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The Nokia N95 vs. The Nokia N97

Nokia N95 - The Doctor is In Nokia N97 - The Doctor is In
Nokia N95 - Chanse's Boots Nokia N97 - Chanse's Boots
Nokia N95 - The Doctor and Cor with an E75 and an iPhone Nokia N97 - The Doctor and Corvida of SheGeeks.net with an E75 and an iPhone
Nokia N95 - Painting on the Wall of the Austin Convention Center Nokia N97 - Painting on the Wall of the Austing Convention Center
Nokia N95 - Photos for Ewan and Ricky Nokia N97 - Photos for Ewan and Ricky
Nokia N95 - Ms. Jen & Mr. Charlie Nokia N97 - Ms. Jen & Mr. Charlie

Photo Credits: All photos taken by Ms. Jen either with her Nokia N95 (v.1) or Dustin’s Nokia N97 prototype on Sun. March 15, 2009 at the Austin Convention Center, Austin, Texas, during SXSW Interactive. Nokia N95 photos on the left column, Nokia N97 on the right. Click on first photo to start the lightbox slideshow.


One of the best parts about SXSW Interactive this year was getting to not only hold the upcoming Nokia N97, but use it to take photos. Yes, I did actually put the Nokia N97 through its paces rather than just pet it.
Big thanks to the Nokia USA folks who were hanging out in the Austin Convention Center hallway and let folks stop by to check out (fondle, really) the new & upcoming Nokia Nseries and Eseries devices.
Thus, the above photo comparison is a straight showdown between my own Nokia N95 (N95-1 – two years old) and the soon to be released, much ballyhoo-ed, Nokia N97.
Yes, the touch screen and qwerty keyboard on the N97 were delicious. Yes, I drooled. Yes, I love the new Symbian Series 60 version 5 OS. Yes, I want one. But… and the big but for me, before I purchase, is how will the camera really perform?
All the features are great, but if the camera is not as good as my current, 2 year old, completely paid for Nokia N95, then what is the point of getting a new device? I am in the market for a new Nokia Nseries, but I want a camera that is better than the one on my current N95, not as good or less than.
All the photos above were taken in the Austin Convention Center hallway during the Nokia Sunday afternoon meetup to see how the Nokia N97 would perform against the N95 (with most recent firmware update v. 30.something.something). I asked all the people to hold the same pose so that the photo set up would be the same for each photo and I turned the flash off on both camera phones. The lighting was sun streaming in through big windows and some overhead fluorescent lighting. Between the lighting, the neutrals of the ACC, and the white walls, I was interested to see how clear the Nokia N97 images would be and would they veer towards the warm or cool in the color spectrum.
Disclaimer* aside, while the Nokia N97 prototype that I used for the above photos did an ok job, the photos were slightly less clear than my Nokia N95’s photos and warmer in color tone. I was really hoping that Nokia would seriously up the ante with the N97’s camera, but for a camera phone that will be the top of the line and the flagship product from Nokia in 2009, I would hope that between now and release that the Nokia engineers and programmers will upgrade the N97’s software and tweak the camera performance so that my Nokia N95 will not beat it in another photo comparison in a couple of months time.
*DISCLAIMER: The Nokia N97 that Dustin Randall (aka DocMobile) had for me to play with is a prototype, of which the browser and other software bits were not fully ready for prime time. Which if some of the software on the prototype N97’s was faulty, then it stands to reason that other bits may be to. Whether the camera software on the device was ready or not , Nokia does have some work to do, as the N95 is still taking better photos..
Follow up: My Nokia N97 Review from July 2009: The Nokia N97 : Photos, A Story, Thoughts, and Asides

13 Responses to “The Nokia N95 vs. The Nokia N97”

  1. jke

    Interesting, thx 4 sharing!
    I am in a similar position – paid for N95-1 & waiting for a decent successor. I am not yet convinced that the N97 could do the job for me in any way better than the N95 does it right now. Also I heard that the browser is still the same S60 browser and I was expecting an improvement on that side as well. And then, of course, battery life.
    Nokia should take the E71 format, stuff it with E75 firmware, put the N95 camera inside, add a Xenon flash + a 3.5mm headphone jack and I’d have my phone 🙂

  2. symbianguru.myopenid.com

    While I don’t think you’re being unreasonable to expect a better camera, I think it’s important to note that the camera is not the only benefit you would get from upgrading to the N97, or the N79/N85, for that matter.
    All three of these phones feature an updated OS compared to your N95-1, which brings a ton of little fixes for annoying things, as well as improved memory management and power management. You’ll also have new abilities, such as access point destinations, US 3G, and a handful of other benefits.
    Given these other updates, I would say it’s fine for Nokia to maintain the status quo on the camera, as they’ve clearly spent time in the other arenas.

  3. Devin Balentina

    Hi,
    I think that when the device is released the N97’s picture is going to be not much different from the N97, it might even turn out a bit worse.
    I think they put more power behind the social media and communication side of things on the N97, the N86 8MP should have better cameras than both.
    Although the N97 with the QWERTY keyboard would be perfect for moblogging.
    Nokia is at it again: not giving us everything in one device….always leaving something out for the next upgrade.
    The N82’s camera and Xenon flash will still beat all of these I think.

  4. April Smith

    Thanks for a very informative post! I too shoot with a Nokia N95 for all my multimedia production and I use it everyday 🙂 Of course I’ve heard of the Nokia N98 or N99 that has a 8.1 MP and even the Samsung that has a Xenon flash but I am stubbornly loyal to my Nokia 95 even though I’m surrounded by Iphones and big pro cameras everyday!
    Thanks so much and nice to see another N95 user. There aren’t many of us around, in fact – I only know of myself and my boss that have one 🙂
    Follow me on twitter @AprilFilms

  5. Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen

    Thanks everyone for your comments and input! I would like to state again, that the N97 I played with for 45 or so minutes was a prototype with a few issues. Overall, with the exception of the camera and image quality, I really did like/love the N97.
    @jke – I am personally on the fence about which phone I will buy next. I really do like the qwerty keyboard of the N97 as well as the big wide screen, but I want better camera performance than the N95 or N82. So, I will most likely end up buying the N86 when it comes out.
    @Ricky (Symbian-Guru) – Actually, after two years, I really do think that the Nseries Flagship Device should have better camera performance than the last flagship device (N95) or even the 1.5 year old N82. The form factor, touch screen, and S60 v5 is not enough to make a flagship device. I want wow. I want groundbreaking. The E75 has the many of the same new features. Both the N97 and E75 could be very exciting moblogging devices if the cameras & image processing software were on par or better than the N95.
    But I will comment on this more in my N79 review, as the features you mention are nice, but not as nice as a kickin’ camera. I am ready to send the N79 back and return to my N95, as the N79 photos are just not clear enough nor are they good in low light.
    ((Note: If you are new to Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen, read my About section, and you will understand a bit more about why the camera on the camera phone is the make or break feature for me.)
    @Devin – If that realy is Nokia’s stategy to keep stringing me (or any other loyal customer) along for the next tiny iteration at the tune of $500-700 every six months, then I believe Samsung or Casio may very well get my business with one of their 8mp phones that also has a qwerty keyboard one of these days. Now that Nokia has discontinued Lifeblog on the NSeries and is not providing a way for folks to input their own Atom script into Share Online 3.0, well, my brand loyalties are up for grabs. Whatever device has the best camera and a good browser…
    As I have stated before, I don’t want to carry multiple devices, but only one. If I have to choose between communication and a good camera, I will take the camera. I carry a small purse. ;o)
    @April – Yay! More N95 fans! I don’t care if my device is the newest & greatest, I want a camera phone that works. The N95 really works.

  6. Kevin

    Another lover of the n95 here, had it for 2 years and i’m in exact same position, looking for my next upgrade, n97 seems to be the one but I too want a better or at least similar camera to the one I have, I dont want to buy a new phone and have less quality in anything.
    N86 is interesting, but I really would like to have touch screen and qwerty, my brand loyalties could also be swaying, as much as I dislike iphone, depending on there next release (bugs fixed, basic features added, qwerty keyboard etc), they could have a new customer!

  7. Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen

    Hi Kevin,
    I do think that by the time the N97 is released the above camera bugs should be worked out, but I agree with you that I do think the camera feature on the N97 should be a definite improvement over the N95 and not just equal to.
    All that being said, I really liked the N97 form factor and the qwerty keyboard. I have not heard rumors that the iPhone might possibly be adding a qwerty keyboard, rumors of a camera sensor upgrade in the latter part of this year, but not a keyboard.
    smiles, jen ;o)

  8. ming387

    Wow, good work Ms. Jen. I won’t say the N95-1 is 2 yrs old, rather it’s 2 yrs more mature than compare to the N97. The N95-1 went through a good 2 yr series of firmware updates to reach the great performance it has today; while N97 is not even a new born baby and is still in it’s mommy womb. =)

  9. Gadgets and Technology

    I think the N97 is awesome but with almost every picture iv seen it take has been a little blurry. The N95’s camera is way better right now and so is the video. Iv owned the N95 for a couple of months now and after glancing at the N97’s video/picture samples, I knew it wasn’t better than the N95’s. Hopefully Nokia will release a fix for this or something because this phone is awesome and needs a good camera.
    Thanks,
    www.finesttech.com

  10. michelle

    I do have both the Nokia N95-1 and the Nokia N97 and the Nokia N95 makes way better pictures compared to the Nokia N97. The Nokia N97 pictures are more blur or you can see the pixels better. I did not expect the camera to be better because for a mobile I already thought the Nokia N95 camera was awesome but I did not expect it to be worse. I think that is a very big dissapointment because I do use the camera a lot to take pictures of the children and you do not carry a normal camera around all the time.

  11. sudhir_yss

    N97 Camera is the worst camera in a handset i have ever seen, every shot it takes has a yellowish tint in it, i think it happens because of the dual flash located very near to the lens. The yellowish tint in the shots usually comes at the border that ultimately spoils the whole shot.
    N97 ‘s camera is just pathetic.. :O

  12. myphotographer

    camera alright on N97, it’s what I got it for.
    see some pics I have taken with the Nokia N97, had it about two weeks now, great camera, looking foward to using the N86 and N900
    thanks
    http://myphotographer.posterous.com

  13. Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen

    Hi Ralph / Myphotographer,
    As I stated in the review, the comparison shots were made 3+ plus months before release, as I took the shots in March of 2009 and the N97 was released June-July of 2009. In the July 2009 trial of the N97, I found the camera to perform much better than in March of 2009. And I am looking forward to see what the version 20 firmware update that is to be release this month will do for the camera.
    Thanks for linking to your posterous, the photos you are taking with your N97 are lovely. ;o)