Nokia N97 review: Lock, stock and touch

GSMArena team, 16 June 2009.

Phonebooks is the same as usual

Nokia N97 uses a phonebook that's identical to what previous versions of the UI have offered. Except for the whole touch thingy, that is. The phonebook itself has virtually unlimited capacity and functionality is among the best we've seen.

Contacts can be freely ordered by first or last name and can naturally be searched by gradual typing of any of the names. You can also set whether the contacts from the SIM card, the phone memory and the service numbers will get displayed.

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The phonebook hasn't seen much change

Editing a contact offers a great variety of preset fields and you can replicate each of them as many times as you like. You can also create new fields if you happen to be able to think of one. Personal ringtones and videos are also available for assigning. If you prefer, you may group your contacts and give each group a specific ringtone.

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Viewing a contact, editing a contact offers a huge variety of fields

The Call log keeps track of your recent communications. The application itself comes in two flavors - accessed by pressing the Call key on the stand-by screen or from the main menu. The first one brings 20 call records in each of its tabs for outgoing, received and missed calls.

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If you access the Log application from the main menu, you'll see a detailed list of all your network communications for the past 30 days. These include messages, calls and data transfers (even WLAN connections are included).

Telephony: smart-dial badly missed

We didn't experience any problems with the in-call performance of Nokia N97. Reception levels are good on both ends of calls, the earpiece is loud enough and there were no interferences whatsoever.

Voice dialing is an option with the N97 as with mostly any other phone. The voice dialing mode is activated once you press and hold the Call key. It is fully speaker-independent and doesn't require prerecording the names of your contacts. Bear in mind though, that if you have multiple numbers assigned to a contact, the first or the default one gets dialed.

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The dialling pad

Thanks to the built-in accelerometer you can silence an incoming call on the phone by simply flipping it over. Those feature was also available in 5800 XpressMusic and through third party application on the previous versions on the UI.

Making a call is very good. Thanks to the proximity sensor the screen turns off automatically while close to your head. There are four big buttons available – mute, hold, loudspeaker and end call. Form the options menu you can find more settings like lock screen and keys, switch to video call, new call and etc.

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Making a call, call options

A really strange behavior we observed is that you cannot answer a phone call with the green receiver key. Instead you are forced to accept the call with an onscreen slider. That’s some really weird solution. Rejecting a call much the same thing – the red key doesn’t simply reject it. Instead you have to use a second slider that appears on screen to unlock the key first.

We also ran our traditional loudspeaker test on Nokia N97. The handset didn't perform too impressively but still scored a Good mark meaning we have seen (and heard) better. You might want to keep a closer look on it when you are in noisier environments.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOverall score
Apple iPhone 3G66.1 62.171.7Below Average
Nokia 5800 XpressMusic75.766.568.5Good
LG KM900 Arena70.968.278.3Good
Nokia N9772.867.375.8Good
HTC Touch Pro274.670.078.1Very Good
LG KF900 Prada77.175.782.0Excellent

More info on our test can be found here.

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