Review: 3 Reasons Why Nokia’s N97 Is a Bummer

n97 collage.jpg

Matt Buchanan at Gizmodo already hit the nail on the head with his spot-on assessment of the N97: Nokia is doomed.

So I won’t spend much time shooting a dead (well, dying*) horse dead-er, but having manhandled the N97 for a few weeks, I’ve also got a few thoughts.

First off, I’m no fanboy. But I have been seduced by some of Nokia’s handsets. I carried the N82 for a year. At the time, Symbian felt utilitarian and easy to use. The 5 megapixel sensor, xenon flash and Carl Zeiss optics were pretty stellar. So much so, I used the phone as my main point-and-shoot on a trip to Japan, where I snapped some reasonably ok pics (not amazing, but good enough).

I carried the N95 for a spell in 2007. Same deal. Solid hardware. Ahead of its time. And like a lot of us, I started scratching my head about when, how, and if consumers (and cell phone companies) in the U.S. would ever see the light. Sure lesser offerings from Nokia have been entirely forgettable. But that’s besides the point. When the company swung to the fences, Nokia tended to deliver.

That said, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the N97, the company’s first legit touch screen. Well, here’s what I found:

1) A clunky touch screen interface that merely mimics a non-touch OS. The Pre, iPhone and G1 all require the user to speak in elegant gestures that, in turn, make you feel elegant. Quick flicks, simple pinches, and de-pinches that are &mdash forget easy and practical &mdash actually FUN to do.

The N97, on the other hand, offers no magic. If you want to scroll through your contacts on the iPhone, you press and drag, and watch the list rapidly flow before your eyes &mdash then bounce when it hits the bottome. With the N97, you’re stuck dragging a clunky nav bar or holding your finger in one spot (top, bottom) to get the list to scroll.

2) The hardware is both lackluster and not the least bit luxurious. The mostly-plastic frame makes the phone decidedly lightweight (a plus), but the hinge &mdash as several reviewers have noted &mdash is a little awkward to us. Same with the relatively cramped, too-minimalist keyboard, which I never really mastered or cared to.

The more I handled the phone, too, it started to feel cheap. Less like a flashy status symbol, and more like a basic, no-frills handset I got with an upgraded contract (unfortunate, considering that’s far from the case). Evoking the word “cheap” is shameful for any product that boasts a price tag this high (see below).

3) $699?! (now reduced to $629). Nuff said.

*Nokia’s profits are dropping faster than a virgin’s pants at a free brothel**.

**Feel free to out-analogy me in the comments.

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19 Responses to Review: 3 Reasons Why Nokia’s N97 Is a Bummer

  1. Hehe!
    Methinks the only thing worth getting from Nokia now, is the E90.
    I still feel the Sony Ericsson X1 is definitely up there with their other PDA classics, with the shift from Symbian to WM6.0 being worth a mention.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nokias profits are dropping faster than incoherent metaphors at a Sarah Palin resignation speech? I need a coffee, its too early for this.

    Agreed that Nokia is between a rock and a hard place with its R&D. Sony has the same problem.

  3. agraham999 says:

    Another reason I dumped my Nokia stock months ago.

  4. strider_mt2k says:

    Kind of the same experience I had with my N810 Internet Tablet.

    I mean the hardware seemed okay and all, it’s just the experience was really lacking.

    That was my one and only go with Nokia.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My E61 is still going strong.

    I bought your Nokia stock at a low, low price.

  6. Halloween Jack says:

    I’m not sure that a virgin’s pants would drop that fast at a free brothel. For one thing, they’re a virgin–I would expect them to be a little shy and/or nervous. For another… why is the “brothel” free? Is the selection so lousy that they have to give out samples? Now, if you’re talking free as in paid-for, and the particular hooker was both incredibly sexy and experienced in coaxing virgins out of their virginity, then yeah, the pants would have to come down pretty quickly in order to avoid the ever-embarrassing jizz-in-my-pants scenario…

    Wait, were we talking about phones or something?

  7. Anonymous says:

    what is this “&mdash” that you speak of ?

  8. gwax says:

    I just bought myself an N810 and I find it to be almost perfect for my needs; the only thing that’s missing is integrated 3G, which I gather is in the (hopefully) soon to come N900.

    It certainly took me a bit of time and effort to get everything set up the way that I wanted but that’s been my experience with other distributions of Linux as well. With a decent device and continued support, Maemo ought to be able to woo plenty of Linux hackers and power users; freedom and totally open platforms go a long way.

  9. Word Bitch says:

    “…your stuck dragging…”
    rly? Editor!

  10. musicalwoods says:

    If they would either invest or ditch their OS, I would consider getting one of their phones.

    I would definitely think about purchasing an N97 if it had Android instead if that clunky OS.

  11. randalll says:

    Ahem–

    Nokia’s profits are dropping faster than a deuce at Taco Bell.

  12. rAMPANTiDIOCY says:

    Nokia’s profits are dropping faster than a grav bong in a frat house

  13. Sertified says:

    Re the latest iphone – talk to a telco engineer and they will tell you the features are ‘nice’ but the phone itself is rubbish.

    The author of this article states “it started to feel cheap. Less like a flashy status symbol”.

    It is a phone. Half the problem with phone manufacturers now is that they are trying to make them status symbols and forgetting about the most important part. Personal preference I prefer the simpler touch screen of the 97. If I wanted an iphone I would have bought one. Besides there are plenty of PC users that don’t like macs or anything associated with them ;)

  14. Steven Leckart says:

    Nokia’s profits are dropping faster than a 12 yo’s testes.

  15. Mohammad Khan says:

    I’m picking one up soon. I’ve been a Nokia fanboi all my life and apparently, to those familiar with the Symbian OS, the touch UI makes *SOME* sense.

    I agree that it is not acceptable for a flag-ships UI to make just “SOME” sense but what can I do?
    Gotta stick with my company through the thick and the thin. :P

  16. Fabio FZero says:

    Nokia’s profits are dropping faster than Robert’); DROP TABLE Students;–

  17. Clay says:

    Nokia’s profits are dropping faster than new apps on the App Store.

    Oh, I went there.

  18. philipb says:

    I had “upgraded” from the original iPhone to an N95, finding the Nokia faster and with the power to perform sans laptop on short trips.

    3 weeks ago I bought an iPhone 3Gs, a product, which I now believe has left the Nokia flagships far behind.

  19. TJ S says:

    Nokia’s profits are dropping faster than…

    …an iPhone’s battery bar.
    …the NASDAQ in October.
    …flies in the Oval Office.
    …a mound of coke at Amy Winehouse’s place.
    …the speed of suck.

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