Nokia N97 review

Nokia returns to form with a high end smartphone/ mini UMPC

The Nokia N97
The Nokia N97

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It's difficult to know how to judge the Nokia N97, as the first impressions thanks to great build quality and an excellent QWERTY keyboard made us think this could be the greatest Nokia phone yet.

It's not actually that far off either, as it has the best example of the high-powered Symbian S60 OS we've seen so far, and the touchscreen is up there with the other top touch handsets considering it's a resistive rather than capacitive effort.

We liked

The angled touchscreen and QWERTY keyboard are to die for, and the connection to the Ovi Store promises bountiful application upgrades, especially when we have 32GB of space to fill up.

The hinge mechanism on the phone is one of the most solid yet, and will surely come in for a lifetime of idle flipping open and shut purely due to pleasant sensation it brings (which means battery will drain super fast).

The build quality is more than solid, and the touchscreen overhaul of the S60 OS is good enough to actually be considered an upgrade.

We disliked

But the questions over why certain features haven't been added to the N97 mount up. Why is the processor not more powerful? Why is the layout of the phone essentially the same as before despite the refresh? Why is there no stylus in the box when we had two variations with the 5800 XpressMusic? Where is Comes with Music?

None of the above should be taken to mean this is a bad phone. By all means, it's a decent effort and not bad for around £500 SIM free.

But the media capabilities and niggly 3G connection are among the biggest annoyances, as well as the propensity of the Nokia N97 to crash and lag all too frequently. The Facebook problems were vastly annoying, as was the AccuWeather crashing, and this was just from the initial home screen.


Nokia fans will see this as a definite upgrade from what's been offered before, and those that appreciate a decent form factor in a phone will definitely do so too.

But there's just too many annoying parts to the Nokia N97 to label it a classic, but if you're stuck with it for 18 months (at least) then you can at least take solace in the fact there are many, many worse handsets out there on the market to be imprisoned with.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.