Flashback: Nokia N97 was once an “iPhone killer” that helped kill Nokia as an alternative


The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic was once the primary Symbian S60 telephone with a touchscreen launched through the Finnish corporate. It wasn’t a really perfect telephone in any way, however an competitive worth and a beneficiant retail package deal driven it alongside to eight million gross sales in its first 12 months, a good luck. But when the 5800 wasn’t highest, the Nokia N97, which was once intended to be the corporate’s best telephone within the battle in opposition to the iPhone, was once an outright sadness.

Don’t take our phrase for it, right here’s what Anssi Vanjoki, Govt VP of Markets at Nokia, needed to say about it. “The N97 has been an incredible luck for us relating to what number of did we send and how much cash did we accumulate. However, it’s been an incredible sadness in relation to the revel in high quality for the patron and one thing we didn’t look ahead to.”

Nokia was once nonetheless the 800 pound gorilla, its title on my own bought telephones. However the gorilla had ft of clay. Smartphones of the previous ran just a few apps and accessed a restricted model of the internet. Smartphones of the longer term needed to handle websites made for PCs and run apps simply as complicated because the desktop computer systems. And that was once way past the features of Nokia’s platform, each {hardware} and tool.

The iPhone made touchscreens cool and the N97 had a touchscreen too. The three.5” panel had a media-friendly 16:nine side ratio and was once greater than the only supplied at the 5800. Then again, it nonetheless used resistive contact, which was once all the time the more serious choice in comparison to capacitive contact – if now not for its decrease sensitivity (although that was once a topic as neatly) then for its loss of multi-touch enhance.

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

Steve Jobs had enchanted the arena with pinch zoom and iPhone’s holistic solution to tool. Symbian S60 Rel. Five felt like a patchwork of fixes to make an interface designed for D-pad operation to paintings with a touchscreen.

That’s no simple process, Microsoft remains to be suffering to steadiness Home windows 10’s interface to paintings similarly neatly on a pill’s touchscreen because it does on a vintage pc. You may take note UIQ, a department of Symbian designed for contact telephones, however that wasn’t the solution. First, it nearer to Home windows Cell than iOS. 2d, the corporate in the back of it was once in hassle and went bust in early 2009.

That may be a moot level anyway, because it wasn’t the display that sank the Nokia N97. No longer even the clunky Symbian tool. No, it was once Nokia’s mindset, which was once caught prior to now, that was once the actual downside. The N97 introduced in mid-2009 with a single-core processor clocked at 434 MHz and simply 128MB of RAM. Of that, simplest round 50 MB remained unfastened after the OS loaded.

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

That’s as a lot processing energy as the unique iPhone had and that one introduced two years previous. The N97 was once up in opposition to the iPhone 3GS, which had a 600MHz processor and 256MB of RAM.

K, rarely a processing powerhouse, however iOS wouldn’t learn how to multitask till the next 12 months. Additionally, the ones early implementations suspended all however essentially the most elementary actions for background apps to save lots of on sources.

No longer Symbian, although, that had supported true multitasking for years. It’s simply that it ran rather easy apps, which have compatibility with ease within the restricted sources to be had. However after Apple and Google opened the doorways in their app retail outlets, builders rushed to create apps and video games that may have focused desktop computer systems and the N97 couldn’t cope.

Actually, failing to construct a aggressive app retailer will have been an excellent larger downside than N97’s underpowered {hardware}. On the time of our evaluation (June 2009), the Nokia Ovi retailer had “as many as 525 packages”. For comparability, Apple revealed a press unlock in November of 2009, bragging that its App Retailer had 100,000 apps to be had for obtain (a couple of months earlier than that, the App Retailer had reached 1 billion app downloads). Round the similar time, the Android app retailer had round 11,000 apps.

Paying attention to your whole pals and associates rave about the most recent and biggest app or sport they simply downloaded on their iPhone or Android, the warmed over Symbian apps you should run at the Nokia felt antiquated.

Nokia N97
Nokia N97
Nokia N97

The Nokia Obtain! app was once another supply of tool

The Nokia N97 had a slide-out design that exposed a three-row QWERTY keyboard underneath the show. That was once touted as a bonus again then, but it surely’s simply every other signal of Nokia’s out of date perspectives. Touchscreen keyboards had been getting extra correct as predictive enter progressed and would quickly eclipse their bodily opposite numbers.

It didn’t take lengthy earlier than typing pace data had been set on touchscreens. Remaining 12 months the BBC reported that the common typing pace on smartphones is 38 phrases according to minute (wpm) in comparison to 52 wpm on full-sized PC keyboards. Sure, hindsight is 20/20, however the cramped keyboard at the N97 was once by no means going to achieve such speeds – touchscreens had been the longer term.

It’s possible you’ll disagree with this, however the marketplace gives enough proof in enhance. Samsung introduced QWERTY keyboard add-on that lined the ground of the display. There’s no such add-on for the S9, S10 or S20 – we’re guessing that’s not as a result of large gross sales. On occasion, an Android telephone with a keyboard will crop up on crowdfunding website, one in all them seems to be relatively just a little just like the N97, in reality. However once more, the pastime from customers simply isn’t there.

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

On paper, it’s going to have gave the look of the Nokia N97 had the higher hand. It got here with 32GB of integrated garage, which was once large for the time. iPhones crowned out at 16GB, as did the unique Galaxy S that introduced the next 12 months.

Additionally, Nokia supplied its telephone with a 5MP digicam with Carl Zeiss optics and 480p video recording at 30fps. The picture high quality of footage and movies was once just right too (although not the chief of the pack). Nonetheless, it was once miles higher than the three.15 MP cam at the 3GS.

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

The N97 had a microSD slot too, so you should carry a big video and song assortment. It additionally packed stereo audio system, a three.Five mm headphone jack or even an FM radio transmitter, you should revel in your multimedia anyway you wanted.

In follow, the Nokia N97 was once a sparkly external draped over a virtual relic. Gross sales hit the two million mark all over the primary 3 months after unlock, however high quality keep watch over problems all over each tool and {hardware} construction left customers disillusioned.

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

In the event you watch the total interview with Vanjoki, you’ll see he was once hopeful that the tool problems had been mounted with an Over The Air replace and the standard keep watch over on the manufacturing line were progressed. Then again, the wear was once already achieved and Nokia’s “iPhone killer” did anything else however.

The corporate proceeded to throw the infant out with the bathwater because it moved to Microsoft’s Home windows Telephone. At the plus facet, WP7 dictated a {hardware} platform that was once extra complicated than what Symbians ran on on the time. At the unfavorable facet, WP7 was once each past due to the birthday celebration and now not relatively completed. Thus Nokia’s try to catch as much as its competitors fizzled out. It was once too past due to save lots of the N97, anyway.

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