Does mini mean better in Finnish? First impressions of the Nokia N97 mini
As you know I purchased the white Nokia N97 NAM back when it was first released this summer and have lately been using the Nokia N900. When the Nokia N97 mini was announced in September I didn’t post any dedicated coverage here and I didn’t even give it a second thought since it just seemed at first like a smaller N97 and wasn’t much of a change to even think about. Nokia just sent me a new Nokia N97 mini to evaluate and I have to say after just a day with the device that I would choose the N97 mini over the N97 for the better keyboard, smaller and more solid form factor, and the available memory in the C drive. Obviously, there are some caveats with this choice as I will mention in my first impressions below.
The N97 mini that I have right now is a UK version so there is no 3G in the US, but then again I have been using my N97 with T-Mobile so I have no 3G anyway and thus my evaluation compares the two devices without considering the network speeds. I understand a 850 MHz 3G version for AT&T’s network may become available in the future and the specs on the Nokia site actually show 850 is one of the included bands, but the bands listed on the box I have do not show 850 MHz.
Nokia had the battery charged up and in the device when it arrived so I popped in my T-Mobile SIM and fired it up. BTW, the back cover was a bit difficult to replace since it has a completely new form and the SIM card tray that is fully removable is odd. I was immediately impressed with the feel of the N97 mini. It is narrower and thinner than the N97 and feels more dense and solid in my hand. After sliding the display up and tapping away on the keyboard I made the decision that the N97 mini keyboard is better than the N97. It has more travel of the keys and they are more rubberized. You can barely tell when you press a key on the N97 and that is not the case with the N97 mini. The display resolution is the same on both, but the smaller display on the N97 mini gives it an even sharper display.
In the box
The N97 mini has that same cool black box with embossed N97 mini device on the front like the N97 had. It is very thin and reduces the packaging to just what is needed. Inside the box you will find the N97 mini, BL-4D 1200 mAh battery, AC charger, microUSB to USB cable, wired stereo headset, User Guide, and other pamphlets on the N97 mini. As you will note there is no stylus in the box like we saw with the N97, but I never pulled out the stylus from my N97 box so this is not something that is needed. The device supports TV out, but a cable is not included in the box.
- Intel ARM 11 434 MHz processor
- 3.2 inch 640×360 pixel resolution touchscreen display
- 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics
- 8GB integrated memory with microSD card slot
- 802.11 b/g WiFi
- Bluetooth 2.0
- FM radio
- 3.5 mm headset jack
- microUSB port for syncing and charging
- QWERTY keyboard
- Proximity sensor
- Available in Cherry Black, Garnet, and White color schemes.
- Dimensions of 4.45 x 2.07 x 0.56 inches and 4.87 ounces.
Compared to the Nokia N97, the N97 mini is smaller (4.45 x 2.07 x 0.56 inches compared to 4.61 x 2.18 x 0.63 inches) and lighter (4.87 vs 5.29 ounces). The processors are the same, the cameras are the same, the wireless capabilities are the same, and the main differences are in the included flash memory (8GB vs 32GB), C drive (238 MB vs ), screen size (3.2 inches vs 3.5 inches), and QWERTY keyboard design.
Physical characteristics of the N97 mini
The N97 mini has the same buttons and ports as the N97 and they are all in the same location. Physically the only difference in buttons/controls is the updated QWERTY keyboard. The left directional pad has been replaced with four right directional arrows, the right space bar has been slightly increased, the keys have a more rubberized design and are smaller so there is distinct spacing between buttons, and the keys have MUCH more travel so you know when a button has been pressed. I personally find the keyboard to be an excellent improvement over the N97.
You will also now find the N97 mini camera has no shutter cover and is not protected. The N97 had an issue with the slider scratching the lens so this may not be much of an issue.
N97 mini software
The N97 mini runs S60 5th Edition and the version on the device supports kinetic scrolling in the browser, long press of alternate keyboard characters, more standby screen widgets and the improvements found in the N97 firmware 2.0 update.
More first impressions
Physically, I prefer the N97 mini over the N97, but I really cannot believe that Nokia has the same limited RAM in the device. This should only affect power users who try to run multiple apps like Gravity, the camera, web browser, Nokia Email, and more, but the readers of this site are generally the power users so you may still see low memory warnings from time to time. Then again, the majority of the time you should be fine and the N97 mini is still a rocking good S60 device. Phone call quality is top notch and the N97 mini does a good job of call management.
I will be spending more time with the N97 mini to see how well the smaller capacity battery does and how well it performs on a daily basis so stay tuned for more thoughts.