I was having lunch with a mate yesterday and watched them get out their N97 to send a text message. Noticing the crappy transitions on the screen, I suddenly remembered the N97 promotion video from last year which basically makes the phone look god-like.

The real life story is somewhat different, I was actually going to put together a video myself then I found someone had beaten me to it. It speaks for itself – watch this:

When the N97 was announced I actually worked at Nokia, and what’s interesting is that no one I spoke to internally believed it could do what was shown in that promo video. We all knew it would be some clunky Symbian interface with the trademark N-Series feature of completely slowing down after a few months of usage. We weren’t disappointed.

It’s dangerous to mess around with consumers like that, especially when Apple and Google have raised the bar in all areas of mobile. Nokia can’t retain smart phone customers when they are struggling to imitate competitors, let alone set new standards.

  • baG

    This video is based on the first version of the firmware.

    • Murat

      Doesn’t matter. The expectation was set, Nokia tend to think of customers as Beta testers, you can’t do that in this market anymore. Nokia Messaging is another example.

      • Mike

        the iPhone is almost lat version 4. Conpaired to V1 no cut and paste no sms forward no background process its not fair using N97 V1 and saying its crap vs. Iphone V4 or the latest androide.

        By the way im replying and watching the video from my N97. Email me when u can do that on the iphone

        • Lars

          Do you think the guy shopping for a new smartphone tomorrow will agree that it “it’s not fair” to compare Apple’s current model and Nokia’s current model sitting side by side on the store shelf? Or do you think he will buy the Nokia for $1100 because he feels sorry for it’s hardships? Hardly.

        • Steven

          Apple certainly didn’t advertise that it had all those things in the beginning. People knew exactly what they were getting into.

        • Blain

          The difference being that Apple didn’t advertise the iPhone cutting and pasting or other features when it didn’t have such. Heck, the commercials were actually showing a real live device doing things.

          The key here is that the N97 video was completely unrelated to reality. They were showing special effects that did not exist.

          I offer this advice, erm, Mike. Do know what you’re talking about. Viewing Youtube, browsing the web, and emailing were all part of iPhone OS 1.0 in 2007, and they actually worked as advertised.

          • Feeble

            Funny you should mention that, as Apple just got into trouble for making iPhone look faster than it is in the commercials…

          • Feeble

            And Mike was talking about multitasking, do YOU know what you’re talking about?

        • Greg

          iPhone v1′s promo videos accurately showed the UI & interactions. But more imporantly, the video isn’t comparing iPhone 3GS to Nokia N97; it’s comparing Nokia N97 to… Nokia’s own video about the N97. The point isn’t that N97 v1 is crap vs. iPhone 3GS or latest Android; the point’s that it’s crap when compared to what the manufacturer itself advertised.

          What’s your email? This video’s on YouTube, iPhone users can watch it just fine.

        • Rob


          You doofus. The video is a YouTube video. Of course you can watch it on the iPhone.

          What is it with Nokia fanbois? Why do they even exist?

        • Shane

          “By the way im replying and watching the video from my N97. Email me when u can do that on the iphone”

          Good point, we can’t email you when we can do that….

          Because we would have to go back in time.

          I am watching the video and replying from my first generation iPhone.

          You are a moron.

          Enjoy your “phone.”

        • Harvard Irving

          The difference is that Apple did not lie in their advertising, and did not claim the 1st generation iPhone was capable of doing things it wasn’t actually capable of doing.

          I’m not sure how anyone can defend Nokia’s blatant deception in this case.

          As for it being “fair,” that’s just not an issue. Both products are available in 2010, and it’s perfectly OK to compare them to each other. Why should Nokia be “handicapped” in this way? If somebody released a “version 1″ abacus in 2010, nobody would buy it over a “version 100″ personal computer.

        • InfoPig

          iPhone people! Pay attention! He said:

          “By the way im replying _AND_ watching the video from my N97. Email me when u can do that on the iphone” (emphasis mine)

          • Zip

            Yeah, right. So he is typing in an email while watching a youtube video *simultaneously*. Don’t the words get in the way of the picture? Or is half the screen devoted to the video and half to the email program? I don’t have a N97, so I don’t know.

            • lol

              lol @ your (apple fueled) ignorance

              he means watching the video embedded on this page without the aid of any external app, a pretty basic thing for most modern mobile browsers

        • Tom


          I’m sure you’re well aware of the fact that, last month, the CEO of Nokia apologized for the N97 experience?


    • Anonymous

      Trust me, I had an N97 as soon as it came out (lucky I didn’t pay for it), and just for the record, there was no firmware update for about 6 months. And when the update did come out, it didn’t address the speed or lag at all. The problem isn’t firmware, it’s the poor build quality of the hardware and the software. In fact, I actually started having problems where the phone would just repeated lock up during phone calls, and lag got so bad, I went and got and iPhone on my dime. Don’t regret it one bit.

      I wish Nokia could go back to making quality phones again. Anyone remember the 6600? That thing is still better than what the have going today. It was fast, and relatively intuitive.

      • rs

        I still have a 6600. It was my first phone that had any decent app capability. I got it for $50. t-mobile has a liberal unlock policy so I kept it for traveling. I will be using it on an upcoming trip.

        Happily my main phone is an iPhone.

      • Kirk

        Amen… I still have a Nokia 6210i that I purchased 10 years ago… thing has been to hell and back and still works great (although it has been relegated to back-up status). That phone was built like a tank, had a battery that lasted an eternity, and I don’t think that phone ever dropped a call… I could use it in areas where other people swore there was no signal. Sad to see how badly Nokia has lost their way. I can’t think of a single Nokia phone I’d purchase today over a Droid/Nexus One or iPhone.

  • jonathan

    Brillant ! luckily did not buy that piece of crap when an old colleague told me it was supa slow.

  • http://randomoid.com/ xen

    Apple has done it too and got in trouble for it in the UK when the web page loading on the iPhone using 3G was proven to be unrealistic in the ad.

    Both Apple and Google have a tendency to treat users as beta testers, especially Google. For how long was Gmail in beta? Most of the main products from Google are and have been in beta for a while. speculation on that is they do it because if something really goes bad, they can just say, ‘hey, it’s beta’.

    I agree that ad by Nokia is really bad, but they are not alone doing it.

    • Murat

      I know I thought about that when writing the post, but in my opinion there is a difference between shortening a process on a phone for a 30 second TV advert and completely fabricating functionality. This is the equivalent of Apple showing multi-touch in their TV advert and that not existing.

      The Gmail example – You don’t pay over £300 for Gmail or get it subsidised on a monthly contract. I think there is also a difference between using a free service like Twitter, Facebook, Gmail etc and purchasing a phone.

      • Mike

        by the way apple showed a working flash page in the ipad when jobs was showing it.

        Iphone/ipad has flash ???

        • Steven

          That was done by the advertising company and very quickly corrected.

          Are you a troll?

        • Murat

          I thought about the iPad example too (click here to read about it) it took someone with a really really keen eye to notice that the tiny little thumbnail on The Times website was actually a flash embed. If the guy in the video was interacting with the Flash and stuff, then yeah that’s bad but that never happened

        • codar

          When unveiling the iPad, Jobs surfed the NYT-website and it was easily visible that there was *no* flash.

          They showed flash in a demo video on apple.com but later replaced that video by a version w/o flash.

          BTW, I’m using an ancient Nokia phone: b/w display, no web surfing, no music, no touchscreen… still it works pretty reliably (and besides, I don’t use it that often, anyway…) ;)

        • JC

          No, the page was the NYT and there was a blue lego block like image right in the middle of the page.

          And that was commented upon as Jobs knows there is no Flash and he shows that he is not embarrassed by that.

          Besides, the Web feels much better without Flash. I don’t check Flash sites or Flash commercials thanks to ClickToFlash and my experience is so much better.

    • Wes

      The difference with Gmail is that Google said it was a beta, and even required users to get invites for the majority of the beta tags lifetime.

      • http://randomoid.com/ xen

        When people didn’t have to have invites it was still beta, so what is your point?

        A few years ago I read a few articles regarding this issue that Google almost abuses the beta label to just keep things there to just use it as an excuse if something really goes bad.

    • Grant

      Gmail (and pretty much all of their products) is FREE.

      • http://randomoid.com/ xen

        So what? They market it as something that you can and should use as a main product.

        Air is free, but we still have agencies that see to it that it is as clean as possible.

        It is admirable when companies release products for free, but the second they start to have a ‘you have no right to demand anything’ attitude people will eventually find something else.

        Why do you think Google tries it best to listen when users actually complain? In the end, they earn money on having more users than less users, even if they are not paying money.

        Google is the perfect example of that actually. Generally everything they started out with and have are free, yet they earn so much money and can spend so much more on developing more amazing stuff.

  • http://www.jaduncan.com James Duncan

    Put it this way: I had an e90, I then had a G1. It was half the cost, did everything I cared about that the e90 did, and was a far superior experience. I’m never going to buy a Symbian phone again, and I am too spoilt by capacitative screens to get an n900. It’s a shame; I work with Debian and Ubuntu, and wanted to love it. It’s just that Nokia doesn’t seem to have much momentum, and is no longer the home of the best phones. I’d deeply love them to fix it, though it is starting to feel a little like the way Palm slipped away from relevance: repeatedly patching up an OS that should already be dead.

    • Murat

      I share your feelings, I honestly really do want Nokia to fix things but I’m left bewildered by their decisions and quality

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      This video really shows a key thing in the future of phones.

      Everybody has copied the iPhone form factor, but nobody has copied what really matters: there is a full desktop operating system in iPhone. Essentially, anything a Mac can do, an iPhone can do, because it has the same software resources. The transitions that Nokia wasn’t able to do on their phone were free for the iPhone team at Apple because that is a feature of OS X. User interface elements have been sliding around the screen on OS X for 10 years. There is a framework called “Core Animation” which enables programmers to specify these transitions in a few lines of what looks like simple CSS.

      Apple devices are 90% software. The iPhone hardware is like a picture frame, it’s a little case to hold the software. There was 3 years of sweating inside Apple on iPad since the iPhone shipped, and look at iPad’s hardware … it’s just a big iPhone! What were they sweating about for 3 years with iPad? The software almost exclusively. That is a mindset that almost nobody (or maybe nobody) else in the world has. Nokia certainly does not have it.

      • unibaby

        THIS ++.

        • lol

          lols coming again from this hamham guy

          “Essentially, anything a Mac can do, an iPhone can do, because it has the same software resources.”

          can you use photoshop on the iphone? encode a movie using handbrake? make music on reason? recording some audio on any tremendously limited portable app isn’t equivalent to using protools!

          lmao, “same software resources” because of some transitions, jesus christ, dude…

  • baG

    I didn’t say I don’t agree about the content of the video. All I’m saying is that publishing this video in March 2010 doesn’t really make sense.

  • jonathan

    Forgot to mention that my HTC magic is pretty much the same. It has a superb alarm functionality that basically forces u to wake up! How ? well u have to touch the snooze button a zillion times before it snoozes. By that time, you are fully awake ! I guess they should b proud of that . Will never miss early morning church again.

    • Nash

      LOL !!
      Toooo funny :D

  • Arnold

    Remember, N97 has a resistive touch screen which you don’t touch like a sore pussy as in the case of the capacitive touch screens! Don’t be a girlie men and learn to press the screen as it’s supposed to.

    • Nash

      Yeah, hit it real hard, that will teach it!
      (Sounds like an old tv remote :D )

      • Zip

        Come on Nash, you can be more offensive than that.

        How about “Treat it like your wife – if it doesn’t respond to your commands, hit it harder!”

  • Tuomas

    Omg arnold. Well everyone is entitled to their opinion, even though sometimes i feel some should be stripped of that civil right…

  • CambO

    Learn how to use your N97 man…

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  • tony

    I got the phone. And I hate it!

    Going back to HTC ASAP.

  • http://buckwilson.me Buck Wilson

    Haha love the Mario Land music :D

    • http://thefurball.net/ Kimiko

      Was just about to say. I was like “hmm.. that sounds familiar”.

  • http://www.oakinnovations.co.uk/blog/ Simon

    This isn’t a new problem for Nokia. I had an N95, kept up to date with the firmware and treated it like a loved elderly relative. Unfortunately, it had the speed and responsiveness of said relative. One of the most frustrating UI experiences I’ve ever had. So slow. So sluggish. So unresponsive. So inconsistent. Put me off Nokias for life, and I’d owned quite a few previously.

    As an aside, I went to the iPhone 3G afterwards, which also experienced moments of sluggishness (especially after a notorious OS update), but they just weren’t on the same scale and were no where near as persistent. I used the 2MP camera on my iPhone far more than the 5MP camera on the N95 because it didn’t take upwards of five seconds to fire the shutter after pushing the button.

    As you can tell, I’m still pretty annoyed by the whole experience. Especially after paying a small fortune to get one on launch day.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      If Nokia can’t keep up with iPhone 3G that is a problem, because the 3GS, which is almost a year old, is twice the speed of iPhone 3G. And the camera is better also.

      Everyone I’ve heard from who has used an iPad says it’s incredibly fast also, just immediately responsive.

      • Nash

        AND the battery life is incredible, according to the first reviews. With up to 12 hours!!

        Remember John Breeden II (from GCN) who claimed that noway Apple could get more that 3 hours with an IPS display.

      • lol

        the n95 was released BEFORE the very first iphone, and you’re comparing it to the “almost a year ago” latest 3gs, which –funnily enough– STILL takes worse pictures than the way older nokia device

        you’re dumb beyond belief

  • Ben

    unfortunately, I don’t expect Nokia will ever be able catchup on the software front. iPhone, Android and Windows phone will kill Symbian.

    Nokia invested hundred of millions of dollar on basically nothing.

  • http://berries.tumblr.com PZ

    I just want to note that in the video the guy is using his finger, while N97, if I remember right, has a resistive touchscreen, which are far from finger-friendly. Resistive screens don’t register all touches made with a finger, so the device itself might seem slow.

    /happy 16GB iPhone 3GS user :P

  • IhateN97

    I got so frustrated with the damn phone 2day that I got my sledge hammer and hammered the hell out of it. No more Nokia for me £500 wasted back in the market for a new phone but this time am gonna take my time choosing. Fcuk Nokia

    • IhateN97

      Wish I had filmed it lol

      • Nash

        Me too : )

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  • R

    I’ve been using smartphones for years and watching this clip reminds me of how painful it was, especially when you bought a new phone and you had to rediscover all the quirks and bugs to avoid (which they wouldn’t update for your current phone- you had to buy a new one which once again had it’s own new set of issues).

    Thank goodness for the iPhone. I never recommended any Symbian or Winmo to friends or family throughout the years but the iPhone I’ve encouraged everyone to buy in a short span of time. It’s an asset, not a pain.

    • Murat

      “I never recommended any Symbian or Winmo to friends or family throughout the years but the iPhone I’ve encouraged everyone to buy in a short span of time.”

      That sums it up perfectly. That’s the difference between a good and bad experience.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        Same for me. And the people who follow my advice come back and thank me for helping them to discover iPhone.

  • Andy

    Love the Super Mario Brothers theme music.

  • Dennis

    @Mike Nokia @ version 1 ? U must be joking. April fool?

  • Marc

    Video played fine on my gen1 iPhone.

  • blimpy

    I think that if they switched the music around they might have something– sent from my dumb phone

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  • B

    … and Nokia’s response to all this criticism?? Shoot, let’s go sue Apple for patent infringement. We thought of all that cool technology first!


  • X

    I’ve never used symbian but in my experience the Nokia n900 doesn’t start to slow down unless I have about 12 windows open. Granted the n800 and before were often dog slow, maybe they are learning something?

  • Dan

    Nokia should just buy Palm, integrate WebOS and be done with it. They’d instantly be back in the game.

    • Murat

      That would be a very smart move. The trouble is that even if they bought Palm tomorrow, it would be over a year before you saw the first model. Could be too late by then..

    • Nash

      Sure. But that would also be admitting that their whole symbian effort is one big fiasco.

  • Phil

    I also worked at Nokia when the N97 was coming out. The prototype I saw was very cool looking, but it definitely wasn’t ready for prime time.

    Nokia lets its designers make fantastic, unrealistic representations of products (phones, services, whatever) that will only cause deep disappointment in actual user experience. I leave it to you to decide whether this is “forgivable hype” or “sinful lying”.

    I left because the only things Nokia is good at making anymore are (1) cheap low-end phones and (2) hugely overstated promises for how well their clunky high-end phonebricks would perform…eventually.

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  • http://www.clawg.co.uk Charlie

    Wow that video made me laugh. Every part of it is so true and replicates my whole experience of owning a N97 for 6 months. I have since moved on from the dark side and bought a real smart phone, the HTC hero. I have wrote a blog post comparing both devices here http://www.clawg.co.uk/blog/htc-hero-vs-nokia-n97.html

  • http://ngin.de Schoschie

    To be fair, the UI on the iPhone isn’t really quite as smooth as it looks like in the ads, either. It is a bit worse than that in real life – the transitions are for real (i.e. they exist), but usually not quite as fluid as in the ads, but that’s mostly tolerable, even if you’re critical of Apple stuff.

    The N97 ad, however, is a complete rip-off. I’d want my money back.

  • Anders

    Well, being an iphone user, there are a few things even the very low end nokias do that an iphone doesn’t:
    -Tether to your computer without unreasonable hacking id you have bought factory unlocked phone
    -sync over bt ( contacts, etc..) – this i’ve been doing for 7 yrs and now I can’t anymore
    -sync your iCal tasks without extra programs
    -send contacts and appointments over sms
    -send multiple picture or files over email
    - multitask ( not that that is especially important..)
    - have a decent battery life ( makes me long for my e71…)
    - have basic phone functionality ( profiles, answer a call with an sms when in meetings, etc….)

    But the apps are great though…

    • Nash

      Not tethering? What are you talking about? Works like a charm, unless of course you’re in the states?

      • Anders

        That broke with 3.1.2 for “unsupported” carriers. So even if you had a factory unlocked phone it didn’t work. Now it may be that this was fixed with 3.1.3, haven’t tried as I’ve jailbroken my phone to be able to have another pretty basic thing, mail and calendar data on my standby screen.

    • T

      I can tether with my iPhone just fine, without any ‘hacking’. http://www.apple.com/iphone/iphone-3gs/tethering.html

      Sending multiple pictures over email is also not a problem. Just copy them and paste into Mail.

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  • http://www.ipanamea.com bob

    Nokia is a hardware manufacturer. period.

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  • george

    i couldnt even watch more than half of it as it was so obvious that the person making the video was trying hard to make it look even worse than it is. i agree the screen rotation could be faster, but the goof in the video was not even turning the screen the full 90 degrees. if the phone was set up to rotate the screen at less than 90 degrees it would be flipping back and forth all the time. then watching the moron try to scroll thru web pages i couldnt tell if he was just stupid or ignorant, but the n97 has a resistive screen so it works different than a capacitive one. he was using the flat part of his finger, the same way you would with an iphone instead of his finger tip or finger nail. the results would have been much better if he had actually done it correctly.

    thanks for the news flash that the n97 is weak. next time you spend the time and effort to make a video you should do be fair fanboy. all device manufacturers show simulations, even apple. thats why apple had ads pulled because it was showing unrealistic performance.

    • Murat

      1) I didn’t make the vid, said so in the post.
      2) Apple shortened load times to fit into a TV ad slot, rather than going to market with different functionality then what was promised

      • Michael Houghton

        “Apple shortened load times to fit into a TV ad slot, rather than going to market with different functionality then what was promised”

        It’s not quite that simple, is it? You make it sound as if poor Apple had to do it because it was solely about the constraints of advertising slots, but that doesn’t make the speed of loading and browsing of pages that the advert showed any less of a lie.

        The point is that they had to be told off by the Advertising Standards Agency after customer complaints, and they had to agree to put ‘sequence shortened’ messages every time they did it, because the ASA agreed with the complainants that the advert implied the iPhone was many times faster at downloading things from the web than other 3G smartphones.

        It is a bit faster but it is not as much faster as their reverse-bullet-time adverts suggested.

        You really should be able to be fair on this point without it undermining your justifiable claims about how utterly shit the N97 is.

        • Murat

          My opinion is different, that’s all.

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  • http://desirefanatics.wordpress.com Jon

    The video and comments have made me LOL. It’s so true, I’m getting the HTC Desire ASAP.

  • herpusderpus

    Elevator music remix of the Super Mario Land overworld theme. :)

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  • Mark

    I have NEVER seen anyone handle their N97 so poorly. I share your opinion on the lack of flashy transitions, but dear god, this is a lame video message if I ever saw one. Also, is that price for real? Most countries I know of prices was about the same of an Iphone.

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  • http://www.nokia.com Nokia Buddy

    The gentleman is obviously misusing touch,
    He is also misusing the rotation from Potrait to Landscape,
    I have not come across a user guide which recommends to shake the wits out of the phone to rotate.
    He is misusing multitasking function to actually make the browser look confused and slow.
    Even the promo video sequences he is comparing with are not related to the hands on example that he is showing.
    Instead of using the cool widget on the homescreen he is suggesting to use it via the menu.
    Price he claims he paid to buy it seems again sexed up, I can get him much better deals for some of the coolest Nokia devices.
    Certainly the gentleman who filmed this video is a genius but wonder why is he pretending to be so much outwitted by the N97 because viewing this video I think the what stands out dumb is not the device but the user here.

  • Ron

    Would you please be able to link or send me the audio you had on there? The bossanova-esque super mario land overworld theme! I would very much appreciate it. :)

  • http://www.thatwebguyblog.com Mikey

    Thanks for posting my video, and sorry for joining this discussion late.

    For those who mentioned it I made the video AFTER the big firmware upgrade. Additionally for the record that’s exactly how the phone worked – no intentional misuse to try and make it look worse. If the phone wasn’t so bad I wouldn’t have made that video, because believe me I have better things to do with my time.

    Here’s my re-review 6 months on: http://www.rustylime.com/show_article.php?id=4113

    Anyhoo, a few weeks ago I decided to not wait until my contract ends and purchased a brand new unlocked Motorolo Droid. Now THAT is a good phone. Loving everything about it.