Nokia N97

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So, guess what Nokia came up with as a follow up for their Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Touchscreen phone? The Nokia N97, a Google G1 phone look-alike that sports a 3.5 inch touchscreen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

Design

The Nokia N97 looks like a cross between a lot of different phones from the iPhone to the Google G1 Phone to the AT&T Tilt (HTC TyTN II). Up front, the Nokia N97's 3.5 inch screen dominates the whole front of the phone except for the little button on the bottom left side corner which serves as the shortcut key to the N series multimedia applications. The call and end buttons are touch sensitive like ROKR E8. On the top of the Nokia N97 is the 3.5mm headphone jack and the power button. The Nokia N97 is just a tad bit larger and thicker than the iPhone and when you slide out the QWERTY keypad, you're reminded of the HTC TyTN II with it's angled screen. The Nokia N97 feels solid enough to hold though it just feels a bit too large especially if you have small hands. The QWERTY keypad is evenly spaced and you won't have trouble typing nor would you have to worry about pressing two buttons at a time. The buttons are very minimal compared with other QWERTY keypads from HTC or Blackberry. I guess this is to make room for the directional pad on the left side. The sliding mechanism feels solid enough though I'm a bit worried about the hinge that connects the screen and the keypad since it looks thin and breakable.

Features and Performance


The performance of the Nokia N97 is based purely on the demo version but I have to say I'm quite impressed. It looks like Nokia has fine tuned the Symbian OS to work well with touchscreen. On the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, you won't get much of the swiping and flicking finger action but they've refined it so that you can get that much out of the Nokia N97. Also, compared with the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic demo version, the Nokia N97 interface is quite fast and responsive. You can barely see any hiccup on the accelerometer transition or when you're navigating the Symbian OS. The user interface on the Nokia N97 is also quite new but is still very user-friendly. Like I said, it's touch optimized and there are a lot of widgets you can play with. The built-in browser also looks promising though I wasn't able to see if it supports YouTube desktop PC version. Scrolling through webpages isn't as smooth and fluid as when you're surfing the Safari Browser on the iPhone but the webpages renders quickly though I don't know if that's because the pages that the person demonstrating the phone is already saved and bookmarked on the phone's memory.


The Nokia N97 also supports TV Out, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, GPS, FM radio, and a 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics. If the camera on the Nokia N97 is as good as that on the Nokia N95 then I'm sure that the Nokia N97 won't have any problems when it comes to its camera software. The Nokia N97 runs on Quadband GSM networks and supports 3G/HSDPA.

It's just too bad that Nokia decided to go with Resistive touchcreen instead of capacitive like that on the iPhone. I'm sure with a bit of development, they'll be able to come up with a lot of good applications that can make use of capacitive touchscreen.

Outlook

Hmm, looks like Nokia got it right on their second try. I like the Nokia N97 better than their Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and I hope that they'll be able to incorporate the user interface of the N97 on the 5800 XpressMusic though I highly doubt that since the Nokia N97 is aimed at the high end market while the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic borders on the midrange to high-end phone segment. From the looks of the demo version, the Nokia N97 looks promising enough. It's fast and responsive. I don't know what processor or RAM they've used on this device but I guess they were able to make use of the new Symbian OS. All in all, it looks like the iPhone, Google G1 Phone and the Blackberry Storm has a new competitor to watch out for. And knowing that there are a lot of Nokia fanatics, I think that the Nokia N97 will definitely take a large part of the smartphone market.
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