Nokia N97 mini review: Less is more

GSMArena team, 12 November 2009.
Pages: 123456789101112

Messaging specialist

The messaging menu is yet another part of the Symbian S60 UI that hasn't been modified at all compared to what we saw on Nokia 5800.

Nokia N97 mini supports all common message types - SMS, MMS and email. They all share a common intuitive editor which by this point should be quite familiar to everyone. When composing an SMS, a counter is displayed of characters left to the limit of 160. An indicator in brackets is showing the number of separate parts the message will be divided into for sending.

Once you insert some multimedia content, or an email address is inserted as recipient, the counter is replaced by a data counter showing the size of your email.

Nokia N97 Nokia N97 Nokia N97
The N97 mini uses a common intuitive editor for all your messages

Nokia N97 mini also features the dedicated editor for instant recording of audio messages. Much like with Symbian S60 v3.2 you can either record the message on the spot or use a sound clip from the phone memory. The interface of all the messengers is quite similar too.

Delivery reports can be turned on - they pop up once the message reaches the addressee, and are then saved in a separate folder in the messaging sub-menu. When you are exiting the message editor without having sent the message, you get prompted to save it in Drafts or discard it.

Here might just be the right time to mention the input options on Nokia N97 mini. The handset offers a standard alphanumeric on-screen keypad in both portrait and landscape mode. There's no on-screen QWERTY, either full or the SureType-like version.

Nokia N97 Nokia N97 Nokia N97
The alphanumeric keypad is available in both portrait and landscape modes

Of course the hardware QWERTY is here to solve all your problems. It's just three rows and you need to use the function key for accessing the numbers and symbols, but that's no biggie.

Finally, the N97 mini offers handwriting recognition, which did a rather decent job, recognizing almost all the letters we scribbled in the box. You can improve its performance by taking the handwriting training - where you actually show the handset how you write each different letter.

Nokia N97 Nokia N97
The handwriting recognition worked pretty well for us

The email client is really nice, able to meet almost any emailing needs. The easy setup we found in the latest Nokia handsets is also available with the N97 mini.

Nokia N97 Nokia N97
Setting up email is easy

If you are using any public email service (it has to be among the over 1000 supported providers), all you have to do is enter your username and password to start enjoying email on the go. The phone downloads all the needed settings to get you going in no time.

Besides, it now prompts choosing whether you prefer POP or IMAP access to mail providers that support both. With the previous version selection was automatic. Nicely done!

Nokia N97 Nokia N97 Nokia N97 Nokia N97
Advanced email options

Nokia N97 Nokia N97 Nokia N97
The email client can do it all

Multiple email accounts and various security protocols are supported, so you can bet almost any mail service will run trouble-free on your Nokia N97 mini.

The client can download headers only or entire messages, and can be set to automatically check mail at a given interval. A nice feature allows you to schedule sending email next time an internet connection is available. This can save you some data traffic charges since you can use the next available WLAN connection instead.

A feature that we really like is the ability to subscribe to different folders of the email account, like the Starred folder in Gmail. This can be very helpful if you've set up filters to automatically move messages to specific folders and keep your Inbox clean.

There is also support for attachments, signatures and generally, you can hardly think of something important that the Nokia N97 mini lacks. Furthermore with a screen resolution like this reading your emails is easy.

Great file manager

The file manager is yet another aspect where the pedigree counts big time. With the soft keys at the bottom you can almost forget that you are looking at a new device.

The Symbian file management system has been top notch for quite a while now, and you can hardly think of anything to change. The application can basically do anything you can think of with your files - moving, copying renaming, sorting or sending - you name it. You can also password-protect your memory card if you see fit.

Nokia N97 Nokia N97 Nokia N97 Nokia N97
The file manager has extensive functionality

The searching for a specific file or directory is also available with the phone. All you need to remember is a part of the desired name and where it was located (phone memory or memory card) the Nokia N97 mini will find it in no time.

Image gallery - not bad, but not great either

The gallery of Nokia N97 mini is yet another part of its interface that hasn't been dramatically changed compared to non-touch Symbian predecessors. It has neither the swanky 3D view mode, nor the customizable slideshow we are used to seeing in the Nseries.

You can go through your pictures (and videos as well) by sweeping your finger across the screen. Kinetic scrolling is enabled in the gallery view as well.

Nokia N97 Nokia N97 Nokia N97
The image gallery

Opting between portrait and landscape mode is automatic, thanks to the built-in accelerometer. Unless you have that feature disabled, all you need to do to switch modes is to flip the phone sideways (or just to slide out the QWERTY keyboard).

Nokia N97 Nokia N97 Nokia N97
Viewing a photo

Image zoom is controlled via either the volume rocker or an on-screen touch slider. In all other cases, images are displayed full screen. After you've cheked the details, to go to the next photo you always have to zoom all the way back, which might get annoying if you zoom in to often.

Overall, picture browsing is relatively fast, but the zooming is somewhat slow at least on the initial zooming step. The panning is worse than HTC's latest models and many of the other similar devices.

Next Page »