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Nokia N97 Review

The Nokia N97 smartphone combines a touch screen with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It has impressive hardware, including a 5-megapixel camera with flash, GPS, Wi-Fi and an FM transmitter as well as customisable home screen widgets and touch-screen user interface.
11/02/2010

The Nokia N97 smartphone combines a touch screen with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It has impressive hardware, including a 5-megapixel camera with flash, GPS, Wi-Fi and an FM transmitter as well as customisable home screen widgets and touch-screen user interface.

The flip-up tilt screen is used well in the N97. The screen display’s angle is great for playing multimedia. Also noteworthy, this screen is one of the most responsive touch screens around, though unlike the Apple iPhone 3GS you do need to use a stylus on occasion. Nokia  includes the stylus (plastic pointer) in their sales package, although using your fingers alone can activate almost all of the N97’s functions and features.

The most important hardware feature will be discovered when you tilt the Nokia N97's screen to reveal the real-life QWERTY keyboard. This keyboard is extremely functional with well-spaced individual keys, which are backlit by white and blue light. In no time you’ll be able to type at a reasonable speed. However, like all things in life, it’s not perfect.

Buttons on the N97 could be raised a bit higher to make the experience even more tactile, and the top row of keys is too near the bottom of the screen. The spacebar key is oddly placed. Instead of its usual place, it’s found at the bottom right of the keyboard. You’ll get used to it.

One aspect of this part of the phone you mightn’t get used to as easily is the positioning of the five-way navigational pad, which is found on the left side of the keyboard. It is more suited to be on the right side, as most of humanity is right-handed. The N97 also has a touch-screen keyboard, so it’s still possible to type when the slider is closed.
The N97 feels strong enough, but the plastic casing doesn't feel as sturdy as it should be for a phone of this price. It doesn't compare with the iPhone’s look and feel.

In terms of basic use, this Nokia has a menu key and two backlit touch buttons to answer and finish calls. External side buttons include a slider screen lock button on the left, specific camera and volume controls on the right, and a power key on top.

One exciting feature is the customisable home screen. This has five customisable boxes for you to add useful widgets, including two Nokia shortcut bars and live Internet widgets that update on their own. These include email, news and weather reports, plus Facebook. New live widgets are under development; in future you’ll be able to download them all using the preloaded Nokia Ovi Store application. Note: You do have to have an appropriate data plan to access these widgets. It would also be better if you could adjust the size of the widget boxes; if you don't use them all, an empty space remains.

A known idiosyncrasy found on the first Nokia touch-screen phone, the 5800 XpressMusic, hasn’t been spared on the N97. Accessing functions using the Symbian S60T operating system is inconsistent. Shortcuts on the home screen require just one press, but sometimes when selecting other functions you have to double tap. However, the interface does look great; icons are well laid out and scrolling is pretty smooth. The built-in accelerometer rotates the screen orientation in most applications and does it without much delay. The N97 has adjustable haptic feedback (the iPhone doesn’t) utilising three different intensity settings. The highest setting’s vibration is noisy, but it still does the job.

Pros:

-     Flip-up tilt screen
-    Slide-out QWERTY keyboard
-    5-megapixel camera with flash
-    Customisable home screen with useful widgets like email, news and weather reports plus Facebook
-    Great hardware: touch screen user interface, GPS, Wi-Fi and an FM transmitter
-    32GB of internal storage

   

Cons:
-    The five-way navigational pad is positioned on the left side of the keyboard
-    Not as sturdy as it should be for a phone of this price
-    When selecting functions you may have to double tap
-    Top row of keys is too near the bottom of the screen
-    Touch screen needs a stylus (plastic pointer) on occasion

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