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Buy the Nokia N97? or wait for the N900.. read on!

13 September 2009Entry by

Just a few months after the launch of the high end Nokia N97, Nokia have now announced the Nokia N900. Replacing the N810 Internet Tablet, the N900 is a beast for the fact that it is more of a smartphone than an Internet Tablet – you can even make phone calls on it!
This positions it on top of the smartphone market, where it competes directly with the Nokia N97, Sony Xperia and the HTC Touch Pro 2! So what is it that the N900 can do that the N97 can not do? And besides should you go ahead and buy the Nokia N97 or wait for the N900 to lauch?
The dimensions of the Nokia N900 are 4.4″ x 2.3″ x 0.7″, which is big for a phone, but only as big as an HTC TouchPro 2. And when you think that the N900 is being pitched as an Internet Tablet, it’s actually kind of small.
One thing that isn’t in doubt is the N900’s looks. It’s black, it’s big, it’s a touchscreen smartphone, but with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that looks more like the E90’s than than the N97’s. Better still, with an 800 x 480 screen, it looks like it really means business.
The extensive list of features includes:
• 32GB of internal storage
• 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics
• Dual-LED Flash
• 800 x 480 video recording
• A-GPS with Ovi Maps
• 10Mbps download, 2Mbps upload HSDPA for super-fast browsing
• Quad-band GSM
• 54Mbps data transfer over Wi-Fi
• 600MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor
• 1GB application memory
• OpenGLES 2.0 3D graphics acceleration
• Superb Web browser with built-in support for Adobe Flash 9.4
• Maemo 5 operating system
• TV-Out
• Media player supporting the following formats and codecs: mp4, .avi, .wmv, .3gp, H.264, MPEG-4, Xvid, WMV, H.263
• Music formats supported include .wav, .mp3, .AAC, .eAAC, .wma, .m4a
• FM Radio
That’s a huge list of features. But look a little closer, and you’ll see it’s not that different to the N97. So how do the two differ, and which one should you buy?
Where the two differ significantly, is the operating systems underpinning each phone, and the vision that Nokia has for them.
The Nokia N97 uses the old Symbian operating system that Nokia have been using on their N-Series phones for some time now, but this is really starting to show its age. The N97 lets you browse the Web, it has a touchscreen, it comes with social media apps such as Facebook, but these all feel somewhat tacked on as an after-thought.
There’s no cohesion to the different features, and the overall experience is rather slow and discordant because of the low RAM and relatively slow processor speed (although Nokia is taking significant steps to address these issues in the N97 firmware update 2.0 that will be available in a month or so).
Nokia N900 – a mobile desktop device

In stark contrast, the N900 has been designed to bring a desktop experience to the mobile phone, with the Internet at its core right from the start, rather than tacked onto a phone platform, as seems the case with the N97.
To make this possible, Nokia have used their brand new Maemo 5 operating system with the N900. Maemo 5 is based on Linux, and with the use of a super-fast 600MHz ARM processor, 1GB of application RAM and OpenGL 3D graphics acceleration, the result is a super-slick smartphone that has the potential to win over the N97, if not over the entire competition!
With such sophisticated underpinnings, the N900 can multi-task many applications simultaneously without any noticable slowing down. Its touchscreen user interface is superbly responsive, and the animations, transitions and general user interface react fast without any slowing down or hesitation.Better still, with its huge high resolution screen, you can pack a lot of information on the screen and still see it clearly.
The overall feel is one of fluidity – it’s a phone that you can really use in an efficient, productive way that also looks supremely good.

Web browsing is also superb, with an iPhone-esque browser that you can zoom in and out on and move around with the flick of a finger. More impressively, Adobe Flash is supported, and you can watch YouTube videos directly inside the browser, just as you can with a desktop browser. This really is a desktop in a mobile device!

Should you buy the N97 or the N900

All this leads to one interesting question: should you buy the Nokia N97 or wait for the N900 to be lauched? Both have similar features and a similar form factor. Both, alarmingly, seem to be competing with each other! In an already confused smartphone marketplace, having yet another option to go for only makes the decision harder!
If you’re the type of person who wants a great Web browsing experience in a smartphone that can better most of those on the market, both in terms of features and power, then go for the Nokia N900 (although be warned – it’ll cost atleast 500 Euros!)
If, on the other hand, you’re the type of person who prefers a slimmer phone that has great features, then grab your N97!
To be honest, the N97 is possibly the best smartphone out there in the market today and pinning it opposite its Maemo5 sibling is not the right thing to do. Symbian has a history and is an operating system people are now used too, using Maemo 5 too wont be difficult but it will require some doing to get used to it, but for the RAM and processor alone I would recommend you to wait for the N900 as that is something the N97 cant achieve no matter how good a firmware Nokia releases for the N97, the hardware can not be improved.
All this leads me to question why Nokia have decided to release both phones when they’re seemingly competing with one another. I should be able to answer that soon, once the folks at nokia send a N900 to me for reviewing it and giving you a first hand feel of the device.. Stay tuned in for more my N900 folks!

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