The N97 can be used with the Ovi Store, Nokia's answer to the Apple App Store. There's still not a huge amount of content on there, considering how many great apps exist for Symbian, but, once it's found its feet, Ovi Store should become a good source for getting more apps for your phone. We found downloading paid and free apps to be a fairly painless process, and a big improvement on how hard it used to be to get apps onto your Symbian phone.
Push the button
The N97 has a 5-megapixel camera with a sliding lens cover and a dual-LED photo light. Photos' colours are slightly washed out, but, on the plus side, there's hardly any shutter lag, with only a moment's delay between pressing the dedicated camera button and snapping a photo. We had no trouble storing our snaps, since the N97 sports an eye-watering 32GB of on-board memory. There's also a microSD memory card slot, so you can pack in another 16GB for an elephant-sized total of 48GB of memory.
But, for viewing photos and videos, the N97's 89mm (3.5-inch) screen isn't as bright or sharp as some of its competitors' displays. We felt this especially keenly when we had the Samsung i8910 HD on our desks blowing our minds with its AMOLED display.
The N97 uses an accelerometer to switch between portrait and landscape orientation, although this feature was turned off on our phone by default. The screen orientation will also switch based on the keyboard's position. Sliding out the keyboard kicks you into landscape mode, and stowing the keyboard away bumps you into portrait mode.
Nokia PC Suite, the desktop syncing software, did an okay job of converting and transferring our test videos. It managed to convert our MP4, WMV and AVI test files into adequate-looking videos that were easy to find on the handset, but they weren't the right aspect ratio for the N97's wide screen. Be sure to update to the latest version of PC Suite, because it's still very much a work in progress and each update tends to be a major leap forward.
Syncing calendar entries and other tasks, like backing up the phone's contents, tend to work well with PC Suite, but you're out of luck if you have a Mac: it requires a PC. Syncing is speedy over the included micro-USB cable, and we were thrilled to see that this phone also charges while syncing -- a great feature that's missing from some Nokia handsets.
The N97 has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the top, so you can use your own headphones.
Hit the road
The E75 also features Nokia Maps, with turn-by-turn navigation for walking and driving. It brought up fast, accurate maps for us in central London. Our N97 came with a free 30-day subscription -- after that, you'll have to pay for the navigation features.
It's no surprise that battery life is poor on a phone that runs power-hungry features simultaneously, and our N97 didn't even make it through a full day of testing. There was also one occasion when memory ran low and we had to close some applications.
The Nokia N97 is a feature-packed heavyweight that went back to smart phone school and came out with a PhD in power. We like its angled screen, excellent Qwerty keyboard, customisable homescreen, and deep well of features. But we think the resistive touchscreen is already old-fashioned, and the user interface is bland, with some niggling irritations and bugs, although you might like its familiar feel if you're already a Nokia fan.
With the iPhone, the HTC Magic and the Palm Pre taking touchscreen phones to a higher level, the N97 is up against stiff competition. Its touchscreen talents can't measure up to theirs, but it could be the right choice for avid typists, Nokia lovers and those who want to take advantage of the wealth of Symbian apps out there.
Edited by Charles Kloet