Analysis: Nokia N97 vs Nokia N900

Posted by Jens-Peter Olsson, Nokia-affairs Correspondent
on Sep 1st, 2009 GMT +2

N97 Home screenN900 with keyboard out

ONSLUNDA, Sweden - With the announcement of the upcoming Nokia N900, speculations and opinions are running wild on whether this device will replace the Nokia N97 model just a few months after it was released. The N900 will be showcased at the Nokia World, starting tomorrow, but below is an overview of the similarities and differences between the models known so far.

Starting off with the hardware, the N900 clearly triumphs. It has an OMAP (generation 3) 3430 processor running at 600MHz compared to the ARM11 processor (OMAP generation 2) running at 434MHz found in the N97. The 3430 is without doubt faster. The N900 also features graphics acceleration which the N97 lacks. This should be noticeable when running games or other graphic-intense applications. The N900 also features a higher screen resolution (800x480 compared to 640x360) although the actual screen size is the same (3.5"). The N97 has higher battery capacity on paper, although real use capacity can't be determined by simply looking at the specifications.

The most obvious hardware difference though is that the N900 included 256MB of RAM compared to 128MB on the N97. The N900 also supports up to 768MB of virtual memory and thus has 1GB application memory available. The lack of RAM on the N97 is widely seen as the biggest flaw of the device. Since the N97 (and the N900) contains 32GB of internal flash memory, many users anticipate virtual memory support to be included in a future firmware update for the N97. The amount of internal memory available to applications is in many situations more important than processor speed.

Apart from what's mentioned already, the hardware specifications are more or less the same on both devices.

N97 with and without keyboard outN900 calling screenLooking at the software, the N97 runs on the Symbian S60 v5 as its operating system, while the N900 will use the Linux-based Maemo 5. S60 v5 has received some criticism for being just a port from v3 with added touch support and not really suited as a modern touch operating system. Overall though, user feedback has been mixed, more on that in a second.

Maemo 5 is not yet available for testing, but looks on paper like a more modern operating system better suited to the kind of mixed multimedia and internet device both N900 and N97 represent. Judging from currently available information, Maemo 5 will feature rich multitasking possibilities and a modern user interface with 3D effects, menu transitions, etc.. Being Linux-based, in theory it also offers endless configuration possibilities and a wide range of third-party software support.

Overall, it's always hard to compare a released model to another device that is hyped but not released. The N97 hasn't fared too well in reviews and is widely criticized by its users on the internet, especially after the N900 was announced. Unhappy users being the loudest in the debate is not uncommon though, this applies to virtually every mobile phone out on the market. It's also obvious that Nokia hasn't been able to attract new users with the N97, the happy users are with few exceptions people who have used the N95 or other S60 v3 devices before. The N97 doesn't really compete with Google Android or the iPhone since the inheritage from the S60 v3 is so obvious. It's still a smartphone with a smartphone OS for savvy technical users who want total freedom with their phones. Android and iPhone offers something else.

If one looks deeper and analyzes the more balanced opinions from users who constantly uses the N97 in everyday life, the impression is mixed. Two months pass quickly, and many users tend to forget the big advancement that the N97 after all provides compared to previous Nokia models. The home-screen support for widgets such as Facebook, e-mail and news feeds, offers possibilities not seen before and has changed the way many people use their phones. On the other hand, there's no doubt that the N97 was released with serious flaws. Buggy software, insufficient amount of RAM, a camera that's not really an improvement over the N95 released two years earlier and hardware struggles both with the GPS and the USB connector. And since the N900 looks so good on paper, one can certainly understand that many users feel cheated and would have waited for the N900 if they would had known in advance what was coming.

Still, there is no guarantee that the N900 will be a success. It is, after all, built in the internet tablet tradition, a segment that has never really reached the mass appeal the N900 aims for. So will Nokia be able to mix this tradition with first time phone functionality and the first release of a new OS? Only time will tell, but looking at history, there are reasons for doubt. It will also be interesting to see how open ended Nokia will allow the Linux architecture to be upon release. A completely open architecture with root access and command line support is of course what most power users hope for, but is that really possible to combine with the easy operation and stability that regular phone users will expect and require? And of course, there is a reason that Linux hasn't really been able to make a huge impact on the PC market so far, competing with Apple and Microsoft. Maybe this is the release that will change all that, but it's not unlikely that the N900 will at least partly suffer the same faith as previous Nokia internet tablets and Linux: beloved by power users but not really appealing to regular users.

Regardless, the N900 will definitely be an exciting model to follow, starting at the upcoming Nokia World.

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57 Responses for “Analysis: Nokia N97 vs Nokia N900”

  1. Donovan says:

    The Nokia N97 is a solid device with all the features implemented that Nokia promised. The N900, however, is an entirely new device that might fill a gap in the market for the potent but flexible smartphone that so many have been after.

  2. MJ says:

    one thing that makes me think most.
    N97 is very Java-compatible, with support for Java games and applications, also the data-transfer efficient Opera Mini (compared with standard browsers).
    But what about N900?
    Will I be able to load N900 with Java apps?

  3. Beib says:

    Yes, N97 is the best n complete devices that Nokia ever released. With 32 gigs storage n stereo bluetooth,it becomes a compact gadget,and just enough for all level users. You could stay with N97 for at least 2 years ahead.

  4. Qasim says:

    I’ve been trying to find a review comparing the N900 to the HTC Leo, because both are very high powered devices. HTC Leo seems to trump the N900 a bit, ‘cos it’s got a 1 GHz processor(compared to N900’s 600 MHz).

  5. karam says:

    I think that n900 will be better than n97 because the n97 has a buggy as hell software,however i sold mine for a lot of reasons like the horrible righting (sms internet etc)and the bad GPS etc

  6. 50mgg says:

    Quasim you must understand that the raw cpu hz aint all, remember that the n900 has separate sources for difrent tasks, ill try to explain this easy without getting to technical on you. The n900 has hardware graphics accelerator with suppoer for openGL es2.0. So lets for simplicity say it has a graphics card. Then it has other stuff like a network card and alot of stuff so only the gfx accelerator is 450Mhz and the other phone only has a 1Ghz cpu to do all that the n900 has dedicated parts to take care off. So running visual things like video and advanced games will be alot faster on the n900 + it will have alot more cpu pwer free. I tried to describe this as easy as possible. So ofc its not as simple as i described it.

  7. Ingy says:

    I wanted to buy N 97 these days…
    but now i m confused…. :)
    all that can freak me out is that N97 start to slow down & disconnect as it’s ram is just 128 MB (not 256 MB!)
    in the other hand…what i knew is that N900 is not compatible for java (doesn’t have java)

    the thing is that if anyone tried before the N97 and haven’t got lot of problems with that?!

    can anyone help here!! :)

  8. Mary says:

    I got Nokie N97 in August. Yes, I had few issues with it here and there, which were resolved by Nokia. I still think it is the best phone that I had.

  9. kungfucion says:

    mirad tengo 700 euros en efectivo en el bolsillo y quiero un movil k me sirva para todo yo les suelo sacar el maximo rendimiento posible a los moviles cual me recomendais k me compre? gracias de antemano

  10. DaliaS says:

    is the n900 going to have facebook widgets as well?
    thankss

  11. marian says:

    im not into phone and gadgets…. but i wanted to buy a phon with skype or yahoo messenger? which one would i buy……. pls help……. thanks!!!

  12. Usman khan says:

    all buddies do not be confused with anythings. N900 is simply powerful and best smart phone but comparison with iphone it is same powerful but having different ind of features for use. let time be a good judger for this race between iphone and Nokia N900.

  13. m..j says:

    i want to get the n900 but do not want to wait, one months away seems to long, will the n900 be able to support symbian files? i doubt it obviously as it runs on linux which is kind of annoying it will look better maybe but without symbian .sis downloadable apps or java apps it seems stupid as these applications make the phone fun and add options and more things to do, if anyone does know anything about what im talking about please feel free to comment back ?

    • Justin says:

      Unless the N900 or at least the Maemo platform becomes very popular then getting the N900 for anything other than what it ships with is very likely to be an unwise decision cause there will be very few people developing these said applications where on the other hand despite the N97 having lower specs it is still a VERY popular device and because the S60v5 platform it’s based on is becoming increasingly popular you can be sure that there will be some very useful and entertaining apps to follow soon

  14. nikhil says:

    what is the price of the n900

  15. thagrg says:

    hi, i think that the N97 is a very great device for now, specially after releasing its new software v20 which almost resolved all the bugs and added the cool Kineting Scrolling into it. Now, it’s one of the best mobile phone up there, oops, I forgot the HTC HD2, it’s the best believe me.

  16. meister says:

    did u know that n900 doesnt have handwriting,voice command,voice recorder,and many another usefull apps-+ the faster phone the more energy of battery need-so u wiill have turn off many things on n900 to save battery life…
    anyways n97 perfect for me ,and after v2.0 firmware update n97 became faster -and apps using less of rams..
    and if u believe that n900 will be more powerfull? yes bcoz u saw the numbers of ram oh yeah n97 havs 128 and n900 254 ram so the higher will be faster..nop it will be some like that n97 1-app need 5ram so for n900 1-app will use 10ram
    and same with pocessor-and last do u think nokia created n97 slow and after few month nokia wiill makes 2 times better than n97 yeah right..wake up from dream-it will be same as xp and vista …xp=n97 vista=n900

    • Meraj Chhaya says:

      Hi Meister

      I agree with you in the fact that the N900 misses the basic phone apps, as well as its battery performance being a weak one, as you can read in my N900 review.

      However, I do not agree with you on the RAM aspect. The N900 actually has 1GB of RAM if you count the virtual memory, and its operating system actually felt more efficient and less buggy.

      S60 devices have the tradition of being quite buggy, so it would not be a surprise to have the N97 and then an improved device two months later. There is absolutely no comparison between Vista and XP, and Nokia’s flagships. If you believe there is, please do explain that.

      Thank you for comment

  17. meister says:

    I meant that xp had great performance with low amount of rams-and vista required 2 times more of rams-same as with n97 and n900 i think like that.
    and vram will use some mass storge space as memory.
    + vram is a lot slower than real rams.ans more + if program dont use real rams it start use vram ,so it can u slow down drastically.. hhehhehe and i just thinking if in n97 rams r like ddr3 and in n900 rams r ddr2.. and i believe that n900 cant work with less rams and lower processor…and i believe that both phone r good,and if u want buy n97 or n900 and u cant decide,u need get more information about it not only it has 128 and 434 and another has 254 and 600 processor,but what apps has device inside what apps u can download for free and for money-and more ^__^

  18. Ashish Chhabra says:

    I guess the biggest difference for me between the two should be VOIP. It says N900 supports internet calls, so hoping that Nokia is coming out with a Handset that supports VOIP (in built and not just used with the help of a 3rd party client).

  19. ivaa says:

    witch is better nokia N97 or nokia N900?

  20. junior says:

    i hope n900 work, becouse n97 does not work
    . Handfree is bad
    . Blue tooth is bad
    . Hard is very poor! Is very slow… Camera is bad!
    .

  21. meister says:

    y n97 doesnt work for u^^
    i should say camera works fine very fine in day mode,but night mode without flash, landscape iwasnt impressed of quality but it works fine for me.
    hard arent slow for me.
    bluetooth i dont use it anyway^^

    anyways i hope that in new firmware 2.x will be vram it ll be great..
    best apps for n97 and for me^^
    -winrar-dont remember but i think it free
    -activefile-for me better than ybrowser or x-plore-free
    -photos browser by nokia labs-free
    -opera mini 5 beta 2-free
    -paint pad-free
    -handy taskman-not free 14 trial^^
    -smartmovie-not free (avi,flv,3gp,mp4v player)
    anyways i use all of them-its useful apps.

  22. Nokia man vance says:

    I have had many Nokia phones. My last was the N95 and now the N97 since it came out in June 09. Now, I am not sure I will get another nokia smart phone. The N97 is ok but not that flagship I expected. The camera is worse than the N95, the phone slowns down/ freezes as the memory (ram) decreases which is all to hard to avoid with such limited mem. I do like the music quality through my quality earbuds.

  23. kingfaisal says:

    lots of coments on n97 and n900 nokia phone folks.nobody wana believe he or she has spent money on something less eficient.so
    hope nokia wil bring something that got features of both phones.anyway got n97 but i wil have 2 get n900 too


    Sent on a phone using T9space.com

  24. fabian pulido says:

    wich of this have messenger

  25. meister says:

    im not nokia boy,its my first nokia n97 :) mmm n97=65% feels like mini laptop, but still i cant give 35% =need more apps more powerful apps,for example -why not to mix photo editor+ xpress sketch+photoshop theme and = mini symbian photoshop I allready made by my self photoshop theme for xpress sketch anyways need photo editor inside xpress sketch-maybe all will try to mix it by my self :D

  26. mohamed says:

    with my respect to people who say n 97 is better but all the above features about both phones give the chance 2 n 900 i dun know mybe the only bad feature is the battery of n 900 i had n 97 n i sold it n wanna get n 900

  27. mohamed says:

    dunno if it’s the right choice or no yet am still askin i read the fetures of both phones but dunno maybe need advice all people sy leave nokia smart phones iphone 3 gs is better but actually i dun like iphone ?

  28. Bade3 says:

    Iphone 3GS is not better than N900!
    you can check that in youtube.com
    write (N900 vs Iphone 3gs) and you can see that you can’t compare between both of phones because N900 is the winner !!
    you can check the camera the infrared the blutooth……………etc.

  29. Bade3 says:

    I advise all people to buy the N900 from Nokia.
    Not the (BAD) N97.
    N900 didn’t have alot of apps. because it is Very NEW!
    and Now the huge company (Gameloft) is making games for it..
    I mean HD Games !!!
    so herry up and Buy the N900!

  30. Waheed says:

    i my point of view the N900 is better than N97 becase of the N900 Speed, Graphic, Vedio & Picture are higher than N97.
    i like N900 and i will wait for HD Games.

  31. Jimmy Ray jit says:

    Thanks……………..

    Can somebody tell the price tag of Nokia n900 and n97?

  32. Justin says:

    For me it’s simple… The N900 is a fantastic phone on paper but keep in mind that the OS it uses is more resource intensive as well and the screen size will need that GPU to render graphics at that resolution. The Maemo OS is also going to be is less likely to be as big as the now open source Symbian OS. So while being better equipped the N900 may only perform slightly better and in terms of development of applications this will mean that the N97 will be able to do more even though it’s hardware leaves a lot to be desired.

  33. IMRAN says:

    Hai , gayz
    well – n97 vs n900 ??
    im using both sets ri8 now ……. in 1 word i can say no way 2 compare between this 2-sets… n900 is far btr thn both n97 n i phone 3gs… just enjoying this phone…… … n ther is a lacking on n900 is battery charge …. its not sufficient compared 2 the n97….– for any advice u can mail me ……
    Thanx

    • diya says:

      hey imran, i wanna buy a mobile n i am confused wich one to opt for, n97 or n900, can u tell me d diffce in battery life of both d fones also? pls ty

  34. Islam says:

    i wanted to buy N97 but sometimes i read it’s the best and sometimes i hear that it contains some bugs.!

    also N900 the same but what i see that N97 has all features which anyone need,,on the other hand N900 has some missing features like MMS,Video Call and also i saw in specs. on a site that it has no Radio but you can put radio through a third party application

    i am very confused as i can’t take decision which is better N97 or N900

    can anyone help??

  35. narcis says:

    i like n97…..

  36. DORENDRO IMPHAL says:

    please ,suggest immediatly which one of N97 & N900 shall i buy, I FULLY confuse which one is better

  37. HELLOLLEH says:

    i think n97 is the better device to have as i see n900 going going gone very soon.
    the lack of applications will mean that not many games are made for the device as it is aimed at business men and not gamers so it will have less apps. stick with N97 it is the better device for gaming and other multimedia stuff even if it lacks the hardware of the n900.

  38. reviewer says:

    I have tried the N900, but I wouldnt buy either phones (N900 or N97).. my review -

    The goodside of the N900! :-
    - excellent firefox based built in browser, with flash+general video support
    - excellent downloadable video players (such as SiB) to support many formats
    - excellent support for third party utilities through the application manager, to use handy software such as compression tools/pdf viewers/gaming+emulation etc
    - good quality ‘carl zeiss’ camera/flash for its still photos, one of the best for any camera phone.. or “internet tablet” as some might try and point out, even if its only a mere 5 megapixels
    - the ability to connect the N900 to your home tv via the bundled audio/video lead is handy in browsing the web/watching videos/playing games with a larger screen!
    - the ability to transmit music via FM to the any stereo, eg car

    The downside of the N900! :-
    - ridiculous cost, definately not worth the current £450/$650
    - no built in FM Radio makes the phone seem half finished (although u can admittedly install one yourself if you are able to connect it online)
    - poor camera video recording ability (the frame rate isnt as great as it should be for the price, not smooth/consistent enough, as it keeps jolting/losing frames every second)-can only hope that a future upgrade will fix this
    - theres a small screen vsync bug with maemo 5 (the phones operating system), this causes noticeable slight screen tearing with a moving screen (nokia have already said that they will NOT fix the problem) making the N900 seem far less polished/finished as it should be, compared to competitor devices.
    - the keyboard is much smaller than the superior one of the n97, there are no spaces between the keys at all, so its hard to type fast.. to be comfortable using the N900s keys, you’ll need to be 10 years old or alot less! :)
    - nokia is likely not to give major updates, maemo 5 is what the n900 uses for its linux based operating system, but as soon as maemo 6 (nicknamed “meego”) is out on their next phone, maemo 5 will likely to be no longer be supported- although not 100% confirmed yet, we can only hope that they will either keep updating maemo 5 on the N900 in some form, or eventually allow users to allow a reinstall on the n900 to meego (maemo 6) to keep the phone up to date for a longer lastability!

    the phone? a solid 7/10 from me… its not perfect, it may feel unfinished to some, but what it does best at (internet browsing) it does very well ;)

  39. Henry says:

    I bough my Nokia N97 3months ago. It works fine until recently (been two weeks alread), the touch screen go crazy. Problem with the touch screen:\r\n1) Sometimes it won’t response to my input.
    2) Not only the touch screen not responding, the green and red button on the screen also not responding.
    3) The alphabet also response wrongly. For example when i press space all the way at the bottom, the letter ‘a’ will appear which suppose to be responding only when i touch the letter ‘a’ all the way to the top.
    4) sometimes the phone just vibrate by itself as if respondinig to the touch of the screen.

    WARNING!!! DON”T buy N97. It SUCKS Big Time. I have been using Nokia 3200, N70,N82, N97. N97 is the most expensive i have spent on a phone but it is the worst among all the Nokia Model I’ve used. I really feel NOKIA shoud recall N97 and return my money.!!!!

    • Liz says:

      Are you sure you didn’t buy a fake phone? China is very popular for making copies of certain phones that lack certain features but will first respond the same. If you bought it really cheap, cheaper than half its retail rice or even if its only a little bit more, it can more than likely be a limon which is a copy that that only resembles the outside.

  40. Leo says:

    N900 simply rocks!!… i hv one and i think it s da best phone nokia has ever made :)

  41. SLR says:

    I HAVE BEEN USING THE NOKIA 5530 ITS A FAILURE IT FREEZES UP A LOT NEED TO UPGRADE WHATS IS THE BEST TYPE OF NOKIA TO BUY NEED HELP

  42. AIRHEAD says:

    ALL OF U..COOL DOWN..THEY R JUST PHONES.. :) LOL!

  43. Martohzz says:

    Hi people
    I have a Nokia N900. its simply roks. the challencge u myt encounter is it doesnt come with applications. you have to download and install. including fm radio.By default ussd is also unavailable. Am now controling my servers with it. Holla @ martinfelix06@gmail.com for queries

  44. Akshay says:

    N 900 does n’t have some basic facilities…. N 97 rocks……

  45. hamid says:

    can any1 tell me dat duz n900 support java n symbian aps…and once u download the f.m radio can u listen it offline???…….plz sumbody answer…

  46. Fareed says:

    N97 is a mind blowing device

  47. neiliewheeliebin says:

    i own both and compared to the n900 the n97 is a kids toy,n97 feels very well built but the symbian OS and the internal hardware are a disgrace considering the cost of the device,n97 keyboard is superior to the n900 and is fantastic for high speed txting its a real shame the n97 is so gutless and glitchy when it comes to doing anything other than sending an sms,n900 is better in every way even the battery life is superior particularly after installing titans overclock kernel with 125mhz idle and 930mhz top speed,very fast very stable and very good battery life for such a device,hard 2 believe both phones are from the same company theres such a contrast

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