This episode by Steve Litchfield reviews Nokia’s N97 mini. The mini is the baby brother of the original N97, (seemingly) created to rectify to abysmal mistakes when Nokia succumed yet again poor compromises which rendered the original N97 somewhat ever so frustrating in general day to day use.
There are several positive notes that Steve makes, contrasting even the first Review of the mini by Mobile-Review’s Eldar and giving the keyboard a thumbs up.
In ‘summary’ plus some personal ranting:
- +Better keyboard, better tactile feedback and layout
The N97 was the first Nseries to have a QWERTY keyboard and it somewhat failed miserably at it. The D-Pad which was only ever going to be useful for games consumed valuable space leaving users cramped keys.
The configuration of the secondary shortcuts were stupid, especially your standard, often used punctutation with full stops, apostrophes and commas all sharing the same button. Until firmware 2.0 and the longpress, this made it rather difficult unless you’d used the phone a while to get to these secondary functions.
Finally, possible the worst of it all, absolutely invisible tactile feedback of keys. With mine, I have to keep the keypad sounds ON to know I’ve pressed a button. I’ve noticed for some strange reason that the white N97’s had even worse keyboards, with keys not having even tactile feedback – some it didn’t even feel like you had pressed it at all!
The mini has No D-pad, improved layout of keys and better mechanical feedback.
- +GPS very sensitive, very responsive and hasn’t let him down –
the original N97 has given several users issues with the GPS. As well as batch problems – some being better than others, some great some not even working! – , the design of the N97 itself meant that you just weren’t gonna get a 2009 standard reliable GPS ‘instant’/constant lock.
- + camera glass has no shutter/lens cover –
though Nseries users have gotten used to having protective camera lens covers, the original N97’s was so appallingly made that it destroys itself with the grains of dirt it manages to accumulate whilst in your pocket, scraping over the lens area to completely wreck your photos!
For sometime I’ve somehow avoided that but I too have fallen prey and now have pretty much unusable photos especially when the flash is used.
- + bulky plastic rear is now sleek and thin and stainless steel
the original N97 was meant to have a metal back, but as mentioned above with the poor GPS – this was due to the poor configuration of the GPS module which if the back were metal, N97 users would have gotten no use at all out of their GPS receivers at all!
- + screen is brighter and more vivid
- + oodles more phone [C:] memory for installation of apps.
A major problem in the original N97 meant that if you liked installing applications, you would soon run out of their microscopic initial 60MB of phone memory. [N-gage and the games were a major killer of C: ] This meant back in the days of 2003 when you had to uninstall one application to install another! What a slap in the face considering there’s 29.8GB there untapped. Even when applications are set to install in E: or memory card, some C: is still eaten up.
Overall effect of the changes is apparently stunning! But of course there are some shortcomings, but no where near a big of a showstopper as with the original N97 – well in Steve’s opinion anyway 😛
- – smaller battery
The mini is using a BL-4D, 1200mAh as opposed to 1500mAh with the original N97’s BP-4L. The smaller screen could have meant that your “online as it happens” N97 mini could have lasted even longer with active online apps on your mini’s homescreen but it MAY be just as similar if not worse (don’t take my word for it, I have not seen reviews yet about its battery life). Note, when you set the homescreen apps offline, particularly email, you can squeeze a proper full day of use out of the N97.
You can of course, purchase spare batteries for extended use.
- – no fm transmitter
as well as for lack-of-space (and possibly interference from having a metal back somehow), this is an overall good compromise as here you’re loosing a feature in order to better one of the core features – GPS!
- – smaller mass memory
Instead of 32GB it’s massively reduced to just 8GB. I’m only half way through the memory, but then I’m only a few months into the N97. What I like is the potential of hardly ever having to remove any data from the phone, videos/pictures, to store elsewhere to save space. But the mini’s 8GB should suffice most users, particularly as its has much more mass market appeal given its smaller footprint and overall improved usability.
If other than price, mass memory somehow affected other core functions, this is perhaps another good compromise.You can of course just purchase larger memory cards if you wanted the extra memory – 16GB/32GB.
- – smaller screen
Possibly the biggest difference if one is considering either the mini (3.2″, identical to 5800) of the original N97 (3.5″). You can’t get over this like you can with the mass memory. Steve takes this positively in that he can now get his thumb across the smaller screen properly. Not that much of an issue for me as I’ve got big hands.
I reckon it would have still been possible to fit 3.5″ into a much smaller phone than the original N97, it’s just that there are space wastages around the screen making the phone so much bigger.
Though it probably works out best for the mini as it can be made with a cheaper? screen which is essential for the reduced battery capacity. Plus you get that extra space for the keys.
Overall, it seems if you can get over the screen size, the N97 mini should be the choice for you if you were so inclined to choosing either one of the N97 family.