2nd December 2008
The Nokia N97 is arguably Nokia's most
powerful handset to date, and it combines a large touch-sensitive
display with a QWERTY keyboard, 3.5G high-speed data,
a 5 megapixel camera plus GPS and mapping support.
Clearly, the N97 incorporates several
elements from the Nokia
5800 XpressMusic. But the N97 is more than just
a 5800 with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It also steps
into the territory of the Nokia
E90 and Nokia
N810 series of devices, and it competes effectively
with the Nokia
N96 in most respects. However, all these alternative
models have different strengths and weaknesses compared
with the N97.
what exactly do you get with the Nokia N97? The large
touchscreen display is an obvious place to start - the
640 x 360 pixel display is the same resolution as the
5800, but the N97's panel is larger at 3.5". As
with the 5800, this is a touch-sensitive widescreen
unit, Nokia call this resolution "nHD"
which we guess is "near HD". It's almost
the same as the VGA resolution that we have seen in
rival devices, but the E90 manages a 4" 800
x 352 non-touch screen, and the N810 is 800 x 400 pixels
and 4.1". Crucially though, the N97's display does
look to be better than the arch-rival Apple
iPhone 3G. The N97 also lacks the TV tuner from
the N96, and there's no mention of an FM radio either.
The slide-out QWERTY keyboard seems
to have good spacing between the keys, the slider mechanism
now angles the screen and keyboard slightly to make
the N97 easier to use. One notable thing is that the key
alignment is different from the E90 and N810 (which
had Q, A and Z all in a column), the N97's
arrangement is similar to that used by HTC with a Shift
key directly underneath A instead).
The camera is pretty much as good as
you will get with a Nokia - it's a five megapixel unit
with autofocus and dual-LED flash and a Carl Zeiss Tessar
lens. Video capture resolution is 640 x 480 pixels at
30 frames per second. Recorded video clips can be played
back using the N97's TV-out port. Ovi integration means
that photos can be uploaded as soon as you take them.
Nokia don't mention if the N97 has geotagging, but we
think guess it almost definitely does.
Nokia N97 has A-GPS built in, and usefully it comes
with a digital compass. This can be used with the Nokia
Maps application or one of Nokia's city guides. It should
also be possible to use Google Maps instead, if you
prefer. Of course, some of these mapping applications
will cost extra.
In addition, the Nokia Maps application
has had a major upgrade, making it as good as (or better)
than a dedicated satellite navigation system in many
respects. The new version of Maps synchronises with
a PC and comes with a satellite view, 3D view of major
landmarks, camera alerts, traffic information and integration
into Nokia's Ovi service.
Music playback supports MP3, WMA and
AAC variants, plus there is MPEG4, WMV and Flash video
playback at up to 30 frames per second. Audio output
is via a standard 3.5mm socket, which is an improvement
over many previous devices.
Nokia have improved the operating system
again, to give easy one-touch access to favourite services,
and of course there's a web browser (with Flash support)
that takes full advantage of the large screen, an email
client and an RSS reader. As you would expect from
Nokia, this is a Symbian S60 5th Edition device which
comes with all the usual features.
150 grams, the Nokia N97 is fairly heavy (but much lighter
than the E90). The large 1500 mAh battery gives up to
5 hours talktime and 16 days standby time on 3G, 4.5
hours of video playback or 37 hours of music playback.
The Nokia N97 measures 117 x 55 x 16mm (although it
is a little thicker where the camera is).
Internal memory is an impressive 32GB,
and this can be expanded by a further 16GB using a microSD
card. It is nice to see that Nokia have given the phone
both an impressive amount of internal memory
and a card slot.
Underneath it all, this is a quad-band
GSM phone with tri-band HSDPA support plus 802.11 b
and g WiFi. This should mean that the N97 will be able
to get a high-speed data connection pretty much anywhere
you go. The N97 also comes with stereo Bluetooth and
USB 2.0 connectivity.
say that the N97 should be available during the first
half of 2009 for around €550 before tax and subsidy,
in what appear to be white and black colour schemes.
This price the N97 quite an expensive
phone compared to the 5800 XpressMusic (which is half
the price), but contract customers can expect a big
subsidy in any case. Since the N97 is almost viable
as a laptop replacement, then the cost isn't so bad.
It isn't quite a replacement for the
Nokia E90 though - we think that Nokia will announce
a new Communicator class device in February, but it
will be closely based on the N97.
We are definitely looking forward to
this one when it comes out - it's only a shame that
we have had to wait so long for a touchscreen Nokia with
a QWERTY keyboard!
Nokia N97 Demonstration Video
N97 at a glance
850 /900 / 1800 / 1900 +
900 / 1900 / 2100
+ EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSDPA
x 360 pixels, 16m colours
117 x 55 x 16mm
/ 150 grams
5 hours talk / 16 days standby
6.5 hours talk
/ 18 days standby (GSM)