The Nokia N97 is probably one of the most anticipated phones of the year. It looks set to cross the gap between Nokia’s media oriented N series and the business oriented E series. If the N97 lives up to the hype, it could well be the answer to many prayers, including mine. Here is a demonstration which I hope is real-time because it gives you an idea what this device can do:
I have long wanted a single device to handle my daily personal and business tasks including media creation and consumption; web access and messaging. Unfortunately no single device has been up to the task (no, the iPhone doesn’t cut it). I think the N97 has the potential to be the closest to that single device. My ideal single device is the device I can –
- store and play my music, podcasts and videos;
- browse the Web using a standards compliant Web browser which allows me to shift between landscape and portrait modes for a better browsing experience;
- use for high speed data whether the device is tethered to my laptop or whether I use it standalone;
- productively use for a range of messaging requirements including email, sms, microblogging and instant messaging;
- make clear calls with (often underestimated – this is a phone after all);
- capture good quality photos and video on the fly without waiting for some application to load 30 seconds after the moment has passed;
- extend and expand with a range of quality software and hardware components; and
- generally get the information I need to do what I need to do in a given day
The N97’s capabilities are outlined in the N97 datasheet and there are a couple features that give me hope that this will be what I hope it will be for me. For one thing its camera is much better than my E71’s camera. It is a 5 megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens which means I should be able to snap decent photos when I am out and about.
It has 32GB of onboard storage space and supports at least another 16GB through its microSD card slot. While it isn’t quite the 120GB of space I’d like to have to accommodate all my portable media, this does position the N97 as a viable alternative to my 60GB iPod when I am out and about. On that note the 3.5mm headphone jack means I don’t have to mess with the stupid 2.5mm jack my E71 was cursed with. It also means I can use my own headphones to listen to the content I load onto the device using Nokia’s Multimedia Transfer software (the latest version allows me to transfer specific playlists in iTunes so no need to mess around with special folders. Similar thing applies to my photos which I can transfer across from iPhoto and display on the 3.5 inch, 16:9 screen. It supports enough music formats to enable me to access my existing music collection and perhaps the only thing I’d like to add is a better video player than Realplayer. A biggie over the iPhone/iPod Touch is that the N97 (like my E71 and a number of other Nokia devices) will play Flash video and handle Flash elements. That means good YouTube playback for one thing!
Another bonus is that the N97 is not much bigger than my E71 (which, as you know, is pretty slim and a great form factor). That means I can slip it into my pocket without too much fuss. Here is a size comparison between the N97 and the upcoming E75:
Of course that means I have my office in my pocket too. Assuming Nokia extends Nokia Email to S60 5th Edition (the E71 runs 3rd Edition) I will have my email available to me as push email. I already handle a lot of my email on my E71 and the full keyboard on the N97 will make mail handling an even better experience. Of course there is also Twitter, more conventional blogging and other applications and activities that will benefit tremendously from the N97’s form factor and apparent capabilities. I would love to see what Nokia Maps and Google Maps look like on this device. That sort of map and routing data on the larger screen will make navigating with the N97 a dream. If it works reliably there won’t be much of a need for a dedicated GPS device either (at least not given my requirements).
My one concern is that the N97’s processor and other components are powerful enough to drive everything the N97 seems capable of without any significant lag or undermining the promised operating times of 320 minutes of talk time, 400 hours of standby time, 4.5 hours of video playback or 37 hours of music playback. The device also needs to support N-Gage games and that requires some power. This is where the device could well disappoint, at least disappoint me. I despised my Nokia N73 largely because it was so sluggish and unresponsive. The pain would be much worse having such a capable device moving at the speed of mud.
On the other hand, if the N97 performs like the “Fondle” video at the beginning of this device I will have little need for anything else for my day to day stuff. Forget about Netbooks, this device will do whatever I need it to do when I am mobile and don’t need the full apps and functionality of my MacBook. I can forget about my need for a higher capacity iPod Touch or a dedicated GPS device. It will be a good day when I turn my N97 on.
Update: I was just watching this video by the Phone Scoop people and you can see that the phone is pretty responsive when it comes to customising the home screen, web browsing and loading apps like the media player.