Nokia N97 smartphone

The much-anticipated Nokia N97 smartphone promises a wealth of features, but does it have the software to deliver them effectively?

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Nokia N97
  • Nokia N97
  • Nokia N97
  • Nokia N97
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Flip-up design, QWERTY keyboard, 32GB of internal memory and microSD slot, 5-megapixel camera, GPS, Wi-Fi, 3.5mm headphone jack, customisable widget-based homescreen

Cons

  • Resistive touch screen rather than capacitive, user interface is a mixed bag, software lacks the polish of competitors, odd placement of navigational pad and spacebar, no Comes With Music subscription included

Bottom Line

Although the Nokia N97 dwarfs the iPhone in terms of features, the software doesn't match the standard set by Apple. The N97's flip-up design, keyboard and massive storage capacity are fantastic features, but it needs software upgrades and further development of the Ovi Store to truly become an iPhone challenger. As it stands, it has great potential but feels somewhat incomplete.

Would you buy this?

The Nokia N97 is one of the most feature-packed mobile phones on the market. In addition to being HSDPA-capable, it has a 5-megapixel camera, built-in GPS, Bluetooth with A2DP, USB with a standard micro-USB interface and Wi-Fi.

The Nokia Maps application is preinstalled, enabling you to search for addresses and locate points of interest. A three-month trial of full turn-by-turn navigation is offered when you purchase the N97, but once it expires you will have to pay $15.99 for one month, $44.99 for three months or $123.99 for a 12-month subscription.

The N97's Web browser is reasonable but it doesn't render pages or scroll as well as the browsers on the iPhone and HTC's Magic with Google. It does include flash support, which is a feature missing on the iPhone. A particular annoyance is the fact that some sites will not allows scrolling until the entire page has been loaded, while others don't scroll at all on the first attempt and need to be reloaded.

The 5-megapixel camera has a Carl Zeiss lens with a slide-up cover, but it lacks a Xenon flash, with Nokia opting for a dual LED flash instead. Photos taken are excellent for a camera phone, though we found the flash's performance rather disappointing in dim lighting. Video recording is excellent and among the best we've seen on a smartphone. The phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack and an FM radio.

The media player is similar to the one used by most Nokia's N-Series handsets, displaying album art and allowing the adjustment of multiple settings including bass boost, stereo widening and a five-preset equaliser. Disappointingly, the N97 doesn't include a Comes With Music subscription like the 5800 XpressMusic does.

There is also a built-in FM transmitter, which is very handy in the car. The N97 offers a massive 32GB of internal memory along with a microSD card slot. This means it can theoretically store up to 42GB of data (using a 16GB microSDHC card).

Nokia rates the battery life at six hours of talk time and 408 hours of standby time on a 3G network. We found the N97 to perform slightly better than the iPhone. It managed to survive a full day of heavy use including Web browsing, messaging, a few phone calls and browsing the Ovi Store.

Australian online store MobiCity is selling the Nokia N97 outright and unlocked with a 12 month warranty for $919.

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