When asked to review the N97 mini, I was unsure as to what to expect. I've heard differing opinions of the device and I really didn't think highly of the aging Symbian platform.
The device has a matte plastic body with brushed metal accents giving it a nice solid feel to it. The 3.2" resistive screen sports a 640x320 resolution - which leads to one of the crisper cellphone displays I have seen, easily better than the iPhone.
Despite having a resistive screen as opposed to the popular and more responsive capacitive screen, I found the its touch response to be ample, and not requiring too much force.
Underneath the 3.2" screen it hides a 3-row QWERTY keyboard. The slide mechanism folds out with a firm click, propping the screen at a usable 30-degree angle to the keyboard like its predecessor the N97.
The keyboard itself is responsive and has nicely spaced buttons but lack much differentiation from each other making it a little hard to tell where your thumbs really are.
But after a while I seemed to get the hang of things and could type at a nice pace.
The guts of the device are powered by a a 434mhz processor, just a hair faster than the 3G iPhone, that gives the device a snappiness I wasn't expecting.
The device comes with the standard PIM suite you would expect from any smartphone. Email, calendar, contacts and MS Exchange support provide easy integration with your office system.
The Media Player app is a bit basic, and some may feel limited by the Mini's meagre 8GB of internal storage, but I felt the music quality to be reasonable.
The 5MP camera I found to take reasonably good pictures and video for a camera phone, well above that of the iPhone - which is probably down to the Carl Zeiss lens.
The current trendy measure of a device (and one that I feel is given more credit than it is owed) is apps. Nokia's Ovi store has gotten to a slow start and has nowhere near the same number of apps as its Apple and Android counterparts, but I suspect as Nokia pushes the Symbian platform the numbers will begin to grow and a number of very powerful applications for the device will be released.
Possibly the biggest feature of the phone is the inclusion of Ovi Maps - an accurate free mapping and turn-by-turn navigation utility from Nokia.
Also to be included with the phone is a car mount and charger so you can use the phone as a in-car navigation system. While I don't have a car to test the application, it did get me off the bus at the right place - which I'll call a success.
Overall, the N97 mini is a good device. Its size, keyboard, camera, and bundled software are all excellent for day to day use. But if you are wanting something to play games on regularly, I would probably look at a device with a faster processor and bigger screen.
Nokia N97 mini
$1149 (device only, on Vodafone)