Starting today, I will give a detailed account of what I think of the N97 Mini, a phone which is being incredibly vigorously promoted as the next big thing by Nokia. Is the N97 Mini a good phone? Is it worth buying? I will try and put forth arguments both for and against the functionality of this device and let you decide.
1. What makes the N97 Mini special - Its probably now well known that even though Nokia manged to sell loads of N97s (the original N97), it really didnt fare well among users. Be it the less than sufficient processing capabilities, the 128MB RAM on a high end device, or the camera lens cover which actually ended up scratching the lens instead of protecting it. There was widespread outrage among users, many of whom had expressed it publicly on the web. It goes without saying that the N97 was terrible PR for Nokia, till then considered an innovative company at the helm of introducing ultra modern technologies to smart phones. The Symbian^1 which was then touted as the next big thing didnt help matter either. It reminded most people of their old S60 v2 and v3 phones and the UI was boring to say the least. Nokia had to do something to spice things up and restore 'order', releasing innumerable patches and updates for the N97 didnt work, and so it did the next best thing, reduced the memory and the size of the phone, packed in a weaker battery (1200mAh compared to N97's 1500mAh) and termed it the new N97 Mini. However it did something positive as well, it improved the build quality of the phone and made it look classier. Or so I thought.
2. Okay, but why does it suck then - Hey wait, I didnt tell you it sucks, not yet. Anyway, lets look at the context of the mobile phone arena and then compare N97 Mini's specs. The iPhone 3GS had been released and another iPhone was on its way which was supposed to have a huge amount of RAM and improved processing speeds. Google had released Nexus One armed with 1Ghz processor and an equally powerful RAM. And there was Nokia who was content with giving customers what they thought was the best deal possible, a 434Mhz processor and 128MB RAM in an attempt to compete. Spare me a second while I enjoy a hearty laugh. It had the same dated unusable insanely unprofessional looking (everything is being compared to iOS and Android here) and unevolving Symbian^1. And the price? Quoted price on most Nokia ads in India was/is Rs. 21000 (more than $400). I was one of the few who got mesmeried by the Nokia story (mainly because I had been a satisfied Nokia user till then). I decided to buy the Nokia argument of it being a better device. A decision which would come back and haunt me every single day henceforth.
When I first got my N97 Mini, I was really happy! The white phone looked beautiful and so did the keypad. I loved typing using the QWERTY and the phone soon became my treasured possession. I then started to put the device to the test and see if I could really be 'at one' with it. Shocks after shocks after shocks followed. It was soon clear to me that something was wrong, very wrong.
The phone wasnt lasting long enough, even on normal regular use which included listening to songs, browsing, using wifi to stream music and of course making calls it was hard to make the phone last more than 8 hours. In a bid to improve battery life and performance I changed from a snazzy looking theme to a toned down almost mellow inbuilt theme for my phone. Widgets, something of a huge USP for Nokia, had to be turned off, at least the online ones or else they would consume power and diminish battery life further. I had to reduce calls, reduce internet access and wifi usage to a minimum especially when I ventured outdoors without a charging cable in my bag. Yeah I know what you might be thinking, how was I supposed to use the phone without those features, well it seems Nokia cares little for its 'valued' customers and the sole reason for this uber crap battery life was nothing other than the underpowered 1200mAh battery. And that was just the start. Symbian^1 sucks just as much today as it did when the N97 Mini came out. The UI is outstandingly boring. You would need pure talent to create a boring UI like that. Well, at least they could have copied Apple or Android! That would have resulted in a better looking OS! Anyway. Next came the hardware which was so insanely dated that I could imagine my father getting this phone on his first mararige anniversary! Nokia has a strange fascination with dated hardware, it perhaps stems from a monopolistic attitude it has developed over the years being the no 1 smartphone manufacturer. Its like the company is telling its customers "haha you moron, this is what you deserve, cry as much as you want to, I wont give you a better device." Of course Nokia didnt say this, but frankly as a customer who had bought a new N97 Mini this is what I felt. The application manager constantly keeps crashing and notifying me to close running apps when no apps are running. Multitasking is a pain thanks to the incapable processor and RAM.
And then came the ovi store. What the **** is that? Well its an app store. You mean like an Apple App Store? Yeah, kind of. Are you sh*tting me? Ovi and Apple? That is like the biggest baddest saddest and poorest joke ever! The ovi store is so starved of apps that in a bid to create proper ones, Nokia introduced an App wizard for non programmers! Yeah you heard me right. Well that did help increase the number of apps but what that made the ovi store was an absolute piece of junk. Whenever I see apps mentioned on sites on the web, I'm pretty certain that its either for the iPhone or for Android. I mean there is no proper pdf file reader for symbian platforms! Adobe reader is almost unusable and so are many others. Its a pain to read pdf documents on the N97 unless you have hundreds of hours to spare waiting for pages to load.
I will be posting more such reality checks soon. I have been CHEATED, DUPED AND MISGUIDED by the company I once was a fan of. I know I have been rude at places in this post, but hey, I have spent my money (and a huuge amount of it) on the phone and I have not been delivered what I was promised. I have the right to complain and let others know what they are signing up for when they buy a N97 Mini. Stay away from fanboys, do your research well, especially before you buy a Nokia.
Take care folks, and thank you so much for reading. I'll be back with more soon.