Nokia N97 review

The Nokia N97 has been compared to the business-centric E90 Communicator, However, our first look was less than complimentary, so how does the touchscreen N97 fare after a long, hard look?

Feature-wise, the Nokia N97 is stunning on paper. For starters, there's an impressive 32GB internal memory, in addition to a microSD card slot that will take cards up to 16GB. There's also Wi-Fi, a 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens and autofocus, HSDPA for speedy web browsing, a 3.5mm headphone jack and an FM transmitter for streaming music.

So in practice, are these features worthy of talking about? Well, the microSD card slot is underneath the battery cover, which is irritating if, for example, you use different memory cards for different things such as Satnav software, or to keep confidential information safe.

Wi-Fi is simple to set up, whether you're on a secure network or using a hotspot. Once you've entered the key for a secure network, you'll never have to enter it again, and it'll automatically lock on if you're in range.

The 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics is activated by opening the lens cover on the back, not by pressing the camera access button as we discovered just seconds before being confronted with a photo of ourselves on the screen.

Photos weren't the most stunning we've seen from a mobile phone camera, and lacked some colour and detail, but were fine for quick snaps for emailing around. We found the FM transmitter worked well, although it was a little fiddly to stream music to our car stereo.

App-wise, the Nokia N97 is packed to the rafters. QuickOffice comes as standard for viewing and creating Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents, although we couldn't access it thanks to a firmware error. Active notes enables you to create a sound, video, photo or text note, while a trial version of Adobe PDF reader enables you to view PDFs while on the move.

In general, the Nokia N97's firmware feels buggy. When we first received the device, a master reset was needed because the homescreen was frozen. Switching between applications is slow, sometimes not working at all and even dialling a phone number can take a while as you wait for the number keypad to appear.

The Nokia N97 looked like a serious touchscreen contender when it first launched in February at Mobile World Congress. However, as it stands, it's full of quirks and firmware issues, suggesting that it just doesn't have the power to keep all those features running. It isn't particularly pleasant to type on, the screen is hard to read in bright conditions, especially is it's tilted with the Qwerty keyboard exposed and the touchscreen just isn't up to scratch.

Sorry Nokia, time to work on those touchscreen phones.


The Nokia N97 is a disappointment in all aspects. The design is clunky and dangerous, the firmware is unstable and features don’t live up to their description on paper. This smartphone looked so right so Nokia, how did you get it so wrong?

Connectivity: GPRS, HSDPA, 802.11b/g Display: 3.5in (360x640 pixels) Storage: 32GB, microSD card slot Camera: 5-megapixel Battery: 1500 mAh Dimensions: (WxDxH) 55.3x15.9x117.2mm Weight: 150g

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.