By March 15, 2010

Nokia N97 Mini Review

Nokia-N97-mini James reviewed the original N97 back in July last year (you can view the review here). It seemed in general to be quite a nice phone, Nokia’s best so far. I read a few other reviews of the N97 and I was surprised to see that the opinions were very mixed.

It has been pretty difficult to get our hands on this little(ish) handset. Over the past few months there have been many rumours about its withdrawal from sale by some carriers (Orange?) which has, perhaps, only fuelled many peoples desire to own one.

So at last I’ve been given the Nokia N97 Mini to review. It will be interesting to see if this scaled down version has any improvements over its bigger brother and if any of the early reports of stability and performance issues have been ironed out.

Let’s find out…


What’s in the box?

  • Nokia N97 handset
  • Nokia Battery (BL-4D)
  • Nokia mains charger with a micro US connection (AC-10)
  • USB cable (CA-101)
  • Stereo earphones with music and phone controls extension (WH-701)
  • Ovi Suite DVD 1.1
  • User manual


For more information check out Matt’s Nokia N97 mini unboxing video


Nokia N97 Mini Specifications:

  • Dimensions: – 113 x 52.5 x 14.2mm
  • Weight: – 138g
  • Battery: – 1200 mAh
    – Talk Time: 7.1 hrs
    – Standby Time: 320 hrs
    – Music Playback Time: 32 hrs
    – Video Playback Time: 3.5 hrs
  • Display:- 320 x 240 pixels/3.2"  Touch Sensitive(Resistive)
  • Network: 2G: 850/900/1800/1900 (Quad-Band)
    – 3G: 900/1900/2100 (Tri-Band)
    – HSDPA (3.6Mbps)
  • Camera: – 5 mega-pixels (auto-focus) Dual LED Flash
  • Video: – Hi-Resolution VGA Video Recording
    – 30fps Video Recording (VGA)
  • FM Stereo Radio (RDS)
  • Messaging: – SMS / MMS (with video) / E-mail (POP3, SMTP, IMAP4, MS Exchange)
  • 8GB (internal) Memory
  • microSDHC (external)
  • microUSB
  • Nokia 3.5mm AV connector
  • Bluetooth (2.0)
  • Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11g)
  • AGPS
  • Nokia Maps
  • Tilting Display
  • Accelerometer



Front – The front of the phone sports the 3.2" touch screen along with a front facing camera, light sensor, menu button, and the call and end touch sensitive buttons. If you look closely the menu button has a perforated grill finish. I am guessing that the microphone is under this as I can’t see a hole anywhere else on the phone for this.

The Nokia N97 Mini – front view


Top – Here you have the 3.5mm headphone socket and the power button.

The Nokia N97 Mini – top view


Right side – You can see the loop for attaching a wrist strap, then there is the dedicated camera button and the up/down rocker button for volume and zooming.

The Nokia N97 Mini – right side view


Left side – On the far left and right of this picture you can see the loud speakers. There is also the microUSB socket and the screen lock/unlock slider.

The Nokia N97 Mini – left view


Keyboard – The phone has a full qwerty keyboard under the screen.

The Nokia N97 Mini – keyboard view


Slider mechanism – The screen slides back and tilts up to reveal the keyboard. The mechanism can be seen in this picture.

The Nokia N97 Mini – mechanism view


Back – Under the brushed metal back cover is the sim card, battery and microSD card housing. There is also the 5MP camera and LED flash.

The Nokia N97 Mini – back view



  • Pocketable size
  • Sturdy build
  • Good camera
  • Easy to use
  • Handy home screen widgets



  • Resistive touch screen
  • Flimsy feel to the screen
  • No camera lens cover and the camera is raised
  • LED flash not very effective
  • Pricey



The Nokia N97 Mini is definitely and eye-catching phone. Its reduced size means that it fits nicely into a pocket, and the redesign of the back cover makes this handset a bit more stylish than its predecessor.

It is available in two colours, garnet – (a reddish-brown colour), and black with a cherry back (like this review model).

For some reason with a slide phone the first thing I always to is check out the sliding action. With the N97 Mini I was very impressed. It was little awkward at first but when you get used to it you will find that the slide action is very well designed. The spring-loaded mechanism behind the slide and tilt action is robust and locks easily into place. There is almost no way that the slider will open by accident.


The screen is slightly smaller than the original N97 as you would expect. It’s 3.2" where as the original N97 was 3.5", but it’s still adequate to view media on. The finish of the screen seems very plastic and rather flimsy. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that it has a resistive touch screen where pressure needs to be applied to control the display. I think that this lets down the phone in the looks department. In saying this, the display is bright and clear and the sensitivity of the touch screen does the trick. It doesn’t  The screen can be a bit difficult to see in bright sunlight but this can only be expected from the plastic screen. It’s not a huge problem.

The Nokia N97 Mini


Nokia has reduced the onboard memory to 8GB but there is scope to increase the memory to 24GB by using a microSD card (up to 16GB). Personally, I think that that is plenty of space but it’s still a big drop from the original N97’s 32GB of internal memory (which can also take a microSD card – up to 16GB, so up to a huge 48GB).

The OS is Symbian S60 and its user interface of the Nokia N97 Mini has been getting some mixed reviews. Some are saying that it’s bland, boring and dated. I agree up to a certain point. It’s definitely not as flashy and modern as some of its competitors, but it still has a quite substantial appeal to it. There has been a recent firmware upgrade which has brought ‘flick’ scrolling (kinetic scrolling to the handset instead of having to drag your finger/thumb across the screen. New widget support on the home page means that you can have your frequently used apps instantly at your fingertips. Surely that’s a good thing?  The menus are easy enough to navigate through, a bit confusing at times though as some items require to be clicked on twice to select them and others only once. I’m sure that if you used the phone for long enough you would get used to this.

I read somewhere on another site the grumblings of another reviewer regarding handsets being brought out prematurely – before software kinks were ironed out. Fair enough point I guess but this doesn’t seem like too much of an issue to me as Nokia provides over-the-air updates. Whilst testing out the N97 Mini I received about four software updates for various things and it was pretty painless applying them.


Application-wise, the Nokia N97 mini comes well equipped. It has a Facebook widget linking Nokia’s app. I use Facebook all the time so of course I had to try this out. I quite liked it if I’m honest! It was easy to use and seemed pretty quick. There’s also other social networking apps, preinstalled games, internet services, Nokia Maps, email, and the usual phone apps like the calendar, calculator, media player, etc. If this isn’t enough for you you can always to to Nokia’s Ovi store and download loads of other apps and there quite a few free ones to grab!

The music player is very simple to use (a bit on the plain side but it does exactly what you need it to do!). With the large memory capacity you can fit tons of music on this phone. The loud speakers on the phone are quite good but I would still rather use headphones or a separate speaker. The headphones are pretty standard so you’ll probably want to use your own set. They can be plugged straight into the phone or into the media control cable.


I was particularly impressed with the camera on the N97 Mini. It’s a 5MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics. It doesn’t have a lens cover like the original N97 which is a shame. Just have to be more careful! The flash is a dual LED one which gives adequate illumination for lower light scenarios but of course a Xenon flash would have been better.

The pictures taken with this camera are very clear! In good lighting you can take fantastic photos. Here’s one I took.

20112009009 Photo taken with the Nokia N97 Mini


I thought the zoom was really good too because when I took the next picture and looked back at it on the phones display it looked really good. But after putting the picture on my laptop I’ve realised that it’s not quite focused. To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s the camera’s fault or mine!

20112009010 Photo taken with the Nokia N97 Mini


The qwerty keyboard is really good to use. Nokia have disposed with the D-pad which it appears that many people didn’t like it. I think a main reason of removing it was to do with the lack of space due to the size reduction. It take a bit of getting used to the off centre space bar but other than that it’s quite good.

There is one annoying aspect that I found with this phone and that is the fact that the display will only change to landscape mode when you slide open the phone. I found myself turning the phone on its side on a number of occasions to change to landscape mode to which nothing happened!

Messaging and emailing is a breeze with the N97 Mini whether you are using the phone keypad or qwerty keyboard. Email is easy to set up and the text it a good size making it clear to read. If you are just using the touch screen with the slider closed the phone will display a T9 phone keypad. There is also the option for handwriting recognition, but I don’t think this is a feature that many people would really use.

For connectivity this phone has 3G, HSDPA, Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS and USB. Plenty don’t you think?! The Wifi is very simple to get set up with and means you can make the most of all the internet services.


I had no issues at all with the call quality. It was loud and clear and there were no complaints from anyone I called. The loud speakers can be used for the speakerphone. These are quite good quality and do the job nicely. The packaged earphones are also good to use for handsfree purposes.



Nokia have always produced trustworthy phones in my eyes. Not always the fanciest of handsets but I find that you will rarely have an issue with them.

I think that the N97 Mini will fall nicely into this view that I have. It has a sturdy build with what feels like a well-made sliding mechanism, the user interface is easy to use and has plenty to offer. With access to the Ovi store you can download loads of apps to personalise the phone to suit you, and to top this, it’s a stylish handset.

I feel that the resistive touch screen and flimsy plastic feel to the screen really lets this phone down. I think a capacitive, glass touch screen would make all the difference and make N97 Mini definitely worth the retail price.

If you’re someone who wants a smart phone that looks good, fit loads onto it, but also wants to be able to fit it into a pocket then this may be one for you to consider!



Reviewed by: Emma

Posted in: Reviews

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