Nokia N97 Mini Review Part 2-Whatever you can expect for

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Call it affection to Nokia N900, says it mess at personal front now days, may be my a bit illness on health front; I really feel that I was unable to give sufficient time to my latest trial device Nokia N97 Mini. Though I written comments about Un-boxing, wrote about Hardware Specifications and a few posts are there on small Ovi Maps adventures with it. But still this amazing device deserves a review about its functioning. Trying to cover a few this time…

Usually when you talk about Nokia N97 Mini, then common opinion is “its made for youngsters”; thanks to its bright, responsive, big 3.2” touch screen, QWERTY Keypad opening in slightly tilt mode to make it a Mini Netbook, always on connection for status updates from various social networks, fast processor and increased RAM/ Application memory, strong multimedia skills due to amazing 5 Megapixel camera & FM receiver and smooth video experiences (local and web) and huge storage options with 8GB internal memory and support for 16 GB MicroSD card to increase it more.

But sometimes I really think that except the comparatively lesser battery (though that’s also enough decent) why not to call it a Business Device? QWERTY keypad operating in long landscape aiding to fast typing like on some 13” Netbooks, big display to support viewing web pages comfortably without much compromise, almost all connectivity options (3G, wi-fi), all time synced contacts, photos, calendar, even files with Ovi, so that if you are using multiple devices then you get the same experience (I can’t help myself not to think about, if some corporate start using synced contacts, calendar and files through one account ), 5MP Camera capable to take snaps of documents like scan images, support for TV-Out for presentations, number of applications out there for suiting your needs and huge space for keeping your mails and files ready on the go. What else are your expectations from a Business device?

For me, its been kind of full entertainment device by which, I could keep on checking my updates, my blog, snapping here and there, sharing anything over web on the go, watching movies when travelling to somewhere and getting bored. If we want to go green, then we should really promote such device at our best.


Ok!! enough talking. Lets talk about how it looks like, when we operate on it means Screen Shots, lots of them….

At first, when I was looking for how to take screenshots, then it reminded me that how easily I was taking them in N900 by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P … but anyway, I found a free app in Ovi Store itself by name of Best Screensnap and then started taking snapshots after setting HotKey (it made me confused that if Camera key would be set for taking screenshots then how to take snaps, anyway, I changed the hotkey on long press camera key). Added the same app to my beloved Nokia N82 as well.

Here are some screen shots and notes about them:


Home Screen (Portrait Mode)

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Home Screen (Landscape Mode

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Addition of Home Screen widgets was the greatest thing that started with N97 classic and obviously continued with Nokia N97 Mini. Users of Nokia 5800 and other Smartphone in lower cost range still crave of the same feature on their screens, but probably this feature is kind of too much for their low RAM or application memory.

If you go through options, then you can see that there are options to hide the contents and go back to plain home screen without any widget on it. There are also option to hide/ show content by swapping your finger left/ right side on screen. Moreover, options are here to keep the content Offline as well (Handy if you want to save the data usages or battery for a while).

Default contained Facebook widget, which I replaced first with Accuweather and later on with favourite contacts. Though I tried to add Gravity later on, but didn’t found quick way to add something already installed in your Phone, it was directing to Ovi Store.


Calling and Dial Pad (Landscape Mode):

Scr000006Dial Pad look similar as of other touch screen phones from Nokia and USSD numbers obviously work out of the box unlike Nokia N900. Provided the sleek looks, one can never be needing the H/W keypad to dial some number, even if one requires then he could directly type numeric keys of the keypad (no necessity of pressing shift key in that case).

Signal Reception of Nokia is legendary as always and surprising I found the sound louder than Nokia N900 and others. Kind of a good thing for Indian Users. 😉


Messaging:

keypad1

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The Keypad is awesome to type on. I already said that I just loved the similar keypad in Nokia 900, so bound to love it. Although it still lacks of auto-complete feature in Nokia N900 (may be some third party apps out there for the same), but it support long press keys to get symbols etc.

The touch screen keypad lacks of mini qwerty that is quite disappointing as it was there even in Nokia 5800. True that one should use H/W keypad for the same, but there may be scenarios that you can’t operate with two hands. I really recommend Nokia to add the same in next firmware update.

Rest two format are available in the same way as on other phones and good that they have retained handwriting mode, though I didn’t used it that much, but sure a good thing for occasions.


Various Menus inside:

First screen shot is about Menu screen and then I am following the calendar app.

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A nice view and then full fledge options for meetings, notes etc. These are all the same options as we find in other leading Smartphone’s from Nokia.

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In next, as you can see above, is Contacts. As you already heard that Nokia N97 Mini come with kinetic scrolling out of the box, true with Contacts and other menu items. Addition in Nokia N97 Mini is appearance of first letter as you scroll down (D and C in pictures). Definitely Symbian getting polished day by day, device by device. Expectations are higher for Symbian^3.

Another and kind of most important app is Web. Interesting here is Auto Full Screen feature, even if not like full fledged on Nokia N900, still it was better than other phones. Experience was amazingly richer due to embedded Youtube support (same as available in Nokia N82 or others, don’t remember it was same in Nokia 5800 or not)

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As I always recommend, I installed Opera 10 Mobile in it as well and interesting was to note that appearance of my blog was more or less same on both the browsers, though there are more options in Opera for sure. Look at the screenshots as given below.

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A lovely app is Nokia Messaging with HTML mails support, though on trial for few days, but I will love it when Nokia will made it free like its Ovi Maps. This is something that made me checking mails somewhere else than Gmail’s app. Definitely different than any other thing, though I wish it was having more formatting options inside, may be native HTML Coding itself.

This thing not only supports Push Mails, but the white face make it look much elegant than other email apps. For the detailed descriptions, one could head toward a detailed article from Zomgitscj.

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As about Camera, then I already said that it compares to Nokia N82’s Camera, which has been my best so farScr000037 Scr000039in such a way (credit goes to Xeon Flash) that even I didn’t found Nokia N900’s Camera preferable over the same (even if was technically better), but Nokia N97 Mini even with Dual Led flashes changes your opinion. It is really good one about snapping and really removes my disappointment as was with Nokia 5800 about Led Flashes.

You would be surprised to know that I already have snapped more than 5000 snaps from my Nokia N82, so could understand that having such a good camera could increase your photo collection in your camera. Options for tags come much handy for such situations.

I also tried Nokia Photo Browser that is a Beta Lab app and sure impresses in view. Not have tried but came across one awesome article about arranging your snaps on Nokia N97 Mini. Definitely a powerful device as far as Photos are concerned.  

Digging more deeper takes various menus and submenus, which most of you must be already familiar with, so not going into details. Though will mention to look at the last screen shot, it provides the control over Notification lights in a new way, which is a cool thing.

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So, here we come to discuss about the most interesting and important feature of this amazing device, Ovi Maps. Though content is older in this article, but could worth taking a look for exploration of Ovi Maps.

I also have wrote a couple of articles over Ovi Maps and even got a tweet from @ovibynokia that I have became entitled for some cool ovi goodies. Don’t know what would be that …. Surprise.

Waiting for that. Till then check other screenshots.

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Rest remains is the world of applications. Many comes out of the box with shortcuts to install them means a huge applications folder with full of icons, took at least 4 screens to cover them all. There is an amazing message reader as well to read loud your messages for you.

What I installed in addition were Fring, Gmail, Opera Mini, Opera Mobile, Skype, Periodic, Compass, Flashlight, Orkut, Best ScreenSnap and the almighty Gavity (I have fallen in love with it). Just added Nokia Here and Now via Software Updates. Amazing thing again.

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So, this was the app world about Nokia N97. I addition I checked Videos over the same. I still miss the 3.5” screen of Nokia N900 that was extra large without any buttons on the screen. May be some people like me will wish that if Nokia could have retained the same 3.5” Screen as was in original Nokia N97 and would have added the same battery as was in Nokia 5800.

I should say that in symbian league, it was the best from Nokia till now. Unfortunately when someone like Nokia N900 appears on the screen, then its bound to steal the show and we started skipping others. But if you talk about features, then you will be surprised that how much effect Nokia N97 Mini will have on your crave for some Laptop/ Netbook always with you. Most of the things, like social media, mails and web access are following you now with its home screen widgets and you find yourself not missing even if you travel a lot.

I really wonder that where Black Berry Phones are getting their places even after their buggy scroll ball (I got all of them go bad after one year or two in my office, not one but half a dozen consistently)?

Yes!! there are some complaints/ suggestions for Nokia Team about Nokia N97 Mini ….

  1. Why to leave the same messaging innovation as we seen in Series 40 devices like Nokia 5130, where we had option to send messages to people we last messaged, people we called recently and setting favourites for messaging? It was too cool in even those low end devices and I thought good things to be continued in higher end devices. I don’t find any additional requirement or issue in porting the same feature, when you already made it once.
  2. Why still we are left with some trial Quick Office and Adobe Acrobat? I had it in full with Nokia N82 at least for reading and expected it to be available in read version at least with Nokia N97 Mini like device.
  3. I have really no idea what suggested Nokia people to remove the Mini QWERTY keypad from touch screen, but its a real must have. Please give it back in next firmware update or whatever…
  4. I can understand Nokia’s requirement about making a device low on price and high on features that made them compromising the battery and FM Transmitter. But don’t you think that battery is as essential as Network coverage itself? Think about it.


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One day with Google-Ovi Maps and Nokia N97 Mini

Testing something is another thing and relying on them in unmanaged scenario as we are used to find in India is just another thing. Earlier I had used simple Nokia Maps to find the destination in one friend’s marriage and usually to know the distance left while travelling via public transport medium and also for using the badge on my blog via the link. This time thought to put it on a blind trial.

One of my friend was coming to New Delhi for an Interview with HDFC Bank. As she was unaware of Delhi locations, so it was up to me escort her. Address was something like HDFC Bank, Vertika Atrium, Sector 53, Gurgaon. I should admit, I am dumb about locations around in Delhi. Schedule goes monotonic in a way that I know about places like home and office only and even though now getting aware with new locations, still I find me dumber than others. So, the responsibility becomes tougher in my case.


It sound nerd, but I used Google Map to search for the location as Ovi Maps wasn’t able to come up with any result related to HDFC, Vertika Atrium. Even Google wasn’t able to find or I might not be using proper search terms, but I found Vertika Attrium for sure and that seems enough to reach there. I used the Get Directions link and taken print out of the route instructions by copy/ paste. I wish Google may place a print button or link for printing out the route instructions. Anyway…

Yes!! I missed a few turns and taken rounds of few places at moments, but that’s all due to misinterpretation of instructions not of fault of any of the two maps. Sure, it didn’t went blind as once or twice, I was to stop and ask people for confirmation that I am going right, but at the end, I was at exact place, I was to reach without many hassles.


Trip is completed but I am left with a few observations…

  1. Sharing: Ovi-Google: I am not sure that till now, I don’t know or there is no way till now for sharing a found location in Google Maps to Ovi Maps though Google Maps detect favourites made by Ovi Maps.

  2. Updates about Locations: When you think of technical aspects, then its sure a mammoth task, but I find that Ovi Maps due to their offline nature, aren’t that updated enough. Specially about places like we have in India, where when routes will be permanently blocked or re-routed via some other long route, no one knows. I come to hit places, where Ovi navigation kept on telling me that I need to turn right, but there was NO right turn? Yes. I was to go a few hundred meters and then by taking a U-turn, was to reach other side of the road to find that the instructions were right but not locally correct under traffic rules.

    While Google Maps was better in this sense due to highly detailed imaginary, whereas Nokia Satellite imaginary seems to be limited to City Level only not street level (understood due to vector nature of Maps for saving Data usages) and sure at some occasions, you get a better idea by the visuals you see. Not suggesting Nokia for doing so, but Google Maps is a must have for occasions.

  3. Heating of device: I am not sure that what caused that was it noon temperature or extensive usages of 3G data or heavily used Nokia N97 mini, but I found it heated up, when was coming back from the trip and found it better to switch the same off for a while. Must be some local issue otherwise, I have traveled longer with Maps and in comparison this wasn’t even a total of 100 km trip.

    Moral of the story: The navigation device should have excellent cooling system for longer trips as sometime choking/ fluctuating connections could cause a whole bunch of troubles for your beloved device.

Ovi tells you that you have to move straight till 3 km, when you reached nearer, it tells that after 300 m, you have to take left turn or have keep left if the turn is slight or you have two options, one flyover and one the road side by. Moreover, even after wrong turns, it instantly recalculate now renewed route instructions.

Means in all, the perfect solution it is. I have been in touch of a GPS technology related project through  one of my friend Manoj Tripathi under Prof. Anupam and aware of challenges in programming aspects of such a system. Dealing with something like whole world data, is something like amazing, which makes Ovi Maps and Google Maps technology the best of the apps on your smartphones.

Conclusion: Though my personal opinion, but I think such navigation is better for people driving cars as they could see the maps actually and not that better for people driving bikes and keeping the bluetooth headset on (like my case), but still work decently and you can actually rely over it.

Even if not that detailed (don’t have maps of my hometown Azamgarh in details), Ovi Maps is still the best about Voice Guided navigation. Technology is not about labs and research papers only, its about making in reached directly into hands of mass and Nokia and Google doing this at their best. I owe you!!!!

 

Nokia N97 Mini Review Part 1-Hardware Dissected

This time I really wanted to go for a review with sleeves off, so thought to take my time (though reasons for delay were office related, personal etc as well). But here I am back again. This time, I have decided to take the things one by one rather than summarizing things in one or two posts.

Here is my take on Hardware first. 


Dimension and build:

width x height x depth:    52.5 x 113 x 16.4 millimetres (2.1 x 4.4 x 0.6 inches)
(0.9 mm more in depth from Nokia 5800, not noticeable, more width and height sure appreciable)
Bounding-Volume:    97.3 cubecentimetres
Mass:    138 grams (battery included)
(29 grams higher than Nokia 5800 but considering metal body, its nothing)

Build is kind of perfect except the sliding mechanism as I mentioned in earlier post. Device seems solid from every side and even no components out under the battery. This time, I was not scared from opening the battery cover as just a side uplift for the same (its steel). Keypad layout is the same as was of N900, so I am happy about it, but one complaint was there and so is here about dedicated numeric keys. After all, its a phone first, touch way is nice, but somehow if dedicated numeric keys were there, then it was more of a phone. The 1200 mAh battery is so thin suiting to slim dimensions of cell. Sim slot mechanism is so cool, but I fear about loosing the metal plate (like I have lost hook of my BH-212 bluetooth headset). I really loved the way it has been built coz it didn’t make you feel that it has a full hardware qwerty keypad with it waiting to slide out. 😉

Check the pics given beow.

The looks with keypad open Keypad seems to have nice spacing

 Metal battery cover thats too easy to removeMade in Finland

 Volume/ Zoom Keys, Camera Keys MiniUSB port with a white light and keyguard switch

Power button on top and 3.5 mm jack check the half open SIM plate, MicroSD card slot above it and well built inside back


Processor and Chipset:

CPU+Clock: 434 MHz (N900 has 600 MHz)
CPU: ARM 1136JF-S
Width of Machine Word: 32 bit
CPU Core: ARM11
Level 1 cache: 16KiB data cache / 16 KiB instruction cache (Double of it N900 has)
Instruction Set: ARMv6 (N900 has v7)

Part of RISC family, ARM processors are part of most of embedded electronics now days. ARM architecture was suitable for smart-phones for their higher clocking capabilities and low power consumption. Nokia took ARM architecture ahead and other players followed. Though now, we find Snapdragon processors clocking at 1GHz from same ARM family, but who might have seen power of even 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 clubbed with PowerVR SGX graphics, would sure like to wait more. Yes!! the widely used 434 MHz one seems a bit outdated now, but still it stands better than the average if not the best ones out there.

Earlier released with 369 MHz, same Nokia 5800 shows 434 MHz now, I wasn’t really sure that both have the same processor or different ones. Little deeper dig told me that Nokia 5800 had different one named Nokia Rapido YII3E (kind of over clocked now) and iARM 1136JF-S sure has better capabilities. Not everything shows on specs. Check ARM official website.

Where N97 Mini lacks with other leading smart-phones of now days is dedicated graphics. it still without something like PowerVR SGX graphics that’s a let down for sure.


Memory:

RAM type: SDRAM
RAM capacity: 128 MiB
ROM type: Flash EEPROM
ROM capacity: 512 MiB, including 280.6MiB user-accessible non-volatile storage
Secondary ROM type: Flash EEPROM
Secondary ROM capacity: 7630 MiB

This is the area of enhancement in N97 Mini over Nokia 5800. Nokia 5800 had only 73 MB out of 128 MB RAM accessible, while it has all. There was 256 MB ROM with only 81 MB available for users and now with N97 Mini it has 512 MB ROM with 280 MB accessible for users. Nokia N97 has a secondary ROM of 8GB in addition for all kind of usages, while still supports microSD, microSDHC, TransFlash, High Capacity (SD 2.0/HC) memory cards with capacity of up to 32GB. Yes!! I know greedy like us still cry loud for 256 MB RAM, but greed never ends.

At cost and performance side, then having an internal storage in GBs is sure the best for performance but ask for cost as well. So, the same justifies the cost of N97 Mini in a way.


Display:

Display Type: color transflective resistive touch screen TFT display
Display Color Depth: 24 bit/pixel (16777216 scales)
Display Diagonal: 3.2 " (81 millimetres)
Display Resolution: 360 x 640 (230400 pixels)
Viewable Display Size: 1.56 " x 2.78 " (39.71 x 70.6 millimetres)
Dot Pitch: 230.3 pixel/inch (0.11031 millimetre/pixel)
Video out: NTSC/PAL resolution, Proprietary connector

I am really not sure that whether both the display unit is the same as was used in Nokia 5800. Considering the price, they should have increased the resolution at least. It seems a bit more responsive than Nokia 5800, but that should be due to better OS and processor I guess. Moreover, I noticed that N97 Mini has something wider about display. Don’t know what it is, but its there for sure. May be some OS enhancements made that way or something else.

As far as discussion about Capacitive Vs Resistive goes, then sure capacitive ones have the wow!! factor, but still considering the price and convenience of stylus with resistive screen, I don’t mind being with a resistive one. I might be Nokia Fan-Boy, but checked capacitive one on iPod 3G Touch and didn’t found it so ground breaking that one can’t bear being with resistive one


Camera Performance:

Main Camera : –

Sensor Type: CMOS sensor
Resolution: 2592 x1944 pixels (5.04MP)
Lens: Carl Zeiss optics
Autofocus (AF): Supported
Optical Zoom: 1 x
Macro Mode: Supported
Built-in Flash: mobile light (Dual LED) 400, Video light 
Camcorder: 640×480 pixels , 30frame/sec
Recordable Image Formats: JPG
Recordable Video Formats: 3GP, MPEG4
Geotagging: Supported

Secondary Camera : –

Sensor Type: CMOS sensor
Resolution: 320 x240 pixels (0.08MP)
Camcorder: 176x144pixels , 15frame/sec
Recordable Image Formats: JPG
Recordable Video Formats: 3GP

I always been in love with my Nokia N82 5 MP Camera with Xeon flash and even after using N900 for a while, my faith didn’t broken that Xeon flash was something out of world. I was kind of totally disappointed with Nokia 5800 and sure Nokia N97 Mini seems brighter on this time. I am really surprised that even with Led Flash, it manages really good snaps otherwise I was so much in love with Xeon that never thought anything else could give something like this.

19032010004 With this camera performance, it really justifies its price as Nokia N82 must be around 17.5k now days, I guess.

Carl Zeiss optics been a blessing for Nokia because of its performance. As about the base technology, then I know that CCD one that is used in the main stream digital cameras will never make it to smart phones as they consumes a lot of power, though produce high quality of pictures, while CMOS ones will be susceptible to Noise even at the best. But practically, you can see that its totally acceptable for a non-professional to completely live and love his smart phone CMOS Censor based camera. 🙂


GPS Unit:

Built-in-GPS module: Supported
GPS Protocol: NMEA 0183
GPS Antenna: Internal antenna
Complementary GPS Services: Assisted GPS
Built-in Compass: Available

Though I am not sure which chipset it usages but I assume that it must be SIRF III like most of the devices. GPS really been a blessing and addition of Voice guidance by Nokia makes it something like part of life. I am still disappointed that why not free navigation made the way to my beloved Nokia N82 yet or will it ever? I know prices are slashed for navigation, but still …. Addition of Compass makes it so cool and accurate; something on another level. Sure faster than Nokia 5800 and Nokia N82 when it comes to locking and I still feel better than Nokia N900 due to so naive Ovi Map software there. Moreover, better performing Ovi Maps due to improved memory and prosessor I guess otherwise N82 has started troubling with new version of Ovi Maps. Adding a video from boybandreject00 for overview

Limitations of GPS technologies aside, its like integrating all your travelling needs like Camera, Music, Internet and GPS at the same place. Limitations are like .. I think it doesn’t sense that we are over some flyover or below that or obviously doesn’t get updated about if route are changed or temporarily blocked by authority for weeks. May be in other countries situation might be some different, but in India, it is fact.


Connectivity:

Cellular Networks: GSM850, GSM900, GSM1800, GSM1900, UMTS900, UMTS1900, UMTS2100
Cellular Data Links: CSD, HSCSD, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA,GPRS Class B Multi-slot Class 32,, EDGE Class B Multi-slot Class 32, HSDPA 3.6 (Cat. 6)
USB: USB 2.0 client, Hi-Speed (480Mbit/s), USB Series Micro-B (Micro-USB) connector
Bluetooth (802.15): Bluetooth 2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate, Internal antenna
Wireless LAN/Wi-Fi-(802.11):    IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, 54 Mbit/s

I come to read somewhere that when it comes to specifications, then Nokia likes to tick all of them, so is the case with Nokia N97. It drops Infrared and HSUPA support, but still have plenty of super fast connectivity options for utilizing its connected widgets.

I really feel that connectivity on the go is an era where Smart Phones beats Laptops, Netbooks and computers. Though N900 is a revolution of its kind, but still many coulod manage their works with a Full qwerty keypad and nice screen with all time connected fast web. Only issue was with switching so many available options, then Nokia is improving in this area with each device. While I find Nokia N900 the smoothest, N97 Mini also seems to have avoided most of the connectivity glitches.


Music Unit:

Audio Channel(s): 3D stereo sound
Analog/Digital Converter (Recording): 16 bit nominal quantization, 48000 Hz sampling frequency
Digital/Analog Converter (Playing): 16 bit resolution, 48000 Hz holding frequency
Microphone(s): mono sound
Loudspeaker(s): stereo sound
Audio Output: 3.5mm plug
Analog Radio: FM radio (87.5-108MHz) with RDS radio reciever, Proprietary headset as antenna

When it comes to Multimedia, then Nokia always been a champion of all and my expectation are much high after having N900.  Still my demands will be the same. Find some way to play all kind of media files. Not a rocket science and could be done via any firmware update. I guess what needs to be done is negotiation with various format providers. Next annoyance is to use Wired Headphone for FM Radio. Why? What about Bluetooth Headset? Please drop this requirement …

I wish if FM Transmitter was part of the deal.. I was having no issue in buying this right now.


Power Management:

Battery: BL-4D 1200 mAh Li-Ion battery
Talk-time (maximum): GSM 430 mins, WCDMA 240 mins
Standby time (maximum): GSM up to 320 h, WCDMA up to 310 h
Video playback time: (nHD, 30 fps, maximum): 210 mins
Video recording time: (VGA, 30fps, maximum): 170 mins
Video call time (maximum): 120 mins
Music playback time (offline mode, maximum): Up to 28 h

It fares well for whole day operations, but I really see no point in removing the earlier 1320 mAh, which was there in Nokia 5800 except the fact about size. But when Apple and other could make slimmer batteries, then why not Nokia? I really see no point in reducing the battery at least, as powerful battery might be, it would be more appreciated. May be some price concerns, but don’t make compromise on battery at least plz!!!.


So, here I am finishing my first round of review for Nokia N97 Mini. Will be back soon about other things. Join the conversation and suggest me more.