Nokia N97 Smartphone

By on August 6, 2009
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The N97 is an extremely capable phone as far as hardware is concerned. Its the outdated software that fails it.

32GB Memory- Check. Full QWERTY keyboard- Check. WiFi/GPS/Bluetooth- Check. 5MP Carl Zeiss camera with LED Flash- Check. Gorgeous display with 16M colors- Check. Triband HSDPA- Check. Nokia’s flagship product, the N97, almost hits all the right notes. Lets take a closer look and see if its all its set out to be.


Nokia packages the N97 nicely in small minimalist black box with everything other than the kitchen sink inside it. You get a wall and a car charger along with an adapter to use the older traditional Nokia charger instead of the new USB charger, a funky looking stylus, ear buds with a remote control, a USB cable to connect the phone to your computer, a quickstart manual and software dvds and a cleaning cloth.


The Size of the N97 is excellent as far as height and width is concerned although it is a bit on the chubby side which might make it bulge a little out of your pocket but is comfortable to hold. Available in Black and White, we received the black unit and I must say that its a good looking phone. The full touch screen on the top is accompanied by the red and green keys which are also touch sensitive as well as the menu key. Above the touchscreen you have the front facing camera.


The right side has the volume keys along with the camera key while the left side features stereo speakers, the micro USB connector and the lock slider. The top of the phone allows you to plug in a 3.5mm jack and also features the power button. The back side has the usual Nokia slide down camera cover.


Holding the unit horizontally and sliding it reveals the keyboard. I like how the display tilts instead of staying flat- something I first saw on the HTC Touch PRO. It makes using the phone and reading whatever is on the screen a lot easier. On the down side, you are restricted to one angle- it would’ve been nice to have different levels of tilt.

The keyboard that is revealed under the screen is ok. The keys are a bit too flat for my liking but I can understand that this might be related more to the design of the handset. Also, I’m not too sure about the location of the space bar on the right side instead of the middle.

Obviously, the Touch Screen is one of the most important aspects of the N97 and works very much like the Nokia 5800 which could be a good and a bad thing at the same time. Instead of talking about the touch screen, here is a small video that would explain things a lot better.

As you can see, the touch screen is responsive. In fact the phone, overall, is pretty fast although you will see it stutter once in a while which I feel is more of a software issue. Hardware-wise, you’d be hard pressed to find anything better than the N97. It has all the technology of a modern day handset and then some such as the FM receiver and transmitter. Battery life is also excellent on the N97- I could easily get more than a day out of it- almost two, which is more than most of the latest generation of Smartphones.

While the N97 scores high on hardware, what desperately needs addressing is the software. Frankly speaking, Symbian feels too dated compared to other handset O/S’es such as OS X on the iPhone or Android by Google. Even the Blackberry O/S feels more refreshed than Symbian. Yes it works and I do appreciate the few tweaks Nokia has done such as the home screen with widgets that gives you a nice overview, but at the end of the day, you feel like you’re using a phone from the last decade. I want my handset to not only work well but look good doing it.

Nokia needs to come up with a totally new version of Symbian that should look and act like its in the company of an iPhone, Andriod and Palm Pre. Its the old school vs. new school debate and seeing how much Nokia’s market share dipped over the last few quarters, I think a change is necessary.

Priced at AED 2,800, the N97 available at most of the leading stores in the UAE.


Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali


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