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CNET First Look
Nokia N97 (unlocked)While the Nokia N97 is packed with features and offers the freedom of an unlocked phone, its clunky touch interface, sky-high price tag, and outdated operating system make it hard to recommend when there are better touch-screen smartphones on the market.
>>[background music] Hi I'm Bonnie Cha, Senior Editor at CNET.com and today we're taking a first look at the Nokia N97. Actually this is a second look since we first saw this Smartphone at CES and we've been waiting ever since then for the N97 to come out. Now that I have it I'm actually a little disappointed. I'll start with the design first, the good news is that Nokia finally added a touch screen to it's N series of Smartphone's so the N97 is easier to navigate than some of the older models like the N95. It's nice and large at 3.5 inches and colors and texts are bright and clear but when you compare it to other models like the iPhone and Palm Pre its not as sharp. Also the N97 uses a resistive touch screen instead of a capacitive touch screen so it's not as sensitive to the touch and you have to use the stylus for more accuracy. Also the touch interface isn't the greatest on the N97. Some of the menu items require 1 tap to launch while others require 2 taps so it's a little confusing and scrolling through long lists isn't quite as smooth and I definitely miss the multi touch capabilities of the Palm Pre and when iPhone when viewing web pages. The N97 does have a nice slider design though. Pushing this screen to the right exposes a full qwerty keyboard and as you can see the screen tilts at an angle so it makes it easier to see pages when you have the phone sitting on your table or when you're typing messages. The slider mechanism is smoother than some of the other smart phones I've tested like the HTC touch code 2. As far as the keyboard I have some mixed feelings about it. The buttons are nice size and there's a good amount of space in between them. They're also really easy to press and I'd say its one of the best keyboards I've used on the phone, except for 2 things. The space bar and the shift key are located to the far right side which made them really awkward to use and just interrupted the flow of typing. It took me a long time to get used to and even then I didn't feel 100% comfortable with it so I thought an otherwise great keyboard was ruined by this. As far as features, the Nokia N97 really shines. It's packed with just about everything you want. You get full messaging capabilities and it comes loaded with your standard organizational tools as well as some extra apps such as quick, boingo, AP news and guitar or rock hero. There's also a 5 megapixel camera that takes excellent pictures and it has all the wireless options you would want including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and support for AT&T's HSDPA network. The Nokia's HTML web browser is pretty good and it includes flash video support. And while all these features are great what really kills the device is the Symbian operating system. It might have been ok when the N97 was first announced in December 2008 but there's been a lot of progress made with the Android, iPhone OS 3.0 and the Palm webOS so it makes the N97 feel really outdated. That plus the phone costs $700 unlocked so it's really hard for me to recommend it when you've got all these other great touch screen Smartphone's that offer a better user experience and for less. If you're a dedicated Nokia fan or a Symbian fan and don't want to be tied down to a carrier, I think the N97 might work for you but otherwise I'd take a look at the other alternatives. [background music] I'm Bonnie Cha and this has been your first look at the Nokia N97. ^M00:03:14 [ Music ]