Review: Nokia N97

The N97 offers much, but don’t tell Nokia it’s a handset!

By Charlie Brown

Make: Nokia
Model: N97

This is NOT a mobile phone! Well, it is, but don’t tell the guys at Nokia that, because they’re trying to sell the N97 as mini computer with a mobile capability – don’t let them fool you – it’s a handset all right.
It’s a strange marketing strategy the company’s adopted, because most people use this type of tech gear as a mobile phone first and foremost, and then depending on their needs, look at the extras that make life a little easier. Then again, maybe Nokia are doing this because they see it as untapped marketing potential. Who knows?

Anyway, on with the mobile/computer. Out of the box its width is smaller than the iPhone and Blackberry, but it’s thickness is bigger due to the slide out qwerty keyboard. It’s comfortable to hold and fits nicely in the jean’s pocket.

As mentioned, it has a pull out qwerty keyboard, which is easy to use. I got my off-sider to have a go, and even with his clunky hands he managed to work it OK. It was slightly inaccurate on occasion, but nothing major to worry about.

The navigation and connectivity is pretty straight forward. I had no problems connecting to Youtube or the net. Its wi-fi speed was up to scratch. Adding contacts and messaging are all normal, although I must say that the click throughs to get things done – such as texting – reminds me of some of the older phones. Maybe they could have lessened the number of screens you go through.

Its touchscreen application passed the test, but when setting up the Associated Press feed I needed the fingers of a three year old to hit the fields that needed filling. The touchscreen does suffer from one of my bugbears – smudging.

Unlike some smartphones that automatically go from portrait to landscape when you put the unit on its side, the pictures within the LCD stay at portrait until you slide out the querty keyboard from under the screen. This is obviously best when you are watching videos on the Internet.

The camera comes with a zoom-in feature next to the click button. It also has an auto-focus, which can be a bit disruptive in that you might think you have the perfect shot when you click the snapshot button, but it takes a second to refocus, by which time the subject might have moved (if it is not inanimate). Still, the quality of the pics was above average.

Sound quality when calling was excellent, and I was assured by people I called at the other end that my voice was clear and easy to understand.

Extra bits and pieces include a hands-free set, stylus and power cord.

There was no time to test the battery, but I had it going for most of the day doing various things, and it only lost one bar of power. When I let it run down overnight, it took about 30-40 minutes to be fully powered up again.

As an overall mobile, the N97 is a cool little unit. Its main plank is probably the access to over four million tunes that you can keep even if you don’t renew your Comes With Music subscription. An above average mobile that is sure to find its niche, considering Nokia are the market leaders in Australia.

4 shacks out of 5

NB: Half way through the testing the mobile’s LCD screen deteriorated for some reason. There were thin, coloured lines across the screen. You could still make out options etc, but there was definitely something no right with the unit. It doesn’t appear to be an intrinsic problem with the N97. It disappeared after I shut the unit down and restarted it.