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The flagship of Nokia since June 2009, although now replaced by N900 and N8, I must say N97 is the most beautiful phone I've ever owned. Well, very narrowly followed by Nokia 8800 Sirocco.
So I sold my Nokia N82 and LG Viewty Smart to purchase this, Nokia N97, White version. At the time of purchase (November 2009), this was one of the best handsets you could own.
Now, not even close. But this is what I can say about this misled beauty.
Why N97 is still special: - 3.5inches screen with both proximity & accelerometer sensors. For those who don't know, Proximity sensor is for the phone to switch off when held against your cheeks, to prevent interference of your skin to the touch-screen when on call. Accelerometer is a sensor that detects the orientation of the phone, so that the screen switches between portrait and landscape views automatically to the changes in the environment.
- QWERTY keyboard - now I'm someone who's still unhappy about the whole touch-experience. I love to have everything touch, I love the idea, and yet I have not found a device capable enough for complete satisfaction - except iPhone, I'm so reluctant to admit (I have a little problem with Steven Jobs), and yet I cannot lie about these devices. But, QWERTY keyboard on N97 is just brilliant, for texts, emails, browsing. Responsive and quick enough to deal with text inputs, which would have been a nightmare with the resistive touch-screen on its own on the N97.
- 5MegaPixel Camera - with AF (autofocus) and Carl Zeiss lens, the camera equipped on N97 will not let you down. I have to say most of Nokia cameras in the past have terribly let me down, for instance, Nokia Prism, 8800, E65, E71. Please never believe all the adverts or spec that states it's 3.2MP, 2MP, etc, because you should know that a mega-pixel of a camera does not determine the quality of your images - the processor, sensor and lens do. On N97, these have be refined and do produce images good enough to be compared to compact cameras. You can change your settings to suit your needs, 2mp, 3.2mp sizes, or even take pictures with the front-face camera, which is VGA quality of 640 x 480, if you love taking self-pictures or for video calling.
- GPS - Nokia Maps is free, and it's great, like Google Maps, it is a real alternative, not a last-option/choice. GPS will work without assistance, that is without A-GPS. This is important as most of the phone won't work on its work, without it. A-GPS is a little something which helps GPS module of the phone using the internet, for more precise location determination. N97's GPS will work without it in large cities (though initial pin-point set up may take a while), so if you're worrying about wasting your DATA then this is one solved for you (Of course if you have unlimited DATA plan, then may as well use it as it's much quicker to set up with A-GPS).
- Internal Storage - N97 is equipped with 32GB of memory, now that's a lot. Nowadays you won't find phones having this any more, as it seems that it was during the N97 era that flagship phones entered the competition with large internal memories, notably N97, Samsung Omnia, iPhone 3G/3GS. Though currently it is hard to find any with such a big boot, that's probably because from user-experience that informed these big companies that people don't need a sea of memory, and mostly 8GB is enough - though having said that Apple is still convinced with their iPhones, it's appropriate to sell 64GB versions - well that's because they have 'iPods' inside.
- Battery life - considering the 3.5inch screen, battery life is great. It will withstand long calls, and a day's usage. Having said that, don't be led to believe that it will run for days. It won't.
Why you should avoid N97. - Touch experience - resistive screens are a real pain, and when you go for a touch phone, go for capacitative - which tend to be more expensive. The screen on N97 will get you by, and especially useful in cold weathers we're having, as we'll be wearing gloves when capacitative screens won't detect your input with clothed fingers. However, this experience is fixed by N97's QWERTY keyboard - oh thank Goodness it's there.
- Processor & Symbian. 434MHz ARM11 processor on Symbian v9.4. Here are the 2 problems. Touch interface Symbian required more power than the frimsy 434MHz. I don't quite understand why Nokia only employed such a small engine to power the phone, where it would have been clear in their labs that 434MHz would be nowhere enough. Even with 1GHz, it would not have been perfect. So these imperfections, which were, lagging, bad-response, crashing, and slow for everything were becoming problems. It has to be said, in the very beginning (i.e. when you reset/format the phone), it may seem that the phone is coping ok. After a while though, you won't be too happy. It must be also noted that, it's not as terrible as I may be making out. You can get by; it's not like you press an application and it'll take few minutes to open, no just few seconds, but having a flagship phone should not make you wait that long. Plus, with longer use, and with the memory getting filled up, these seconds will stretch.
In terms of using Symbian - you may like it you may not. First off, it will do everything that a smartphone should do - emails, internet, Sat Nav, music, videos, you name it. So what is the problem? Now you put it like that, there isn't really - except for me, the interface was too dull, archaic, and it was the same old look as... any other symbian! For years and years, it has not changed (apart from the homescreen). There's no fun factor. And this is a real shame.
That's it. Those were the bad points, and really, I could not live with them, when there were alternatives around which could fix them - for example, HTC HD2, Samsung Galaxy S, iPhone, Blackberrys. But N97 is a beauty, and what wonderful design - what a pity that Nokia made use of this design with their such old-fashioned technology. Think about a 1GHz processor with Android Froyo on N97. I don't think I would have let it go so fast.
Now you can get the phone for around £200 or even less. Considering the price... it's not so bad now is it! But make sure you look at the alternatives, and know what you really want in your phone.