Nokia N97 mini review: Less is more

GSMArena team, 12 November 2009.
Pages: 123456789101112

Music player does the job

The music player (identical to the 5800 XpressMusic one) is very similar to the S60 3rd edition versions. A few cosmetic changes here and there and touch-optimization is all that sets it apart.

Not that the music player isn't capable enough or something - it surely has more than enough functionality. However some more eye-candy would have been quite welcome. After all, touch interfaces are usually mostly about being fun to use and nice to look at.

Your music library is automatically sorted by artist, album, genre and composer and searching tracks by gradual typing is available. You can also create your own playlists in no time.

The process of adding tracks to the library is as simple as choosing the refresh option. You won't need to do that if you upload the music via the proprietary PC Suite application.

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The Nokia N97 mini music player

With the huge number of supported formats you will hardly ever come across an audio file that the phone won't handle. Album art is also supported and if you don't like the default sound of the device you can enhance it by applying one of the five equalizer presets and if they seem insufficient you can create new ones in a matter of seconds.

Quite naturally, the player can also be minimized to play in background. In this case a tab appears on the stand-by screen indicating the currently running track.

Splendid audio quality

Just as we expected, the audio output of Nokia N97 mini differs little from the excellent Nokia N97. The slight change is the intemodulation distortion, which reduced in half and is now only slightly below average.

The handset did excellently in all other parts of our test, achieving some excellent scores.

The frequency response of the N97 mini is almost identical to the one delivered by Nokia N97. It is pretty close to the perfect, the greatest deviating being only 0.32dB.

The noise level, dynamic range and stereo crosstalk readings are also very good, comparable to the best in class. Here go the results so you can compare it to some of the other handsets we have tested.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Nokia N97 mini+0.05, -0.32-90.590.40.0049 0.487-91.0
Nokia N97+0.04, -0.27-90.790.70.0048 0.896-89.5
Nokia N96+0.52, -2.14-90.690.70.016 0.364-73.5
HTC Touch Pro2+0.17, -1.61-84.687.10.0230.182 -84.9
Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1+0.11, -0.47-93.294.80.4480.897 -96.3
Apple iPhone 3G+0.52, -1.05-89.990.10.0033 0.016-93.1

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Nokia N97 mini vs Nokia N97 frequency response graphs

You can find more information about our audio quality test here.

No DivX and XviD dooms video player

Watching a video on the Nokia N97 mini is generally a pleasure due to the relatively big screen. The built-in video player has decent functionality but only supports a very limited number of codecs, no DivX and XviD out of the box. As to third party solutions, mixed success is reported in terms of getting compatible players to run on the 5800 XpressMusic or the N97 mini.

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The built-in video player

The Nokia PC suite, actually Ovi Suite now, has a built-in application that automatically converts all kinds of video files to the format and resolution your phone supports. The automatic converter though seems to compress the videos too much even at the highest quality setting and they look over pixilated but so far it's the easiest way of getting video to your Nokia touch handset.

The video player itself only works in fullscreen landscape mode but, since anything else would have made the widescreen display useless, this is understandable. When in fullscreen, a press on the screen shows the controls which are normally hidden.

The amply sized high-res screen is also more than welcome for truly enjoying your clips. With QWERTY keyboard slid out, the Nokia N97 mini looks just like made for video watching.

Nokia have called their video app (which is actually a Real player in disguise) Video & TV but as it turns out, the TV is actually videos that you can stream from Nokia or Reuters. One can only wonder how YouTube was left out of this streaming video equation.

FM radio comes with RDS

The FM radio on Nokia N97 mini has a neat and simple interface and can automatically scan and save the available stations in your area. It also has RDS support and automatic scanning for an alternative frequency. This means that if you travel the N97 mini will take care of auto-switching to the frequencies of your selected radio station.

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The FM radio interface is quite cool

The RDS is the best part of Nokia N97 mini FM radio. The radio station name gets displayed with cool effects across the whole screen, while the rest of the RDS readings are printed in nicely legible text on a line at the bottom. Perhaps we would have preferred this font a bit larger, but it doesn't really matter that much.

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