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Should You Pay $700 for the Nokia N97?

June 14, 2009 in Nokia Phone Deals

With Amazon and Dell now officially sold out, finding the N97 is turning into a huge chore. But let’s back up a bit – sure, the N97 is the latest Nokia Flagship Phone. But is it really that much of an improvement over something like, say, the 5800 XpressMusic – which costs almost $500 less?

Here’s some points you might want to consider when trying to decide whether to take the plunge and drop that $700 bucks – or simply wait for something better.

+ The QWERTY keyboard: Well, I’ve been wanting an “actual” QWERTY for as long as I can remember. Touch-screen display keyboards just don’t cut it for typing stuff out. For me, this is a major point in the N97′s favor. Although I have to admit – I’m a little spooked by All About Symbian’s comment that the keyboard is “fine for short text messages, but writing anything longer would drive me crazy.”

+ Build Quality: While I haven’t had the chance to actually verify these claims, others’ first impressions point to the N97 being superbly well-made. The touch-screen, metallic hinge, and the casing are high-quality stuff.

+ Nokia’s next high-end touch-screen phone: While early rumors suggest that it may have a capacitive screen, instead of a resistive one – it’s not coming for awhile. Nokia just doesn’t move that fast – after all, it took over 7 months just for the N97 to start shipping. In other words, don’t bother waiting.

+ Faster Processor: The N97 sports a 434 mhz ARM 11 processor, which should result in a nice performance improvement over the 5800 XpressMusic.

+/- The OS: Symbian S60 Fifth Edition is not the most user-friendly operating system I’ve used on a phone – many of the touch functions seem tacked on. Buying the N97 will not solve this. On the other hand, the interface is familiar to any previous users of the S60 platform. Personally, I still prefer Symbian over Windows Mobile 6.1 – but that could change once the next version of the OS goes live.

- The Price, and the Competition: $700 for a Nokia phone is a tough one, even for someone who runs a site called The Nokia Phone Blog. And there’s a ton of new phones coming out, led by the ubiquitous Apple iPhone. But let’s see how the prices compare (prices are mostly rough estimates):

Nokia 5800 XpressMusic: ~$220-$250 with current deals
HTC Touch Pro2: expected to retail for ~$880
HTC Touch Diamond2: expected to retail for ~$725
Apple iPhone 3G S: $499-$699, depending on storage.
Sony Ericsson Satio: estimated $800+, very little pricing information available
Samsung Omnia HD: ~$850
Sony Ericsson Xperia X1: ~$500.

- The Ovi Store: still in its early days of infancy, the app store is pretty limited right now. There just isn’t a lot of content, and I still can’t figure out how to tell whether an application is Symbian or Java. Ad there’s some really lousy stuff on there.

- The 5800 XpressMusic: I have a 5800 XpressMusic, and the move to the N97 seems to add only incremental changes like more internal memory (which I definitely do not need – I prefer microSD cards instead), a better camera (not an issue for me, since I now use a Canon ultracompact for taking most pictures), bigger screen (.3 inches diagonal, nice but not a deal breaker), and slightly longer battery life (9.5 hours vs 8.75 hours – not necessarily negligible, since battery life is one of the most important facets of owning a feature-packed phone). The main exception is the keyboard, which beats the pants off of any on-screen one. The real question here: are the changes worth the ~$450 price difference between the two phones? Right now I’d have to say no.

- Not Enough RAM: Believe it or not, the N97 only has 128 MB of RAM. Speaks for itself, I think.

- No Stylus: The N97 does not have an onboard stylus (attached to the phone). The North American version does come with one packed in the box, while the UK version does not. A minor point, but for those who prefer to use the handwriting recognition instead of the keyboard, this may be important.

***

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Charles
6/15/2009
9:34 am

I pre-bought mine from Dell for $604 including a 2gb memory card(negligible). Dell is the way to go as far as I’m concerned, I just have to wait for a July 2nd delivery.

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