The Media Guru

Apr 4, 2010


Last week, I received my first trial device from Nokia, the N97.

First of all, I'd like to thank WOMWorld for sending me this device. Fellow blogger Chaya (@angelmandini) also received one for trial. Check out her post here - The Sexy N97 Classic

Big thanks to @rwishi for the invaluable tech support on s60v5 & for introducing me to WOMWorld.

P.S. Don't forget to check out my new photoblog - carrotmadman6's photoblog :)
P.S. 2 If you're a blogger, you can contact WOMWorld to trial Nokia devices for 2 weeks. Here's the link. No shipping charges. Only you & a Nokia for 2 weeks. ;)


Unboxing pics

It took more than 1.5 weeks for DHL to sort out the package & finally I received it on Wednesday, 2 weeks ago.

Like with any new gadget, I was very excited to unwrap it.

The black box opens up to reveal a white N97. First impression - WOW!

Box contents:

  • - Nokia N97
  • - Battery 1500mAh (BP-4L)
  • - Stylus
  • - AC Charger (AC-10)
  • - microUSB Cable (CA-101)
  • - Nokia Wired Headset (AD-54, HS-45)
  • - Charger adapter (CA-146)
  • - Cleaning cloth  
    I like the addition of a playback control adapter which allows you to connect any headphones you want while retaining audio control. Cleaning cloth is a must for the screen. Also included were an Ovi cd & the manual.
    Full specs can be found here.


The white N97 is simply stunning. Plastic touchscreen, with chromed metal border.

However, the back & the keyboard is all plastic. The N97 is quite thick (15.9mm) & heavy (150g), but being narrower than most touchscreens, it's easily pocketable.

The 3.5" screen is a 24-bit TFT LCD with a resolution of 640x360 (nHD), AR of 16:9 & 210 PPI. As expected, it's a massive fingerprint magnet.

A very bright screen that gives top-notch performance in all conditions, including direct sunlight.

The landscape positioning of the Nokia & N97 logo further emphasise that this is more of a tablet device than a normal phone.


The front of the device has the usual front VGA camera, the ambient light sensor & the proximity sensor.

At the bottom, there are two touch-sensitive Call & End Call buttons & a Menu (hard) button. The Menu button is diagonal to aid actuation in both portrait & landscape mode.


The left side of the N97 features the two stereo speakers on each corner, the Screen Lock switch & the microUSB port.

The microUSB port has a LED that lights up while charging. The N97 supports USB charging, although it doesn't work if the PC is off while still being powered. Connection to an OS is required.


On the top, there's the power button & the 3.5mm audio port.

While the positioning of the audio port is consistent with other Nseries, it's a major flaw on the N97 - it interferes while you're using the keyboard!


The right side of the device features a volume rocker switch & the camera shutter button.


At the bottom, there's a recess to lift out the back cover & another one for a strap.


The screen hinge mechanism is a marvellous piece of design & engineering.

From the satisfying "clac" to the spring aided slide, the mechanism inspires a feel of indestructibility. Unlike most other sliders (& aided by the chromed metal border), the two parts are so well joined that it's barely noticeable that the N97 is a slider.

The screen is tilted at an angle of 30ยบ, supported by 3 metal struts & connected to the main body by a thin ribbon.

With the slider open, the device locks into landscape mode, making it suitable for watching movies.

The back of the slider vaunts the specs of the N97.


The N97 Qwerty keyboard is a 3-row one with the spacebar, Sym (symbol) key & number/character key found on the lower right & the directional pad on the left.

To be frank, I do not like this keyboard. The key arrangement is weird - the comma is an uppercase character, requiring two key presses. Most of the time, you start typing something, reach a point where you need to input a special character & then you pause & think - now what? You'll probably need more than a month of training to get comfortable with this keyboard.

With a rise of only 1mm, there's minimal tactile feedback when hitting the keys. The keys itself are tiny & the separation between each key is barely enough. This keyboard is definitely not for large thumbs.

Selecting text with the keyboard is a massive failure - the shift key is found right next to the direction pad. Good luck with that...

The only positive thing about the keyboard is the wonderful backlight. You'll never miss a key in the dark.


The back cover bulges towards the bottom to account for the raised camera. Although it's securely held by several pins, you may feel the back cover creaking & shaking while using the keyboard.

Underneath the back cover, there lies the 1500mAh BP-4L, upside down! There are no metal clips, but only the back cover to hold the battery. So when you remove the back cover, the battery just falls out.

Near the camera lies the microSD slot. It's better to hide the slot under the cover than on the side where it'll be prone to dust.

Underneath the battery lies the SIM card tray.


A camera cover hides the 5MP camera with a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens, focal length 5.4mm, focal ratio 2.8, dual LED flash.

Opening the camera cover (& pressing the shutter button) launches the camera app.

According to Steve Litchfield, there were problems with the camera cover having not enough clearance, thus causing scratches on the lens window when dust particles are stuck in-between. Indeed, there were large scratches on my review unit...


<Samsung NV3, Samsung VLUU NV3>

For a resistive device like the N97, you would expect a built-in stylus. Unfortunately, there's none. What you get is this gimmick of a stylus, so small that whenever you touch the screen, your fingers block your view. Non-inclusion of a proper stylus was a huge mistake. As I've found out, there's no better way to use the N97 than with a stylus (navigation, gaming, browsing, text selection, etc.) if you have huge thumbs.


The N97 has an ARM11 434Mhz processor, 128MB RAM, 256MB of internal memory (but only 75MB available) & 32GB flash memory. I've found out that the 32GB is large enough to hold all your applications, music library, movies & photos. Add a microSD & you'll never run out of memory...

As for the rest of the specs, remember that the N97 was announced in Dec 2008 - at that time, this was the fastest processor available. But the N97 was released 6 months later, in June 2009, when the 600Mhz iPhone 3GS was already available. Today, most high-end smartphones have 1Ghz CPUs with dedicated graphics chips. How does the N97 compare to these devices?
That's what I'll find out in the next part of my review where I'll be trying out the OS & the software. :P

P.S. If you have queries regarding the N97, or if you want me to do something specific, test a feature, well anything, just ASK!!!
P.S. 2 Well, not really anything - don't ask me if it can blend! ;-)

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Chaya said...

Mo gagne inferiority complex :S :( kan mo lire ou review :S :(
Bon, mo pu nek share about my experience about using the mobile... mo garde bane technicalities pu ou :S :(

Inf said...

Very... VERY detailed and informative review! :s

Just a piece of advice though. Next time, watermark those images of yours. You'd not want people stealing them. :)

carrotmadman6 said...

Don't worry, you'll do a great hands-on experience review. :)

Haven't watermarked the images coz I've resized them at 1024x768 (same as Flickr).
I only watermark photos on my photoblog. ;)

Yashvin said...

lol. mo ti pret pu croire ki to ti pu ekrire ki couleur culotte N97 la metter :P lol.
Very detailed review indeed.

The main reason why I haven't purchased a touch screen mobile yet :
1. My fingers are big and I am sure that this will be a problem for me.
2. Unfortunately, touch screen mobile phones will be useless while driving :P
With traditional mobiles, you can 'touch and feel' the keys unlike a touch screen one :P

Coming back to the N97, it is cute but cuteness isn't what I look in a mobile phone :P

P.T said...

After 2 weeks you have to send it back?

My husband is yearning for one. Coincidentally we were looking for phones last week and I asked my sis to check the prices in London; it's quite expensive.

It looks good though. ;)

Rwishi said...

Very nice review of the hardware. Like I said on Twitter, one of the most detailed I've seen. One thing tho. The screen isn't glass. It's plastic. The X6 I
has a glass touchscreen. The N97 has a plastic screen(which I kinda hate) :P
true bout the keyboard. It isvery unpleasant :-/
impatient to read your next reviews :)

carrotmadman6 said...

My fingers are bigger... & I have to use the stylus. :S
First of all, it's illegal to phone while driving. ;)
I agree, you cannot use touchscreens without looking at it.

Btw, the review isn't over yet... ;)

Yep, it's a trial device.

Oops, that was kinda obvious. If it's resistive, can't be glass. :P

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