Device Advice: Nokia goes backwards

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The N97 was announced in December and, with the speed the industry is advancing, it already starts on a poor footing. And was it even that impressive when announced?

It’s not an easy one to answer. It is the second phone to use Series 60 5th Edition following the launch of the 5800 XpressMusic and there’s not a great deal of difference between them: a higher resolution camera and a keyboard, plus huge storage space (32GB on-board with option to double that via the internal card slot). But that’s about it.

It uses the same operating system as the Samsung i8910 HD, which received a glowing review in the last issue of Mobile News, so what could possibly be wrong with the N97? There are two bad ways to make a phone – you produce something that is badly designed and hard to use, or you make something that looks fine and has some clever engineering (the way the screen tips up to reveal the keyboard) but lacks that ‘wow’ factor. It would be a revolution 20 years ago, but we’re well beyond that now.

Keyboard first
Firstly, the keyboard is cluttered. The space bar is tucked in at the bottom right and you need to press the control key to enter numbers and symbols. To the left is a directional key that is flat, although fairly responsive.

There’s also the home screen that has a series of panels that can be configured to show favourite contacts, weather forecasts, Facebook updates, news and so on. This gives the N97 the edge over the i8910 HD, but like widgets, most are gimmicky.

The N97 does have a Facebook application though and this will be a big selling point for dealers as the social networking site is so popular.
When you start the phone up, you’re presented with a blank screen and have to wait for it to load the latest content. If you don’t have a quick connection, this can be frustrating. Then when you press various buttons (home page, your page, friends, photos and inbox), there’s an additional delay.

Full article in Mobile News issue 445 (August 10, 2009).

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