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First look at Nokia N97 Mini

Imagine theres no Nokia N900 and its brand-new OS, what would Nokia have left on their hands? The right answer is S60, that will be utilized in a plethora of new devices, as the number of smartphones in the companys portfolio will increase dramatically. But will we see any completely new concepts, or get simply more of the same? Unfortunately, over at Nokia they decided that a variety of modifications of certain models was the best way to go, for it allowed for faster time-to-market and lower development costs. And on the other end of the chain, users get more or less the same phone, but with new feats here and there, such as better camera, more memory or richer sales package. The price Nokia thought was reasonable to pay for these benefits was the discontent of those wholl have to buy an expensive gadget only to learn that itll be available tomorrow with reworked features and more appealing sales package.

Take, for example, the Nokia N97 and Nokia N97 mini. How are they different? Imagine someone armed himself with a hacksaw chopped around a centimeter off the original N97 exactly the area occupied by the navigation key. The shortened lip gave this modification its current codename mini. Same N97 on all fronts, but a bit smaller than the original. Im curious what name theyll use for the Nokia 5800i (with it being identical to the good old 5800, yet without WiFi connectivity); I suppose itd make a lot of sense to call it mini as well, rather than waste a new index on a variation of the 5800.

Its very challenging for me to articulate how I feel about this practice while I do understand the phone makers intentions, as a user I would really like to get a flagship device and not think about the possibility that in 5-6 months time there will be a new, improved version.

But lets get back to the Nokia N97 Minis positioning. Generally speaking, its still the companys flagship device, like its predecessor, although it targets those who got put off by the original N97s chunky casing. As far as pricing goes, Nokias hands are really tied up they cant afford to drop the minis price below a certain level, for its a flagship solution, however its impossible to put it at the same price point with the original N97, as then the sales of both phones will suffer. Below the Nokia N97 Mini (in terms of price, that is) are several devices that are yet to be announced, but that aside, they limit Nokias choice even further. In fact, well preview one of these phones tomorrow (we have no secrets here, so brace yourselves for another debut).

In this situation, the Nokia N97 Minis price technically should be around 170 Euro lower than that of the N97, but theyve got so little room that all Nokia can squeeze is 100 Euro (in some regions itll be a bit bigger thanks to the absence of some services). In Russia, for instance, Nokia will ship the N97 mini with a whole battery of services, such as unlimited navigation license and something from the OVI package; needless to say these extras will beef up its already hefty price tag. I suppose it goes without saying that this approach is uncalled-for to say the least, for consumers arent obligated to buy pre-installed services and must have the option of ditching them. In fact, a few demos would me more than enough, especially when it comes to navigation in Russia, where Nokia still cant offer more or less passable maps.

I view the Nokia N97 Mini as a well-tuned version of the original phone. It sports a metal battery cover, superior build quality, yet as a trade-off for its more compact casing the minis QWERTY keyboard has been trimmed down as well. As you might remember, the Nokia N97s thumbboard was far from perfect and required some practice, and the Minis keys are even worse in fact, they couldve dumped the keyboard here altogether, but opted to keep it in order to maintain resemblance with the original model. All in all, I didnt quite like the Minis thumbboard, but I have to say that Ive got pretty big hands, so maybe some people will feel right at home with the N97 mini.

The N97s 32 Gb of built-in memory have been reduced to 8 Gb; the camera hasnt changed at all, however Nokia have thrown the lens cover away. The phones software also features kinetic scrolling (which will be introduced in the N97s second firmware scheduled for mid September).

To get a better idea of the N97 minis size, see how it stacks up against the Nokia N900.

Screenshots:

Honestly speaking, I dont feel particularly enthusiastic about Nokia N97 Mini its not the most petite phone around, by any stretch of imagination. And at the same time it packs in a downgraded keyboard. If the price gap between the N97 and N97 mini was around 200 Euro, it would have become really sought-after. But at only 100 Euro its not all that interesting. But worry not, Nokia is preparing a bunch of other touchscreen-enabled phones, some of which dont carry thumbboards, yet target the same segment as the Nokia N97 Mini. One of them will be previewed tomorrow, and I think youll understand why the Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition and the Nokia N97 Mini have got a rival in the making and why Nokia will reveal only shortly before it lands on most markets. The answer to the latter question is exceedingly simple, though the 5800 Navigation Edition and N97 mini need several months to generate some sales, and a simultaneous announcement would have created needless commotion and shown that the abovementioned devices wouldnt last too long. I havent decided yet whether I want to release previews of all four models or give them to you bit by bit, as their announcement is still pretty far-off. I dont know what else to write about the Nokia N97 mini Ill try to answer your questions via Twitter and our forum. But I believe the screenshots and images available in this preview have already said more than enough about this phone.

Related links

Nokia N97 - hands-on with Nokia's flagship

First look at Nokia RX-51 also known as Nokia N900

 

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Oleg Kononosov (oleg.kononosov@mobile-review.com)

Published — 25 August 2009

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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