In a few hours, it will be 1st July 09, the release of the new N97 firmware: V11.0.021.
Teo, from Symbian-Freak, has found the changelog via serie-n.it, which at first glance for me looks great, as I’ve unfortunately encountered the bugs that required such fixes:
USB detection error fix
- PC does not detect N97 or USB charging connection not detected.
–Additionally for me, the N97 has twice frozen after being connected via USB, then after removal from USB, still displays the charging animation. It can only be restarted by removal of battery.
- -Home screen online/offline widget crash fix
- -Fix for “Alphabetical and Number input are mixed in facebook until end key is pressed.
Fantastic. This has absolutely p’d me off when trying to post on friends’ walls/statuses and the keyboard is stuck to either numbers or symbols.
- -Widget UI improvement – New facebook widget fixes a problem of Home Screen background visible on soft-key area.
I’m loving the facebook widget for the N97. It does have certain stability issues, and annoyingly locks up if you suddenly lose signal in the middle of posting. As you cannot exit facebook to restart it, you have to restart the phone again.
The visible background thing also happens sometimes in the bloomberg widget.
- -Browser fixes to improve widgets stability.
I encountered an awful bug today which led the phone to crash every time I tried the browser or a widget. Restart after restart. I had to remove the battery to resolve the situation. Hopefully this is fixed.
-MfE related fixes
- -Partial fix for Messaging/calendar entry lost.
- -Mail for exchange calendar entry synchronization error fix.
-UI transition error fixes (Portrait <-> landscape transition, there is a home screen corruption.)
- -UI transition (Slowness and bad effects)
Ah, brilliant. The N97 UI looks much nicer if you set theme effects on. You’ve got a visual transition from homescreen to blank background, menus pop up nicer, and there is a transition (though pants) from landscape to portrait. However, it’s do painfully slow that I had to turn it off. I can’t wait 3 seconds for the phone to orientate itself.
- -Slow Touch UI response
Another annoyance which has caused a lot of finger mashing of the screen as you aren’t really sure if your presses are being registered.
- -Picture of the device lock appears half of the screen when transitioning the UI sometimes
- -Landscape: in some cases the soft buttons on touch (right hand) show the Home Screen in background (install maps.google.com)
-Photos thumbnail performance and stability improvements
- -Device performance deteriorates when lots of content in the device – especially photos
I don’t have much content yet, only a paltry proportion of the entire 29.8GB available, but I have noticed the phone to be steadily slowing down with each collection of new photos taken, music/video added.
Furthermore, photos taken in sequence mode take an age to appear in gallery beyond initial thumbnails. (But sequence mode is actually very good, with sufficient frames per second to be a real “burst” mode. Though I do miss “timed” sequences, e.g. 1 a minute. Good for stills time lapses)
- -Partial fix no display backlight illumination when unlocking lock-key – CAP Genius reported already.
I’ve had to restart sometimes because I thought the phone had frozen only to realise it’s just the backlight, but then it’s too late and I have to wait to restart.
- -New version of Accueweather to improve the “Connection error” situation
- -Device reset when browsing with high speed packet access (for Malaysia)
- -“Browser soft key UI doesn’t work after putting Chinese character with qwerty keyboard”
- -Java fixes (TCK, Pre-install app disappearing, *#7370#*)
- -Operator fixes (CMCC, Hutchson and Telefonica, Vodafone)
- -Ovi store client now embedded in the core image
Some other annoyances that spring to mind right now (there’s more, but can’t remember) which aren’t on the changelog:
- Voice command disabled. Maybe it’s just my handset. It worked a few times, and it was surprisingly accurate, even in a busy Cardiff shopping street. However, it proceeded to later crash, lock the device needed for a battery removal restart.
- Music player in homescreen doesn’t always display the track that’s actually being played.
- When slide closes from landscape view, (e.g. I’ve just typed in something, I want to minimise the form factor) the phone reverts into portrait even though I’m not holding the phone in portrait – then proceeds to switching back into landscape.
There are also some UI issues, which may have to wait for another firmware update, such as :
- continuity of kinetic scrolling.
This should not be just in certain apps, web browser/certain widgets. It should be a fluid character of every single area of the phone, stepping towards more finger friendly gestures.
- slowness in typing.
Using the keyboard, the letters seem to be slightly delayed before appearing on screen. It doesn’t happen when using the alphanumeric keyboard, but because the screen cannot register multiple presses, when typing at “fast” speeds with two thumbs, your input is not registered.
- Better input of numbers/punctuation from keyboard.
A lot of people have wished that the keyboard would register a long press as a number selection. e.g. instead of
“RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR” we get “4”.
Additionally, punctuation. Full stops, commas, apostrophes, question marks and exclamation marks are (I’m guessing) are the most frequently used. Strangely, it was much easier to get punctuation from the old style nokia keypads than this full fleged keyboard. Yeah, you get used to it. But full stops, commas and apostrophes should have never been mashed together in one button.
- Improved predictive text (mainly in QWERTY).
Both alphanumeric keyboard and physical qwerty have predictive text. It helps slightly as you get used to knowing what words will come up, so pressing spacebar on qwerty completes it (Set auto-fill on). However:
-it doesn’t have the intuition to know that when I’m pressing the awful .,’ button, in attempting to type “I’m, or I’ve or It’s, you get I.m/I.ve/It.s” Even when I’ve added it to the dictionary by spelling it, it still isn’t recognized.
-When you complete a previously entered word, it automatically fills it in, including any capital letters you may or may not want the second time around. You cannot undo it unless you type the last letter separately.
-Pressing up or down gives you suggestions on what you may have wanted to input, but it’s inconsistent. Sometimes it gives full words, sometimes it only gives a few letters. I may have to read the manual to ascertain the actual function of this, maybe it’s not meant to be for suggestions/corrections as it doesn’t fullfil either function properly.
Whilst it’s a deep inconvenience to encounter these bugs on production firmware, it’s good to see Nokia fixing these bugs extremely quickly. As I remember from testing the N95, the guys fixing the firmware bugs were incredible. An email about a bunch of bugs to them and they release an update to fix it. Aha, if only it were that quick and simple for production units.
TheReviveDone takes a look at the Nokia N97’s browser and compares it with the iPhone 3GS’ over WiFi.
I’ve been using the N97 on the go, predominantly over O2’s 3G and I’m moderately pleased with the browser. Flash hasn’t been too stable at the moment, with youtube forcing the browser to crash (less of a S60 issue as N95/N82 are ok), but what’s most annoying is that there hasn’t been much improvement from S60 with keypad to S60 with touch screen.
I don’t like that:
- If I’ve zoomed in on a particular website to a comfortable viewing level, opening a new link zooms me out again
- The side bar is extremely cumbersome. Just letting you get rid of it manually would have been a step in the right direction, but no. It lingers and goes away on its own accord.
- I can’t select text/images to copy/save them. It should be that if you long press on an area in the screen, a menu pops up that gives you additional options, such as select/copy text and images.
- The phone runs out of RAM easily. Music player in the background, Maps in the background, “boom” Web Browser turns off or worse, phone restarts.
- I can only have one browser window open at a time. (On Maemo, OS 2008, you could have several windows open at the same time).
- Most sites do load faithfully to how it appears on your desktop. Flash content included.
- OK, maybe flash deserves it’s own point – though flash content seems a tad choppy on the N97.
- Kinetic scrolling is nice. It’s a shame on occasions that due to the screen being resistive, that slight bit of additional pressure needed to register a “flick” to scroll instead inadvertently opens a link. As you get used to the resistive screen, this does become less frequent.
Most websites I check are ones I view frequently. Even with bookmarks on the N97, it’s a few taps too many to get to my favourite sites.
What if, with a downward swipe from the top of the screen, a toolbar shows up, 10 icons of your most visited websites (perhaps 4/5 when in portrait) as defined by you (or maybe even the browser itself).
It’s how I use firefox, a bookmark toolbar with just icons of the sites I use a lot. BBC icon for iPlayer, YouTube icon for…well you get the point.
(One suggestion for now, got a gig to go to…more N97 low light tests)
Generation The Phone House, has a 10 minute video looking at the Sony Ericsson Satio – one of the three major S60 5th Edition handsets of 2009, competing with Samsungs i8910 and Nokia’s N97.
It’s interesting to note the differences both Samsung and Sony Ericsson have done to, perhaps, improving the S60 interface – e.g. look at the Satio’s media player.
I’ve ranted about the Satio/Nokia thing before >>here<< so I won’t go over it again, except for stating my love for the imaging prowess of the Satio.
- Camera/Video switch.
- Media button (unbelievably convenient, why Nokia took it out from the N97, I don’t know.)
- 16:9 photos. Takes advantage of the screen ratio, looks good on the phone, also fits most modern computer screens better (not sure if it does 16:9 video as an option, you see 4:3 though in the video)
The MP count, I actually would not have minded if it was 5 or 8, so having 12MP is rather a bonus. We’ve seen in samples it performs quite well, getting a lot more detail than the growing standard of 8MP. When you’d need that extra detail for a point and shoot maybe a rare occasion, but it’s nice to have the option.
Here’s me thinking that Nokia would be too stubborn and stick with just Symbian or Linux for their netbook OS, but it seems Nokia’s venturing out and dipping their toes into Google Android (though, powered by ARM and not Intel).
As a fail-safe, Nokia’s collaboration with Intel will see an alternative non-Android netbook. Although it will be a practically vertical uphill struggle, maybe Nokia can shake things up from what people expect from your standard netbook.
Linux wouldn’t be too bad of a detour. I do miss the multiple browser windows that my N800 had been capable of on Maemo (OS 2008) and its faithful rendering of desktop like internet.
1. Internet and email – check.
But what about document creation? If the browser is good enough, maybe it could just take advantage of google documents?
2. Document creation – check.
Multimedia – decent music and video playback should be standard. Please let us have one player that has all the major codecs. –
3. Multimedia – check.
Those are the three main points I’d be looking for in this sup’d up smartphone or micro netbook.
Possible extras to bring it up to something worth taking notice:
- Extremely good battery life. Maybe 12 hours, single charge?
- Decent CPU/GPU, and more than sufficient RAM – not just for resource intensive apps, and heavy multi tasking but perhaps even for mobile gaming?
- Be a phone too. Voice calls, data, SMS and MMS.
- Size wise, I want something that I could perhaps place on a desk and type with ease, but also pick it up and have a decent experience typing with the device held in my hands.
- Similarly, (and dependent on the keyboard configuration) The screen should be at least 5″ (horizontal) – but under 10″.
- Maybe to solve the keyboard/screen size issue, the device would be two-screened and multitouch capable?
- Or, going with the split screen – imagine a passport sized device: it opens up, the top the two halves join seamlessly in the middle to form a widescreen display, and the bottom becomes a full qwerty keyboard. Meh. Just an idea.
- What about a slightly longer and wider (but slimmer) N97, with a 5 row keyboard (with NO Dpad), and a max of 5mm border around the screen to optimize screen size.
- A not so daunting price. *cough*sony vaio p-series*. Max £500? – perhaps even subsidized on a carrier? Though on the high end for a notebook, it’s not just a notebook. It’s a smartphone too – so not only convenient in carrying one device instead of two but slightly justifies the higher price.
For the perceived shortcomings of the N97, it really needed some aggressive price points to make it an attractive option for consumers. We’re seeing pretty good deals so far with pay monthly, but Network, 3, seems to have an even better offer on PAYG.
Whilst £320 isn’t pocket change, it is a brilliant step forward to getting high end Nseries to the masses.
3 are offering the Nokia N97 for £319.99 on pay as you go, which is otherwise £500 sim free (The iPhone 3GS is £538.20 on PAYG with O2).
Now I’m not sure exactly how 3’s reward system works, e.g. if you top up twice, do you get two sets of rewards?…but here’s what you get for a single £10 top up which lasts for 90 days, even if your credit runs out.
- 300 text
- Free Skype to skype calls
- 150mb internet allowance (not really enough for anything but occasional emails)
- Free 3 to 3 calls.
- Free voice mail
Leaving you with the £10 for calls (video/mobile/landline/08 and 09 numbers too!). Also, as the top up amount increases, so does your free text allowance.
So, a 12 month total ownership cost with £10 monthly top ups on PAYG:
Alternatively, if you will be regularly topping up, another option maybe getting a sim only contract.
However, for a slightly more manageble payment, (and if you use moderate amount of calls/text/mobile internet – the latter of which you really need to take advantage of the N97), pay monthly may be the best value option. Check out some price deals here
This was just to test the startup time of the N97 (RM-505) on:
- V10.0.009, 12-05-2009
- V10.0.012, 15-05-2009
From pressing the button and getting the vibrate buzz to switching to the visible homescreen it’s about 28 seconds (and that’s pretty much the same over 3 repeats, on both firmware).
V 10.0.009, 12-05-2009
V 10.0.012, 15-05-2009
As for comparison, CNET did a test of the Palm Pre, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS start up times:
- First is iPhone 3GS at 19 seconds
- Second is iPhone 3G at 48 seconds
- Third/last is the Pre at a painful 1 minute 46 seconds! Imagine being in an emergency and needing to turn it on?
The N97 did ok at 28 seconds. Previous S60 3rd edition phones (N93) were capable of sub 19 seconds on certain firmware. Fingers crossed we’ll see improvements in the next major firmware upgrade (V11.0.021) in terms of:
- faster startup
- bug fixes
- new “features”/UI tweaks.
[Sidenote: This test was done with pre-release early edition firmware V10.0.009, and not the “final” firmware V10.0.012]
Just before we went to see “The Hangover”, we went to the pub for a quick drink. Here were three shots I took with the N97 and the N82 in your average moderate/low lighting pub.
Preferably, for a comparison, I would have actually tested it on a proper night out in a club (like the collection here with the N82)- with much less light and a little more thought into certain making the tests fair.
Nevertheless, here’s what I managed with 5 minutes to spare – some “real world” testing of the N97 and the N82 in low lighting conditions (with flash).
N97 (and dual LED Flash)
N82 (And Xenon Flash)
For me – I prefer what the N82 produces. Crisp, non blurry, well lit images as opposed to the N97 under low lighting appears to be taking pictures through a murky muddy bottle.
Supposedly – the LED light is meant to help, but as you can see – the N82 manages fine without it (seen in first few seconds of N82 video, thereafter “assisted” by N97). But the focus is blurry, the video is grainy and overall poor. I guess if it was pitch black then the N97 may have won slightly by having the LED light to give your face a slight gray halloween tint.
Sample from a Nokia N97
Sample from a Nokia N82
I really want to get the N97, but it kills me that for something so important to me (people photos – nights out – I am a student :p) there’s a lot I’ll have to sacrifice in terms of no longer being able to carry just one device again. Unless that is, I go and wait for the Satio. Hmm. It’s early days yet. I’ve not even had the N97 for half a day.
(Note though, it’s not all bad, the N97 performs well in optimum conditions – i.e. bright sunlight – something of a rarity in Wales)