Rounding out the design are touch-sensitive Talk and End keys and a Main Menu button below the display and a power button and 3.5mm headphone jack on top of the device. On, the left side, there's a Micro-USB port and a lock switch; a volume rocker and camera button are on the right. The camera will activate as soon as you hit the latter, since there is no longer a protective cover over the camera lens on back.
The Nokia N97 comes packaged with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a wired stereo headset, a cleaning cloth, a software CD, and reference material. For more add-ons, please check our cell phone accessories, ringtones, and help page.
The Nokia N97 Mini retains a lot of the features offered by the N97, but there were a couple of cuts made to help keep the price and size of the phone down. The biggest difference is that you now get 8GB of internal memory instead of 32GB. However, there is a microSD expansion slot behind the battery cover than can accommodate up to 16GB cards. Another minor loss is the FM transmitter.
One feature you do gain is free voice-guided navigation. Nokia recently announced that it's scrapping the monthly and annual license fees for Ovi Maps navigation service, so not only do you get the maps, but you also get text-to-speech spoken directions and premium content, such as Lonely Planet city guides, weather forecasts, and event information. The app is available as a free download for 10 of Nokia's current handsets and will come preloaded on the company's future GPS-enabled smartphones.
Aside from these changes, the two devices are pretty much the same. We'll elaborate more on some of the N97 Mini's functions in the Performance section below, but for a detailed list of the phone's features, please read our full review of the Nokia N97.
We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Nokia N97 Mini in New York using AT&T service and call quality gets two thumbs up. There was very little to no background noise to distract us from the conversation, and there wasn't any type of voice distortion of muffling. We also didn't experience any dropped calls and had no problem using an airline's voice automated response system. On the other side, friends had mostly good things to say about the audio quality, though one did say he could hear a bit of an echo at times. As expected, the call quality degraded a bit when we activated the speakerphone. Though there was plenty of volume, even in louder environments, calls sounded a bit hollow.
Then N97 Mini supports AT&T's 3G bands, which provided good speeds and reliable coverage during our testing period. It took 27 seconds for CNET's full site to load; CNN and ESPN's mobile sites loaded in 8 seconds and 6 seconds, respectively. The N97 Mini's browser did a good job of displaying pages and it supports multiple windows and Flash Lite. However, navigation is a bit clunky. For example, you can't simply start entering a URL to go to a new site. You have to first press the arrow button on the bottom right-hand corner and then press the globe icon and then enter the Web address. To zoom, you can simply double-tap on the screen, which is often necessary to click on any links since it's difficult to precisely touch the small text with just your fingertip.
The smartphone's media player is decent. It supports a number of music formats, including MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+, and eAAC+ files, and you can create playlists on the fly and also adjust sound with the built-in equalizer. We listened to various genres of music and were happy with the sound quality, but like the speakerphone calls, tracks sounded a bit sunken through the phone's speakers. The N97 Mini is capable of playing video as well, but unfortunately, it only supports a limited number of video codecs. We watched several MP4 clips and for the most part, playback was smooth, but image quality could sometimes get a little fuzzy.
On the other hand, the smartphone's 5-megapixel camera certainly delivered on picture quality. Equipped with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens and a dual-LED flash, auto focus, 14x digital zoom, and various editing options, we got great shots indoors and outdoors. Objects were clearly defined and colors were vibrant. The camera can also capture VGA video at up to 30 frames per second, and the video quality was quite decent, especially for a camera phone.
Overall, the N97 Mini felt like a faster and more stable machine than the N97. There was still some lag and delays when working in multiple apps, but we certainly noticed the difference in responsiveness between the two devices. The Nokia N97 Mini features a 1,200mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 7.17 hours (GSM)/4 hours (3G) and up to 13.3 days (GSM)/12.9 (3G) days of standby time. We are still conducting our battery drain tests but will update this section as soon as we have final results. According to FCC radiation tests, the N97 Mini has a digital SAR rating of 0.91 watt per kilogram.