Nokia N97 review: Lock, stock and touch

GSMArena team, 16 June 2009.
Pages: 1234567891011Ľ

They don't get any bigger than that. A launch of this caliber can aptly be called inauguration day. The release of Nokia N97 is the Nseries counter-move that geeks have been waiting for since November. Easily one of the most complete smartphones ever created, the N97 has been haunting Symbian buffs' dreams for quite a while.

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Nokia N97

We're about to see if this feature-loaded son of a gun is the stuff dreams are made of and if it has the gut to stand up to the best on the market. The 5800 XpressMusic was cheap enough to easily be forgiven a couple of shortcomings but the N97 is not the begging type. Nokia-faithfuls are used to only getting the best treatment, so they won't settle for less with the Nseries skipper.

Key features

  • Slide-n-tilt 3.5" 16M-color resistive touchscreen of 640 x 360 pixel resolution
  • 5 megapixel autofocus camera with dual-LED flash and lens cover (VGA@30fps video recording)
  • Symbian OS 9.4 with S60 5th edition UI
  • Slide-out three-row full QWERTY keyboard
  • ARM 11 434MHz CPU and 128 MB of RAM
  • Quad-band GSM support and 3G with HSDPA support
  • Wi-Fi and GPS with A-GPS (plus 3 months of free voice-guided navigation via Ovi Maps)
  • Digital compass
  • Class-leading 32GB onboard storage
  • microSD card slot with microSDHC support
  • Built-in accelerometer
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • TV out
  • Stereo FM Radio with RDS, FM transmitter
  • microUSB port and stereo Bluetooth v2.0
  • Web browser has full Flash and Java support
  • Nice audio reproduction quality

Main disadvantages

  • The S60 5th edition UI still has poor ergonomics and is not as thumbable as expected
  • Camera features are so two-thousand-and-late
  • No DivX or XviD support out-of-the-box
  • No smart dialing
  • Somewhat limited 3rd party software availability
  • No office document editing (without a paid upgrade)

Obvious from the list above, the Nokia N97 hardly puts anything new on the table. It is however a bold try to fit all of today's top features under one hood and offer a nice ride at that. This certainly is an ambitious task by itself but the ever-expectant Nseries fans, who always want something new on their next handset, make it even harder. The Nokia N97 will need to be near flawless to get a warm welcome.

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Nokia N97 at ours

Nokia N97 will also be a major test for the still quite young (or immature if you want) S60 5th edition UI. The growing pains were expected and acceptable in the 5800 XpressMusic, but it's been 8 months since. The time is long enough in mobile phone terms and the market leader is simply expected to have had everything figured by now.

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Looks pretty good, doesn't it

The disappointing N96 does owe Nokia some and the N97 will - among other things - probably have to cover its debts too. Join us on the next page as we take a peek inside the retail box of the new Nseries sovereign and complete our ergonomics rundown.

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Reviews > Nokia N97 review: Lock, stock and touch