About a year ago, I wrote a raving review of the Nokia E71. I was so happy with that model that it in fact became one of my longest staying smartphones. I particularly fell in love with the QWERTY keyboard despite it being a bit cramped even for my average fingers. Also, the very intuitive handling of the Symbian OS for anything SMS despite it being outdated (hey, I still reside in the SMS capital of the world).
The N97 caught my attention in late 2008 and I had been waiting for it since. Basically, the following are my must have features in any smartphone:
· QWERTY. I just cannot live without it. It is for me a must have feature for SMS and the infrequent emails (I always have a laptop for that).
· Symbian OS. I’ve only had good experiences with it syncing with Outlook. I am also particularly attached to this OS mostly because of the 3rd party softwares ACM (advance communication manager) and SMS SPAM. I find both software to have significantly reduced my distractions due to unwanted calls and SMS.
· LARGE SCREEN. Almost as wide as the iPhone 3G.
· MULTI-MEDIA. Just like the iPhone, the N97 could play video, music, and take decent pictures.
· Email. A nice to have for me, really, as I always have a laptop with me for handling emails.
In march of this year, with the delay in the release of the N97, I replaced the E71 with the Nokia E75 just out of curiosity and nostalgia. The way the QWERTY slides out reminded me of my old DOPOD 838 except that the E75 is a lot less hefty.
I found the E75 after a month of use to be very much the same in features and handling as the E71. And so the wait for the N97 continues.
In the last week of June, when the N97 was finally launched in the Philippines, I decided to get one.
What I liked
Symbian S60 5th edition OS. The comments are aplenty that the Nokia N97 still falls short of the noted slickness of the iPhone. IMHO, this is true as it is simply more fun and easier to move around in the different applications of the iPhone 3G. But the one thing I like with the OS of the N97 is the ability to customize just about anything in the homepage. All my most used apps are just a touch away.
QWERTY. As you can imagine, messaging is where the N97 shines. While the QWERTY keypad might be a little more flush and ever so slightly smaller than other efforts, it's still very easy to hit with my average sized hands, and within minutes I was typing at around 70% speed compared to a normal keyboard, which is excellent for a mobile phone. However, others that tried the keyboard were less impressed, stating that it was harder to hit the keys and the flush nature of the keyboard made it harder to find the right button each time.
Wifi/internet. Webpages like Wikipedia appeared superbly fast on the screen, and even heavier mobile sites that use a lot of Flash animation loaded much faster than I expected.
BATTERY LIFE. The quoted 20 days of standby seems a little optimistic, given that I could get around 1.5 days out of the phone on an average charge.
ORGANIZER. The organiser on the phone is obviously tailored more towards the business user especially since it took to touchscreen well. It was a no brainer for one who is coming from the E75.
OVI which replaces the Nokia PC suite. The Ovi Suite was a lot more intuitive than previous efforts, encouraging me to sync across all my media, back up contacts and even throw it all online to make it safe forever as Nokia tries to integrate all its services. The only problem that I have is that I would still need to use the old Nokia PC Suite when syncing my other phone- E75.
Touchscreen. It may not be as nicely implemented as the iPhone 3G but for me it is close enough. I also liked the way the screen is angled when you slide open the keyboard.
Build Quality. The N97 may not be a head turner when it comes to design. It is solid but not as much when compared to the E75. It is still relatively well-built although in a plasticky way.
MULTI-MEDIA. It does a good job in handling music, videos, and even You Tube. And with the 32gb built-in storage, I was able to transfer all of my iPhone files to include my audiobooks. The sound quality of the external speakers is the best thus far that I have listened to in a smartphone. The sound quality from the included headsets are comparable if not better that the iPhone 3G.
What I disliked:
The somewhat buggy software. Not a deal breaker for me since the only problem that I am having is when engaging/disengaging the rocker lock keys. I have to pull it twice in order to unlock the phone. This is something that the OS upgrade is supposed to address. It’s just that the upgrade for my particular release model is not available for download yet (c’mon NOKIA).
Nokia fans will see this as a definite upgrade from what's been offered before, and those that appreciate a decent form factor in a phone will definitely do so too.
But there's just some annoying parts to the Nokia N97 that needs to be addressed by the much talked about OS upgrade.
Be that as it may, the N97 will now replace the iPhone 3G, in my gadget bag, as my primary phone with the E75 serving as the secondary (a second phone is a must for a project that I am currently working on).
I do not say that the N97 will be the iPhone killer. It is just that the most useful features that I loved in the iPhone 3G I now also have in the N97.
If you already have the E75 and use your phone mostly for business and do not need the extras like a larger screen, better sound quality, and a higher storage, then there is no need to upgrade.
If I can only carry 1 phone with me, what would it be? The iPhone 3G, the E75, or the N97?
Definitely, the N97.
N97 Video by jkkmobile