Techcraver Review: Nokia N97


The Nokia N97 is the Finnish handset makers’ latest flagship N Series device. I first saw the N97 in December of 2008 where I first got to play with a prototype and was shown the facets of this new handset. The Nokia N97, with its touch screen and full QWERTY keyboard has qualities that both leisure mobile users and business users would like.

At First Glance

The Nokia N97, with its 3.5″ touch screen and impressive aesthetics, makes you look when catch a glance of this handset. The Nokia N97 comes in white and black colors – with my favorite being the white model. The phone is roughly the same size of an iPhone, being a bit thicker. The front of the phone features a front facing camera, proximity sensor (for dimming the screen when on a phone call), ‘Home’ Button, and send/end soft keys.

The N97 touch screen is resistive, meaning you have to press down on it for your ‘click’ or tap to be registered. This differs from the iPhone which is a capacitive screen that requires no pressing, a nice feature!. The screen on the N97 is a very good resolution and is bright and vibrant.

The sides of the Nokia N97 reveal the regular NSeries buttons. On the top of the N97 you see the headphone jack (regular 2.5 MM jack) and power button. The left side of the device reveals a micro-USB connector and lock button and the left side of the N97 has the camera button and volume rocker.

The impressive part about the N97 is the side action that reveals a full QWERTY keyboard. Nokia spent a lot of time on the hinge and it’s industrial design is impressive. After the N95’s poor slide-out hinge quality, Nokia apparently didn’t want to make a similar mistake on their newest flagship. When the keyboard is visible, the screen is at a 45 degree angle from the base of the device – a very nice touch.



The Nokia N97 is loaded in terms of hardware functionality. The phone features a quad-band GSM calling with support for 3G networks. My review unit is the Euro version meaning it supports 3G bands used in Europe, but it does support 1900Mhz which is used in certain geographies in North America. I use T-Mobile USA, so I wasn’t surfing with 3G speeds during my review, but the phone’s built in Wi-Fi made data access fast when Wi-Fi was available.

The N97 also features on-board GPS with A-GPS and a 5MP camera with Carl Zeiss lens. Nokia loaded the N97 with a whopping 32GB of on-board memory and it accepts a micro-SD card, which means you could have as much as 64GB of storage on this device, plenty for your videos, images, and music you’d like to take along for the ride. To enjoy your music, you can also use the N97’s built-in FM transmitter for pushing your tunes out to any FM radio.


The N97 features Symbian S60 5th edition which is the touch-friendly version found on the XpressMusic 5800 as well. This version of S60 has been optimized for Touch, meaning the icons are larger and the menus are more logical and easy to manage.

Another unique feature of the Nokia N97 is the customizable home screen. You can embed widgets on the Nokia N97 which keeps different type of online content at your fingertips. This is a distinguishing feature from the iPhone – which allows no customization of information on the homescreen. On my N97 screen, I have my Facebook contacts, local weather, my Twitter updates from Gravity, and 4 of my most used contacts. Pretty handy!

Using the Device

With all this firepower in the hardware department, what is it actually like to use the N97 on a day-to-day basis? The N97, in a word, is fluid. Going between menus is quick and easy. Shooting photos and video happen with minimal delay and messaging via SMS and emails is a joy on this Nokia handset.

As mentioned before, the Nokia has a 5MP camera. During outdoor shots, the photo quality is excellent. For indoor shots and night shots, the dual-LED flash do a decent job of taking photos and capturing memories.

Video quality is pretty good on the Nokia N97. For a sample, check out this video I shot:

The sound on that video leaves a lot to be desired, but keep in mind it was windy that day, hence the issues.

The on-board GPS on the N97 locks on to satellites quickly. Not as fast as the amazing Nokia N82, but the N97 quicker than most other GPS-enabled mobile phones I’ve used. This is extremely useful when you are lost or seeking a route while in your car or walking to a destination.

As for call quality on the N97 – again Nokia has nailed this important feature of a mobile phone. Callers constantly said I sound great as did those who I called.

A bad thing on the Nokia N97 is the lack of on-board RAM. Of course, this phone has a ton of on-board memory, but in terms of the C: drive, with only a few applications installed, I only have 20MB available for use on the root drive. For a flagship device, this is appalling – especially one that retails for $600.


If you’re seeking a multi-media powerhouse mobile phone, the N97 should be on your radar. This handset features a remarkable hardware list that functions well. Also, S60 5th edition is a very nice mobile OS that most people should get along with just fine.

This phone, in one phrase, is an all-in-one Internet connected device that will allow you to consume and create awesome digital media and capture important moment in your life.

After using the N97 for a few months, I can see how the hinge will likely stand up to years of use with no problem. I dropped the N97 a few times with no issues and also, I carried the N97 in my pocket with change and keys and have yet to see any scratches on the touch screen.

My main issue with the N97 is the lack of memory on the C: drive, but a future release of the OS is supposedly going to fix this.

Overall, the N97 is a great device that any serious mobile phone user should evaluate for purchase.

(Photo Credit: Flickr User William)