I’ve been using the Nokia N97 as my main device for about 4 weeks now so I’ve had plenty of experience and time to compare it to the Nokia E71. As many of you already know, the N97 is Nokia’s latest Nseries flagship device featuring a 5pm camera, large 3.5” high resolution screen, Symbian S60v5 touch interface, 32gb hard drive and a full qwerty keyboard. The N97 is Nokia’s first Nseries smartphone to feature a full qwerty keyboard which is the primary reason many E71 users are attracted to the N97.
In this article I’ll compare my experience with the Nokia N97 to my trusty E71. Hopefully this helps many of you that are on the fence come to a decision. All of the photos can be clicked to see the full size.
Price Of The N97
First off, let’s get this out of the way and take a look at the price of the Nokia N97. Amazon.com has the best prices and service around in my opinion and have the N97 priced at $599.99 while the E71 is competitively priced at $300. So while you are reading the rest of my review keep in mind the N97 is double the price.
Typing: N97 vs E71
The Nokia N97 features a full qwerty 3 row keyboard. The buttons are more spread out than the E71 but they don’t have as much tactile feedback. The tactile feedback of the N97 can be compared to those cheap calculators with soft rubber buttons. For this reason I need to have the keypad sounds turned on. The buttons of the N97 are larger than the E71, but also completely flat.
The spacebar on the N97 is also set to the right. Many people have complained about this, but once you get used to it there is no going back. Personally I think this was a great move by Nokia to keep keyboard at only 3 rows.
Which am I faster on? I would say I can type the same speed on both devices. Which am I more accurate on? I am more accurate on the N97 than the E71, mainly because the keys are more spread out. Granted your fingers have to move farther apart to type, but over time your hands get used to this.
Who wins? I am more accurate on the N97 but the E71 is more comfortable. I think in the long run I’d rather type on the E71 to prevent cramping when typing long emails or blog posts.
Operating System & Browser Speeds
The operating system on the N97 is S60 5th edition while the E71 has S60 3rd edition. The menu speed on the N97 is very fast and supports transitions. But when starting a new sms without multiple apps open in the background it tends to slow down. The N97 has less RAM than the E71 so the performance is not as good. The Nokia E71 is true workhorse, I’ve never had it lock up or shut down apps on me. On the N97, if you have more than 3 or 4 applications open at once more than likely something will close down. For heavy users you won’t be too happy with this situation. Hopefully Nokia can fix this problem with firmware updates.
Who wins? The E71 hands down is the clear winner in terms of OS speed and performance.
On the other hand the browser has been significantly upgraded on the N97 and S60v5. It’s a lot faster than the E71 and pages are more fluent. The N97 features kinetic scrolling with touch which is a lot nicer to use than the d-pad on the E71. I was pleasantly surprised with the browsing experience of the N97. It’s comparable to the iPhone.
Who wins? Hands down the N97 wins.
Form Factor & Size
This is a big part of the decision making process for many folks. In pictures the N97 looks HUGE. When I opened the box and held it in my hand I was surprised that it is not huge, but still big. It is chunky and bulky, but when you put the two on top of eachother the measurements are the same. I’ll let the photos below allow you to decide.
The form factor of the E71 is also much better because it’s one solid piece. The N97 has a slide up form factor and it’s extremely tight. Normally I hate moving parts on my devices, but this time Nokia nailed it on the head with this state of the art slider. After a month of heavy use it still feels the same way it did when I first pulled it out of the box.
Who wins? The E71 wins. One solid piece in my opinion is the best form factor and the N97 is much thicker. With that said, I am very happy with the slider quality of the N97.
The Eseries has always been known to have the best build quality in Nokia’s lineup. We already know the E71 is covered in metal and is made of solid parts. The build quality of the N97 helps bridge the gap between the Nseries and Eseries. Normally Nseries devices are made of strong plastic, but the N97 has a chrome metal trip around the screen helping it to look and feel very solid. The rest of the phone including sides and back is still made of hard plastic. Overall the N97 has a nice feel and is made of quality parts. No wobbles or loose areas are found except for the battery cover. There is a small gap between the battery cover and the battery which makes it feel loose. A fix for this has already been found, eliminating this problem.
Who wins? The E71 takes the cake in this department because of the metal battery cover.
All the other areas I will list are mostly going to be winners for the N97 because it is a Nseries device which is more geared towards media consuming and creating.
- Screen – N97 wins.
- Battery life – They have the exact same battery. But in terms of life, E71 wins – barely.
- Audio quality – N97 wins.
- Call quality – Tie.
- Video playback – N97 wins.
- Camera/Video capture – N97 wins.
- Storage – N97 has 32gb built in & microSD slot. N97 wins.
- Business purposes – N97 close behind, but E71 wins because Adobe Reader is free.
- Customization – N97 has homescreen widgets/fullscreen wallpaper. N97 wins.
Am I leaving anything out? If so let me know
Let’s Tally Everything Up
If you look at all of the factors I’ve covered, the N97 takes the lead at 7 wins, 6 losses, and one tie.
So if you don’t need all the extra features of the N97 then you should definitely hang on to your E71. But if those extra specs are something you’d like to have then you’re going to have to shell out the extra cash and be willing to give up the E71 size to get the Nokia N97.
It’s hard to justify the cost of the N97, but easy when you add up what you’re getting. The sound quality is on par with an Apple iPod. The camera quality (in decent lighting) is equal to a cheap digital camera. And the huge screen experience acts as a great GPS device in the car.
In the end it’s all up to the needs and wants of the user. Hopefully this review has helped you out if you were thinking about buying the N97.