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Nokia N97 Review

Nokia N97

Posted: , by PhoneArena Team



Symbian S60 5th Edition is made for touch sensitive screen phones and can be found on other popular devices like the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, Samsung OMNIA HD i8910 and Sony Ericsson Satio.

The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is the first attempt of the manufacturer at the touch sensitive screen phones market and has been quite a success this far. In terms of interface options, the operating system has been improved and the Nokia N97 brings out several novelties and new personalization.

Home screen has gone through major changes and now features the all popular widgets (up to 5). They are arranged one below the other, can swap places and some of them may be removed. They totally replace the well known home screen themes of the operating system and can also be hidden, although not entirely removed.
Home screen - Nokia N97 Review
Main menu - Nokia N97 Review

Home screen

Main menu

There are no many available widgets and we find the Facebook, music player, Shortcuts I and II and the email more interesting than the other. You have the option to download more, but it gets you straight to the manufacturer´s online store, Ovi Store, where there is no widget section! We were stunned to find this out, but still downloaded several free apps to check if they would appear with their own widgets. Unfortunately, we didn’t luck out.

There are three static elements at the top of the home screen that cannot be moved or removed. These are the analog clock that gets you to world and alarm clock menus, date leading to the phone calendar and a ringing profile selection box. They are semi transparent just like all on screen widgets, so you are able to see the wallpaper behind them.

As a whole, the main menu doesn’t feature any changes. It can appear as either 3x4 icon grid or vertical list and in the latter case you select items with double clicks that are typical of this version of the operating system and pretty much the same as on other cell phones running it.

Contacts and Dialing screen:

In the phonebook, selecting a contact also requires a double click. You can save as many as you like, with an option for multiple numbers per contact. Moreover, each of them can be assigned dedicated ringtones, pictures, spouse names, birthdays etc., with the only restriction being the free memory of your handset. Searching contacts can be done by either dragging a finger up or downwards or through a text search box. When you select it, a keyboard pops on screen that features a layout much like the one on navigational systems (A, B, C, D, E, etc), so searching feels both logical and easy. Initially, the first letters of all entered names will appear in front of you and as you keep punching in letters, the ones you need will remain visible as if the phone thinks ahead of you and knows what you are looking for. Like we said before, searching based on this particular method is really fast and easy.

Adding a new contact - Nokia N97 Review
Adding a new contact - Nokia N97 Review

Adding a new contact

Searching for a contact - Nokia N97 Review
Searching for a contact - Nokia N97 Review

Searching for a contact

Nokia N97 Review
The novelty feature here is an additional view mode to see any information entered on any given contact. It shows less information – a picture (if one has been previously assigned) and options to call the contact, send a message, email or video call the person. We do like the function, because it seems optimized for touch sensitive screen use, looks unsophisticated and cool, and makes working with contacts way easier.

If you are being called and screen and buttons happen to be locked, two sliders appear on screen, one on top of the other. First is used to answer the call, while the other unlocks both the screen and buttons. It´s made to help prevent you from accidentally taking a call while the phone is in your pocket. Not that we are complaining, but it would have been better if the second slider was used to just reject the incoming call.

The numeric keypad - Nokia N97 Review

The numeric keypad

The in-call screen of the Nokia N97 - Nokia N97 Review
The in-call screen of the Nokia N97 - Nokia N97 Review
The in-call screen of the Nokia N97 - Nokia N97 Review

The in-call screen of the Nokia N97

There is nothing new to entering or dialing phone numbers. Numeric keypad is called up by tapping an icon on the home screen, looks completely ordinary and sports large buttons that allow even people with thicker fingers use it without any issues. There is a nice, useful function to mute the volume by turning the phone face down while you are being called or your alarm is going off. Actually, this is made possible by the built-in accelerometer that also allows switching screen modes automatically when you turn the phone to its side. This takes about a second and there is no visible delay or lagging involved.


Organizer is not any different from what you will find on other devices running the same operating system. Your calendar shows events in monthly, weekly or daily view and you have the option to call up all your To-Do notes at the same time. The first two now display the next four timeslot events, scheduled for any given day.

Calculator - Nokia N97 Review


Calendar - Nokia N97 Review
Calendar - Nokia N97 Review
Calendar - Nokia N97 Review


Calculator doesn’t offer added functionality and aside from it you also have unit and currency converter. If you feel like rummaging through your directories directly, you can do that using the same file manager we know well from other Symbian S60 phones. The backup option is also here and it comes in pretty useful since you don’t need to connect your device to a computer to back it up.


Office documents and PDF files are opened with QuickOffice and Adobe Reader LE 2.5 respectively, but the former is just a trial version that expires in 15 days. Reading even larger Office 2003 files is not a problem at all, the thing is you will have to get a paid software update or switch over to another program if you feel like editing documents or happen to need Office 2007 support. In real life, you won´t be able to get down to working with office files the minute you take the phone out of the box. Rather, you will have to either shell out extra cash or look for other software.

Word - Viewing office documents on the Nokia N97 - Nokia N97 Review
Excel - Viewing office documents on the Nokia N97 - Nokia N97 Review
PowerPoint - Viewing office documents on the Nokia N97 - Nokia N97 Review
PDF - Viewing office documents on the Nokia N97 - Nokia N97 Review





Viewing office documents on the Nokia N97

As we mentioned, the Nokia N97 comes preloaded with several applications that are equipped with their own widgets. The most interesting is Facebook. Fans of the social network service will definitely like this one, because it allows you to see your friends´ online status and change yours, send messages, poke people, add friends etc. We find it even more thrilling that you have the option to upload and tag pictures.

The preloaded apps - Nokia N97 Review

The preloaded apps

Buying apps from the Ovi Store - Nokia N97 Review
Buying apps from the Ovi Store - Nokia N97 Review
Buying apps from the Ovi Store - Nokia N97 Review

Buying apps from the Ovi Store

The other preinstalled apps are rather boring and most of them are to do with news. Here is what you get – Amazon, Bloomberg, AP News, QiK, Boingo, AccuWeather and Hi5. You will also see a YouTube app that simply takes you to the mobile version of the website. It is a good thing that other apps are easy to download from, say, the recently launched Nokia application marketplace, the Ovi Store.

There are no preloaded games on our unit, but the N97 fully supports N-Gage, so you can have fun playing games.

  • Options

posted on 20 Oct 2010, 01:55

1. Kiltlifter (Posts: 742; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)

How is .11 inches thicker than the iPhone too bulky, yet the iPhone always gets a 10 from the "style section"

posted on 12 Jun 2009, 21:41

2. rrej (Posts: 1; Member since: 12 Jun 2009)

Resistive touchscreen and probably with a hefty price tag, it's not reasonable to buy one especially this time of crisis. My .02 cents....

posted on 13 Jun 2009, 00:40

3. MTLance (unregistered)

ROFL Nokia can create a good X5800 but failed on N97, maybe the N series department is a major fail. Still if I want a high end smartphone I rather stick with Apple, Pre or HTC Rosie instead of this.

posted on 13 Jun 2009, 09:36 1

4. eddiecoaster (Posts: 3; Member since: 20 May 2009)

The N97 looks like great hardware with even better features. However the interface looks so dated.

posted on 13 Jun 2009, 10:17

5. Talhamid (Posts: 57; Member since: 13 Jun 2009)

A thoroughly biased, uneducated review. The reviewer seems to have NO FREAKING IDEA about Symbian, S60 or the sheer range of apps available for each. The review fails to fully appreciate the multimedia capabilities. It seems HTC Touch Pro 2, with MORE niggles including worse call quality than N97, WinMo, even bigger size, worse camera, and slower speed, can get a 9 but this multimedia monster was destined for a 7. I know S60 can look dated, but is it a coincidence that flagship devices from Nokia, Samsung and S-E all have the same OS and interface? Did it ever occur to anyone that there might be some merit to Symbian after all? I think most US sites should stop covering anything other than Iphone or WinMo devices. They simply don't know or care enough about other OS's to cover them.

posted on 13 Jun 2009, 10:51

6. McMillian (Posts: 29; Member since: 07 Apr 2009)

Phone Arena's final review score's are completely irrelevant to their scores in each individual categories. If you add up the N97's individual scores in each category the average came out to be 8.5, but Phone Arena gave it an overall score of 7??? does that make any since? And if you check out the Palm Pre review they gave it an overall rating of 9.9, but if you add up the individual scores in each category yourself the score really comes out to be 8.9??? obviously Phone Arena is bias when it comes to its reviews and chooses favorites based on manufactures and OS.

posted on 13 Jun 2009, 12:33

9. Talhamid (Posts: 57; Member since: 13 Jun 2009)

Thats what I said, thanks for backing that up with numbers. Moreover, as I said, PhoneArena seems completely unaware of the vast Symbian ecosystem that is available on the net.

posted on 14 Jun 2009, 13:33

10. drewsky (Posts: 147; Member since: 04 Jan 2009)

Hey Yall are right, I hadn't realized that. I think most people particularly in the U.S. aren't famaliar with the Symbian OS. Since the OS isn't used as much as WinMo. Phonearena gave the Pre 9.9, and the Omnia i8910 a 9? I know its early, but I SERIOUSLY doubt the Pre is better than the Omnia HD(i8910).

posted on 06 Jul 2009, 21:03

18. chris4chelsea (Posts: 2; Member since: 06 Jul 2009)

I totally agree with Talhamid. I have used most OS except the latest andriod, Palm Pre which i m quite interested in exploring. Previously, I had iphone, WinMo, Symbian (nokia & ericsson). I currently use a N97. Honestly speaking, iPhone has the best OS but after several versions, the interface is pretty much exactly the same and the camera is nowhere near as good as the N97. Therefore, I chose not to wait for the 3GS. WinMo is the worst OS of all, super slow, very buggy, worst camera/photo quality, super boring interface, messaging feature sucks big time... etc Omnia HD is nice but its more expensive than the N97, besides who would want to watch a movie on his/her mobile...

posted on 13 Jun 2009, 11:28

7. Andrewtst (Posts: 678; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)

Another failure from Nokia. Won't even think of it at all. I am still waiting Samsung i8910HD appear in my country. :-)

posted on 13 Jun 2009, 12:31

8. Talhamid (Posts: 57; Member since: 13 Jun 2009)

Andrew: it is not wise to decide success or failure on this site's reviews. Try the phone yourself, or at the very least, check out reviews of mobile-review.com or allaboutsymbian first. By the way Omnia HD appears more attractive to me too, just so you know I am not a blind Nokia fan. But I am still uncertain about how Omnia will match the email and syncing features offered by Nokia s60 phones, not to m mention facilities like backup, ovi sync etc.

posted on 15 Jun 2009, 03:35

11. Andrewtst (Posts: 678; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)

Try already, I won't judge without trying. I often go test phone once it out. He He.. and I check all phone site I knew everyday... Omnia HD i never try yet, not available yet in my country - Malaysia. But from internet review and some video show at youtube, it look impressive than Nokia N97. For sync issue, I not sure about that because that is not my main point of consideration.

posted on 05 Jul 2009, 04:31

17. 13commander (Posts: 1; Member since: 05 Jul 2009)

I totally agree with you i think phone arena doesn't like Nokia n97 or maybe they don't know how to calculate the score. ROFL

posted on 15 Jun 2009, 11:37

12. Diego! (Posts: 677; Member since: 15 Jun 2009)

I think the camera is not that good. But I wanted to ask where the outdoors pictures were taken from? The place looks amazing!

posted on 17 Jun 2009, 11:04

13. tarun.chatwith (Posts: 1; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

i checked out n97 at pune today,,it's quite a nice set but what about the fact that at 128mb ram & with slow processor,single arm11 cpu with 434mhz compared to 369 of that of 5800!!! nokia is fooling people with twice the price but the same slow interface,,, can someone who has used it can clarify that will n97 will also be slower also i've been waiting for omnia hd i8910 to be released in india ,which has much greater processor at A8,800MHZ BUT samsung is not reliable,,don't know which way to go!!!!!!however i'm using 5800 currently which is working pretty well considering it's a music oriented phone!!!!! please can someone clarrify it since omnia is much better than n97 is what i feel

posted on 06 Jul 2009, 21:05

19. chris4chelsea (Posts: 2; Member since: 06 Jul 2009)

Agree i used samsung b4.. its not that reliable, and the finishing isnt that good compare to nokia phones. i m using the n97. its so far so good but i hope that the new firmware can fix some of the bugs

posted on 17 Jun 2009, 15:20

14. rumeo (Posts: 1; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

Although I've not yet tried all these nice phones that are mentioned at the end, I think the N97 is the best over all. Just the Homescreen with online update is it worth to buy one, because that's what I missed for years. No fiddling in the menus to search today's activities, just have a look at the screen and you know what you wanted to know. I real innovation with great potential without comparison. GSM: no word about the compass, OVI maps is simply the MUST have application that helps you to find any place with a minimum of data traffic. And sorry, it's free guys. The authors give the HTC better notes. Maybe readhttp://www.allaboutsymbian.com/features/item/Head_to_Head_The_Nokia_N97_and_HTC_Touch_Pro_2.php to see another opinion. Palm pre is nice and innovative but no Video ?? Still a 9, are you kidding ? Well to have started with CDMA instead of GSM means it was made for the US. If it finally arrives to the rest of the world star will not shine anymore that bright. At the end, I regret to have registered to this page in order to write this comment.

posted on 22 Jun 2009, 15:35

15. behold--me (Posts: 650; Member since: 22 Jun 2009)

looks like a real nice phone but looks to bulky.........rather get the 5730 xpressmusic or whatever ALSO A SMARTPHONE AND MUSIC PLAYER WITH A SLIDE OUT QWERTY

posted on 12 Aug 2009, 21:11

21. DontHateOnS60 (Posts: 872; Member since: 20 Apr 2009)

You really need to feel the device. The N95 was bulky. This is nowhere near that and I can proudly say that since I actually own one. If you think this is bulky than I hate to say it but the 5730 is a half millimeter thinner, and you won't notice the difference so it's just as "bulky" as the N97. True, it doesn't have the camera that sticks out, but you don't even feel that when it's in your pocket. Trust me, this phone, for everything it has, is darn thin.

posted on 25 Jun 2009, 18:23

16. Edouardo (Posts: 1; Member since: 25 Jun 2009)

IPhone is dead... Nokia 97 is really better (right a little bit bulky... :( In India they sell it with a pouch...why Nokia does not provide one in USA & Europe ? I just found one, very nice :http://www.noreve.com/langue/en/product/Housse_cuir_Nokia_N97_Tradition.html but I am looking for a pouch... If you can help me...

posted on 25 Jul 2009, 09:20

20. Broder (Posts: 1; Member since: 25 Jul 2009)

The review itself isn´t bad, but the conclusion is biased and unreliable, the author of this review definetely doesn´t like the N97 and takes it the personal side. I´m sorry, but recomending the Touch Pro 2 and, even worse, the iPhone 3GS in place of the N97 is ridiculous. Nothing against the Touch Pro 2, it´s a great phone with very powerfull hardware, but stepping back for a camera/video quality I had 3 years ago is just NOT acceptable for someone like me, that´s always looking for the best all-arounder. They also mention the N97 has a serious problem by not having a on-screen virtual QWERTY keyboard. HELLO! IT HAS A REAL QWERTY KEYBOARD, in fact, the that´s what makes the N97 such an interesting device: good camera, good screen, good symbian smartphone power AND a QWERTY keyboard! No normal person in the world will ever want to loose their time with an awfull on-screen keyboard when you can type with the real, fast and responsive thing that´s a REAL keyboard. In fact, I can type faster with a alphanumeric T9 keyboard then with a on-screen QWERTY. I use alot of typing in my phone, so having a QWERTY is essential, in fact, I guess alot of people do, if not there weren´t be so many QWERTY handsets in the market... for all of those who don´t need so much typing performance in their mobile and can live with touch-only input, then the Omnia HD is certainly the best all-arounder. As I see things today, the only REAL alternative for the N97 is the OmniaPRO: the camera is just on par, the screen is even bigger and it punches a faster processor and more RAM, the only real downside of the OmniaPRO is the WinMO OS, and, forgive me, but WinMO just can´t beat Symbian reliabilty.

posted on 12 Aug 2009, 21:15

22. DontHateOnS60 (Posts: 872; Member since: 20 Apr 2009)

68.5/80 = 8.5625 That's wierd. This should have received an 8.5. Maybe you guys entered a number wrong when you averaged out all the scores. Surely you didn't take points away in the end just because. I mean, our scores are averaged when we write our own reviews and post them, so it would only make sense that your scores are averaged too.

posted on 19 Sep 2009, 06:47

23. lbredsten (Posts: 1; Member since: 19 Sep 2009)

I so much wish it was a good phone. I'm an otherwise loyal Nokia fan, and I have owned and used an N97 for over a month now. The feel of the hardware is what I expected. Genuinly sturdy. Nice. The software ruins the whole experience, and it is clear that the user testing has not been done properly. Bugs even prevent proper use of the primary function of a mobile phone: picking up when it rings, and placing calls. When it then comes to the nice-to-have widgets and apps, it only gets worse. My recommendation to potential buyers: Buy another phone, or wait, and look for the reviews, and observe when they have come to fix the bugs in the in the OS and native apps. Then re-consider buying.

posted on 19 Jan 2010, 02:21

24. Mellisa (unregistered)

This phone is Really amazing and i love this phone ...I got it from Puremobile.com and Love this phone

posted on 30 Apr 2010, 01:42

25. mobilephonehut (Posts: 1; Member since: 30 Apr 2010)

While the Nokia N97 is packed with features and offers the freedom of an unlocked phone, its clunky touch interface, sky-high price tag, and outdated operating system make it hard to recommend when there are better touch-screen smartphones on the market.

posted on 25 Aug 2010, 12:32

26. ContractsCompared.com (unregistered)

The Nokia N97 is still a great phone despite some newer models coming. It's packed full of features such as a qwerty keyboard and 3g. To find the best deals on Nokia N97 contracts check outhttp://www.contractscompared.com

posted on 25 Aug 2011, 21:02

32. buy provera (unregistered)

Really great article with very interesting information. You might want to follow up to this topic!?! 2012

posted on 18 Sep 2011, 06:21

33. kcay1021 (unregistered)

I'm loving this phone! It has everything that I wanted for a smartphone. The camera and video quality is good, web browsing is fast, and I love the qwerty keyboard. It's an efficient phone and I just love it!

posted on 26 Feb 2012, 10:45

34. LodeStar (Posts: 28; Member since: 26 Feb 2012)

my last phone from nokia, and i cursed it, wont buy any phone from nokia!!!!

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Nokia N97

Nokia N97

OS: Symbian 9.4
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
Display3.5 inches, 360 x 640 pixels (210 ppi) TFT
Camera5 megapixels
Single core, 434 MHz, ARM11 processor
0.1 GB RAM
Size4.61 x 2.18 x 0.63 inches
(117.2 x 55.3 x 15.9 mm)
5.29 oz  (150 g)
Battery1500 mAh, 6.66 hours talk time

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