Nokia N97 vs the N97 Mini | Which one will you buy?

23. November 2009 at 15:37

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Now that the Nokia N97 Mini is available many customers are asking themselves which one they should buy, the Nokia N97 or the N97 Mini? Both devices have a lot in common but differ from each other in many ways too. Therefore I will be comparing the two to see what the pros and cons are for each device.

Size:

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As the name already states the N97 Mini is smaller than its big brother. It’s shorter, slimmer and slightly narrow. Images alone cannot demonstrate the different but when holding both devices in the hand I found the Mini to be more appealing and comfortable to hold. Actually the Mini has a good size for a touch sensitive smartphone, without being to bulky.

Screen:

Since the N97 Mini is smaller, Nokia had to decrease the screen-size. The really huge 3.5” display is now only 3.2″ yet the original resolution remains at 360 x 640 pixel with 16M colors. It depends on the taste of the user but I prefer bigger screens and the N97’s 3.5” screen is ideal for me. However, the 3.2” display is the best solution for the Mini. Moreover, I found that the N97 Mini’s display is much brighter, and the colours are more vivid, whereas the Nokia N97’s colours appear rather pale.

Built quality:

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In terms of built quality both devices really stand up from other N-Series devices. I found the N97 Mini to feel even better and solid compared to the N97, mainly due to the stainless steel battery cover. The battery cover makes a huge difference. It was a good choice to  replace the plastic battery cover with a more solid and better looking stainless steel cover.

Camera protection:

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Both, the N97 and the Mini take pictures with 5 megapixels and record videos with 30 frames per second with a resolution of 640×480. So they really don’t differ in the camera specs. However, N97 Mini’s  5 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens isn’t protected by a shutter. Actually I don’t see a downside in here as the shutter, which should protect the lens, was actually scratching some N97 lenses.

QWERTY-keyboard:

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The full QWERTY-keyboard, despite the smaller amount of space, is still present. Nonetheless, there has been some redesigning in terms of the keypad. First, the big D-pad on the left side has been replaced by four arrow keys on the right side. There is more space between each key now and the keys are a little bit higher giving you a much better feel when typing. Also the keys have more grip and give you a more secure feeling. Nevertheless, this redesign has also its downside. As the D-Pad has been replaced by four arrow keys which have been placed on the very right side, the interaction between the keyboard and touch-screen has been changed. It was ways easier to use the D-pad with the left thumb while the right thumb was selecting the options or clicking the menu-key. With the arrow keys on the right hand side this isn’t as easy and comfortable anymore.

Storage and RAM

It seems that the word ”Mini” does not only mean that the size has been reduced but also the amount of memory. The mass memory is no longer 32GB but 8GB. For the average user this will not be of any importance, and if you happen to run out of memory you can always expand the memory with a MicroSD cards to up to 24GB, which would be more than enough. Surprisingly, the C-Drive, is almost 230MB, while the N97 has just around 45MB.

After a fresh boot-up the Nokia N97 has 46MB of free RAM just like the N97 Mini.

FM-Transmitter:

Another feature that has disappeared is the FM-Transmitter.  Thus you cannot ”stream” your songs to your radio anymore. I use the FM-Transmitter of the N97 while driving a lot, to listen to my music. However, this doesn’t need to be an obstacle for the N97 Mini user. You can buy a separate FM-Transmitter. Of course, this isn’t as handy as having a FM-Transmitter build in but the option is there nevertheless.

Navigation and TV-out:

The N97 Mini offers just ten days of free voice guided navigation while the N97 comes with one month of voice guided navigation. Also in terms of accessories, Nokia is rather sparing with the N97 Mini in contrast to the N97, the Mini does not come with a TV-Out cable.

Price:

Nokia is selling the N97 for 549€ while the N97 Mini costs 10€ more. Also when searching the Internet you will find better deals for the N97 than for the Mini. If you bear in mind that the N97 has a TV-out cable, 1month of free voice guided navigation, a FM-transmitter, 32GB memory this is ridiculous. Basically the Mini needs to be a lot more cheaper.

Battery:

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In the course of the decreasing of the size Nokia put a smaller battery into the N97 Mini. Instead of  a big 1500mAh strong battery, the Mini is powered by 1200mAh. In our test the N97 Mini went out of power 3hours before the N97.

Verdict:

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As you can tell, both devices have advantages but also disadvantages. The N97’s key advantages is the bigger screen, FM-Transmitter,  more memory, bigger battery and the D-Pad. For the N97 Mini we have the better form factor, better built quality, better keys and a more vivid screen.

The price is also almost identical thus it really depends on what you want and where your priorities are. Of course we cannot tell which phone is the best for you but we can help you by elaborating on the differences.