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Smackdown: Nokia N97 vs iPhone 3GS

Nokia’s N97 is the latest in their range of high end smart phones. The first N-Series phone with a touch screen, the N97 also hides a flip-out keyboard. Laden with 32G of storage, a 5 megapixel camera, Nokia Maps, Nokia’s Comes with Music service, and more, this phone is a feature laden treat for mobile phone buffs and a worthy opponent to Apple’s newly released iPhone 3GS.  In fact, the specifications for the N97 versus the iPhone 3GS are nearly identical, right down to the dimensions.

So which is better?  I took both for a spin on a recent trip to San Francisco to find out.

Let’s start with the fact that the N97 is not Nokia’s first touch screen phone.  That distinction goes to the 5800 XpressMusic.  The N97, however, is a much better touch screen device than the 5800 was.  More thought has been put into finger-tip user interfaces, and the interface itself is faster and feels more natural.  For example, on the 5800, to scroll the screen, you had to put a finger on a small scroll bar and push the bar.  On the N97, you simple touch the screen and swipe in the direction you want to scroll – a la Apple’s iPhone.  One noticeably absent gesture, however, is the iPhone “pinch” for enlarging and shrinking a screen.

The biggest difference between iPhone and N97 is simply the fact that the iPhone is designed around the absence of a keyboard, whereas the N97 is designed to add touch features to a keyboarded device.  That has profound implications for user experience, and generally iPhone succeeds better than N97.

The Home Screen is a new concept for Nokia.  Unlike previous N-series devices, the N97’s home screen can be customized with widgets allowing you to see various kinds of information at a glance – weather, presence status of friends, emails received, or a summary of your Facebook account, for example. It works naturally with the touch screen as well. This short video shows it in action.

When compared to the iPhone springboard, it’s clear that Nokia has taken a different approach. N97 designer Axel Meyer had an explicit goal to connect the people around you with the content that you wanted to share with them.  The result is that the N97 home screen provides a variety of different and useful information “on deck”. iPhone, by comparison, focuses on easy access to applications.  Nokia’s approach is promising and may ultimately have more appeal than the iPhone springboard. However, it is easier to find and use applications on iPhone, because applications on the N97 are buried two folders away from the home screen.

Artfully hidden beneath the screen is a small keyboard. The keyboard took a little practice to be able to use well, but once accustomed to it, I was able to compose short emails as easily on the N97 as on the iPhone. Managing email was a little more difficult on N97 versus iPhone.  The iPhone is really optimized for reading, filing, deleting and forwarding emails which makes for a smoother overall experience. One sorely needed improvement to N97 email is an auto-correct feature to allow spelling errors to be more easily corrected.

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Another appealing aspect of the N97 is the fact that it can be used to watch video. It’s becoming more and more common to watch video on planes and while commuting on a small form factor devices like the N97 or the iPhone. And because you can pop the screen up on an angle by folding out the keyboard, it’s not necessary to hold the N97 in hand for hours at a time – a definite improvement compared to iPhone.

The camera on the N97 is a gem.  With 5 megapixels of resolution, Carl Zeiss optics, and a xenon dual-LED flash, this is the equivalent of today’s snapshot cameras.  Other camera phones can’t hold a candle to any of the N-series phones, simply because of the attention to detail that Nokia lavishes on the camera.  For example, here are two unretouched photos of the San Francisco skyline – the first shot with iPhone, and the second with the N97.  The iPhone photographs have a pronounced blue cast to them.  Notice how much brighter, color saturated and clearer the N97 photograph is.  Moreover, the differences become even more pronounced when each photograph is viewed at its original size (click on the photograph to see it full size).

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The impact of the extra pixel density can be seen in other ways as well.  For example, the photograph taken with the N97 presents several opportunities for cropping and digital zoom.  I’ve created a dramatic photo here by cropping, warming the color temperature and saturating color.  The same crop and manipulation of the photo taken on iPhone is dramatically different.  Moreover, even after cropping the N97 photograph it is still 1496 pixels wide – large enough for a small print.

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The digital zoom on the N97 is also quite good.  The photo below is unaltered.  It’s a little blurry because of the digital zoom, but with sharpening it could be improved  easily.  iPhone is simply unable to take this shot.

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You can really get some amazing photographs with the N97. Here are a couple more  that I shot walking around San Francisco.

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The N97 also supports the capture of widescreen video.  I found it easy to grab small clips, although the tiny form factor of the device made it difficult to hold steady.  A welcome addition would be some image stabilization capabilities in the camera.  In the absence of that, a small tripod would be very helpful.

The impact of 5 megapixels of video capture can also be seen in these two short clips of a fountain I walked by in Detroit’s Airport on the way back.  The Nokia clip was shot on a two year old N95 equipped with a similar 5 megapixel camera to the N97. The clips are near identical, showing the same fountain.  However, the Nokia clip shows much greater clarity, color, and detail than the iPhone clip does.

Another N-Series feature I took advantage of while in San Francisco was navigation.  Both iPhone and the N97 come with mapping software, a compass, and the ability to plot a route.  In addition, the N97 includes a 3 month license for Nokia’s navigation application.  After the initial 3 months, a navigation license can be purchased from Nokia for €49,99 (about $70) annually.  Coupled with an aftermarket dashboard mount, this turns your phone into a viable substitute for a dedicated navigation system from a manufacturer such as Garmin or Magellan. You will, however, want to purchase a car charger, as running the screen constantly results in a rapidly depleted battery.   Navigation for iPhone will be available as a third party application from TomTom later this year.

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Web browsing is roughly equivalent on both devices. The Nokia browser and Safari on iPhone are both webkit browsers, which means that they render pages nearly identically.  iPhone has the edge, however, because of the multi-touch “pinch” gesture.  It’s simply easier to display and read a web page on iPhone.

And what about music? Music is, after all, Apple’s heritage.  Surprisingly, the N97 is very good here.  With 32G of memory, expandable by a further 16G SD card,  the N97 can hold more music.    The N97 playback application is not as slick as Apple’s iPod application, but it’s still very serviceable.  Plus, the N97 includes speakers for stereo playback if you don’t want to listen on your headphones.

Other notable differences:

  • Battery life: N97 wins over the notoriously bad iPhone power consumption.
  • Gaming: Both devices support touch screen gaming.  In addition, the N97 puts a gamer style D-Pad on the device, whereas iPhone simply uses the accelerometer to create innovative new games.  However, the sheer number of games available in the iPhone app store make iPhone the better gaming platform.
  • Screen: N97 wins with a 640×360 pixel monster vs. the iPhone 480×320.

So N97 or iPhone?  Which one wins overall?

The N97 is a smash hit when it comes to photography and video.  If you care about taking great photos or videos and sharing them with others, then there really is no better choice than the N97.  However, you will have to compromise on user experience. The N97 is less polished than the iPhone, and Apple’s iPhone experience is simply easier and better integrated overall than the N97.

If applications are important to you, especially email, iPhone 3GS is the better choice.  Applications load faster, are slicker and easier to use, are better integrated with the platform, and there are simply more choices on iPhone.

I’ve been carrying a Nokia N95 and an iPhone for over a year now.  I really do enjoy photography with the N95 plus the features of the iPhone.  I’ve tried several other Nokia N-Series devices over the past year as they’ve come available to me, and always returned to the N95.  After four days of carry an N97 and the new iPhone, I can honestly say that I would make the upgrade from the N95 to the N97… but I’m not yet ready to give up the iPhone.

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{ 59 comments… add one }

  • Roland Tanglao July 5, 2009, 10:39 am

    hi alec

    one small question, you have the N97 NAM right? How’s the 3G? Just as good as the iphone 3GS?

    ciao!
    …Roland

    • Alec July 5, 2009, 6:47 am

      I believe the one I had was the "WorldPhone" RM-505, not the NAM, Roland. It supports WCDMA 900/1900/2100, Quad band GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA, GPRS, A-GPS, WLAN. Can't tell you though, because at the end of my 4 days I had to return it to Nokia.

      3G seemed just like the iPhone to me, but I didn't use it much as I was close to WiFi hotspots in most places.

  • Roland Tanglao July 5, 2009, 8:50 pm

    ah ok, looks like you had the non NAM version, thanks!

  • Mark July 6, 2009, 12:22 am

    Thanks Alec, interesting reading, will pass on your thoughts. Mark & Ray

  • dr.abdul gafoor July 6, 2009, 8:47 pm

    there is a serious mistake in your review,i think n97 doesnt have xenon flash

  • Alec July 7, 2009, 1:50 am

    Dr. Gafoor — thanks for catching that. I've correct the post.

  • robert July 8, 2009, 12:24 pm

    hello. can you inform consumers about the intangible values of both devices? for example, does Nokia have any of the environmental or sustainable design features? Price? Plan cost versus value?

  • Alec July 8, 2009, 2:44 pm

    Sorry to have been so confusing, Chris. When I was speaking of color, white balance, exposure and so on, I was indeed speaking of image processing, and optics. The Nokia cameras have real lenses, higher quality CCD's, and a larger range of aperture sizes. The Nokia camera is simply better at image processing than the Apple camera.

    As for resolution, my only point was that higher pixel density leads to more creative editing options.

  • Chris July 8, 2009, 6:31 pm

    “The impact of the extra pixel density can be seen in other ways as well”

    You seem to be confusing image processing with resolution here. The first shot comparison, you are focusing on details that are governed by exposure and white balance. The iPhone had a cooler white balance and underexposed to your taste. This has nothing to do with the pixel density. If you want to compare true resolution, upsize the iPhone image to 2592 × 1944 and compare a section of high detail at full size on both images. My guess is there won’t be much noticeable difference.

    The other thing I want to point out is that Apple may be exposing a little less in order to avoid overexposure in bright sunlight. Overexposure cannot be fixed, a slightly dark image can.

  • Chris July 8, 2009, 6:36 pm

    By the way, if you look on some of the white rooftops, you’ll see more overexposure in the N97 photo. Also, on further inspection, the N97 does appear to have better real resolution so I will concede on that point.

  • VMG July 8, 2009, 9:16 pm

    Hi, I think this is a great comparison but just a correction…the N97 does have predictive text that can be activated or deactivated in options when typing messages/emails. Also when browsing, you can double-tap on the page to zoom it in or out.

    I know I sound biased since I'm not a big fan of the iPhone but another advantage of the N97 is that it allows multitasking which I am not sure you can do with the iPhone. The iPhone features that I liked, I also found with the iTouch. So I just use the iTouch and then N97 as my phone.

  • Dnd July 28, 2009, 9:31 am

    "hello. can you inform consumers about the intangible values of both devices? for example, does Nokia have any of the environmental or sustainable design features?"

    I can take this one.

    Nokia is top of GreenPeace's list of electronics manufacturers, Apple is down near the bottom…

    Source: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns

  • bodydetoxdiet August 5, 2009, 11:29 am

    the Nokia N97 features a large 3.5 inch display with a resolution of 640 X 360 at 16.7 million colors. now that is an impressive video display capability isnt it?

  • Raheel August 7, 2009, 6:52 am

    i bought the n97 and its quite impressive. Im on it now actually. Anyway sometimes i get an error message when im browsing, it says http error 403 restricted. Any1 know how to fix this?
    Also i wanted to know if i made the right choice, all the reviews i read give the conclusion of a tie or slight lead of iphone.
    Help maybe? Lol

  • gabby August 11, 2009, 2:23 am

    erm sorry but i think u ommited something about the iphone…if i am not mistaking it is possible to share pictres via e mail on the iphone now…

  • Craig Saunders August 15, 2009, 11:21 am

    Hey alec

    Just wanted to know could this phone be good for kids,because it is a business phone and all.

    So could this be a great entertainment phone for kids?
    I’ve checked the 5800 but seen to like this phone more!

    What do you say???

    • Alec August 17, 2009, 10:17 am

      I’m not sure I’d use it for kids. Some of the other Nokia devices have build in game pads and the like, and this one doesn’t. Might other better choices out there.

  • NordicTalking August 16, 2009, 9:12 am

    Missing facts about the N97:

    the built in FM transmitter – connects the phone to your car stereo
    or hifirack.
    Apple relies on external devices to be attached for that purpouse
    which are of course then less smart:

    the N97 fm transmitter switches off, and on on demand – and if switched on, takes the music audio from the bluetooth stack.

    If connected to car via bluetooth, you want to recieve and handle calls via bluetooth car kit or headset. – however, you want to hear music via FM transmitter – which also places neatly the letters "nokia" in the display of your radio.

    the n 97 can swap the battery, iphone cant

    n97 can forward SMSs.

    n97 has a combined AV plug (yep, V = video)

    n97 protects the camera with a cover

    n97 uses wlan where available, and automatically falls back
    to GSM-based network (UMTS/EDGE/GPRS.. ) if needed.

    n97 playes flash based movies, so it is able to view nicely and in stereo w/o headsets everything – from youtube vids, over video podcasts to live streaming content of all kind. (i run an orb server, and stream my news broadcaster and my video achive to the phone on long drives:-)

  • Craig Saunders August 19, 2009, 8:21 am

    Thanks Alec but this phone does have great entertainment im not really into things like gaming phones.
    I like my MUSIC,PICTURES,VIDEOS and things like that.The n97 has it all.And this phone also has N-Gage

    I’ve seen everything of this phone and just LOVE IT!!!.

    This is my list:#1 Nokia n97
    #2 Nokia n96
    #3 Sony ericsson W715i
    #4 Nokia 5800 xpress music

    People say the nokia 5800 is a bad,boring phone.
    Is this True ???

    PS:Thank you for replying yo my Question.

  • Patrick August 20, 2009, 1:19 am

    i got iphon 3g i like it very much and now i m going to buy i phone 3gs but nokia just lauched n97 so i m just wondering what to buy if any one help me for this , thas really helpfull to me.
    thank u

  • tamas August 23, 2009, 3:20 pm

    I think n97 is the best becoz nokia is the famous company in mobile phones and the N97 is the great achievement of it….

  • MjN August 29, 2009, 6:04 am

    hey,I got a 'lil Q:

    does the N97 have the prblem of hanging or locking and not sending the text msges fast like previous Nseries e.g N91 ??
    I intend to buy a handy but I really got stuck between N97 and iPhone!
    which one is easier to use?
    P.S
    I have never had a touch screen phone!

  • Chris S. September 1, 2009, 2:33 am

    I would like to congratulate Alec for a great comparison of the two phones. After owning a Nokia N95 8GB for the last year, I decided to go with an iPhone 3G S and I couldn't agree more with the last part about carrying both phones around at the same time (N95 for pictures, iPhone for everything else). Glad to see I'm not the only one doing it!

  • devu September 5, 2009, 5:00 pm

    Missing facts about N97 and I thing very important because ruin iPhone in this case.

    1 – Flash support (access to thousand games websites YouTube)
    2 – System is nothing else like Symbian, fully customizable from developer point of view lights years beyond IPhone stuff.

    IMHO I can’t see any 1 small point to opt-in IPhone

  • Er Cipolla September 6, 2009, 4:43 am

    me fate ridere me fate, nun se po vede scrive ste fregnacce da ricconi o pischelli che li sordi manco li sudano.. qui state a parla di euri come se fossero noccioline.. e stica e stoca! con l’aifon tregiesse (tre grandi stronzate)addirittura ve castrate da soli, e con l’N97 (nato nel 97) che pare la pubblicita’ dei mattoncini lego ve ce fate le pippe su OVI, chattando su feisbuc con la pischella che ve sta de fianco.. ennamo dai rega’!..

    Io per come la vedo a Stefano Lavori e ai fillandesi pseudogenovesi (chiedo scusa ai genovesi) li manderei ad arare i campi! a me per il Qlo non mi prendono..

    Il vero problema siete VOI! si anche te che leggi.. che cazzo serve ave’ sti cosi quando con gli stessi sordi te compri un cell umts ed un netbuc, che almeno durano piu’ di una serata.. ce sta un mio conoscente che usa l’aifon solo la sera per farsi vede dice.. ma la verita’ e’ che la batteria dura giusto giusto na serata! all’anima dei settecento euri!

    Per non parla’ dellennenovantapippe, che cia’ deppiu’ de un tytn kaiser? se annamo a vede rega’… so sordi spesi male.. molto male..

    Parlamo poi degli aggiornamenti.. lasciamo sta’ artri commenti che senno’ me infervoro.. da na parte ce sta la eppol che cia’ sempre avuto la politica della puzza sotto er naso, che tanto fa figo e sordi! ma in sostanza, anche in campo computerZ ha sempre usato sta tattica del piffero.. quando se sa che un picci va 40000 volte mejo e costa 1/5, senza conta’ che un regazzino de 12 anni te apre er picci e ce fa quello che cazzo vole, senza da doverlo lascia’ in assistenza (assistenza… de che?) per fa’ la stessa cosa.. ennamo! comunque dicevamo gli udeites..
    La eppol rilascia i minor updeites per poi rifilartene una seria.. si.. ma ne frattempo te mette in mercato 3 telefoni UGUALI PARO PARO, con qualche OVVIA miglioria e le ovvie castrazioni arduer.. ma stica! che cio’ scritto in fronte? buffalo bill?

    ed a proposito de bill.. er nostro amico billi cancelli.. ecco.. la nokia segue proprio la sua filosofia.. fa’ cellulari come er QLO, piacciono perche’ sembrano diversi ma alla fine in fondo ce trovi sempre a solita merda! e te costano no stonfio, c’e’ di bello che al pari dei pc te ce trovi de tutto.. ma proprio tutto.. virus per symbian compresi!

    Morale della favola.. annate a lavora! cosi i sordi capirete che significa sudarli, fatto questo potrete unirvi in coro con me con un bel VAFFANCULO alla eppol e alla nokia, in modo tale che creino prodotti realmente innovativi, utili, senza farli testare alla clientela e che costino il giusto! ma siccome siamo la nazione con il piu’ alto numero di cell, la cosa si prospetta assai incasinata, forse perche’ ce vorrebbe un bel upgreid al firmuear dei tanti italioti pendaccioni che, ad oggi, fomentano sta granmassa de fiji de bona donna che ce se nculano a passo de gallina propinandoci sta mmerda con nopmi diversi e se la ridono a vedere le interminabili diatribe che stamo a fa sui vari blogghe su internette!

  • Tenzin September 8, 2009, 4:41 am

    you dont mention the fact that Iphone Navigation system beats out yearly $70.00 fees when apples navigation apps are a ONE TIME FEE, so its a lot better, $70 a year is like paying 6 dollars a month for EVER to keep ur gps app running.

    ANd although the iphone camera is worse, the fact is its alot more easier and simpler to share pictures via iphone due to thousands of cool apps and iphone friendly feautres and plus apple makes it so easy. So i still think Iphone is the better choice if you’re someone who likes to take pictures and share videos as an average person.

  • Acnebloke September 11, 2009, 9:29 am

    the Nokia N97 is very stylish and more rugged than the N91. I own both the N91 and N97, both are good phones but i like the style of the N97

    • Alec September 11, 2009, 9:38 am

      I’m not sure I agree with you on that Acne. N97 is better looking, and has better features than the N91. However the 91 is solid stainless steel and aluminum construction. Rugged? For sure!

  • Ashima September 15, 2009, 4:41 pm

    Good comparison.. helped me a lot..

  • Detlef September 17, 2009, 3:01 am

    Here is my first experience about the Iphone 3GS, first you nee to install ITunes on your PC to activate the phone,..Itunes will tell you then to upgrade it to vers. 3.1, even tell’s you in case of a problem you can return to vers. 3.0 (no chance at all), you are stuck with vers.3.1, the phone looks really good and offers a lot (even to freeze every few minutes) and only a hard reset by holding the sleep/wake and the home button will restart the phone. This could be because of not being patient enough to wait until the application is loaded or a extreme slow cpu. I never had a problem like this with my N95 8Gb and what i will do with my Iphone 3GS i will put it back into the case it came with and wait for better days.

  • Danny September 22, 2009, 1:46 pm

    Thanks for the comparisment helped me a lot.. You didnt really make clear which phone you considered to be a better one. I think i am going to try and get the n97

  • Hannah September 28, 2009, 3:30 am

    I've had the N97 for almost a month now, but before I got it I was tossing it up against the iphone. The iphone is undoubtedly a sleek, fun and funky device, that is very easy to use, however I went with the N97 because I'm so comfortable with Nokia phones, and I really wanted a keyboard. I don't regret my decision at all, and I've never had so much fun with a mobile phone as I'm having with the N97. I agree with the article that the iphone is more polished than the N97 and also seems a bit more modern, but let's not forget that the iphone has been around for a couple of years now, so Apple have certainly had enough time to perfect their (only) mobile phone product. The N97 on the other hand, is only a few months old, and while Nokia has yet to iron out the bugs that are to be expected with smartphones these days (the original iphone definitely had its fair share of trouble spots), I'm having such a ball browsing the internet and personalising my widgets homepage, that I'm not bothered too much by occasional lags or freezes. For me, while the iphone does just about everything well, I find it almost laughable that it doesn't perform some functions that Nokia mobiles have been doing for years, or that you have to install certain apps on the phone to enable you to do these things (e.g. cut and paste, video recording, SMS forwarding, file transfer to other mobiles over bluetooth). And another reason I went with the N97 over the iphone – multitasking. Yes, the N97 occasionally lags and the phone generally doesn't feel as fast as the iphone, but what do you expect when you've got 2 or 3 apps open? Of course the phone will slow down a bit, just like any computer. Still, it's definitely testament to the iphone's mass appeal that although some seemingly basic functions are absent, it continues to go from strength to strength. Nevertheless, the N97 is a fantastic device in its own right (as is the iphone), and I hope the upcoming firmware update in October will truly release the awesome potential of the phone and fix the bugs. Then I think it will be just about perfect. Or at least until the Nokia N900 is released… 😉

  • Clare September 28, 2009, 2:36 pm

    I own both an iphone and Nokia N97, and while both are fantastic devices in their own right, I usually use the N97 more. IMO, the overall user experience is slightly better on the iphone – it is more user friendly, and seems faster and smoother than the N97. I think that if you were to go through and list the functions/features on each phone, the N97 would offer more and have better specs. However, if you were to go through those same lists and rate how well each phone performs its tasks, the iphone would score better in general. It’s almost as if Nokia tried to include everything you could possibly think of in the N97, but in the end it probably released an unfinished product. However I am fairly sure that they will make it right with firmware updates (they have in the past). The main reasons why I still prefer the Nokia N97 are as follows: the excellent QWERTY keyboard (I’m not quite ready to go completely touchscreen yet), better hardware and camera, and more specs and features. I also hate that I can’t delete individual SMS messages on the iphone, and that I can’t share files with my friends over bluetooth. I also like using several applications at once, which you can’t do on the iphone. IMO, if you want a smooth device that’s very easy to use that looks funky, then the iphone is hard to beat. However, if you want a true mobile computer that does just about everything you could possibly want or need in a smartphone, then the N97 is for you (though keep in mind that it still needs firmware updates to improve).

  • b October 3, 2009, 2:11 pm

    does anyone know if the N97 synchs multiple calendars? -I'm on a MAC and use multiple calendars. currently have a SE P900 that doesnt deal with that, don't really want an Iphone, bt they may leave me no other choice…..

  • Jamie October 21, 2009, 9:39 pm

    the Nokia N97 for me is the best phone that i bought. it is definitely a bang for the buck phone. nice features and cool looks.

  • Michael G October 22, 2009, 5:40 am

    Hey Alec…I've been reading a lot of not so good reviews for the N97,and I'm just so glad that I read this. I thought I made a mistake buying this phone. Btw, I read that Iphone has a better OS than N97, would you agree to that? In what way one is better than the other? Thanks.

  • glad November 3, 2009, 5:59 am

    guys i bought the n97 after selling my n95. It is terrible laggy and every week i have to hard reset it. I will sell it for an i phone 3gs

  • ShaqueNova November 21, 2009, 3:09 pm

    I’ve been a loyal customer to Nokia for almost 10 years up until recently when someone suggested I would be happier with an iPhone. I like to listen to music, watch movies, go online, read email, take photos and video and use the maps. I owned the iPhone 3G 16g for a total of 7 frustrating days and I absolutely hated the damn thing so much that it ended a long term service with my provider after their refusal to take the phone back and give me the N97.

    I wanted the N96 originally and changed my option to try out thr N97, but they wouldn’t give me one with a decent plan. So I switched providers, got my N97 with a great call and data plan. After having it now for a month, I am stoked to own it. Being familiar with the Symbian OS and Nokia phones in general, I must say that I prefer it to the iPhone by a long shot.

    The photos and video on the N97 are top notch, better than that of our 5 year old 5mp Canon A150, which was awesome when it was released. It seems to work better as a USB mass storage device compared to the iPhone and the battery life is way better than the iPhone as well. I can listen to music for almost a week solid before the battery runs out on the N97. In fact, I often fall asleep with my headphones and the N97 will still be fully charged by the morning.

    I hated iTunes and I often lost music, pictures and files on my computer if I made a tiny mistake while iTunes “synced” what I wanted off my phone. It also happend when I removed something off the PC, iTunes will sync it off the iPhone as well. Mind you, Nokia’s new Ovi Suite software looks similar to iTunes and can sync files too, but I simply use the mass storage and explorer to move stuff around.

    I found the iPhone a little cumbersome and slippery compared to the more compact and comfortable handling of the N97 keyboard. I often dropped the iPhone attempting to get it out of my belt pouch because it was so rounded, shiny and slim. The N97 was squareish, more practically designed and can be opened to change batteries, whereas the iPhone is a sealed unit.

    I have a friend with the newest iPhone and he absolutely loves it and tells me he hated Nokia. I simply told him that the iPhone has some great features, but sometimes the pros and cons of different devices sway the decision based on what applications and features are more important for the user and the iPhone was simply not for me, just as a Nokia was not for him. I totally love my black N97… but each to their own. If you plan to take both for a test drive, make sure you can get a grace period from your provider first.

  • Jon November 27, 2009, 5:48 pm

    You did not mention that the N97 has an built in FM transmitter application. So you can play ur music via your radio, without the need for cables. Aftermarket FM transmitters for iphones can be quite expensive.

  • gaura December 7, 2009, 1:30 am

    NOKIA N97 RULES!!!! Suk it Iphone the nokia n97 isnt as delicte u drop an iphone onto a soft carpet itll break

  • Lilxlegend December 9, 2009, 5:41 pm

    gaura is rite.the n97 RUELS. i phone ,epic fail!

  • shahrukh December 9, 2009, 6:00 pm

    ya shaque nova is rite n97 is far better than iphone3g and john is also saying truth it hs a great feature of fm transmitter which iphone does not if iphone fell down that damn thing will broke on the other hand n97 will not .my younger brother have iphone and i n97 and he hate the day he buyed it and i love my stylish and dashing black nokia n97

  • shahrukh December 9, 2009, 10:01 pm

    ya shaque nova is rite n97 is far better than iphone3g and john is also saying truth it hs a great feature of fm transmitter which iphone does not if iphone fell down that damn thing will broke on the other hand n97 will not .my younger brother have iphone and i n97 and he hate the day he buyed it and i love my stylish and dashing black nokia n97.so fans go ahead and bye n97.

  • himanshu December 14, 2009, 10:07 am

    wats the shipping price of iphone .in india it is very costly around 35k.but after shipping it gets low.is it?is it come with global warrenty.

  • Mario December 14, 2009, 2:49 pm

    I have an iphone 3GS and i was just searching the net to compare it to n97 because a friend have it and i was thinking to buy it too.n97 has a qwerty keyboard(thats why i wanted it most).although n97s wifi has longest radio iphone is way much faster on download since i am downloading my torrents through iphone as for applications(since i had a s60 mobile)nokia can only dream of beating in this section the iphone because it is much better(in fact now i am using wyse application and i am seeing my desktop screen on iphone) although nokia n97 has way much better camera-nokia always was better on this…my oppinion is that you should buy whatever mobile you liked most and you wont regret it.both are great!(i will stay with iphone)
    i hope i could help a bit and sorry for my english :p

  • doogie December 20, 2009, 4:13 am

    hi alec and anyone else who may know. Im wanting to send some vids & pics using my nokia n97 to a mad avaites iphone 3gs 16gb using bluetooth – my nokia is saying "unable to connect". We've tried several combinations of connecting (pairing and even non paired) but still same error occurs. Is the iphone able to play / receive mp4 video format (cause thats the standard vid format on n97)?

    If anyone has a solution thats easily understood available to be viewed online please post reply with web address / method explaination.

    Thanks
    doogie – australia

  • nicholas December 27, 2009, 1:14 pm

    i think the n97 is better

  • Ikenna Udeagwu December 31, 2009, 1:41 pm

    I have not bought N97 is because i cant afford it now. All GSM phones i have used so far,are all Nokia phones (Nokia 3510i and Nokia 6630). None had dissapointed me. All Nokia phones are very smple to operate. My present phone,Nokia 6630, has been performing so well that I woundnot like to let it go. But, I have to,someday. And it will definitely be replaced with Nokia N97.There is no phone that dosent have it on share of problems,once in while. After all,is phone not an Electronics,prone to mal-function sometimes? To me, i consider durability first,which nokia is at good at. Why would i buy a phone that cannot transfer data,files,music or videos to another device via bluetooth? Apple phone is very guilty of this. Why would I buy a phone that its battery cant be swapped? Again, Apple phone,very guilty.To Type an SMS on all Nokia phones is as easy as ABC. To operate a Nokia phone for the first time,one does not need a User guide or manual , because Nokia phones are self Directory,while operating them. If N97 can perform, at least, 97% functions of Apple Phone,then, why wouldnt i go for the best,N97″

  • Ikenna Udeagwu December 31, 2009, 1:52 pm

    To supplement to my previous comment. Over here in Nigeria,where am writing from, Nokia phones have always been the best, most especially, their Smartphones. I have come accross users of iphones and they are not finding funny with their phones. Before You buy any phone, first check on web its annoyances. If it is something you can live with,tolerate or overlook,then go ahead with your purchase. But if you think otherwise, run for their life! Ikenna Udeagwu, writing from Abuja, Nigeria.

  • Mario January 16, 2010, 8:07 am

    Somthing that i forgot to say and i am really surpised that no one of you nokia n97 owners didnt say.i guess you were to busy saying that n97 is better that iphone.the truth is that n97 has too many problems and no one wrote a thing here.in fact it has a ringtone problem since the first day it was released.also it crashes on low memory and the camera protector is scratching the lens of the camera.also some one spoke about the flash player on n97 but trust me its really useless when your browser is too laggy…i hope now people will know better before going to buy a nokia n97 and then sell it a few months later on ebay.and i not saying that to show off the iphone it is the truth because i was thinking to buy a nokia n97.(also you can search google for n97s problems if you dont believe)

  • Mauricio Fleury January 29, 2010, 9:39 am

    Hi Alec,
    Wonderful Review!
    A few thoughts:
    1. Interconnectivity: between apple iPhone and Nokia N97 who’s got the best all around “hey I can connect with more applications that you do!”
    2. Memory cards!
    3. Video Call
    4. Better Camera N97 Carl Ziess 5,0 MP or iPhone?
    5. Apple is always looking around for a “hey let’s launch another iPhone with new gadgets to get those suckers who bought the “Old” iPhone, while Nokia seems to me a little bit more down to Earth on this topic.
    Thanks!

    Mauricio Fleury

  • Shayne A February 2, 2010, 8:15 am

    just a heads up, Nokia N97 Now supports Ovi Maps 3.3 which has Free navigation with voice. yes… FREE ^_^

  • Karls February 5, 2010, 1:36 am

    Nokia sure makes the best and ergonomic phones in the market today. the Nokia N97 have very good ergonomics and is very user friendly

  • Tony Ward March 29, 2010, 6:38 am

    Well, I have spent the last two days trying to set my wifes N97 up with email. I like the Nokia Messaging but, and a big one at that, where are my contacts. Seriously where is the N97’s integration. On the iPhone choose a contact and I can sms, email or call the person, you cant’ do that on the N97, for that reason only I will be keeping my Iphone 32gb 3gs, no competition really and its an ipod! Still I need to sort the N97 out for the wife!

  • Amir April 17, 2010, 11:10 pm

    Remember that iPhone 3GS is around 300 USD cheaper than N97. However, their major difference is just in camera. So, I think iPhone is much valuable than N97.

  • Hunk February 26, 2011, 7:56 pm

    Very informative I plan to purchase a n97, but will keep my iPhone.

  • Nokia N Series July 21, 2011, 7:23 am

    I'm not a big fan of the iPhone. The main advantage of the N97 is that it allows multitasking which I am not sure you can do with the iPhone.

  • nokia-c-series July 28, 2011, 9:55 am

    I personally like iphon 3g very much because of its sensors and image clarity. On the other hand Nokia n8 is also super mobile but i think it is difficult for me to afford

  • mohammad November 1, 2011, 6:10 pm

    Really IPHONs have high quality ,but i myself prefer to use nokias for some reasons such as popularity of menu types ,but in iphon u see such verry cool animation and graphical items,other reason is the price and the amount of the services u can have by having an iphon(that its not much supported in some countries)+iphone is really a specific type of phones that are mostly suitable in specialy america and the areas and countries in around there,but nokia is a popular and general usable phone which is easy to use and it hase many services that works witheout net or doesnt need to pay all the time for any thing and the last thing is the way of technical designing the hardwares of the phone which made nokia phones more popular,cause they are selled in so many diefferent models , and ofcorse its easy to fix theme every where not just the lone support centres that they arent in reach.+Battery is another iphones problem that forces u to use iphones for just a particular time

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