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The Nokia N97, More than One Year Later

I have tried to write this blog post at least 4 times over the last 5 months, and have several very different drafts littering my “To Blog” folder. I started this April when I was able to directly upload photos and blog to this Movable Type blog using the Nokia N97‘s web browser and not a mobile app. Go little N97 go! I was so happy.
Then in early May, another attempt at writing this post, as I was about to retire the the Nokia N97 in favor of my new Nokia N86 and I wanted to write about after nearly a year since its release, the N97 had really changed my mind about it and that I did like it, really like it. But I was very busy with work and didn’t have the time to spend to write a quality post beyond, “Hey, the N97 isn’t that bad after all.”
Then came late May and early June, I had a some down time of which to think & write, and then the great N97 inspired blogger meltdown of June 2010 occurred: Dan, Micky & Jay, and then the big boom: Ricky & Rita. I watched over a period of 3 weeks in astonishment and wrote two whole drafts in response to their blog posts that did not leave my “To Blog” folder.
I was astonished for a variety of reasons, but mostly if one was going to meltdown about the N97 as a icon for Nokia’s failures of the last three years, why not point a finger that the two phones that were much greater actual failures at being flagship devices: The N96 and N85. But those two posts didn’t leave the draft folder, as I couldn’t really sum up without anger what I wanted to say, as I wasn’t angry at the bloggers in question but more the overall techno-cultural situation that has lead all of us to a place where we get frustrated with our relationships with a piece of plastic/metal/silicon&rareearths.
By late June, early July, I realized that I really had two blog posts in my head and in draft forms in my folder: One on how I do actually like the Nokia N97 and another on our evolving relationships with brands, devices, and blogging. Work was once again intense and I had even less time and creative energy to write two long posts about mobile devices and our relationships thereof. I did change the title of the draft post from “Nokia N97: Nearly One Year Later” to “Nokia N97: One Year Later”.
For the last two months, I have two to do items in my notebook, my Google Tasks, and on my whiteboard: Blog: Nokia N97, More than a Year Later; Blog: Brands: Fans, Relationship, or Cult? Have either of these gotten written? No. I have designed & launched 2 websites, I have coded like mad on another one, I have done various other bits of client consulting stuff in internet promotion & social media. I have taken lots of photos and worked on developing my personal mobile application. I even upgraded my computer to Mac OS X Snow Leopard and my “To Blog” folder now lives on an external hard drive and isn’t even on my desktop any more.
Let this be a lesson. Of what, I will let you all decide.
I popped my sim chip back into the Nokia N97 the other day, and other than photos being a bit washed out, I was very happy all day long. For the rest of the week, I flipped back and forth between the N97 and my N86. I love the N97’s form factor. I love the touchscreen that tilts up to reveal a whole Qwerty keyboard. I love the solid thwack of the marvelously engineered mechanism that opens and reveals the keyboard, I love this in the most primal, inner five year old with new Christmas presents sort of way. Do it in public in SoCal and you get a crowd, “Oooh, what phone is that?”
Maybe I have been lucky to not have the memory and crashing problems that have greatly frustrated others with the Nokia N97. Due to the lack of Lifeblog and official Sports Tracker for the N97, I was not running multiple processes that drew heavily on memory or battery. The only time I had memory problems was early on with my Gmail, so I just put my email in the E: drive and not the system drive. Basically in my six plus months of full time plus the trial usage before that, the Nokia N97 was very good to me.
I understand having a good blog meltdown over a device, a brand, or the like. My own frustration over Nokia dropping Lifeblog in 2008 was my moment of “Nokia, I am so over you.” But much like a really good fiery fight, in autumn of 2008 I expressed my anger in a series of blog posts, tracked down the last PM on the project and gave him a piece of my mind (Sorry, Danny, I am so sorry.), then nursed my grudge for a bit, but I was not going to give up Nokia’s camera phones as they are still the best.
After my anger subsided, I did something that I had been meaning to do for sometime: teach myself to program in Python and Python for S60 so that I could write my own mobile apps rather than grouse about the lack of what I wanted on the marketplace.
All of this to say, Nokia N97, I like you. You are cute, you worked for me, and we had a lot of fun together. Thanks, you rock.

9 Responses to “The Nokia N97, More than One Year Later”

  1. iamnotdrtran

    Has it been more than a year? Wow.
    I took my N97 out twice over the past few days. Ran the new sportstracker, listened to my podcasts, took some pictures. Without a crash.
    I think opening Gravity would have been the tipping point, but my N97 served its purpose.

  2. micky.aldridge

    Great post Jen, don’t get me wrong, I too loved my N97, its form-factor, screen and qwerty, but for me, the constant issues I experienced due to poor internal specifications which may of only been noticed due to me being more than a powerusers, I don’t know, but I gave my N97 more chances that a cat has lives. Great sliding tilting screen, and big screen a win, but poor choice of internals really let me down personally.

  3. Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen

    Hi Micky,
    I am sure that if there were Lifeblog & the official Sports Tracker for the N97 I would have run it against a wall as well, but without those apps I didn’t ‘power use’ it.
    Once I created my mobile blogging hack via the browser, I just took photos, edited in the gallery, and then uploaded them via the browser – all three activities did not ask much of the internals be it memory or battery.
    ;o)

  4. Umar

    Nice article…sometimes i love my n97 mini and sometimes i dont but still the phone never lets me down when its supposed to…love it or hate it you cant ignore it….

  5. James

    I’ve had my N97 for about a year now as well; I first decided to buy it as a cheer-myself-up present after a tough breakup and after a year, my N97 continues to provide me with an endless cheer. True, initially it was tough to get over the crashes and freezes, but as the phone got more stable with later firmware, it really has been a great, solid all-rounder. I do still miss the Xenon of my N82, and I wish there was an easier way to get .avi files to play smoothly on the N97, but overall, I’ve been quite satisfied. I consider myself to be quite a power-user but I haven’t had any problems with crashes and I frequently run Gravity, SportsTracker, the Music Player and Opera Mobile simultaneously. Oh, and getting a proper Facebook app (that shows your notifications!) for Symbian wouldn’t hurt either 🙂

  6. dja.devadoss

    I Love the N97, It is one of the most beautiful devices I used. I sadly parted with it in favor of the N900 due to better performance on the latter. I can’t say I dont miss my N97…
    I am looking towards doing a comparison review of the N97 vs the N900??
    Any suggestions for me ? A few points from a true N97 fan would be benificial

  7. Mike Perry

    I too have a love hate relationship. Purchased the day it was launched in the UK and it worked fine for a while and extensively used features on European tour last summer. Recent updates have made it more unstable, the opposite of my much missed N95 8Gb, bizarrely, in Spain and France a couple of weeks ago the screen kept freezing and needed battery removal to work again. Not happened since returning home! Great points… Office apps, Ovi Maps, photo quality from the camera. But the flash is near useless and the annoying failure to lock onto GPS to tag the photo’s drives me mad though the map app locks instantly in most cases even indoors in my office. Eyes on th N8 now but waiting this time to see how early users react.
    mcpezza

  8. Germán

    Hi,
    I had an N97 until this month. I had for more than a year, one year and 2 months to be more precise.
    I changed it for a Samsung Galaxy S I9000. I liked my Nokia phone very much but after using an Apple iPad Touch and seeing iOS working I was amazed by the speed of it. Symbian^1 was sooo slow, as I don’t like Apple I chose the closer approach of checking Android OS and after testing this Samsung in a showroom I thought it could be a good idea switching to Android.
    For months I was 100% sure I was gonna buy a Nokia N8 as soon as it came out but after checking some videos on YouTube of the N8 running I realize Symbian^3 was still slow. A little faster than its predecessor but slow anyway, no comparison while running against Android or iOS. I was in love with the hardware specs of the N8 and I bought my N97 (and previously I had an N95 8 GB) because of its great hardware specs, it was the best in comparison with other companies. But this time I chose software over hardware, now I have a phone that makes almost the same my N97 was able to do but the software is soooo much better, faster, more clear, more beautiful, more RESPONSIVE, etc. I would love to buy a Nokia handset with Android but Nokia says it won’t develop any so… I had to buy a lower quality brand as Samsung as I consider Nokia is the BEST in hardware.
    Sorry, Nokia, I loved my Nokia phones and was totally into the N8 but after seeing Symbian^3 against its competition I had to let you go. Please, PLEASE, start thinking in matching that great hardware you do with a software of its level. I’m not the first (ex) Nokia fan they lose for this…