When the N97 came out last year it was positioned as the Nokia smartphone that would answer to no one. It was the first Nseries handset with a qwerty keypad and the first with a touch-screen display.
But it was a bit of a hard go for this former Eseries user when he travelled with it for two weeks last summer. The touch screen was interesting but I found the physical keypad too wide, shallow and awkwardly laid out to achieve any kind of speed on.
I first got my hands on the N97 mini in London last November, and thought that the keypad especially was a big improvement over its bigger brother. But after trialling one for the past two weeks it seems to me that the mini is a Nokia full of compromises, albeit very small ones.
Consider the following:
The mini’s screen is more flush with the front fascia of the phone than, say, the 5800. But it’s (obviously) not as big as the display on the N97.
Its keypad is better than the N97’s because the keys themselves are squishier, but again character input isn’t as efficient as it is with Nokia’s BlackBerry-style Eseries phones. Having smaller keys on a narrower device means your thumbs don’t have to travel as far.
Its camera is certainly better than said Eseries phones but not as good as my N86. Sure wish my N86 could do widescreen video, though.
None of this is meant to suggest that the mini is a bad handset — it just doesn’t deliver what I’m personally looking for in my sidearm of choice. Where I once used a pie chart to justify my E61i over the N95 (Nokia’s flagship camera phone of the day), I’m now of the opinion that a good camera trumps all.
But everyone’s different, right? If you’re the type of user that wants a little bit of everything that’s good then the N97 mini was made for you.