Nokia N97 mini smartphone

Nokia's N97 mini is, as its name suggests, a more compact version of the flagship N97

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Nokia N97 mini
  • Nokia N97 mini
  • Nokia N97 mini
  • Nokia N97 mini

Pros

  • Smaller design is an improvement, solid keyboard, responsive UI, live widgets on home screen, Ovi Maps navigation

Cons

  • No innovative or groundbreaking improvements, no FM transmitter, poorly designed power button, resistive touch screen

Bottom Line

Nokia's N97 mini is an improvement over the highly disappointing original, but this is merely what the original N97 should have been in the first place. There are no real groundbreaking or innovative features, but the mini remains a solid, if unspectacular smartphone.

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Almost nine months after the launch of its highly anticipated but ultimately disappointing N97 smartphone, Nokia has seen fit to update its arsenal with a miniature version of its flagship consumer device: the Nokia N97 mini. Though the more compact hardware and smoother user experience are welcome improvements, we can't help but feel this is what the original Nokia N97 should have been in the first place.

The Nokia N97 mini really is a smaller version of the original N97. If some users found the N97 too large, then the N97 mini is surely the perfect size. Naturally, Nokia has had to compromise and the result is a slightly smaller 3.2in display compared with the N97's 3.5in screen. We don't feel this affects the overall user experience, and we prefer the more compact dimensions of the N97 mini. A minor complaint is the poorly designed, sunken power button — it often requires the dig of a fingernail to press.

The Nokia N97 mini retains the flip-up screen design, and the angle of the display makes it ideal for multimedia playback. Unfortunately, the touch screen is resistive rather than capacitive, which means the N97 isn't as responsive as smartphones like Apple's iPhone. That being said, the N97 mini's screen feels better than its predecessor's and is responsive to most finger presses.

Build quality is similar, with a sturdy and smooth plastic frame available in black, brown and white colours. The main highlight is once again the QWERTY keyboard — it's well spaced, the soft blue backlighting is impressive and the N97's annoyingly positioned navigational pad has been replaced by a more effective arrow pad situated on the bottom right. It isn't the most comfortable keypad we've used on a phone though, and it does have a steep learning curve.

The N97 mini runs the same Symbian operating system (albeit with a software update) and has largely the same features as its bigger counterpart. With the exception of a few minor hardware changes and 8GB of internal memory (compared to 32GB), the N97 mini is a very similar device to the original.

Thankfully, the N97 mini offers a better experience than its predecessor. Symbian S60T's annoying quirks remain (such as the inconsistent selection method, often requiring a double finger tap, and annoying connection pop-ups) but it feels smoother, faster and more responsive. Scrolling has also received a crucial update and now feels much more natural. None of these improvements are innovative or groundbreaking, and they are really what the N97 should have offered in the first place.

The Nokia N97 mini retains a customisable home screen with five boxes for live widgets. These include Facebook, e-mail, news and weather. The content is still limited and you can't adjust the size of the boxes, though you can edit what is displayed in each of them. Nokia claims live widgets will continue to be developed and you will be able to download them from the Ovi Store. Nokia has quoted impressive figures for the Australian Ovi Store (it's in the top 15 countries in terms of downloads and is number three in revenue worldwide at the time of writing) but the range of applications remains limited compared to the iPhone and Android app stores.

The N97 mini has a 5-megapixel camera with a dual LED flash and a Carl Zeiss lens, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and an FM radio, but, disappointingly, lacks its predecessors FM transmitter feature. The N97 mini doesn't include a Comes With Music subscription, but it has Ovi Maps preinstalled, which provides free turn-by-turn navigation for the life of the device.

The Nokia N97 mini has 8GB of internal memory in addition to a microSD card slot. A standard 3.5mm headphone jack and micro-USB port for charging and synchronising are both included.

The Nokia N97 mini has a smaller battery than the original N97, but the reduced screen size means you should get similar performance — Nokia quotes 240 minutes of talk time and 310 hours of standby time on a 3G network.

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