Why the Nokia N97 is trounced by the N900

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While still preparing some of the materials for my Nokia N900 reviews, I ran into an article, Why the Nokia N97 sucks… and why it still rules, by Steve Litchfield over at All About Symbian, in which presents why he believes that the Nokia N97 is the all-round king of the smartphone world. Towards the conclusion of the article, Steve declares:

There’s simply nothing else in the world that can match all (or even most) of the above. Which means that if even (say) 7 of the 9 attributes are vital to what you want from a smartphone then only be achieved with the ‘love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it’ Nokia N97….

That had me stumped, because there is one mobile device that matches every single point that he made in favour of the N97, without having any of the limitations of the N97. Permit me to present to you…. the Nokia N900.
N900 versus N97
In this article, I itemise Steve’s arguments and apply them to the N900.

1. Display
The N900’s display is very readable in direct sunlight. I live in the tropics, and British sunlight, which Steve’s N97 is exposed to, is nothing compared to the glare of the tropics. Yet, the N900 performs admirably. No issues.

2. Hero battery life
The N900 does not have the 1500mAh battery of the N97, but its BL-5J comes close at 1320 mAh. The N900 mobile computer is my PC when I am out of the office and battery life has been more than adequate.

I am not certain of the criteria of Steve’s ‘power user’s day out’ tests, but I doubt that it holds a candle to mine.


In my own ‘power user’s day out’ scenario, which I conducted last Friday, I had the N900 connecting to the mailserver every 10 minutes over a 3G connection. I set up and/or troubleshot (is that a word?) 7 webhosting accounts, responded to about 20 enquiries and/or support tickets, received and made several voice calls (with Bluetooth headset active), and responded to about 10 SMS messages. In addition, I moderated several comments on MobilityNigeria.com and browsed some of my daily online stop-overs. Note that this was non-stop usage of a mobile device.

With the above scenario, the battery, which was charged full the previous night, and which had been in use for web and email through the night (attending to support requests and moderating MobilityNigeria), died on me at 3 p.m.

That is simply amazing battery performance.

3. FM transmitter
Check.


4. Camera glass protection
Check.

5. 32GB mass memory
Check. Incidentally, Steve left the N900 out of his list of smartphones with this much internal storage.

6. QWERTY keyboard
Check. Works better than the N97’s too.

7. Angled display
The N900 does not have an angled display but rather a kickstand that gives you an angle if you do want or need one.

8. 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss-lens autofocus camera with LED flash
Check.

9. It’s a Nokia
Gee, so’s the N900! And free Ovi Maps is in there too. Check.

Now, the N97 cons

1. Creaking plastic
The N900 case does not creak. The N900 build is solid.

2. CPU, RAM and internal (system disk, C:) flash memory
Sorry; nothing underpowered on the N900 here. It comes packed with an ARM Cortex A8 600MHz CPU, PowerVR SGX graphics accelerator and 256 MB of RAM, as against the N97’s ARM 11 434 MHz processor and 128 MB RAM.

3. Inconsistent and a little confusing user interface
Not here on the N900. The user interface is fluid and intuitive.

4. Minimalist QWERTY keyboard
The N900 QWERTY keyboard has only 3 rows too but is more tactile and usable than the N97’s.

5. Tinny, not-so-loud speakers
The N900 stereo speakers produce very good audio quality sounds. They are certainly not tinny in any way. While not the loudest I have seen, they are also quite loud.

A few extras

Video playback: The N900 plays DivX and XviD video. Want to try that on the N97 and get back to me?

Video recording: N900 does WVGA(848 x 480)@25fps. N97 does VGA@30fps.

Web browser: The N900’s Mozilla-based MicroB browser is without argument the best browser on any smart mobile device (yes; it trounces the iPhone’s Safari as well). Dennis Bournique‘s specialty is mobile browsers, and he has proven over time to be objective. Here is what he has to say about the N900’s browser:

I believe the N900 ‘s MicroB browser is the best built-in mobile browser ever and maybe the best mobile browser, period. Source

and also

I’ve covered the browsing capabilities of the N900 quite bit here on WapReview but to summarize, the built in MicroB browser is the best browser available today on any pocketable device. The combination of 800 x 480 resolution, 3.5 inch screen, high performance JavaScript engine and full desktop Flash 9.4 support means you can really use all the features of almost any desktop or mobile site in pretty much the same way you do on the desktop. I see the N900 as the first of a new wave of phones that blurs the distinction between desktop and mobile browsing. Source

From Matthew Miller, another authority in the mobile space, who also owns an iPhone 3GS:

The web browser is clearly the best of any mobile phone available and once you discover you can pretty much do anything you want within the browser (apps not always necessary) you will probably discover this is an amazing device. Source

The N97’s web browser does not even come close to either Safari or MicroB.

Screen resolution: The N900’s display is better at presenting anything than the N97’s. Part of this is because of the resolution of the displays. Both displays are of the same size (3.5cm), but the N900 has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels against the N97’s 360 x 640 pixels. Everything simply looks sharper and more detailed on the N900.

High Speed Internet: The N900 packs 10 Mbps HSDPA and 2 Mbps HSUPA support, while the N97 is limited to just 3.6 Mbps HSDPA.

Conclusion

The N900 is a far better device than the N97 or N97 Mini and certainly deserves the title of Nokia’s flagship. Title or not though, give me an N900 over either of the N97 twins any day. The N900 matches the N97 in almost every respect and trounces it in several other areas.

The N900, not the N97, is the connected mobile device to beat in terms of all-round features and performance.

Steve needs to review his claim that “There’s simply nothing else in the world that can match all (or even most) of the above (N97 features)”. It simply isn’t true.

26 comments

  1. i would have to agree with you. The N900 is a monster of a phone in features. The N97 is feature rich too. But in terms of performance and UI, I’d choose the N900 any day.

  2. What do you expect? It’s All About SYMBIAN, not All About Maemo, after all.

  3. Arashi,you’re right and so funny
    Yomi,i agree with you but the only reason why i prefer d n97 to n900 is all because former support java while the latter doesn’t. I know you’re not bothered about this since you don’t use third party application.

  4. Computer,

    Pardon me for being blunt about this, but this is not the first time that I am being misrepresented this way. I am not angry; just wondering: is it that you simply read what you want to into statements made by me or you simply are not bothered or its a case of language?

    Can you copy and paste here from any statement I have ever made to say that I do not use 3rd party applications? I’ll pay you my year’s earnings if you find such a statement made by me.

    I currently use a combined total of 19 3rd party widgets and Maemo applications on the Nokia N900. As I have said at other times, I USE 3RD PARTY APPLICATIONS. I hope that is clear now.

    You may want to refer to older articles to verify that I have never claimed to be against (or not to use) 3rd party apps. I just detest using them to duplicate built-in functions. As much as possible too, I also avoid using them to fill up for a manufacturer’s flawed judgements.

    Please make some effort to read me correctly. Like I said, I take no offense. I only needed to point out an error that has been repeated.

    Cheers.

  5. WHy choose java apps as a prequisite for buying a phone. MAemo is the one, my dears.

  6. I have to agree with this article, the N900 dominates. The guys at AAS have blinders on when it comes to future of Nokia (and potentially industry wide “Pad” type internet tablets and netbooks). The N900 and MeeGo/Maemo is just so much better and it is so much easier to develop in than either the iphone OS or Symbian. For example a community programmer developed the MMS functionality in 3 months!

  7. For me, operamini in java will never make me to choose N97 over Maemo; HArdware and otherwise, the N900 wins. N97, hardware wise is poor and only used the Nokia Logo to sell!

  8. I think the main advantage the n900 has over n97 is possession of a superior OS i.e. Symbian versus Maemo/Meego

  9. I never mentioned opera mini… I guess u said that all because i use opera to post here all the time, it simply bcos my bolt doesnt allow me to post here and am always on mobile.

    @yomi,i guess i misinterpreted you.thanks for the explanation dough

  10. Being a Linux enthusiast, what blows it away for me is the ability to install Easy Debian and run powerful open source desktop applications like OpenOffice.org, The Gimp, and Firefox 3.5 etc….The N900 is definitely the future of mobile computing. Cheers!

  11. veri powerful phone(glad u have it :D) da problenm is why doesnt mtn have good internet packages…the 3 pacakges they hv suck…i use ma laptop @ night wen im hone so i cant use da night package…da other 1 is whole month…sorry i dnt want to be paying 2 subscription…n da 3rd is 1 day 50 mb(which we all knw is less dan that)…so what i need is a package from 9 am til 9 pm or 12 am til 12 pm…can any operator supply dis??

  12. ok thanks…i will check their site to see if they’re fully deployed in the north

  13. I wish to have N900? But yomi what is the difference btw N900 and N1000. In term of internet connectivity, mobile office , etc

  14. yomi,

    where can i get the USSD widget?
    I hear a new update will soon be out [its unofficialy on some sites already] that fixes the USSD issue.

  15. Jide,

    You can get the USSD widget in the Application Manager (that’s the equivalent of the AppStore) on your N900.

    Yes; I am aware of that upcoming update.

  16. I would have to agree with you completely Yomi. I googled N1000 and came up with some strange Chineese phones. Nokia N1000 doesn’t exist!

  17. I can’t disagree with any of the technical points made, but would only ask; why? The attitude of the post is as if the N97 and N900 are rivals in the same market. The reality is most of us got the N97 a year or more ago and may (or may not) get N900 as our next phone.

    Try telling us maybe why to get N900 next rather than the latest (not 2 yr old) android. No need to bother talking about apple one 😉

  18. eddie,

    Kindly read through the first paragraph of my article again. It addresses your questions.

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