NEW YORK--Nokia's new N97 smartphone is cool, but it's still no iPhone.
I got a chance to look at Nokia's latest smartphone, the N97, on Thursday at the company's annual Capital Markets Day here. While Nokia's marketing team wouldn't actually let me play with the phone, since it won't officially go on the market until 2009, I got a demonstration of some of the phone's features and functionality from Jukka Heiska, director of product management for the N97. A video of the phone demonstration will be posted Friday on CNET News as well as on CNET TV.
In some ways it's unfortunate that every touch-screen phone that comes out these days is compared to Apple's iPhone. But given the popularity of the iPhone, especially here in the U.S., it's difficult not to do the comparisons.
My first impression of the new N97 is that even though it has impressive specifications, like a total of 48 gigabytes of potential storage and a 5-megapixel camera and video recorder, the phone seems more like an evolution of Nokia's N-95 or N-96 smartphones rather than a ground-breaking new touch-screen device that could potentially be the next iPhone killer.
For one, the touch-screen wasn't terribly sophisticated. Icons could be dragged and dropped using a finger, but unlike the iPhone, which allows you to pinch text to magnify it or reduce it, or even the new BlackBerry Storm that allows you to double click on text or images to make them bigger, the N97 didn't offer these features.
Design-wise the phone looked more like Sony Ericsson's Xperia X1. It has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a tilted screen. In this way, it's an improvement over the N95 or the N96, which offer tons of features and functionality, but lack full QWERTY keyboards.
That said, there are a few key features that the N97 offers that the iPhone doesn't. For example, the Nokia Web browser on the N97 supports Flash and Flash video, something that Apple's Safari browser doesn't support. And of course, heavy texters and e-mail enthusiasts, will like the full QWERTY keypad. I've had several iPhone owners tell me that they still carry around a BlackBerry for sending e-mails on the go, because they don't like the iPhone's virtual keyboard for typing longer messages.
The phone, which Nokia's marketing team calls a "mobile computer" also offers a whopping 32GB of storage on the device with the option of adding up to another 16GB of storage through a microSD card. And then there is the 5-megapixel camera, which also records DVD-quality video.… Read more