Flashback: Nokia N97 was an "iPhone killer" that helped kill Nokia instead

22 November 2020
Touch support on Symbian S60 was the proverbial lipstick on a pig. Neither Nokia's hardware nor its software were ready for the modern digital era.

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  • Arekusu

Oh really all the woes here. The late 00's Nokias may've had those geeky features but they were either impractical or unused by the vast majority of its customers. Somebody here mentioned the command prompt. On a phone. LOL what? Apple got it right since most people wanted basic features iPod stuff Google Maps and surfing done right plus YouTube on a bigger screen - all smooth and wrapped in a snappy shell. Easy messaging soon followed. Everything else was - and pretty much still is - quite redundant for most users. The iPhone was therefore the smartphone for the rest of us.

  • HattinGokbori87

I have used both iPhone first generation and 3G several Nokia N series including N97. I disagree with a great lot of things the author said.

  • XTR

Anonymous, 25 Nov 2020The article says, "In practice, the Nokia N97 was a sh... moreBeg to disagree. Nokia N97 is a relic alright. UI design, features and capabilities were straight up stuck in the early 2000s with some "new skins". Symbian S60 was good (absolutely not the best) in 2003-2005, and their software engineers thought that it is enough for another 10 years.

  • XTR

Symbian S60 have been a patchwork of fixes since the early 2000s. The UI design too got stuck in the early 2000s.

"Okay, hardly a processing powerhouse, but iOS wouldn’t learn to multitask until the following year. Also, those early implementations suspended all but the most basic activities for background apps to save on resources."

What?? iOS hasn't entertained any sort of multitasking until recent times. Even then its a bit sketchy to call it multitasking...

I'd suggest revising this statement as its totally untrue

  • Attila

It was the best Nokia phone, I had my N97 phone for a long time. I would buy it now if I had an android os version. It gave a laptop experience and was a high quality device.

  • Anonymous

The article says, "In practice, the Nokia N97 was a shiny exterior draped over a digital relic."

This is 100% wrong. The iPhone was a shiny exterior on a digital relic. It put a fancy touch interface on a feature phone (it was not in any sense a smartphone).

The N97 was the future, but lacked the shing exterior/interface.

It took Apple a long time to make a phone that had all the capabilities of the N97. What they did was get the interface write so that average users wanted to do things like surf the web, on their phones. But these were not new features, they were just more useable.

  • Anonymous

This article is super unfair to Nokia and all they did to pioneer the smartphone. It reads like typical iPhone fanboy ignorance.

Nokia was making smartphones, with their N series phones, years before Apple. Nokia was the first to talk about the concept of a phone as a computer in your pocket, again with their N series phones that long preceded that iPhone.

The original iPhone was not even a smartphone. It was a feature phone with a very well done touch screen. But it couldn't multitask. There were no third party apps or app store. You just got the preinstalled apps and that was all. The camera was complete crap. And it only used 2G networks.

But years before the iPhone, the Nokia N series phones could multitask and had third party apps installable. You could run a web server on these phones and work from a command line. You could tether your computer to them, to use their data connection. They really could do most of what a computer could do. They just lacked the slick touch interface of the iPhone. And the cameras on the N series phones were so much better than the cameras on the early iPhones. It took Apple a decade to make a camera as good as what the N series phones had before there even was an iPhone. The N series phones from Nokia had higher quality, physically larger sensors, far better software processing, real xenon flashes, and produced way better images.

Honestly, Apple didn't invent anything. They made a few basic features much more useable through their touch interface (but even the interface was based on ideas borrowed from other existing companies, including scrolling, pinch and zoom, and everything). Apple deserves credit for taking other people's ideas and making a touch interface that works well. But they did not invent the smartphone by a long shot.

  • Anonymous

Kriegsherr, 24 Nov 2020you are right. iphones do everything well plus the build qu... morethis does not mean anything, My N95 still runs better that 1st iphone and technically have more features than it...so? Its mostly to do with the Hype of New and Marketing of Apple.
Still apple cannot launch a single phone without issues or recalls or blaming the customer that they are not using it properly.
compare that no of phone nokia released that time and how many recalls.

6ix, 23 Nov 2020But let’s admit it, iPhones have always been the standard f... moreyou are right. iphones do everything well plus the build quality is better. i have a 6s plus which runs without any hiccups whereas my s10e runs hotter than my iphone. apple gets the hate not for its product, gets hate for the greed, anti consumer practice. removal of 3.5mm was their idea to facilitate airpod sales, not providing charger and earphone in the package, the list wont be a small one.

you may try to justify all of these for the sake of business as you may for many other things but the size of apple's greed is enormous.

  • AnonD-948658

YUKI93, 24 Nov 2020I'd still take physical keyboard over touch keyboard a... moreWell the iPhone proved that physical keyboards are a disadvantage when it comes to form factor and user experience. Maybe you should watch the original iPhone keynote from 2007.

  • Rtb

I still have this unit with me and its working even untik now..hahaha..N97 mini..

  • Carol

Half of the story is based on some fairytale launched in USA or something... just saying as i can't figure it out how "profesionals" can sound such unprofesional. The lack of knowlege and research here is masive...

BiyoBiyo JunJun, 23 Nov 2020that one look more like E7 than N97True that, but it has the same keyboard mechanism as in the N97. So in another way, that F(x)tec is both an E7 and N97 spiritual successor.

LyleJP, 24 Nov 2020Qwerty keyboards are nice. I still have fond memories of m... moreI'd still take physical keyboard over touch keyboard all day. I've never been a fan of the touch keyboard since Day 1, but I have no choice other than to use it.

  • Tech lover

In my opinion, as a user, I loved everything about N97, except the lack of app-store. Maemo store was announced as app store which had nothing to offer. Shaking hands with Android them could have been the move to save Nokia, yet they joined Windows 🤐

Qwerty keyboards are nice. I still have fond memories of my Stratosphere II. But much larger screens and very accurate/useful keyboard apps have made them completely unnecessary.

  • Anonymous

Good timing for this write-up. At the very least it reinforces the idea that we do need a real 3rd disruptor; a better touch UI KaiOS for example or a more organized mobile Linux. So much so that I'm actually wishing that Microsoft would do something more with WoA back to phones. And above all a 3rd disruptor platform that's above "geopolitics"; this 2020 mess about Huawei does more harm than good imho and I totally dislike the idea that an entire OS platform can be stopped forcefully from certain OEMs politically.

I still use Android of course but including iOS, both are becoming similar in ways that is more and more anti consumer; reducing specs on hardware, price ceilings on flagships and flip flopping app stores' policies/security/privact lapses etc. Right now it's a clear duopoly that's not gonna end well long term.

Kriegsherr, 23 Nov 2020people who didnt use nokia device at its prime dont know wh... moreI used to think this way , now I feel Nokia could have done more and they actually didn’t try

But let’s admit it, iPhones have always been the standard from then till then, and not once has it ever been the best at one particular thing or spec, but it just does everything well, it’s no coincidence it’s the standard, just read that article again and see How people have somehow preferred apple at each turn ,I’m talking to every android fanboy reading this, is Apple really a fraud? Do they deserve the hate?