Nokia N97 mini review: Nokia N97 mini

Typical Price: £400.00
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars 4 user reviews

The Good Looks sleeker than the N97; handy Qwerty keyboard; customisable home screen; widgets with live updates; angled screen.

The Bad Bland user interface isn't particularly easy to use; unimpressive display; resistive touchscreen; widgets can be buggy; no multi-touch capability.

The Bottom Line We like the Nokia N97 mini's slimmed-down shape, and it's not lost much functionality through going on a diet. We're not fans of the resistive, dark touchscreen or the uninspiring user interface, but there's no shortage of fantastic features packed into this small handset. Still, it remains a workhorse, rather than a magical, flying Pegasus of wonder

7.5 Overall

As you might have guessed from its name, the Nokia N97 mini is a smaller version of the N97. Although Nokia's cut a few features to reduce the handset's size, we think it's a more appealing smart phone. The mini is available for free on a £30-per-month, two-year contract. That's £5 per month less than the cheapest deal for the N97. You can also buy the mini for around £400 SIM-free, while the N97 costs around £430 SIM-free.

Diet for fat boy
The mini doesn't differ much from its larger sibling, so we'll focus on the variations and whether we think they make the mini worth your hand-earned cash. For much more about the highs and lows of this phone, read our full review of the Nokia N97.

We thought the N97 was lumpen and chubby, although we liked its satisfying hinge. The mini keeps the hinge but cuts down on the chubbiness, and so feels like a sleeker phone. It's still not the slimmest or most gorgeous phone out there, but it's a definite improvement.

Nokia has cropped the N97's screen from 89mm (3.5 inches) to 81mm (3.2 inches) to fit the mini. It's not a huge loss, but both screens are poorer than their competitors. We found the mini's screen rather dim, and blame the fact that it's of the resistive type rather than the brighter, more usable capacitive variety made famous by the iPhone.

It's easy to type accurately on the mini's keyboard, but it's not suited to southpaws, due to the position of the spacebar

You have to apply some pressure to make the resistive screen work. With capacitive screens, you can just gently swipe a fingertip. As long as you're prepared to use a fingernail, the mini's screen is snappy and responsive. But that doesn't compensate for the boring, dated user interface.

It's not the most user-friendly phone either. Rather than providing instinctive, touchscreen-orientated methods of interacting with it, you're faced with loads of menus. There's no multi-touch zooming, for example, so you have to navigate to a zoom menu in Web pages, which takes a few taps. We also hate the fact that you have to double tap some items to open them, while others only require one tap -- it's confusing.

On the positive side, there are some great on-board features that will get you connected reliably. Setting up email, for instance, is a breeze. The mini gets the job done -- it just doesn't offer a good-looking, fun way to do it.

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