I need direction on my next Nokia… Which would you choose?

It’s that most wonderful time of the year… when yours truly starts shopping for a new phone! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

I’ve been very spoiled on my recent trip around the world by the N86 graciously loaned to me by WOMWorld — some reviews are coming soon, promise! As such, N86 variants comprise two of the three choices for my next Nokia. Read on for my pros and cons of each, and let me know which one you’d pony up for and why.

(Note that for me the Linux-powered N900 isn’t really an option at this time — mostly because I can’t get a 3G signal on it in Canada but also because it’s currently missing some key features, like SyncML server support, Java, etc.)

#1 Black Indigo Nokia N86 NAM — $450 CAD with free shipping from Newegg.ca

Pros: 850 MHz 3G support, cheapest option of the three.

Cons: Not white, possibly less firmware updates.

Maybe it’s the metrosexual in me but I find black phones kind of blah, plus they don’t so good under the protective cover of a cheap crystal case. And if memory serves me correctly North America-specific Nokias often lag behind in terms of firmware updates.

Still, this is the most sensible pick of the three, and Newegg is a reputable online dealer, right?

#2 White Nokia N86 Euro — $465 CAD + $25 shipping from Mobile604.com

Pros: Possibly quicker/more firmware updates, it’s white.

Cons: No 850MHz 3G, never used dealer before.

The jury’s still out on whether or not I need the extra band of 3G in the bustling metropolis of Toronto. I don’t care so much about voice calls (they can fall back to EDGE and still be fine) but I’ve noticed the odd hiccup in grabbing a 3G data signal. And who knows when I’ll be snowbound in a remote area of northern Canada and need to Tweet for help…

I do think the white colour is very classy, though. But I’ve never had any dealings with Mobile604. Are they legit?

#3 Nokia N97 Mini — $570 CAD with free shipping from Newegg.ca

Pros: Quad-band 3G (see below), QWERTY keypad, possibly more future-proof.

Cons: Touch-screen, bizarre colour combo, lower-spec camera, most expensive of the three.

Despite all the shortcomings I was actually set to grab the first-gen N97 as a memento of the 24/7 tour I went on last summer. But then I heard rumours about this guy and held off.

Now it’s here and I’ve mixed feelings about it. I’m really not a fan of touch-screen devices, mostly because of my dislike for the constant reapplication of screen protectors and such. Steve Litchfield says that touch interfaces are the future, though, and right now the new beta of Opera Mini looks like it would work great on this thing.

I was impressed with the keypad during my quick play with one in London last month, but I actually think the mini is still too wide in landscape mode for my thumbs to comfortably reach across it. And I have big hands, really I do!

Quad-band 3G is also a plus, and I could live with the slightly lower-res camera. If I could get one here in white for a reasonable price I might give the Mini more serious consideration.

Update: The Mini does not have quad-band 3G — read this thread on the Howard Forums for details.

… So that’s where I’m at for a handset to see me through the arrival of 2010. Which one would you pick?


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39 responses to “I need direction on my next Nokia… Which would you choose?”

  1. Definitely one of the N86 options. If you can confirm your needs for the 3G bands, and the legitimacy of the Mobile604 dealer, splurge and get yourself what you think is the better looking one. IMO, N97 mini shouldn’t even be in the running…along with the cons you mentioned, don’t forget the same lack of RAM issue that plagued its larger sibling.

    • I’m not sure why people keep mentioning the RAM issue with regards to the N97 mini. Okay, it was an issue on the original N97, but I’ve had my mini for about a month now and have not one single time ran into any issues with memory.
      Been running Fring, e-mail, and playing games at the same time. No problem!
      My girlfriend upgraded to the original N97 a few months ago, and she was having memory problems all the time. Even in simple tasks.
      I decided to give the mini a chance, despite her problems. And I was genuinely surprised.
      No memory issues, better build phone (feels sturdy and strong), much better touch response, better keyboard and generally faster.

      I only ever use it in landscape mode when I’m writing texts/emails etc., so I can’t see how you’d have a problem stretching your thumbs across the phone.
      The N97 is just big enough to make it harder even in portrait mode.

      In short, it’s been the best phone I’ve ever had.

      So, my suggestion: N97 mini.

  2. An additional thought from me – don’t look over the N900 so easily, seriously. The only thing I’m honestly missing from my own Maemo beauty right now is Google Maps.

    But that’s it.

    And no 3G?!

    HOW DO YOU LIVE??!?!!?

    • Huh?

      I’ve got NAM-standard 1900MHz 3G here on Fido, just like AT&T down under (Canada).

      That’s the biggest gripe I have with the N900 — Nokia has slighted an entire nation of users by going with T-Mobile specific NAM 3G.

      Be warned, Nokia: To paraphrase The Simpsons, we Canadians aren’t all smiles and sunshine

      • In fairness to Nokia, they haven’t really ‘slighted an entire nation’, they’ve just gone with the ROW standard… (which the US really needs to adopt).

        That’s my opinion anyway – here in the UK with kick ass 3.5G EVERYWHERE ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • @acurrie

        i feel nokia has made a smart move. the at&t is monopolized by the apple iphone. its good to go with the nations second best carrier i.e. t-mobile.

        its just that the spectrum allocation is so fuked up that canada got the beating between the iphone vs n900 war.

        i feel u shud try out the e72 b4 u take the sip ๐Ÿ˜‰


        i knw what u mean. i miss my at&t ๐Ÿ˜ฆ … back home in india for some holiday fun and early next year im off to nyc ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I totally see how T-Mobile 3G makes sense for the US market, it’s just that with Bell and Telus now on HSPA Canada effectively has 3 SIM-friendly 3G networks, all using the 1900MHz band.

        I’m not sold on the E72 mostly because of the 15fps video. Being a graduate of Canada’s national film school I’m kind of a snob that way. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. My vote is for the n900. However, only after you convince Nokia to release a 1900mhz version for Canada!

    Seriously, why don’t you take your own advice to me and get a milestone? More open source and more powerful phone!

  4. I took James’ advice a couple of months back and opted for the N86. I had the N97 before it, but just had to sell it. S60 5th edition is just an awful cluster, and ruins the N97 more than the RAM/Memory issues etc etc etc.

    I also agree with Steve Litchfield that touch is the future, it’s just that Nokia hasn’t got it right by a long shot yet. My advice, if it’s got to be a Nokia, then 3rd Edition all the way in the short to medium term dependant on what the Symbian Foundation has to offer, when applicable.

    As for your frequency problems, I would chose function over form and get the one that will give you 3G. Despite the obvious data rate gains, it should also be easier to sell on at a later date. As for colour, I’ve got a white N86 and think it looks better than the black personally. However, 3G is more important than colour, so in your shoes I’d have the black.

  5. I don’t have time to read those other comments, they will affect my decisions ang wordings towards giving you the choice. As for me black and white n86 were still n86 even they are diff. variants..It would be a kill joy for nokia to give an update or software goodies for just 1 variant.
    The kick off for N86 are that it seems to have a boring OS and its smallish screen.

    Refering to other pros of N86 are that n86 is a superior camera phone, a guy who travel always shud give a hand to n86, a guy who loves to take a pic then posting it on d web or in whole summary the guy who wants to be Peter Parker that is avid photographer then dump your digi cams and start rolling the film.

    The white?who said it’s not the perfect color for n86? I will be throwing a big nokia 3210 on their faces if they dn’t feel white n86, ok, sounds sarcastic or maybe saddist?
    White was the perfect lift off for Nokia, with the sparkling and dazzling effect of scratch resistant screen and amoled efix, the green borders on keys and the silver lining were the keys to n86 best looking phone. I hate talking much about black, maybe on n900 becoz it has only 1 color available.

    N97 mini, this is the sensual approach for me, get the n97 mini white..perfect combination. I love the qwerty, the style and the design, the hardware! and the camera???camera is the big down on n97 mini…but i mean its my own perspective or taste!
    Talking too much is not worth if people just talk dont act. Now i’m acting to give you a decision, I would go for N97 Mini . The things that make me decide is I will get bored easily with n86, not so fast becoz of 8mp, but i will get bored with n86 after months, this is 2009 and 2010 is near..looking to past is a reason and looking to future is the answer. Mini grabs my attention, but color is ur decision.
    Dude think of long run happiness actually its ur own decision will make the change, not ours.
    Hope i helped you, im just open for any word of mouth at my twitter @illusionado incase sumbody wants to argue.lolx.. I miss these things, arguing and helping people decide.

  6. Dammit!

    Sorry, you all know I’m grateful for the advice… It’s just that I thought I had this figured out — halfway through the comments, that is. Now I’m seriously thinking about the Mini.

    If I could get it in white for less than $600 CAD (including shipping) I might pull the trigger…

    • probably there is no reason of turning back, I would suggest that you should put efforts on finding the n97 mini white..they are the lost of the big world, profoundly they are rare for the moment,,heheh not sure…..

  7. ok this is the deal n86 has no keyboard and smaller screen
    but it does have internet radio and the best cell phone browser ever invented skyfire the n97 well maybe skyfire will bring out a v5 browser and then that problem is solved but the n86 will never grow a keyboard or a bigger screen so in my opinion theres no perfect phone yet so im using the n97mini till we get a maemo with 850 and 1900 3g

  8. Doods, y’alls crazy! It’s almost 2010, and you’d even consider a T-9 phone over a qwerty phone?

    If you want the good camera, buy a freaking canon pocket cam. $200 will crush any phone.

    We don’t just want to know what each of our friends ate for dinner, we need the photos geotagged, tagged and searchable, with links and pingbacks. Can’t to that with an N86!

    • Can’t I also geo-tag photos uploaded from an N86? And your argument for a standalone camera doesn’t make sense to me, as such a thing would have none of the connectivity built into any of the Nokias above.

      The one thing keeping the N97 Mini off the table for me is is video recording capability — apparently it sucks, at least according to All About Symbian. See review here (and scroll down to camcorder).

      And the N900? Well, that deserves a dedicated post. Coming right up!

  9. Andrew.. I’d suggest the E72, it comes across as a great device…
    The mini is again an improvement over the N97.. but absence of your choice of band might prove to be the only thing against it…

  10. Hy Andrew,
    found your site from flicker,(btw really cool photos you took with your n86)
    i’m thinking of buying a n86,but i can’t find nowhere on the web something about the battery life,can you help me with this?
    how do you used your phone daily?did you charged it often or after2-3 days? any lag problems?were you satissfied with the camera performance?

    thanks in advance,(sorry for my english) ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Hi Dima,

      In really heavy use with Google Maps running all day I’d have to recharge every night — back home I can go about a day and a half between charges.

      And while I’ve no complaints about the camera on the back, I’ve made a discovery about smaller front-facing one. Stay tuned for more tomorrow…

      • thanks for your time and for your opinion,
        i’ll will consider what you said,but i’m 98% sure i’ll get the n86…maybe white(or indigo) not sure yet.
        wish you the Andrew:D

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