A taste of Anna and 2011 Maps - on the N97

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You'll remember that back in February I wrote a detailed article on Pimping the Nokia N97, in which I went right through the hardware and software steps needed to bring this flawed but classic device up to date and useable in 2011. Just as a data point for other fans of this form factor and hardware package, here's a small addendum to the feature. With the E7's fixed battery, fixed storage and EDoF camera, maybe the N97 is still more capable for you? 

Pimping the Nokia N97 - update

Please make sure you've read the original - it's comprehensive! 


Despite what I was predicting in the original article, Nokia has now released Ovi Maps 3.6 officially for the N97, via Sw_update, so N97 owners can now also enjoy the full range of geo-guides and POIs, country map downloads, transit lines and improved location and navigation. It's a killer application and it works superbly on the N97.

Maps 3.6

The only caveat, as you might expect, is that you have to be careful about not running out of room on disk C:. So remove any previous Maps updates (Settings>Application manager>Installed apps) first. And if you've been right on the limit of disk C:, then maybe your periodic sync/backup and re-build is in order (N97 owners will know all about this... !) before installing Ovi Maps 3.6 over the air.


Not really Symbian Anna - just a taste of it, thanks to an official Nokia theme in the Ovi Store: Nokia Evolve, shown in place here. The new icons are slightly larger than the old ones, making them slightly clearer and easier to hit - plus you get an Anna frisson every time you bring up the Symbian menu. Nokia Evolve is an official theme and very efficient - unlike many third party themes it won't slow the N97 down or cause visual oddities in some dialogs and screens.

Anna icons/theme

One note for installation though - as always with themes, switch your Ovi Store settings to install to disk C: first, since your mass memory will get locked out every time you hook up to your desktop computer. After installation, switch your Ovi Store settings back to disk E:, don't forget!

RAMBlow and Keylock Clock

In the original article, I recommended two specific always-on utilities. I still swear by RAMBlow on the N97, it runs through RAM every hour or two and terminates running apps which haven't been accessed for a while, adding a little RAM compression sweep into the mix too. Essentially this means that in daily use, my N97 usually has well over 20MB free at any given point. It's vital to toggle 'protection' for the apps that you really do want to keep running though. In my case these are: Podcasting, Music player, Gravity, Home screen, Menu, WidgetUI (inclusion of these last three speeds up the S60 interface).

I've found that Keylock Clock has been playing up though - causing the N97 display to stay on and draining the battery. I'm not entirely sure what's going on, but I've found the same symptoms either side of a full hard reset and rebuild, so there's definitely a conflict of some kind. Odd. Best avoided, I think.

What's the Weather?

Having displayed screenshots over the last few months, I keep getting emails and comments asking where I got my weather widget from. It's the one included in SPB Weather - this is now about £6 and highly, highly recommended for all Symbian handsets. Its widget provides a better 'what weather is coming up' glance than almost anything on any platform.

Calendar note

This is me being a little provocative, but I can't resist a photo of the N97's Calendar - many Symbian^3 users might be surprised to note that all the S60 5th Edition phones had Calendars with the split screen (month/day) view that's coming in Symbian Anna - over two years ago. Just sayin'....

Split Calendar

Continuing avoidance

Finally, my recommendation holds firm for this particular memory-challenged device, to avoid anything not strictly essential from Sw_update and to stay well clear of Nokia Email/Messaging for email use. And for any serious web browsing, also stay well clear of Web, which is simply far too RAM-hungry for the N97 - now that we have a native version of Opera Mini (go to m.opera.com in Web), use that wherever possible instead.


If this all sounds like a lot of fiddling and caveats to be aware of then yes, you're right. But go through the list of hardware 'pros' again for the N97 and I'd argue that, especially at a second hand price of well under £100 now, the N97 classic can still be a tremendously useful all-purpose phone even today. It's no multimedia powerhouse and no browsing superman, but then it was (arguably) never meant to be.

As ever, comments welcome if you can add to my pimping tips for this Symbian veteran!

Steve Litchfield, All About Symbian, 29 June 2011