3.6Mbps. We’ll of course have to settle for EDGE and GPRS and Wi-Fi when available. Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP and USB 2.0 are also available for data transfer. If you wish to access Mail for Exchange you’ll have to download the App. I had a bit of trouble using Nokia’s Email service on this handset but I saw it function quite well on colleagues. It’s extremely easy to set up an email account that’s POP or IMAP enabled.
A comfy keypad
The built in social networking tools include Facebook that has its own widget for the Live desktop and allows you to take images and upload them from the same app and not much else. If you aren’t well versed enough to set up the features to access Picasa or any other image uploading site you might have a problem as Nokia has never made easy provisions for their access. You can download a Twitter from the OviStore or use Fring or Nimbuzz (if you can get it to work) for chatting. Nokia’s Symbian browser still needs work. I’m not too thrilled about its layout as the rendering isn’t optimized for very comfortable browsing.
Ovi Maps is on board with three months of navigation thrown in to be used with the onboard GPS antenna. It also supports A-GPS in case you need to access data from the web for Points of Interest or locations and other such data. It takes about 4 minutes on an average to locate available satellites and then you’re good to go.
Nokia has included a Quick Office app with the N97 Mini but it doesn’t have a license to create new documents. That costs extra. Then again, this isn’t an E Series Business class device so no biggie. Adobe’s PDF reader, a dictionary, Nokia’s Active Notes Zip Creator and Calculator amongst all other basic features are present and accounted for. The DJ Mix Tour game is also preloaded in case you wish to pass the time and it’s entertaining enough to while away those really boring moments.
Slimer than it's predecessor
The camera quality has been upped a bit. Features sadly have not. With 8 megapixel camera phones that come with the same and quite a lot of additional features that include face tracking, smile detection etc. and cost a lot less, the N97’s camera is not a selling point. Nevertheless I found that the processing and start up time was much better than the N97. This model also supports Geotagging and what I do like about Nokia’s S60 camera phones is the fact that they provide hints about features so new users can easily figure out what settings to use when.
Image quality on the whole was still quite average but not altogether bad. The colors and clarity aren’t the best but there are other Nokia models that fared better.
The Mini’s battery was a serious mystery. When fully charged with all the bars peaked it would easily run for over a day and a half with connectivity left on for emails, updates on widgets and so on. But on 2 occasions I failed to wait for the Fully Charged message and simply unplugged the handset from the charger. The levels were peaked but on my 1 hour commute, the battery dwindled away to almost nothing with minimal usage. Both times! Perhaps it’s a glitch in the handset I got for testing, so I hope you don’t have any issues if you’ve bought it.
The Bottom Line
The price tag on the N97 Mini is Rs. 30, 939 which is about the same price as the 32GB but larger in size N97. So if you’re having buyers remorse about the N97 and wish to upgrade, it’s going to cost you a very pretty penny. It’s a good phone and I have to admit that even with its minor shortcomings I have enjoyed using it, so don't dismiss it too quickly if it’s on your list.