back to article Nokia N97

Nokia's flagship phone for 2009, the N97 has set sail – backed by marketing expenditure the size of an African nation's health budget. But it's barely got out of port before hitting stormy waters. Some of the disappointment expressed on the web – from phone fan sites and bloggers – is fair; some of it is baffling, but much of it …


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  1. Tom Chiverton 1


    Shame, could have been brilliant. Guess we'll have to see if the 900 (due in October) solves all these issues.

    Totally different O/S, proper keyboard - could be a winner.

  2. stu 4

    80%! - bummer

    man.. I was waiting for this to upgrade my N95 I've had for over 2 years and is stuck together with insulating tape.

    This phone sucks ass, as other simian cousins over the water would say.

    roll on the pre in the UK....

  3. Tim Schomer

    Nokia Memory issues

    "It's three years since I experienced low memory dialog boxes on a Symbian phone"

    One word - DevMan - I've run it on my last 2 Nokias and not had a memory issue since. Interesting to see what is left running very often. You very soon learn much better discipline with your operation of the device.

  4. Tet

    Flash drive

    "In the absence of even the most basic Mac support, you'll have to mount it as a flash drive". I see that as a positive asset. I've long wanted a phone that I can just plug in and treat as a mass storage device. I don't *want* to use the vendor's software to get at my data. I have plenty of existing tools that do that job just fine. However, the N97 does sound disappointing. I want a touch screen E90, and this just seem to be anywhere near that.

  5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    7.5 pages of moan and it still gets 80%?


  6. Mark 65

    Same old same old

    I gave up on Nokia years ago when Sony Ericsson came out with a good UI with useful features such as the ability to use a number in a text message - something that was missing from Nokia then. Saw no reason to ever go back. I'm not sure whether they're trying to compete with the iPhone or carve their own niche but this seems like just an almighty fuck up. It's as if a large team of designers/engineers all got asked to come up with a single good idea for a smartphone whilst on the piss then the lot got put in one whether they were complementary or not.

  7. g e


    The other half has one of these turning up, I just got an HTC Magic which overall is a great phone though I still haven't found how to send a contact to someone as a vcard or whatever.

    Will have to see what she makes of it, is the first Nokia she's had in a couple of years or so.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nail in the coffin as far as I'm concerned

    Stephen Fry's review didn't help, either.

    Nokia lost the plot shortly after they released the 7710. Best 'phone calendar and contacts since the Psion 5 (not as good as the Psion 5's of course - a device still miles ahead of anything available today).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Samsing i8910

    Interesting review, any word on when the Samsung i8910 will be reviewed? It looks like more likely to be an iPhone competitor than the N97...

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Not for me

    Sucky hardware, shady dealings with dictatorships - sorry, but buh-bye Nokia. The relationship ends here. It's not me, it's you.

  11. Yorkshirepudding

    give it time

    seems picking a 5800 was the best decision after all! ill wait till they get the bugs out of the beast

    probably re-designing the keypad layout is to much to ask but they should do it

    as in all things test drive first folks

    Oooooo new icon woot!

  12. Emo


    I'm sat here with my N96 which has a 3.5mm jack on the TOP of the phone.

    Your review of the N97 echos probably all previous N-series phones, well at least the ones I've had such as the N80, N95 and the N96 - all buggy on release.

    It really annoys me that Nokia can't test and QA their software before it's released. Why do we have to wait for firmware upgrades?

    New features fair enough, but fixing bugs/performance issues shouldn't be left for the unwashed to beta test when released.

    The camera shots on the review look like the same from my N96 - shit. N95 is much better - although after firmware was upgraded. Why are these issues still cropping up?

    This N96 will probably be my last Nokia after probably 15yrs of loyalty.

    On a side note I'm thinking of going back to my N95 as it's much faster and less annoying than the N96.

    Grenade for Nokia's software QA department/person.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Headphone oddity

    [quote]But ... Hallelujah! Nokia finally makes a phone with a 3.5mm audio adapter - that's the right way up, on top of the device.[/quote]

    So.. in other words, EXACTLY like the audio jack on the N91?

  14. craigmcgill

    N97 is not available in UK

    This is really bugging me as it's poor research. The N97 is available in the Nokia London store. Not anywhere else. I know because I scoured Orange and Carphone Warehouses across Scotland for one. Then called the Orange and CW press offices to be told that if I wanted one on launch day I had to go to Nokia London.

    At least the iPhone was available across the UK.

    On the memory issue: Nokia still haven't fixed that? Poor. It shocks me that it never auto-quits apps and the Log is always open.

    Also, I see it still asks constantly for access points.

    Stephen Fry gave it a pounding in The Guardian as well, which is a shame as I was tempted after having a great 2 years with a N95, but it looks like an iPhone for me instead...

  15. Peter Mylward

    Generous storage??

    "Apple demands over £500 for a new, 32GB iPhone 3G S."

    Yet the price in the review box for this phone is £499, whats the difference?

  16. alistair millington


    I wanted one of these to replace my aging tytn 2. Which while ham stringed by Windows mobile 6, is still just what I want.

    Was hoping this review would give me hope.

    Oh well, the search continues

  17. IPB

    I nearly waited for this...

    but got a G1 when I saw what a mess they made of the N96. I used to own the N95 (and I still do, it's my back up phone and also my pocket digital camera) and once I had got the version 30 firmware on it it was great.

    Such a shame, because if they actually thought about things they could have made such a good phone...

  18. Neil 4

    iPhone Comparison?

    I don't get this. You spend pages slating the thing, say it's rubbish compared to an iPhone, and then rate it 80% - the same as the iPhone.

  19. James 47

    which firmware

    I believe there's a new vesion already available that ironed out some, but definitely not all, bugs/annoyances.

    But yes, this is disappointing from nokia.

  20. Shonko Kid

    @Tim Schomer - wtf?

    You mean you learn how to use the device so as to not run out of memory? That is so lame, the OS should be doing that for you.

    Device should adapt to your usage pattern, not the other way round!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh Dear Nokia

    I've been a loyal Nokia/Symbian user for years. I went on O2's Simplicity to see me over the 2 months until the iPhone/Pre/N97 came out. Apple eventually wore me down and I went on launch day and got my 3G S 32gb in white before any N97 reviews were out. It seems from this I may have made the correct decision. The iPhone is an absolute beauty to behold and use, I've never used anything quite like it. Sorry Nokia but times move on, pull your finger out and in 24 months time, I'll check back in to see what you have to offer.

  22. Patrick 17


    I moved to an iPhone a year ago after an N95 (and always had Nokia mobiles prior to that).

    I've used resistive screens on several touch screens (hate them) and cannot understand why Nokia would use one on their new flagship phone -- they're so bad to use once you've used a capacitive type one.

    Stephen Fry's N97 review was spot on. The N97 just sounds like a touch screen and keyboard badly shoehorned into the Symbian OS.

    Nokia have seriously lost their way. I do hope they sort themselves out before they shrink into oblivion.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Design by committee

    Oh dear, and this could have been so good.

    That keyboard is an atrocity after the ones on the Communicator, but the failitude goes much further, past that pitiful memory, to a place where you wonder if anyone actually bothered to play with the device before sending it to the sweatshops for manufacture.

    Include a stylus but don't offer a silo in the phone? That's a lost stylus or one that gets left in the box - so why have a stylus at all?

    Why are the icons such a random bunch of shapes, some rounded some not, some bevelled, others flat? It looks like a dogs breakfast even before the whole UI starts going tits up.

    And why oh why that strange diagonal button on the bottom left of the front face? Its purpose isn't immediately clear and that stupid shape and orientation makes it harder to find and press.

    Like it or loathe it, the iPhone really does show the advantages to having a ruthless approach to every aspect of the design. Sony are finally remembering their design heritage, but Nokia - do they want to go back to making rubber boots?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    I got my N97 on Friday. Yes, it's as crap as the review makes out but oddly there are some things that make go 'oooh'.

    I have a wi-fi point defined for my home network and Vodafone Live defined for mobile use, the email client now looks (in the background) to see what's available and uses what it finds. Getting it to read out emails fills 5 seconds of boredom too.

    Handwriting recogniition :-

    N97 : Write 'o'

    Me : o

    N97 : That is too similiar to 'O'

    N97 : Write 'v'

    Me : v

    N97 : That is too similiar to 'V'


    Media player? Pah, try *easily* to get it to play a random selection of songs.

    And why was AccuWeather always trying to connect to the internet even when it supposedly wasn't running? Uninstalled it pretty quick.

  25. TrixyB

    @ craigmcgill

    Not too sure where you have been looking mate. Just upgraded my N95 today calling up three! TEE HEE. £38 a month

  26. twilkins

    Some inaccuracies...

    @craigmcgill, expansys have had them SIM free units in stock since last Thursday. I ordered on Thursday and took delivery of an N97 (black) on Friday.

    I see the rating has been changed from 80% to 75% so as not to upset the Jesus phone crowd! :-\

    Phone is fine, more of an evolution than a revolution for anyone used to S60. It DOESN'T keep prompting for access points (uses the new destinations feature to automatically prioritize between the WiFi, 3G access points you set up), and Nokia Messaging is available (use the in phone software update option to automatically download and install). Nokia Messaging integrates quite nicely with the messaging widget on the home screen and also the existing standard messaging app.

  27. F1reman

    resistive touchscreen oh dear

    75% for a review that is basically 9 pages of diplomatic slagging off? Reading the review one would assume 50%, maybe 60%.

    A family member works for an operator and they've had this phone for a while. I was really excited by the idea of it and the pre-release hype but said family member warned me off it, said it was the worst phone they'd played with (I think there's a full stop here) and sounded quite shocked that Nokia had even considered it for release nevermind actually started selling it.

    The review is a little odd, coz a full day of battery life can be expected from an iphone and palm pre (apparently) and indeed many HTC models, if not more. iPhone costs just over £500 and N97 costs £499: is the difference significant? What does the N97 offer that the competition does not?

    My N82 has a jack on the top of the phone. I think I'll go and buy the N97 coz it's got a jack on the top of the phone.

    I'm sure you guys (elreg) have to try and be nice so that you'll still get invited to parties (now that apple refuse you entry) but that review, for what is generally considered to be a disaster of a phone, was toothless: give it the roasting it deserves.

    Nokia will be around for ages since they sell all the low end low margin phones that no-one else produces anymore. they can handle bad reviews the little darlings.

    I saw a video blog of a meeting between bloggers and Nokia, held in Finland, for the release of the N82. In it there was a british man who had been responsible for the design of the phone (those horrible keys). He reminded me of those people who are untalented and useless but are a bit mean and seem to float to the top in companies somehow. He really was an arsehole. With employees like him who needs enemies like Apple/Palm/HTC etc

    Apple may be run by an arsehole marketing Team but at least they know how to market. Just look at the hype their company generates. We may hate them but they do things right. Andrew O himself said of the iPhone: "you can't keep a good product down..." maybe that should read you can't keep a good company down. although as a mac book user I do think windows 7 taskbar is far superior to the pointless dock. We;ll have to see if Snow leopard can match the Jesus Bar.

    But I digress....

    Anyone fancy a beer?

  28. F1reman

    and it's even the same contract price as the iphone

    oh and isn't £38 pm about the same as the iphone contract with o2?

  29. Ty
    Jobs Halo

    awww diddums

    WHAT a surprise the N97 is a brick. *rolls eyes*

    All you poor Nokia fanbois must be gutted to discover what most people had known all along.

    Looks like you all have to get iPhones after all!

    Apple will rule the mobile computer market for years to come. Deal with it.

  30. Bod
    Jobs Horns

    Re: awww diddums

    Style over substance as always though. N97 still has a bucket load of features and abilities that an iPhone doesn't. Just sadly not perfectly implemented and still bogged down by S60.

    One point though on the article related to Mac support. Well, how many Mac users would not have an iPhone really? !! ;)

    But that said, Nokia isn't shying away from Macs. Give it a little time (and that goes for Penguin fans too).

    Anyway. Was seriously tempted by this if it didn't have quite so many drawbacks and wasn't so damn expensive. Might go back to my idea of getting the E71 instead. Still a very sexy device that does the job of being a phone and office device perfectly (and a fairly polished edition of S60 too).

    And remember, Nokia still has the likes of the excellent Sports Tracker and full navigation (both on foot and in car) with Maps that includes preloaded maps for the whole world, and they can both be run in the background, not to mention the ability to save data to a proper file system, flash video, let anyone write 3rd party apps without needing permission, and buy phones sim-free with no lock downs or unlock their phones without requiring Jail Breaks and fearing the wrath of the head of the Cult ;).

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pre or post production!??

    Well gotta say what a load of crap!! just received N97 and first impressions are that Nokia HAVE produced a damn good phone! Found the iphone abit big but a great offering all the same.

    All I can say is go down to a shop and have a try with the N97, here is a happy customer, seems bug free but then all smartphones publish new firmware.

    Make up your own minds!

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Been waiting for this since December....shame

    From this review and others it looks like this phone isn't as wonderful as Nokia would have us believe. I'm still using my N95 (which now with iplayer is a great phone) but I have to admit I'm still a little tempted. Three are offering the phone for a £15 texting package as long as you buy the phone for £195. I'm paying £15 now as I'm on their sim only deal, so 195 does sound very good. Hell, its better than the offers of £40 a month. No way is this phone worth that.

    Except that the iphone now looks quite tempting, apart from its lousy camera. 3.2mp? What year is this again?

    Then there's the Pre, and the new Nokia that is bound to come along in 6 months.

    For now, the N95 is staying with me. Still in one piece, still going strong.

  33. Steve Cragg

    RE: awww diddums

    So, you're happy with a market being dominated by a single company with strict rules and regs (theirs) on the software of said application / platform? Therefore creating a "effective" monopoly and destroying innovation / creation and bascially moving forward.

    Wonderful - an Apple fanboy who says it like it is "We don't care what happens to the future of the market, as long as Apple controls it".

  34. Steve Evans

    Re: awww diddums

    Interesting you call the iPhone a mobile computer... Have you given up trying to use it as a camera phone now? I have a couple of friends with them, and their signal is always terrible.

    As for the N97... Have faith Nokia boys, give it a firmware release and check again. Or you could just wander into a shop and try it now and form your own opinion.

    The N95 had more than it's share of problems when it came out. Bad battery life, slow camera (although still 5mp), bad memory management and some problems with 3G, but Nokia sorted all that with firmware revisions.

    And remember, this is a Nokia, so you know it will be a damn good phone with a damn good signal. Able to send text messages to huge groups of people, and support MMS right out of the box. You know, things real phones have been able to for years.

    Pity about the speakers, the N95's are wonderful, but at least it has some.

    As for the price comparisons, who pays the website price for a phone upgrade on a contract?! Ask for their best deal, say you'll think about it... Ring back next day and ask for the PAC code... You'll be amazed at the new offer... I'm looking forward to my bartering this time, there is a credit crunch after all....

  35. Jason Hindle

    It could have been so much better

    Apple delivers. HTC delivers. Even Samsung delivers. Where is Nokia? Which part of "have to do better than the others or die" don't they get?

  36. Eric Hood

    Nokia and you.


    I use a mac and my current phone is an N80 it is superb and still getting good battery life 3 years on. My previous phones were all entry level pieces of junk. The N80 and I presume its successors have one good thing.

    I have been in crowded areas where you cannot talk to the person next to you as the crowd noise is so loud yet I can get a phone call and hear the person and they can be heard by me without the crowd noise drowning everything out.

    As I have a first gen iPod touch a new iPhone does interest me and I am thinking of getting the new model. If the telephone part of it is not as good as my N80 then Nokia will continue to get my business. My N80 will also pick up a signal where other phones fail.

    All the smartphone stuff is nice I guess, I buy phones at this end of the market because they are better quality than the other end of the market the "Killer App" has to be making phone calls. When I call people I need to know my phone will work. The N80 delivers.

  37. Law


    Somebody asked what I thought of the N97 today, and without even looking at reviews of the thing I just warned that if it's anything like the N95, initial reviews will suck because the phone will be released before it's finished - but month by month it will get better and better with each update until you have an awesome phone that people will still mock because of the early reviews.

    Then I read this... and seems confirmed. Had I not tried my dad's iPhone last year I probably would have been preparing to upgrade to the N97 right about now from my old N95... which in the end was an awesome phone, and I still miss some features from it... like syncing contacts/calendars automatically with my macbook over bluetooth, something my iPhone 3g still doesn't support?! arrrrg... ah well...

    You should have given this phone a 65% rating - and with each update release a new mini-review-update to work up to the 85% it will end up deserving (minus 15% because of that god-awful keyboard layout?!).... it may show Nokia it should really finish it's software testing rather than using the first wave of buyers as beta-testers.

  38. EyeCU

    Lucky my contract isn't up yet

    Have been eyeing this up as a replacement for my superb N82 in september when my contract ends. Hopefully they will have sorted the software issues by then and it will be a worthy replacement. All the bad reviews are basically saying the same thing - lovely hardware, great build quality but the software lets it down. A couple of firmware updates down the line and it should be brilliant if Nokia get it right. I will definitely go and have a play with one in the shop before committing to a contract though and it will have to be good to pry me away from my N82 (which btw also has a 3.5mm jack at the top, had the reviewer actually seen a nokia phone released in the last few years?)

  39. Steve Kay

    Makes me misty eyed...

    ...for my N95. It's currently in retirement in a drawer, but I've been secretly pondering bringing it out of retirement because it - if memory serves - just seemed better than the iPhone, Renoir and 6220c-1 I've had since. I may bring it back out of retirement after hearing some of the comments here.

    With regard to Mac support, there's a great app which does a good job of managing yer Nok on OSX:

  40. Bod

    Further on Mac (and Linux) support

    Check out the comments on the new Ovi 2.0 beta...


    Mac - working on it

    Linux - possible (as it's all Qt now), but no immediate plans

  41. Vince

    Review sucks, Phone doesn't... I know because I spent my £500 and own one

    What is it with people who spout reviews without knowing a thing.

    Let's clear up some stuff:

    "This is really bugging me as it's poor research. The N97 is available in the Nokia London store. Not anywhere else."

    It's available in Phones4U in White, available in several stores in Devon in Black, available in both colours from the Nokia UK Store, and available from Expansys in Black, for starters. So you're wrong. I know, because I've had one since Monday.

    Secondly, the review isn't really giving it a fair shot, and anyone who counts Stephen Fry's word as gospel on phone technology has an issue ot start with. But hey, I've owned every Nokia Communicator and the E90 Communicator too, and I've switched to this. It's NOT an E90, and the keyboard isn't as good, but the touchscreen works well. So well I barely use the keyboard. I'm very happy with it, and it looks better in white IMO.

    Talking of the keyboard, the nonsense about you can't lock the shift is rubbish. Press SHIFT TWICE and now shift becomes CAPS LOCK in effect, so the claim you can't is bull. The keyboard layout is a little odd, but I got my head around it after an hour or two, maybe that's because I deal with lots of different devices each day so just get used to it.

    It's a pretty good phone, and I won't be going back to my E90 (which is just as well since my speaker is screwed, the screen damaged internally and so on...)

    There are some minor niggles about things like the calendar widgets way of telling you about future appointments (but that's the same issue I had on the E90 etc) - maybe one day in a firmware!

    The review of the N97 is so poor on here it's unreal, and doesn't reflect it's strong points at all. no iphone for me thank you very much.

  42. Law

    Word of warning

    If you are going to buy one - be wary of getting branded (especially on tmobile), not sure if they are still up to their old tricks (tmobile this is) but I had to edit my vendor code on my N95 before Nokia Updater would let me have all the bug fixes from post-release updates.

    Apparently tmobile never authorised future firmwares on the phone for their network, and as such, the updater checks your code, sees you are on a firmware from 2 years ago which is riddled with bugs, and says "thats the latest update this vendor has allowed" and boom, you are stuck with a buggy firmware. Incidently, changing the code to oem so you get the latest updates involved third party software and voids the warranty on the phone. :(

  43. Paul_B

    I Like this phone.

    I have used the N97 a fair bit and I am VERY impressed. I came from the N95 and although the OS may seem familiar I don’t think it is outdated.

    The phone looks the business in my opinion. I know this is a matter of taste but I think it looks stylish. Also the way the screen slides open is very satisfying and Moorish (sounds weird but it really is!!). And the angle it sits at is perfect for typing txt and watching videos... partly due to the cradle underneath that steady's the device while on a table.

    The UI and touch screen is responsive despite being a resistive screen, and I made relatively few errors while moving around the system.

    The CPU and RAM are several years old but I suffered no slowdown or errors despite having all my active widgets, the web browser, music playing and typing a txt message on the keyboard. If you multitask heavy it will slowdown or close apps to free up memory but for most users it will be fine. i also had around 49mb free RAM so I dont know how the review mentions about 30 something.

    The keyboard spacing is fine and although I don’t have huge hands they are certainly of an average size so most people will be fine with the keys. The spacebar on the right takes a few days getting used to but ends up feeling very intuitive and actually quickens the time it takes to type messages. It can be annoying having to shift for numbers but not a big deal, 95% of text messages I send contain only words not numbers anyway.

    The active widgets are fantastic... and make getting to your favourite Apps quicker than with an iPhone, not to mention being able to see status updates on the home screen without pressing a button. Only thing I would have liked here would be a swipe motion to bring up ANOTHER screen of custom widgets rather than the screensaver.

    Camera is N96 quality... needs little mention. Shame no Xenon but very few smart phones are using it so you won’t be missing out there. Better photo and video than the iPhone hands down both at day and night.

    Battery life is great, I consider myself a fairly heavy user and a charge every few days is all that is needed. This is a benefit of having the lower RAM and CPU and I believe it is the reason Nokia didn’t increase the specs. I would certainly rather have phones that last an hour longer than have a heavy CPU for power usage. I have used the Omnia HD for a few hours and that extra processor and RAM made negligible difference to the speed of the UI. It still struggled under heavy multi-tasking as the N97 did... so I will take the extra battery life thanks.

    The OVI store is improving day by day and is now adding new active widgets and applications to download. Given the number of Nokia phone owners, and the profit that can be made through OVI I expect it to be VERY USEFUL in 6 months time once it has found its feet. It is also arranging for Operator billing so any apps we buy will show up on our monthly bills rather than having to fiddle around with credit cards. Also popular iPhone apps like Shazam are now making their way to OVI so expect more to do the same increasing the abilities of the N97 to match the iPhone in uses and software.

    The storage is fantastic and better than ANY phone out there. I have about 20 movies, the full TV series of Family Guy, tons of pictures, day’s worth of music and plenty of room left for apps and maps. I couldn’t attempt that on almost ALL other phones. It is great for multimedia storage. Also people complain that it doesn’t handle DivX or Xvid like the Omnia HD. But I have a free program from the net which I leave batch running overnight and it converts all my movies flawlessly with good quality to N97 MP4 files that are fantastic to watch on the 3.5" 16m colour screen. They play in FULL widescreen as well... no black bars. And I dont have to load them and import them through iTunes, I just drag and drop as needed.

    The areas the N97 falls down...

    Would have loved Xenon flash for club/bar photo's... gutted that isn’t a priority for smart phones. Could they include an LED flash for the video as well as the xenon or is it too hard to do? But you arnt getting that with the Omnia HD or the iPhone either (or any flash for that matter with the iPhone)

    The interface lacks the beauty of the iPhone. The video and music player look basic. Luckily I fully expect this to be remedied with OVI Store in the coming months. You can already download Photoflow which is a great touch screen photo viewer that vastly improves the photo element of the N97. Just need to wait it out until a music and video app does similar.

    The web browser is great for viewing pages, but shame you can only open one at a time. This would also benefit from an OVI Store improvement... hopefully that will happen too. Until then the about:blank fix isn't too much of a problem.

    In summary while the N97 doesn’t break any new ground in much of its hardware (CPU, RAM, No HD video rec, Not capacitive AMOLED) I feel it is a worthwhile upgrade for anyone who doesn’t like the restrictive nature of Apples iPhone or it’s glaring omissions (good camera, flash video, not able to use a spare battery, restrictive rules for publishing apps on Apple Store). I believe much of the shortfalls in the N97 will be addressed through the OVI Store. Samsungs Store may improve and catch up but at the moment it is only web based and has no plans for operator billing unlike the OVI Store.

    I am very happy with the N97, it isn’t as powerful as I had hoped, but the ease at which I can use all the aspects that are important to me makes it the best phone for me at the moment.

    I think it has been given such a rough time because as a flagship phone people EXPECTED it to have the best hardware and UI.

    But as a result, I feel a lot of people that would LOVE this phone will end up locking themselves onto 18 month contracts with other phones because they hear the keyboard, OS and resistive touch screen getting bashed left, right and centre and don’t realise that they work a lot better than people are making out!

    I almost decided on the OMNIA HD until the first time I spent a few hours with this phone and all my fears about its speed and ease of operation went away. It's a cracking device that sits right in the middle of the iPhone’s fast and friendly UI and the Omnia HD's more powerful hardware, and if OVI Store proves to be the ace up the sleeve that I think it will then I have no problems recommending this phone to anyone.

  44. JeeBee
    Thumb Down

    How come such a high score?

    The review paints this as a terrible phone. Stephen Fry's comments cement that viewpoint.

    How can a terrible phone get above 50%? I'd expect a list of what it has done well for this 75% score, yet there was none. Someone else says it has worldwide maps and navigation built in - does it? What applications come with the device? Am I meant to be psychic.

    It's a phone for 2007 released in 2009.

    And this is a review of a quality that reflects the quality of the subject matter.

  45. Steve Evans


    "It's a phone for 2007 released in 2009."

    You mean like the iPhone was until only recently... Small camera, no flash, incomplete implementation of text messaging.

    It's only just managed to record video FFS!

    Actually that's pre-2007!

    Re: navigation, it's called Nokia Maps, it's available on the older phones like the N95 too... And it doesn't require a network connection to navigate, you can preload a MicroSD card (oh yes, removable storage has been quite normal for many years too). Which means it's fast, and also that you won't be bankrupted when you use it to navigate in a foreign country as it doesn't need a roamed data connection to download local maps.

    Sure it doesn't have the user interface of the iPhone (a million lawyers will ensure that), but it also doesn't have the level of user restriction St Jobs forces upon his flock. Plus of course it's made by a experienced mobile phone company, so you know it's going to work perfectly as a phone. It's not just an iPod that's had a phone bolted onto it.

    Mine's the asbestos one.

  46. Grumpy Hacker


    Lovely article, especially the bit about the keyboard, "We've seen worse keyboards, but not many." Shame you didn't mention the glorious E70 amongst the other models with better keyboards (and/or generally all-around good smartphones). Nokia would do well to create a new successor in the 68xx/E70 line.

  47. Martin Lyne


    I had a 3310 back in the day, still have one now (ina drawer). Great. Invincible.

    Then they dragged their feet constantly releasing the same phones, delayed colour screens, I moved to a SE T610, marvellous.

    My mate has/d an N95 that was held together, from week one, with gaffer tape. The phone crashes constantly, it's slow to do anything,e ven opening a text, camera takes expecially long time.

    Frankly, the disposable culture all these phone models produces sickens me. How many will they make? How good COULD they have made them? Somebody is signing off devices to be mass produced when they know they are barely competitive with what's out there and certainly not as good as it has the potential to be.

    The HTC Touch HD came close to being smart/camera-phone nirvana. But it wasn't, not HTC seem to be retracing Nokia's steps of "just keep rehashing the same stuff".

    Also: its ugly.

  48. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Ratings and keyboard

    @ JeeBee

    "so most people will be fine with the keys."

    If I thought they would, the N97 would have got a much higher rating - 8 or 9 out of 10. Most of what it does, it does well. It'll be a decent phone once the bugs are fixed. Not in the iPhone class, but it gets the job done - see the Mondeo comparison.

    But with a 33-key keyboard it is not a mass market contender - comma and fullstop need to be on separate keys. Spacing and travel are atrocious. It's a shame.


    "How can a terrible phone get above 50%?"

    Because it's not a terrible phone. It's a decent phone with a terrible keyboard.

    @ Law

    "You should have given this phone a 65% rating - and with each update release a new mini-review-update to work up to the 85% it will end up deserving (minus 15% because of that god-awful keyboard layout?!).... it may show Nokia it should really finish it's software testing rather than using the first wave of buyers as beta-testers."

    I did think of doing that.

    I'm forgiving to phones that will receive a firmware update quite soon, that typically fixes the showstoppers. 7.5 out of 10 per cent reflects a trade off.


    "The keyboard layout is a little odd, but I got my head around it after an hour or two, maybe that's because I deal with lots of different devices each day so just get used to it."

    Lucky you. But most people want to text, many will struggle to do so adequately with this keyboard.

    I've yet to see a firmware update that fixes a bad hardware design decision, like the keyboard.

    @ Paul_B

    Thanks for joining The Register just to make that comment.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Funny that...

    I generally find that all the moaning is because people don't bother reading the manual or don't bother playing with it a bit.

    Anyone who has tried the 5800 would know that the Shift button can be pushed twice rapidly to go to CAPS. The handwriting recognition is not quite as smart as the Palm was, but it's not too bad.

    Those who buy phones on the basis of celebrity value (although, granted, Mr Fry tends to be a bit of a gadget freak and generally knows what he wants) need to have their heads examined. Those who buy phones on the basis that it's 'the next iPhone killer' also need their heads examined. Phones are unique and as such will have advantages and disadvantages when compared to other models (iPhone included).

    Those complaining that the phone is not available anywhere should try to bother to call their networks first. Vodafone for example said that they would have the 5800 in stock a month before launch, T-Mobile did the same with the N95. Orange is notoriously bad with their pre-sales tactics... they won't tell you if they will have a newer model in stock, leaving you stuck with a model you didn't really want (especially when the launch is a month away).

    Looking on Nokia, Expansys and certain other mobile phone sites generally gives you an idea which network will have the phone and if you're persistent enough they might just tell you when it is released (available to the public).

  50. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Funny that...


    "I generally find that all the moaning is because people don't bother reading the manual "

    And I generally find that all the moaning about reviews is because people don't bother reading the review ;-)

    It's the Function key modifier (not Shift) that's required for comma, dash and exclamation mark. A few extra keys - for example, one extra row - would have made all the difference.

  51. twilkins

    Comma IS shifted

    @Andrew Orlowski, actually you do use shift to get a comma on UK N97s (you're right about function for dash and exclamation marks though).

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Grumpy Hacker


    I've just got a stupidly cheap E71 ... after being disenchanted with the style over substance Iphone and N95 (which I alternated between over 12 months) . Tiny little keys took a while to get the hang of - but better than the iphone. By far.

    Touch screens - over-rated. Mostly loved by manufacturers to save on cost and complex manufacturing I'm sure.

  53. Damien99
    Thumb Up

    Strange because I think mine's fantastic

    I received my N97 only a couple of days ago and am generally an early adopter. Most of my friends would probably call me a gadget freak. I agree entirely with the review by Paul_B and urge people to make up their own minds about the N97.

    I have noticed a few minor software problems that have been resolved by closing the application and starting again, no doubt these will be fixed shortly by an update. Other than that I have a fantastic phone (which is the primary reason for owning it) and I also have what is effectively a micro laptop in my pocket.

    Email is effortless, surfing is a massive improvement over the N95 and the host of other functions make this the equivalent of a top of the range Swiss army knife for the 21st Century.

    The iPhone is a fantastic toy but the N97 is for Business. (Try synching the iPhone with your in-car Bluetooth kit and you'll get an idea of what I mean).


    P.S. I like the E Series and the Blackberrys too but I don't have big enough pockets to carry them, the N97 is barely larger than the N95.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Did you really just say that?

    @ Damien99 - Did you, like Paul_B, join El Reg just to make those comments?

    - "I have what is effectively a micro laptop in my pocket."

    - "Email is effortless, surfing is a massive improvement and the host of other functions make this the equivalent of a top of the range Swiss army knife for the 21st Century."

    - "The iPhone is a fantastic toy but the N97 is for Business."

    Even Nokia's marketing people would blush to posit such unbelievable language (probably). I mean, "Swiss army knife for the 21st Century"??

  55. Andy Watt

    Was waiting to see...

    I was involved with dev of a series 60 device a few years back. Found it unintuitive (how many softkey presses to send a txt???) frustrating, slow and clunky.

    Sad to see nothing has changed. Contacts tell me Series60 internals are a mess - that's why they're still producing and releasing buggy handsets.

    Nokia are still somehow managing to keep going off the back of the 3300 series years ago, it would seem. I think it's time I relented and bought an iPhone - everybody else is trying to catch up, and failing, with legacy platforms being crowbarred into trying to be slick and responsive, but failing dismally... plus, of course, the existnig major handset manufacturers are struggling under the weight of their own pasts in terms of design methodology.

    Good review though, but it feels like all the reviews I've ever read of Nokia handsets. "Disappointing".

  56. Damien99

    Umm - yes, I did.

    Thanks for re-iterating my comments anonymous coward. You could just try the N97 for yourself like I suggested before you attempt to ridicule my opinion.

    Yes, I did register simply to add my comment. Is there another reason to register other than to add comments?

    I feel the review lacks balance and I wanted to share my thoughts on the N97, I think it's a great phone. I have had no problems at all with the keyboard size/layout or the interface. I agree that the touch sensitive screen is not as functionally rich as the iPhone's but it certainly works well for my purposes (it does take a little getting used to though).

    Taking everything into consideration, this is one hell of a piece of engineering. Yes, 21st Century Swiss army knife - I stand by every word.

    One other thing which is important to me...this phone is damn tough. Have a look at the N97 test videos on Youtube to see for yourself - try that with a [insert latest smartphone of choice].


  57. Damien99


    OK, fair enough. The iPhone has a couple of capabilities that the N97 can't even begin to compete with - it can change colour and you can fry an egg on it.

  58. Sir Sham Cad

    Ho Ho Ho! Now I have an N97!

    I can say my experience with the keyboard differs greatly from Andrew Orlowski in that I find it very useable and can bash out texts, facespace updates, emails etc... a lot faster than I can with, say, my iPod Touch.

    I admit I'm still learning how to get the most out of it, coming straight from an N73 (it has a *lot* more that's customisable, for instance) but it's still very intuitive if you're already used to S60.

    You won't be jacking in your iPhone to get one of these, the iPhone is much more of a mobile computing platform than a Smartphone, but it is an upgrade from just about any Smartphone out there and now I can point and laugh at anyone with a Blackberry Storm. Ah, sweet vengeance!

  59. Kheldon
    Thumb Down

    I have one and it's amazing!

    I have an N97, after finally letting go of my N95. I have had NONE of the memory problems described and find the keyboard very easy to use! No, it's not a traditional QWERTY layout but who cares? The positioning of the space under your right thumb was inspired! I have read a lot of negative reviews which I can only ascribe to lazy reporters copying old pre release reviews! The N97 is amazing to use, feels really well made and is suprisingly light. It is not perfect but it is a very worthy upgrade from an N95! Claiming it is just a 5800 with a keyboard was, quite frankly, moronic!

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