Small Things Come in Nice Packages
By Wong Casandra
The N97 has been a much-talked about device since its inception; braving constant comparisons with its flashier and more fashionable counterparts like iPhone, HTC Hero and the likes. The N97 mini is Nokia's attempt at making its flagship model more accessible to consumers with a thinner, slimmer version.
First up, the N97 mini is definitely aesthetically-pleasing. While the phone itself seems impossibly svelte and classy (its aluminum body is especially smooth and sleek), the glossy front casing is sadly a smudge magnet. Minor changes have been made to the keyboard, mostly to accommodate the size change - instead of a huge directional pad on the left, the mini has four small directional buttons on the extreme right. Keys are made smaller, and they feel stiff.
The good thing is, the N97 mini comes pre-loaded with a medley of nifty apps - CNN, iToday, mySpace, Friendster, Facebook and Golden Village (for local cinephiles). These can be showcased as widgets on the homescreen, though, given the small space accorded for customization, widgets such as news or email feeds seem more like token gestures rather than useful applications.
We tested out the 5-megapixel camera - with no camera protection cover this time - and results were positive; pictures came out well-lit and sharp. Video playback was extremely crisp and bright. While the sound quality wasn't exactly top-notch, it performed to our satisfaction.
N97 vs N97 mini
Comparisons between its bigger and older brother are inevitable. Firstly, the mini is slightly smaller at 113 x 52.5 x 14.2mm compared to the N97's 117.2 x 55.3 x 15.9mm. It is also lighter at 138g, compared to the N97's rather bulky 150g. The screen has been slightly reduced from 3.5 to 3.2 inches but it still retains the same 360 x 640 resolution. While the physical changes sound minimal, the difference is rather outstanding when one stacks the two phones side-by-side.
The shrink comes with some sacrifices and the one has to compensate with a couple of hardware changes. And yes, sadly, the mini does not have a FM transmitter. Internal memory has also been severely reduced from 32GB to 8GB, and battery life is marginally shorter.
Other than those changes, it should be a smooth transition for a N97 user to the mini. In fact, users familiar with the older editions of Symbian S60 will be able to use the phone with relative ease. Many things will look familiar, including the same old complaints, from the worn-out looking icons to a tired-looking interface that is less than intuitive and doesn't fully utilize the capabilities of a touch screen. Yes, that’s right, don't expect flipping, or pinching but instead, constant scrolling and opening of folders, as one does on an older Nokia model, such as the E71.
The N97 mini is a pretty impressive smartphone, but for those who prefer a phone with a flashier and well implemented touch screen interface, you will be in for some major disappointment. For those who are looking for a hardy, no-frills phone for multimedia purposes, you are definitely looking in the right direction.