Blog Post

So What Do You Think About Nokia N97?

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

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(s GOOG) G2 (or T-Mobile MyTouch) and Palm Pre, the N97 — its outstanding hardware features notwithstanding — feels outdated.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. jchamoun

    I’ve had an n97 now for about 6 months, true it has a comparatively small c:\ drive (especially when it has a 32G hdd) and it could have had a tad more RAM but overall it is a beautiful PHONE.

    And that is the point, it is a phone first and PDA/GPS/Camera and Entertainment unit second, although I’d have to say it isn’t too shabby as a Camera or an entertainment unit, you can even connect it to your TV and if you use Lonely Cat Games – SmartMovie and you don’t need to convert your divx TV shows.

    For those who don’t like the feel of the screen, try it with a stylus (seriously – it makes a world of difference and worth the few bucks on ebay).

    Okay true its games aren’t psp quality but are good enough to pass the time on that train ride home (when you’re not watching that TV show you missed because of the kids).

    As for apps, give it time there are already some brilliant free apps out there like the skyfire internet browser(it supports flash) and not to forget the new nokia email app, I can now check all my emails even yahoo(without the yahoo charge) in one go.

    Overall, yes it isn’t flawless and I understand because you can do so much with it people expect it to do more, but it is a decent phone and certainly does not deserve the bad press it has received. Truly the n97 is the jack of all trades even if it’s not the master of any.

  2. Anonymous

    I have got this N 97 and i am already facing problems with network after 10 days of usage it really feels horrible. I am really pissed off on this one. I dont know how many of you guys are facing the same network problem.

  3. JohnJohn 111

    I’ve had the N97 for 2 months, and I have very mixed feeligs about it: FB, Search, and overall internet experience: great.
    Music player and apps, way behind in terms of frictionless app.
    Camera and camera apps: Great
    Phone, email: absolutely dreadful. Slow, memory hog for email,
    too much fiddling about to find a contact, call them, let alone edit and update them: it takes at least 5 times more manipulations to send a call than on a bberry.
    OVI: not enough content
    Handset: very heavy

  4. Charles P

    For those waiting for 3rd party apps and/or support, forget it. NOBODY IS DEVELOPING for S60v5. And nobody will.

    People are already developing for Android/iPhone. And everyone is waiting for Maemo to catch up. S60v5 is dead, and the new Symbians are just around the corner (^3, ^4…).

    Even with QT, it is a “lose-lose” situation: if the new Symbians make it, for more or for less, and they probably will anyway, nobody will develop for the older ones, because as I speak, Nokia is pushing changes to QT to break the “compile once, run everywhere” motto. Planned obsolescence to make current sets less and less desirable. And on the worst situation, Maemo remains niche and Symbian is lost on the past, not bringing new developers to the field. You lose.

    Honestly, I will go for a platform that may not have the better hardware, but has momentum to bring all the useful applications. History tells that. Maemo/QT/Symbian may gain momentum tomorrow, I don’t deny it, but currently they are behind the curve.

  5. My relationship with the Nokia n97, has been one of crashing frustration. Crashing, 3 times button pressing, slow as hell, works about half the time, mess of a phone. I’ve owned the n95, n82, n97. I am NOT HAPPY with the n97.

  6. hey evry1,

    Nowadays nokia running advertisement on TV saying NEW NOKIA N97,

    I need to ask you all, whether they had made some changes in old N97 and launched the new one.

    OR It is the old one only with just product line as NEW NOKIA N97

    What is the difference between OLD N97 & NEW N97.

    Pls reply,

    Thanks in advance
    Prakash.

  7. hey to everyone…..I want to buy n97 and I know if it worth it……I love nokia……at the moment I have nokia n95….and I thought this n97 will be rat…..but comments aren’t saying this…..so waht do you thnik?

  8. Prakash

    Hi Evry1,

    Finally i got my N97 handset changed, this 1 is working fine so far. i m very much satisfied with this new handset.

    As per my experience, Nokia has distributed some malfunctioning handsets all over or else there huge bugs in Firmware 10.0.021.

    my new firmware has updated firmware 11.0.021, which is absolutely working fine. So suggest you all to get your firmware updated.

    Problem faced by me in my old Nokia handset N97.

    1) Often network fluctuation.
    2) Cranky vibration sound while pressing touch screen.
    3) Getting crashed while surfing or accessing any application.
    4) Showing only 2 MB free of RAM.
    5) And many small bugs..

    Request all of you to get your handset changed immediately, if you are facing any of the above problems, Coz i had already sent my handset to nokia service centre & they were unable to rectified the sames.

    Please put your experiences with N97 also.

    Thanks…

  9. Bollinge

    I got one a few weeks ago, branded to Vodafone. Put my Orange SIM in, and the phone worked, but I couldn’t get any internet. Phoned Orange, and they really did not have a clue, but eventually the lady sent me some SIM updates, and I was at last able to get online.

    I put it back in the box as “too technical”, until I had about a free day to fart about with it to get it all working.

    Tried again this Monday. Phone crashed. Downloaded latest software, phone now displays “Phone memory full” – I had only taken five photographs! No dial keys available on the touchscreen, only on the soft keys QUERTY

    Took to Carphone Warehouse, “We don’t touch them, phone the N97 helpline”

    Phoned that, and the bloke was a bit more clued up, and he decided the phone was ****ed.

    It has now been sent away via a Nokia service centre to specialists for “five to ten working days”.

    Where to? “Somewhere in Cambridgeshire, and if they can’t repair it, it goes to Poland”

    Not an auspicious start, it lasted for about six hours.

    When it comes back I may put it straight on eBay!

    • bollinge, what you mean no dial key on the touch screen? on the home screen(first view), center bottom, there is a icon made of 7 squares, press that, it’ll bring up the dial keys…

    • Nokia Geek

      Bollinge, the N97 has only about 128 MB of ‘memory’ (RAM), while it has a whopping 32 GB of flash memory. You should put your downloaded applications, photos, and videos to the flash memory.

      Sounds like the problem may be a full memory. You may need to uninstall downloaded applications or delete the photos.

      I have now been using my N97 for 3 weeks, and it works ok. Sometimes it loses the 3G packet connection; I do not know if it is the HDSPA network or the phone to blame. Another bug is that the browser sometimes crashes on heavy web pages, presumably laden with Javascript.

  10. Hi everyone,

    I don’t understand why most people say negative reviews about this N97.

    You all should know Newton’s 3rd Law: “EVERY REACTION HAS AN EQUAL AND OPPOSITE REACTION”

    So does this N97.

    But for me overall I like the phone. But the pricing seems to be too high. Well it is the price of my new laptop. So we can say it is some sort of mini netbook.

    Anyway I would like to give it a rating of 4/5. While I would give iPhone a rating of 3.5/5.

    • Prakash

      hey Appu,

      R u facing problem with Network in ur handset.any restart or hangup issue. let me know ur service provider and location.

      thanks in advance.

  11. Prakash

    Hi Frnds,
    I had already updated the firmware to 11.0.021, but i dont think it has solved my network problem. but yes processing speed has increased.

    After tiring, i had changed my service provider,yak problem still exist so it is the problem with handset.

    Also phone is getting restart again an again with terrible colors on the display.

    Im not satisfied with this phone after paying 30K to nokia.

    Suggest me some resolution for my problem…frnds.

    Thanks in advance

  12. I have the N97 a few weeks now and I like it. Its good solid quality build. Yes Symbian s60 platform is aging but it depends how you look at things: the IPhone Apps are largely download and use a few times then boredom sets in. There may be thousands of them but they are mostly crap. I don’t trust apple hardware either in terms of reliability. The N97 is much more organised and serious to me, maybe the way my brain works. The camera is excellent. I have no bug issues I haven’t been able to resolve with a bit of tweaking and the home page is a great idea, though I agree it can be developed. Its easy to forget one thing also – as a phone for speaking to people ! : its quality is the best I have used on a mobile ! Its Nokia for me every time if you want quality hardware. I am sure the platform and apps / widgets will develop also.

  13. Nokia Geek

    I have now used N97 for 20 hours. I use my cell phone mostly for web surfing. I am no fan of touchscreens, because moving the finger around the screen is tedious. For heavy use, a control ‘stick’ like in N73 is more ergonomic. Some suggestioons for improvement of N97:

    1. Remove the sharp edges on the back cover at the bottom and around the camera. When I use the physical keyboard, the edges do not feel nice on fingers.

    2. With the physical keyboard, make it possible to control the browser entirely with physical buttons.

    3. It takes 3 strokes to open the bookmarks of the browser. It should take only 1 or 2 strokes.

    4. In the landscape mode in the browser, if the picture is enlarged with tapping, in text entering there is a bug: the cursor is drawn to a wrong position.

    5. Make the travel distance of a key push in the physical keyboard bigger. The feedback should be somewhat stronger when a key is pressed.

    6. The browser crashed a few times.

    7. Full support of Flash videos would be nice. Now N97 only supports the lightweight Flash.

    Some good things in N97:

    1. Battery life much better than in N73.

    2. The processor and response time is fast enough.

    • Nokia Geek

      Forgot to add:

      3. The familiar N series style menus are nice, as a Nokia user learns quickly to use N97, too. Thus, I have the opposite opinion to the commentators.

      4. I bought a 1 Mbit/s 3.5G connection. Its speed matches the browser nicely so that waiting for a heavy 2 MB web page to load does take excessively long. The browser starts drawing the page later than in N97, but that is not a problem due to a fast download speed.

      As a conclusion, I think N97 needs some bug fixing in the browser, and some small changes to improve the ergonomy of the keyboard. I hope Nokia will address these in N98 :). I will pass the comments on this blog to Nokia engineers.

  14. Thmomas

    Hi,

    I’ve got a same problem with network. I don’t know why, but my N97 loosing the signal very often.
    The three customer service adviced I should send back the handset for repairing. I thing our handset is the first generation of N97 and will have many problem.
    That was a same with the first N95s. I regretted to buy this phone.
    Maybe the new firmwares will solve this problems, if it can.

    Regards,

    Thomas

    • Prakash

      Hi Thomas,

      I had already updated the firmware to 11.0.021, but i dont think it has solved my network problem. but yes processing speed has increased.

      After tiring, i had changed my service provider,yak problem still exist so it is the problem with handset.

      Also phone is getting restart again an again with terrible colors on the display.

      Im not satisfied with this phone after paying 30K to nokia.

      Suggest me some resolution for my problem…frnds.

  15. Mickey JB

    Had my N97 for a few weeks and rate it as rubish I’m afraid, I don’t expect a high end phone not to display who’s texting me or the light not to come on when the lock relase button is moved. I expect when I’m pressing the screen, for the thing I’m pressing to actually do something, I also expect not to have to fiddle around trying to unlock the phone just to answer a call! I had a N95 8GB and thought that was fine, it worked! Maybe I’ve just got a duff one. I know all these problems might be basic, however its all well and good the phone doing the fancy stuff well, but it needs to do the basics too as I actually use it as a phone sometimes!!!!

  16. Prakash--India

    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..

    hey guys..pls respond to my queries???