VIDEO: Nokia N97 at the Design Studio open day


I’ve been waiting a fair old while to get my hands on a fully operational Nokia N97 and there was a glut of the little fellas at the Finnish company’s design day in London this morning.

We’ve all seen the specs and artist’s impressions of the handset before over at the pre-order website but getting all touchy feely with a phone is what really counts. The verdict in short – I really can’t fault it. For the longer version, click play on the video below.

The touchscreen on the N97 is probably what sells the device for me. These high end phones are nothing if the interface is dead to the touch and this Nokia works just as it should – perhaps without the elfin beauty of the iPhone – but it works. The fact that there are no holes spec-wise is a serious bonus too. Not many top end mobiles have got a camera with a flash, let alone that of the 5-megapixel double xenon variety.


The widget-friendly, customisable home screen drew a lot of attention at today’s event, with the idea that you can bring more than ever to the front of your S60 OS, but, for my money, it was Nokia’s developments in gesture control that stole the show.

Before you get too hot, none of this is implemented on the N97 but the company is sure that gesture control will be a feature of their next handsets. The team ran workshops in different cultures across the world to establish what physical movements might link up with an appropriate on-phone response.


The one that felt best was the gesture for the mapping and GPS application, as shown on the left here. I’ll leave it up to you what the kissing your mobile on the right could activate.


The trouble is, as Nokia admitted, these controls aren’t necessarily any easier than doing it by finger and thumb. Sure, not everyone in the world is going to sue them but a few of them are downright impractical. The ones for data transfer from one mobile to another look like they’d result in scratched screens and the scrolling action above is all very well and good but it makes the display impossible to read.


Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’d want to advertise that I’m lost in a foreign city by waving my expensive mobile above my head anyway.

Then point is that it’s something Nokia’s looking at. We may not see these slides come to life but expect condensed versions of something similar coming soon to a Nokia near you.