Engadget asks – How would you change the Nokia N97?

| August 15, 2009 | Reply

n97It’s a hot topic over at Engadget as Darren Murph asks the Engadget readers, “How would you change the Nokia N97?”.

Oh dear.

Where to begin?

Its biggest flaw is that it simply does not live up to the hype. 6 months after announcement, waiting for

“From the desktop to the laptop and now to your pocket, the Nokia N97 is the most powerful, multi-sensory mobile computer in existence”

…what we got was something that wasn’t quite that. As much as I love, love, love the Nokia N97, (for doing the things I need it to do really well) there were just too many bad decisions, too many compromises made – perhaps in an attempt to make it cheaper and mass-market friendly – that instead were so detrimental to it’s overall performance (and as evident in recent news, in sales too). Miniscule RAM? Microscopic internal memory for installation of applications? No Xenon Flash?


5800 and 5530

This week, the Nokia 5530 Xpress Music was launched – it’s got a smaller 2.9″ touch screen and not as much features as the N97. But it’s an awesome device because it’s correctly (very well actually) valued. Same goes for the ever successful Nokia 5800, which similarly had its flaws, but was/is just extremely good value for money.

When you price something in the high end smartphone range, it better justify it with the features. I don’t feel that the N97 deserves the price it’s asking people to cough up, let alone the prestigious title of being the flagship. The only thing high end about the N97 is the cost.

Like yesterday’s post, “Making a real Nokia flagship – from existing Nokia devices” we could go on and on and list features that the N97 is missing and needs. E.g. HD video, 8mp, Capacitive + Multitouch, Higher Res AMOLED screen, multitude of software bug fixes and new feature implementation (e.g. consistent kinetic scrolling).

But pressed for time, here are the top three critically flawed compromises that really affected my experience of the N97.

1. Dual LED over Xenon

When I need flash, the only solution that will do is Xenon. The additional benefits of using dual LED as video light is so not worth it when the optics aren’t good enough to take advantage of it. Unless of course, I set video to night-mode which drastically cuts down the frame rate resulting in something so jerky it induces migraines.

With the N86, it handles low light so well that dual LED (albeit 70% brighter than previous dual LED) was an understandable choice.

But the N97 with the standard 5MP was screaming for Xenon. Xenon would have turned the N97 into a pretty decent all situation point and shoot – but instead, the choice for dual LED reduced it to the rank of bog-standard camera phones that are only able to get a good photo in optimal lighting conditions. Having “gone down” from the N82, I’m often left feeling disappointed that a. I didn’t bring the N82/dedicated digicam b. I have to bring a separate digicam when previously the N82 was sufficient.

2. Inadequate internal memory for app installation

– This is by far one of the most annoying things on the N97. With Ovi Store, you get a growing library of S60 5th Edition apps to fill up your phone. And what with 29.8GB mass memory, you’d think you can add content to your hearts content.


From a fresh N97, you get an insane ant-sized 61MB free (ROM) internal memory, which unless you always install apps to mass memory, it will quickly disappear till you are forced to uninstall something to add a new app. But even if you install to mass memory, phone memory still gets eaten up.

3. Insufficient free RAM

One of the beauties of the smartphone is to multitask.

Email open, check something online, listen to music whilst doing that, update my facebook status, find a location on Maps and the myriad of other background apps that enhance the user experience. All happening at the same time.

Well, ok the N97 can sort of do that. But only if you’ve just restarted the phone, and if you don’t try to open any more apps.

Mid-day, the phone begins to struggle juggling the same tasks it was doing in the morning. Even worse when you open a new app but forget to close some others resulting in freezing/crashing/having to close an app before you can get to another one. e.g. N-Gage is very RAM hungry.

I maybe too over demanding as a power user, but in this day and age, I shouldn’t really have to close one application just for another to run properly or expect applications to spontaneously close after running out of RAM. I should have full control of when I close my apps (ideally with better notification and management of open apps than what we’ve been used to ever since the birth of series 60)

Via Engadget


Ideally the processor should have had a bit more oomph, at least up to 600MHz, but for now (and for the duration of a 12 Month contract), the 434MHz may just be enough. Also, major quality-control overhaul with the self harming lens covers.

…ah…le sigh. Nokia really need to get their act together as this is all harming their brand image. Though not exactly a reputable source, in phone shops/online/over the phone on asking about the N97/Nokia devices, the majority were very negative about Nokia (especially the N97) – clearly aware that for the price, there were better offerings from other manufacturers.


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Category: Nokia, Nseries, S60

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Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]