Nokia was nice enough to send me a N97 for testing and of course I couldn't resist. There are already lots of extensive reviews about it all over the net saying both good and bad things. I can't and don't want to rival those reviews so I decided to report a bit about the things I personally like and don't like that others haven't looked at.
One of the killer applications on my N95 is Opera Mini. I much prefer it over the built in browser as it is much quicker and bandwidth efficient. On previous non-touch phones I realyl enjoyed Opera Mini's sophisticated keyboard shortcut controls. Typing *3 brings me to my favourite news web page, *5 to my favourite tech web site, *7 to Twitter, #9 to the search engine page and so on. Typing 2 scrolls upwards exactly one screen length, 8 scrolls down exactly one screen length, etc. The learning curve is a bit tough but once the shortcuts are memorized the browsing experience is awesome and lightning fast. So how does Opera Mini work on a touch based phone without keyboard shortctuts?
Much better than I thought! The Opera Mini touch implementation works quite well, scrolling up and down the page can be done by dragging a finger over the screen. After a while, the already big screen of the N95 looks rather small compared to the 16:9 screen of the N97. A downside of "touch scrolling" is that it is not quite as precise as scrolling with the keyboard controls of the N95. On the N95, it's simple to scroll down exactly one screen by pressing a button as described above. On the N97, moving the page in any direction with a finger requires some skill and the eye has to follow the page in order not to loose the location of the page where one has stopped reading. It surely looks nicer sitting in a Café but it is not quite as practicable. Nevertheless is is usable and I can live with it well, so I won't complain too much.
Some things are not quite as fast as with keyboard shortcuts. To go to my favorite news web page I have to press the "menu" button, select "bookmarks" and then select the web page I want to go to. Not too much of a hassle but it definitely takes a lot more time than just pressing *3.
I wonder if Opera is working on improving this as I think touch gestures could replace some of the keyboard shortcuts. A gesture to enter the bookmarks instead of going through the menu would already speed things up quite a bit. Also, Opera should increase the size of the menus and bookmarks when it detects a bigger screen and touch screen capabilities as hitting the right menu entry or bookmark with a finger takes a bit of practice.
So while I can't maneuver through the web quite as fast as on the N95, I nevertheless like the "touch" experience Opera Mini provides and it's difficult to declare a winner here. So I declare it a tie.
So this was part one of the review series. Clicking on the "N97 review" tag at the bottom of the post brings you to the other entries once they are published.