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So What Do You Think About Nokia N97?

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At the Nokia World 2008 conference, Nokia (s NOK) CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo waxed eloquent about the N97 handset, the company’s highest-end phone, and described it as the “world’s most advanced mobile computer.” He went on to say, “We are, in fact, transforming the Internet — putting in your hands the power to be more in tune with the world around you.” The device has finally launched, and those bold claims by Olli-Pekka aside, the N97 is barely making a wave in this summer of the superphone.

I have had the N97 for nearly three weeks, and my response to the device every time I use it is: Meh! Since it is the U.S. version of the handset, it works fine with AT&T’s (s T) 3G network (if you can call it that), but the gadget is underwhelming. After having used the iPhone, Google (s GOOG) G2 (or T-Mobile MyTouch) and Palm Pre, the N97 — its outstanding hardware features notwithstanding — feels outdated. It shouldn’t; it has every known software a regular modern mobile phone user wants: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Maps. And yet, it feels like it’s from a different era — like a baseball player, long retired after trying to make a comeback. (In a related post: NewTeeVee reviews the N97, focusing on its video-recording capabilities, and comes away unimpressed.)

If you have been a regular reader, you know I have had a soft spot for Nokia devices. Actually, I still do. The Nokia N73 and 8800 continue to be among my top five favorite phones of all time, and when the opportunity arises, I still carry them around. Why? Because when it comes to quality, Nokia hardware is always top-notch.

The N97, however, doesn’t measure up. And that is very surprising, because it had been one of the most anticipated devices from Nokia. Most know the company is the world’s largest handset maker, and with this gadget, it could compete with new entrants such as Apple. Still, I wanted to see what others thought, so earlier this morning, I asked my Twitter followers if they had any thoughts on N97 and how it was doing around the world. I was surprised by the downbeat responses. The one that was most telling was from @jonfingas, who wrote back: “The N97 to me is Symbian’s inertia coming home to roost. Nokia’s dominance gave it a free ride for the past few years.”

So, what do you think about Nokia’s N97?

66 Responses to “So What Do You Think About Nokia N97?”

  1. I’m about to have my 4 day old handset replaced by Three in the UK, as it won’t run Skype. I’ve also had no luck in being able to get anything from Quick Office to work – i.e. I can’t create and documents or spreadsheets, or pay for the licenses! I’m starting to get peed off by my N97 experience already. Trouble is, my brother has the new iPhone 3GS, can I really admit that he got the right phone and I bought the crap one?!

  2. i have had the nokia n97 now for 10 days iv already had to have a replacement as the 1st nokia n97 i had kept crashing and when i tried to use the keyboard to type on facebook it kept coming up in symbles and not the letters for a few times. then it says my packet data is full or memory full. now im on my 2nd nokia n97 and the back light doesnt always come on when i press the menu button or slide screen up.also the keyboard still plays up when i try typing on facebook!
    i do really like the app on the pone and the style but i am thinking of changing the phone but what else is good!

  3. Prakash

    Hey evry1,

    How many of us are facing problem related to their network in N97, Im facing the same too, It always keeps on fluctuating & most often shows “No network”. I’m facing same problem at both my home as well as at my workplace. but my another phone N73 shows full network coverage at both same places with same Vodafone connection with same SIM. From this one can make out this should not be the problem with service provider. It’s a handset problem.

    Even after i have updated firmware to V 11.0.021, network problem still exist but processing is much faster now.

    Dude pls help me out in resolving this problem.. so that i can change my handset.

    request all of you to provide suggestions.

    Thanks in Advance..

  4. froschy

    I’ve had my N97 for about a month now and after a sketchy start absolutely love it, it seems like even the Ovi store is coming together. Like somebody else posted I can’t understand why reviewers are giving it such a hard time especially when they gloss over the flaws of the iPhone and Android phones. Agreed it’s not perfect (no phone is) but it will get better with future firmware updates and the homepage widgets are brilliant, all the information I need with a glance and without having to open any applications. It’s so good I expect the iPhone will have something like this on the next drip feed of features to get the punters to purchase a new iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, I love Apple products (I even own a few) but they’re not perfect, Apple are just very good at marketing. Nokia could certainly learn a few lessons from Apple on this.

  5. Not realy sure why everyone has such bad reviews for this thing. Build to perfection and is just a taste of things to come from Nokia and OVI. One thing that people must remember is that Nokia doesn’t just release junk to the consumer. N97 has it’s flaws but so does the Iphone, Android, and etc. I do not see such bad reviews for them.

    I’ve had it for one week and still find myself late at night playing around with all the options.

  6. I as well have thoroughly enjoyed my N97. Yes, the ui seems a bit dated because, well, Symbian has been around the block a few times. It is still an awesome device though!.

  7. Firstly. I enjoyed reading everyones views on this handset (apart from Clarence??) as I have been considering it for my next upgrade.
    I agree that the iphone experience is up there with the best of em, but like many of you I have been avoiding it like the plague (own a Touch).

    What I really wanted to know is if it were possible to upgrade the OS of the N97 to include multitouch and other things it may have missed on to make the whole experience better?

  8. Christian

    After the firmware update to v11 I like my N97 more and more. It feels solid, love the keyboard for writing emails and sms, like the customized home screen. Great to have Facebook, email, calendar integrated in there. However I agree that the software could be better and it seems like Nokia released the N97 ahead of time – where is the promised Skype integration ?? where are the DLNA functions that other Nseries phones have? I imagine these will come in future software updates. But I’m not giving back my N97. I like the touch screen, so easy to use.

  9. worried

    It appears N97 flagship product if a MAJOR class FLOP! As is the Ovi service that is barely functional and offers just a handful of crappy wallpapers and ringtones.

    How did the previous flagship product N96 sell? People are talking about N95 as the previous version, but the fact is that N96 is the previous one! I think it was a major flop also!

  10. Clarence

    Certainly, some like it and some dont. For those who do most emailing, the full size keyboard is just better enough. But most of us, if the touch interface design can solve 90% of the problems then 90% of time you don’t need a keyboard.

    I recommend iphone for most people. Unfortunately not for those still want to stick withe keyboard. Balance between keyboard and touch is bad ideas.

    Most important is a phone is multi-touch then it need to focus to solve the UI and make it better for people. Of course there is still a failure like Samsung Omnia with windows mobile 6.1. Which doesnt eveb concern how people going to use it.

    Think different. Dont repeat with same thing again. The N97 is not great thing yet. Transforming the Internet? Not even that at all.

  11. Clarence

    Certainly, some like it and some dont. For those who do most emailing, the full size keyboard is just better enough. But most of us, if the touch interface design can solve 90% of the problems then 90% of time you don’t need a keyboard.

    I recommend iphone for most people. Unfortunately not for those still want to stick withe keyboard. Balance between keyboard and touch is bad ideas.

    Most important is a phone is multi-touch then it need to focus to solve the UI and make it better for people. Of course there is still a failure like Samsung Omnia with windows mobile 6.1. Which doesnt eveb concern how people going to use it.

    Think different. Do repeat with same thing again. The N97 is not great thing yet. Transforming the Internet? Not even that at all.

  12. Jwayne

    I really like my n97. Sure the software needs work but im going to enjoy watching new firmwares come out making this faster and better. Ngage support straight away isn’t an issue for me. Im sure it will come when there are ngage games ready to use the features of the n97.


    love the keypad!

  13. Had the phone for weeks and it is a great phone. There are so many negative feedbacks in regards to this phone due to its bad UI interface, outdated OS, resistive screen, slow processor and lack of 3rd party support.

    However, I look at it at a different angle. Im happy it has a UI interface, has an OS, a touchscreen, enough power to get me going, and have all the applications I need.

    All in all, it will get me from point A to point B. Especially the homescreen, I got my facebook, access to both Exchange email and personal email, Nimbuzz and some news and weather. Thats all I really need.

    On top of that, I like to take great photos seriously so the added quality lense is sufficient for a spur of a moment shots. Now, this was my only main point why I decided to get the n97 instead of the Iphone. If at that time, if the Iphone had a quality lense similar to the N97, then definitely I would’ve gone for the Iphone.

    So this phone is good enough for day to day tasks from communications to multimedia features. Im happy and Im not tied to Nokia and/or any manufacturers. It all boils down to your preference and the N97 fits my daily needs.

  14. As much as I also root for Nokia (can’t help it as I worked there for 10 years), the overall user experience just isn’t anywhere near as good as it is on the iPhone. Sure, there are niggles like the lack of multitasking and that Apple has to bless every app you install on it (unless you jailbreak), but the overall experience on the iPhone is so much better.

  15. I’ve had mine for 2 weeks. so far i am very impressed.

    Build quality is excellent, keyboard is near perfect for larger hands, hinge is a marvel of modern engineering, lol

    The touch is about as good as resistive screens can get, and more responsive than some capacitive touch screens I have used.

    Camera is great – low light is an issue (like all camera phones) and a xenon flash would have be been nice, but the actual picture quality is great. (and just because some phones have more MP doesn’t mean they take BETTER pictures, just BIGGER pictures)

    Symbian doesn’t have the flash some phone os’ have now… but i like it, it feels powerful, and I couldn’t live without being able to multi task. I dunno why one person complained about not being able to open more than 2 apps, my phone constantly has 3 – 5 open and I really don’t notice any slowdown

    My ONLY complaint is OVI and 3rd party applications, it is garbage at the moment. I don’t think it will be forever but there hasn’t been much to be excited about yet. I did expect far greater variety in the home screen widgets – something to keep track of eBay, msn messenger home screen widget with updates like when you receive a new message, that sort of thing

    I think they still have so much potential to make the n97 the next big thing, but they need to get quality 3rd party sites on board and applications up and running quickly before the inital hype of the phone runs out – Facebook was a great start.

  16. have had it for 2 weesk and it works well not exceptional but 8/10 .can u guys tell me how you update firmware to v11 im stuck on v10 and haven.t got a clue on how to upgrade

  17. LoveIt2BitS

    What are you guys on about? I just can’t part with my N97! It does for me everything I expected and more.My emails / Music / Movies / Facebook / Apps/ Pictures – which I download from Ovi Store. In short I am VERY SATISFIED with the N97.

    My bro gave me an Iphone & ebayed it. Just couldn’t stand the iphone. No keyboard, it kept crashing plus the iphone’s camera’s simply a waste of time.

    • RichieB

      I have had my N97 for just over a week now – and I can’t seem to put it down. Far superior in all respects to my previous handset, a Samsung Omnia!

    • Anonymous

      I agree with the writer! I love my phone and i don’t know hy people can’t stand it. Maybe they don’t know how to use it properly. My brother help me to modify my phone, so i can use it very simply. And N97 has A BIG memory which is 32GB, plus we can add more memory with Memory card, the phone memory does have lots of space like 40 MB. Looks like its enough right?

  18. I had the device on loan for just over two weeks and gave it a mixed review. I don’t think Symbian S60 5th Edition is as bad as everybody makes out, and if you’re a previous Nokia user it’s all very familiar. Battery life seemed better than iPhone and Android devices (I have the HTC Magic / T-Mobile myTouch right now) and the camera is really nice. I also love the N97’s form factor with its 35 degree tilt etc. but the keyboard is not up to par as it should be (like the trusty E71). On the downside, I just don’t understand why Nokia stuck with a resistive touch screen and because 5th edition is still quite new, there is a lack of 3rd party apps, although this will improve. The homescreen widgets are where all phones should be heading and are fully customizable. The biggest issue with the N97, however, is that is does lots but doesn’t do any of it ‘best of class’, aside possibly from the camera’s optics. A really good example is the browser, which works fine but is slow and clunky.

    One thing to consider if you’re reading this in the states, is that the N97 in the UK can be had for free on a £35-40 a month contract. That’s not a bad deal IMHO. Comparable to Android (HTC Magic) but less than iPhone.

  19. froschy

    Agreed the UI feels dated but the home screen with widgets is excellent, all the information you need without having to open an application. It would be even better if you could have multiple home screens accessed through the touch swipe of the screen. Guaranteed Apple will include widgets like this in a future version of the iPhone as they drip feed features to keep people upgrading their phones. Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone has an amazing UI and is a great phone but the way the market is tied up in the US is a disgrace.

    The most disappointing thing about the phone is Nokia’s marketing/Public Relations/support. The Ovis store is woefully immature lacking basic features like re-download support and for us Mac users we are still waiting for a N97 iSync plug-in to sync our PIM data. Like any new device there are always going to be problems that generally can be fixed by firmware updates, the dissapointment is that Nokia are just not doing a good job of managing the perception of the device.

  20. I’ve just sent my review unit back, and honestly, I was glad to do so. First off, I don’t think Symbian, in-of-itself, is the culprit here – I regularly carry the Nokia N79 or any other Symbian-powered smartphone and I think the system works awesome.

    The biggest downfall of the N97, in my opinion, is the overall software experience. The first firmware (v10) was horrendous – easily the most beta software I’ve ever used on a production phone, and that’s including the original N95 (which was abysmal). The new firmware (v11) helped a bit here and there, but it still doesn’t fix what’s wrong.

    The N97, out of the box, works fine, for the most part. It has all the necessary parts, and they basically work as advertised. Unfortunately, none of it is shiny-wow-new. Heck, it ships with Nokia Maps v2.0 installed – Nokia just renamed this to Ovi Maps and launched v3.0 – with Ovi Synchronization, automatic color changes, and a host of other important improvements. Nokia has their new Intellisync-based Nokia Messaging email app, which I think is awesome – doesn’t come on the N97. Some folks have found it lingering in the ‘Software Updates’ app, while others had to download Nokia Messaging from the web – it should have been baked in. After 3 weeks and 2 firmwares, my review unit *still* didn’t have N-Gage, despite being advertised as having it. Ovi Contacts, Nokia’s Blackberry Messenger-competitor was only *just* released for S60v5, and it consistently crashed on my N97, even after a hard-reset.

    The list goes on and on and on. The N97 is a beautiful handset, and on paper, it’ll blow your mind. Unfortunately, as usual, Nokia simply couldn’t execute the software side, which is a darn shame. The N97 *should* have been Nokia’s ‘Ovi Phone’, much like Android has pretty much all of Google baked right in. Ovi is 2 years old this August, and we have yet to see a phone that is really ‘Ovi-fied’.

    • Prakash

      Hey guys, can anybody tell me how much RAM is free when you buy the N97, coz mine is showing only 5 mb free at any time..

      Also is there any issue with network on N97, coz it always fluctuates.

      Pls reply soon,

      • phone mem. should be around 20 or 25mb’s. mine fluctuates a bit as well though. not much u can do about it. it seems everyone has different probs I’ve noticed I dont have the issues most people have, but I cant see who’s texting, it jus shows the # and not the name even though it’s usually 1 of my contacts( who wants to memorize a bunch of phone #’s)and my key guard is finicky. The network shouldnt fluctuate rapidly(thats a big problem) but occationaly is normal it may be your service provider and/or your internet connec.

  21. dalmatan

    In a word the problem is simple… symbian. Its a very very difficult operating system environment. No one wants to touch it. With few third party apps its doomed which is a shame since from a purely hardware standpoint it has real advantages to a iPhone.

    • There are tons of third-party applications on the net for the Symbian, try Google or Altavista.
      The problem is that Nokia used to have a “AppStore” for the Nokia Communicator (The 9000-serie / E90 ) that was a disaster. Nokia also has another market strategy because of its position with the operators / “carriers”.
      So, it was “first” with the T9 for texting / SMS. It was first with cameras, and at the moment first with GPS – all because these creates network load, and increase what you spend.
      With full Java support and better browser (Opera) – the phones should be favourites to anyone making embedded applications. The iPhone has opened a market where Nokia has been for 20 years – with 3rd party applications. It is not the other way around. Google returned with 31.7 million hits on free downloads for the N97…

  22. I have had it just 10 days. I am/ was a loyal Nokia user since 1995. The N97 is making it hard for me to continue the relationship although to get out would be hard because of my contract. So I may well go back to my N95 and continue to tell others to desist from it.

    Not enough memory, cannot run more than 2 apps simultaneously, WAP usage drains battery at an amazing rate, touch screen response varies from app to app but not always, Ovi wants me to pay £8 for Gravity for Twitter (I don’t think so!), Ovi itself is under-developed, GPS is worse than in iPhone, just 10 days of use of the stylus has worn out the lower half of the screen. Shall I go on?

    The terrible thing is there is no engagement from Nokia on Twitter and other social media channels.

  23. arjwright

    I’ve also had one for about 3 weeks, and I like it. Feels great in hand, excellent weight. The OS – when compared to other mobile OSes that aren’t as old – is dated, but very powerful still. It needs a bit more polish in terms of the UI, but overall is easy to understand for those that are familiar with Nokia and Symbian products.

    I do wish that it were more of a swing for the fences type of device though. The idea behind the widget’s based homescreen can be pushed a lot further.

    Other makes could take a lesson from Nokia with the N97 in terms of making a powerful device that works for a day and a half with GPS on and attached to AT&T’s 3G network. To that end, there’s not much more impressive hardware out there.

  24. I have had for 3 weeks also, and the os and apps really sucks…too bad..

    It has, as you mention, nice hardware features and a good build. But the general feel of the thing is just like back in 2000…its like its still trying to grasp this whole new internet thing…