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  #1  
Old 31-08-2010, 03:56 PM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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How I tried to destroy my Nokia N97 - and how it almost came good in the end

Heading out into the wilds of Devon a week ago, for my annual vacation, I wanted to try the smartphone equivalent of going 'commando' - travelling light, one device only, one SIM only, one chance to get it right for all my phone, communication and entertainment needs. No laptop, no iPad, just the smartphone. I had the choice of over 40 devices - and I ended up going with the much-maligned Nokia N97. Here's why the N97 is still almost good enough in its twilight years/months - and here's how it performed when put to the extremes of outdoor use. I wasn't trying to destroy it, per se, but it certainly survived some abuse. I'd trail the end of the tale here... but you can probably guess!

Read on in the full article.
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  #2  
Old 31-08-2010, 04:11 PM
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Actually, when I go to long trips and vacations, the only gadget I bring with me is my Nokia 5800 XpressMusic (plus mains charger, of course).

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Old 31-08-2010, 04:30 PM
jdastrain jdastrain is offline
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I just did it with my N97 and I am prety happy

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Old 31-08-2010, 05:01 PM
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N97

Due to the fact I use my N97 on a daily basis, I'm extremely familiar with it's shortfalls, and once asked Steve somewhere which phone he'd survive with for a week a way, so found this answer very interesting, I also share his opinion about the form factor, and really REALLY hope the N9 turns into a fact and then we will all have a phone that will be a 'swiss army' phone 365 days a year As for me I've got to survive a week in Portugal with my N97 in October and other than my old N95 8 gig I don't have another choice, at least I know my media needs will be met, and if I can find a bit of wifi so will everything else !!

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Old 31-08-2010, 05:50 PM
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Ruggedness is very important, agreed. I have replaced my N97 mini with an HTC Desire for everyday use but I still use the Nokia as my main phone whenever I go on vacation. It certainly can take the punishment and I still have a smartphone with me to navigate, play music and read with!

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Old 31-08-2010, 06:11 PM
Dazzy Dazzy is offline
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Will the E7 or N9 not fill your need then Steve?

  #7  
Old 31-08-2010, 06:17 PM
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My experience of the N97

Great article, and it made me think of my recent week long mountain biking trip to the Lake District with the N97.

Firstly the place we were staying didn't have wifi as expected (my bad as I booked it thinking it did) so without JoikuSpot I wouldn't have been able to tether to finish the work I was doing in the evenings. Even if it was super slow 2g connection.

Secondly was the lack of cable connection on the little hifi/radio to play our own music. Solution: FM transmitter. This was the first time using the FM transmitter which worked wonderful, even if you have to be quite close to the aerial in order for it to sound perfectly clear. I've used it more frequently since, mostly in my friends cars, who equally impressed.

While out on the mountain bike trails and recommended routes we got each morning from the web, I was able to quickly send an email to myself with the rough route and multi task with that and Google maps. Ultimately Google maps was a bit useless for all the off-road stuff we were doing but it got us to and from the trail centre or local car park near where we were riding that day. I wish I had invested in something like View Ranger for the cross country stuff we riding though. Next time I'll definitely give it a whirl.

The N97 took a couple of reasonable falls off the bike and continues to do, as it sits happy in my pocket when I ride. I feel like I don't need to worry about it getting damaged, its one solid bit of kit, so I feel it could take any abuse. Its starting to get really scratched from using it in the bad weather with grid, sand and dirt being rubbed around on the screen when I use it. Lucky I have a screen protector on which saves most of the damage. I can echo what Steve said about the rain, in my experience it just doesn't seem to care what weather its in.
The downside to such abuse is the clever idea of a lens cover that just traps all the grit and then scratches the hell out of the lens when you open and close it. To be honest I would prefer a way of adding a protector like the screen protectors onto the lens to keep it in some kind of self maintainable condition.

I also came away with some great photos from the camera of the amazing views from high above the Lakes, even with the scratches on the lens!

The N97 is a really great convergence piece of hardware, built surprisingly well (apart from the lens protector and a few plastic creaks here and there, oh and the chrome paint peeling off!) but as you are all aware it lacks any punch under the hood to really make things smooth on the software side. So I've got high hopes for the next generation of the N97 form factor, and I'll be watching closely when the upgrade comes early next year. Just hope Nokia make it as indestructible as the N97!

  #8  
Old 31-08-2010, 07:37 PM
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"As many people have observed, what we need is something with the N97 form factor (i.e. folding qwerty/touch hybrid), but with a 3.7" or 4" capacitive, transflective LCD screen, 256MB of RAM, Symbian^3 on board, a 512MB internal system disk (C, plus 8mp camera with 720p video capture.

'We'? OK, it's "what Steve wants", at least 8-)"

I'm with you on that Steve, except I'll take a Super AMOLED, 512 MB of RAM, the 4" display, 32 GB of onboard storage + microSD, and don't forget the Carl Zeiss optics in the camera. The display on my Galaxy S is really something though. Not that bad in direct sunlight. That's why I'll take that over LCD.

  #9  
Old 31-08-2010, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
"

'We'? OK, it's "what Steve wants", at least 8-)"

.
In case you've forgotten this is All About Symbian.

I don't want a galaxy S or Android of any description, having had my fill of Android and given up on it.

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Old 31-08-2010, 08:42 PM
thehobnob thehobnob is offline
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I dread to think how your trip would have panned out had you decided to *use* Nokia Messaging...*shudders*

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Old 31-08-2010, 09:35 PM
snoFlake snoFlake is offline
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Good Lord Steve that's handy I think you just may get your device wish fulfilled - what a coincidence.

Had mixed experience using N97 abroad recently (Rome), good stuff was being able to pre download Rome maps that was great (however some downside mentioned later) also as was only a 5 day visit and based around a wedding where I couldn't take a proper camera to, I decided to rely on the N97's and it really wasn't too bad and quite a fun experience to have such limited choices when taking pics and although I'm not great photographer and rarely use settings other than the boot up settings (though because of the lens flood problem, not down to scratches but the plastic cover "leaking" when using the LED flash I tend to turn it off for night shots and rely on ISO) mainly because I keep turning the camera off and on and haven't found a way to store any setting changes I might make and can't be bothered to keep resetting camera every time I turn it back on - lose lot's of shots and it's really fiddly. Overall the pics turned out pretty well, not quite as good as current compacts but really not bad and giving me cause to think that my faith in convergence devices is about to be realised in the next/current generation of devices.

The bad side of it was partly Symbian and partly Nokia's fractured implementation on the N97; it's just far too difficult to turn off all the settings I thought I might need to, to avoid being charged for roaming data whilst abroad. To go through the list (if I can even remember it), I made a new access point to replace "Internet" which I set as default and which only had a wlan point as it's connection, I set this as the connection for Web, Messaging Maps etc. Because Messaging is so viral about connecting sometimes I also turned it to Offline and to never sync while roaming and to not automatically start on boot, I turned Maps to offline and as I said changed the Access point to a Wlan only one. Still after all this when I got back I'd been charged 85p every day for data use whilst roaming and this is one of my gripes with the machine you never seem to really be able to pin down what services are running nor where their settings are buried. In the end I finally figured out or presumed (I'm still not sure) that it was AGPS charges as i"d used Maps every day i think and I did forget to go into Location and turn off Maps Booster AGPS and Network based leaving only Integrated GPS on not knowing which of the others might make a call on network data. My Girlfriend on her iPhone just had to move one slider and didn't get any roaming data charges. True she didn't get any maps (apart from lonely planet guide she'd bought for 3 quid) equally she wasn't in permanent state of uncertainty. Yes Maps does warn you it's about to go online but so does every App about twice every time you fire it up even if it isn't going on to the Phone network so I end up ignoring them as can't tell what they actually are doing. It's not a lot of money but I guess it could have been because I don't really know what was using the data. Second bad point is the instability, if you're using maps it uses a lot of processing power and if I fire up another RAM/Processor hungry app like photo browser or the camera there's always a fair chance (at least twice a day it seems) that it'll crash or lock the phone up. When your trying to navigate in a foreign city it doesn't really inspire a lot of confidence in the device or from your companions who are not used to devices that fail so regularly. Oh and the accuracy is poo (and yes mine was fixed - at least nominally so but who knows after three efforts) but we know that about the N97, let's hope the new devices have this right as Nokia's staked so much on location services.


Last downside picking up on something from the last AAS podcast is that maps whilst being pretty good and useful I found is a real battery muncher (and this is going to be a real pain if Nokia are going to push all these services on top of Ovi maps without a much simpler way to disable the GPS when using them or making it / the other positioning methods consume much less power. I don't think I made it through one day of all this Navigation and Photo taking and wifi browsing in the hotel without a top up apart from the day of the wedding when I barely used Maps so it does seem to be the Navigation systems responsible.


Good to see the RAM issue finally acknowledged by a source other than regular users and actually I think it's more the RAM and processor combo personally (combined with S60V5) that grinds, still as easy as pie to get the device to crash or lock by just pointing Web at certain sites - you just shouldn't be able to do that at all, the OS should prevent it even if hardware is inadequate. and yes it's way too slow building gallery thumbs (I had c.500 pics from Italy) and the "swiping" can be a bit cumbersome as you pick up on but I think it's a much the jerkiness (intermittent lags) from the OS that are as much to blame as the screen tech, so you're never quite sure if a touch has been registered as nothing seems to ever quite move with you giving no secure sense of physicality unlike iOS.

  #12  
Old 31-08-2010, 10:06 PM
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I recently came back from a trip to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal for 17 days with my N97. My wife brought her laptop with her so I didn't use the N97 exclusively over any other device. The reason I decided to get a smartphone was for this trip.

I actually didn't get the smartphone to remain connected. I got it primarily for the GPS app available on the N97 with its free turn-by-turn navigation. On that point, the N97 performed admirably. I am rather familiar with the streets of Toronto as I did quite a bit of driving the last time I was there. Ottawa and especially Montreal would have been extremely difficult to navigate without a GPS. I even took a trip to Niagara on the Lake.

The connectivity was something that I really appreciated having even when back here in Vancouver. It was most useful while waiting at the airport and when the tennis matches I was going to see were rained out in Montreal. I'm addicted to the push email as I really like it when I am notified when I receive an email.

The N97 was rather rugged. You can see a few dents and chips on the outer chasis where I dropped it or where it landed when it fell off my car mount (because I forgotten to tighten the car mount). Once, I thought I destroyed it when it broke in three pieces after dropping from a meter onto my kitchen floor. Fortunately, one piece was the back cover and the second was the battery. (Whew!) I got rained on while in Toronto in the middle of a match. The phone got a little wet, but it still worked without any problems.

The readability of the screen was good in the sun. I didn't have any problems reading the display in the sun at all.

I did bring a digital camera with me for times when I expect to take pictures. Carrying an extra device is a little troublesome. Occasionally, I did not have the camera with me, so I took pictures and video with my N97. There is going to be a difference between the 5MP N97 and the 14.5MP Lumix camera. Still, the quality is adequate for me.

The shortcomings I felt the N97 has is the battery life. On the 4.5 hour flight, it didn't seem as if the battery will last the whole flight and my power adapter was in my checked luggage. I had been using it at the airport waiting for my flight as well. I read the magazine to conserve my battery. Occasionally, the battery just doesn't last an entire day of heavy use, even at home.

I can relate to the feel of the resistive touch screen. I had difficulties with it when I first got my N97. I figured out that it is best to use my finger nail rather than my finger tip for dragging objects or swiping. I just got used to doing that. I do see many people having difficulties with dragging and swiping if they are not used to resistive touch screens, especially those used to capacitive touch screens. I think they should call resistive touchscreens "press screens" because you actually have to press down rather than simply touch it.

I can deal with the low memory issues with my use of the N97. For me, Skyfire is the most memory demanding app that I use. Most of the time I use Opera Mini. When I want to look at video from a web site, I use Skyfire and know that I have to shut down other apps before Skyfire runs. It's annoying, but nothing that I cannot get around.

The sluggishness of the N97 is also something I gotten used to after using it for half a year. I know that when I start Opera Mini, it takes a few seconds before the title screen even appears. I've used other, newer phones which are much smoother in their responsiveness.

I had considered upgrading to something else. What stopped me was the cost of a new device so soon after I purchses the N97. Also, I have invested a great deal of time and effort in configuring the N97 to get it to run in a usable manner (for me at least). I think I want to get more use out of my effort before starting over again with a new device. In any case, I have heard of issues or shortcomings with the other devices that I am intrested in getting and some of them are show stoppers for me.
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  #13  
Old 01-09-2010, 12:58 AM
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great article
i have an n97 mini, though it has a lesser battery but the phone can survive in tough conditions thats the beauty of the n97...
waiting for an e7 or n9 impatiently...!!!

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Old 01-09-2010, 06:34 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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Thanks to all the registered users above who have posted great comments - made for great breakfast reading here at AAS Towers (Berkshire branch)! 8-)
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Old 01-09-2010, 09:35 AM
talhamid talhamid is offline
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" But it only took a few days in the (wild) west of the UK with real world use, with real world data, to show that (as I'm sure you've seen for yourself) RAM is still an issue on these Nokia S60 5th Edition phones. "

Er - what? So no more of that 'Symbian is efficient, it can run on a 1895 40 KB RAM chip" stuff? In one fell swoop, you, Steve, have reversed several hundred articles and several million lines of text published during last year or three at AAS. And I can only imagine how ugly it will get in the forums.

Nice specs for your dream phone - only, please replace Symbian with Meego, throwing all that hardware at Symbian would be a shame.
 

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