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22 October 2009

Nokia N97 problems

I thought I would write this to document the ongoing problems I have with my Nokia N97. It seems from the conversation in the phone shop today that my problems are far from unique. Hopefully you can add your problems into the comments field of this blog and if enough people link to the article, tweet it etc it will feature as prominently in Google as some of the other pages on this blog and it might inspire Nokia to respond in some way, perhaps by way of a few overdue bugfixes for their so called flagship product. Anyway, here goes:

1. I have an old Nokia E61 and last year got a N95 on contract. The two worked flawlessly together for 18 months, I could synchronise calendar entries, notes, contacts flawlessly. With the N95 and the N97, despite them both being on the same timezone, I get random calendar entries moving forward by an hour on synchronisation, meaning that I have to go in and manually check them all. This is a totally unacceptable bug, fix it. I also notice that if I have a contact entry with no phone number (e.g. its just a name and address) then this entry gets randomly duplicated as well. Another bug that needs to be fixed.

2. There is no facility in the browser to sort bookmarks alphabetically. This is again basic functionality you would expect in a flagship product especially if you have a lot of bookmarks to manage

3. The sound on the N95 was great for a mobile phone. The sound on the N97 is pants by comparison. This is a retrograde step, not something you would expect for a flagship product.

4. The N95 was responsive and fast. The N97 is not. Particularly after it crashes and you have to pull out the battery to restart it because it won't power up. Then the phone decides to do something in the background (I think it is rebuilding the music database) and this takes about 10 minutes, during which time the phone is unusable. I demonstrated this without difficulty in the shop today.

5. When I flip open the screen I expect a hardware switch to be able to tell the software the screen is open without any issues, not have to wait 20 seconds for the software to switch the screen to horizontal mode.

6. Having Adobe reader installed as a trial version that expires sucks especially if you get a PDF you need to read. If you do want to waste the time and money paying to get a full version of this product (the same product that was completely free on the N95) then don't bother unless you have a free evening to waste as you are directed to the site to make the purchase. This is about the suckiest site I have ever used in terms of usability. Every payment method failed with either a timeout or an incomplete screen when attempting to purchase using IE on a broadband connection with a laptop. They have no help email address or phone number, instead you have to register for a support account, wait for the account to be validated, then log your request via a long form that asks all sorts of irrelevant and pointless questions about your phone even though its the website that is at fault.

7. The N95 allowed you to browse home media via Wi-Fi and to download media across Wi-Fi easily, the flagship N97 removed this extremely good functionality and replaced it with nothing. Well maybe Ovi store, but the least said about that the better. Gone are the days when I could download a whole album to my phone from another room, now I have to find the connection wire and sit next to my PC to do it.

8. After connecting my phone to my PC to download music, I then disconnect the data connection cable. Since the same connection is used to charge the phone from the mains, the phone gives me the stupid message "unplug charger from power supply to save energy". Except I wasn't bothered about charging the phone, I was transferring music, and the "charger" is my PC which I am still using. Stupid message.

9. Rather unhelpfully the useful facility to search email messages on the N95 is no longer present on the N97. The search messages function only searches text messages, not email messages. Fail.

10. I am using 40% of the 32Gb internal memory to store MP3s. Since I went from using 1% the phone goes slow, especially after a crash. If you give people 32Gb of memory, expect them to use it and write apps that can handle this rather than apps that run at a snails pace.

11. The compass sucks. Waving my phone around in the air for 10 minutes to get a pseudo lock for the compass makes me look stupid and should not be necessary.

12. The maps suck as well. The location finder is nothing like as fast and as accurate as it was on the N95 and on several occasions has been a few hundred metres out. Combined with the sucky compass, this wastes my time - I emerge from a London underground station and want to know which street I am on and which way I am facing not 10 minutes later after waving the phone around like a magic wand only to get an approximate position. When I'm using the phone for GPS I don't want it automatically turning off when the maps are updating thanks, I might be using it to navigate with and shouldn't need to keep waking the phone up.

13. Under "My Videos" there is a video clip promoting the E90. I don't care about the E90, I want to delete the video clip. There is no obvious delete in an obvious place.

14. The captured image count only seems to update after the phone is powered off. It doesn't update in real time. This is laughable.

15. My downloads area says it has 21 items but when I open it, I get 21 randomly twinkling broken image icons. There's no way to delete these. You get a general system error if your try. Here's a tip for your programming team:
if have_just_shown_randomly_twinkling_broken_image_icon then
remove icon()
How hard was that? You spent how many millions on R&D for this device?

16. Since the collective brains of the universe still haven't figured out how to link music files (ie you get the same piece of music as part of a greatest hits but also as part of the original album and it is on your phone twice rather than as one linked item) we have the problem of duplicate tracks. To conserve memory and also as part of a general tidy up and inconsistent naming I moved the tracks into consistently named folders. However, on doing this the "All" bookmark to the previous track still hangs around, so you if you rename "Beatles" to "The Beatles", there is still an artist reference to "Beatles" and it it there is still a reference to "All" which now points to nothing. You can't delete the empty references, if you do there is an error "File is corrupted: Operation cancelled". Here's some more code for your programmers.
if artist->all.bookmark()==null then delete(artist->all.bookmark)
how many millions did you spend developing this product?

17. You still haven't fixed the stupid email bug.

18. The usability of the email client is pants. Here is an example. I have my email open in list mode and I want to read a message, so I double click on it.
1. Double click on message, expecting message to be shown (one action). What actually happens is:

Phone wonders why I might have pressed double click. Who knows maybe I just wanted to wake the phone up. Maybe I pressed double click for some other reason than opening the mail. So it asks me "E-mail not retrieved yet. Retrieve now?" There is no retrieve later option. Of course I want it retrieved now, I'm trying to read the message you stupid phone. So you click yes, then it connects to your mailbox. Then it considers that the most important thing on connection is to refresh your mailbox which may take a while. Perhaps in a future release the refresh might take place as a background task? Then note that message is empty, due to bug noted in point 17. So you have to delicately click on the HTML attachment icon, not easy on a moving train. Then rather than getting the attachment you get another screen saying "Attachment.HTML" which you then have to click on to open it. If this is an HTML mail with images, it prompts you if you want to connect to the server even though you are already online. You get this request multiple times, even if you say no. However sometimes saying no closes the message down so you see nothing, not even the text content the phone has already downloaded. All in all a usability fail. Do you think Apple would design it this way? Do you even have to think about the answer?

19. Application on the homepage which require a connection, e.g. the weather, randomly don't work. Even if you go to the application itself and download the content, the homepage view just sits there saying "content loading" indefinitely.

20. I would like to delete all the delivery reports for messages that have been delivered. No such option exists, it's an all or nothing affair. If you can individually delete a text message, you should be able to individually delete its delivery report. Seems like basic usability to me?

21. Remember how search messages only searched text messages? Well the emails are in fact stored in an area called messaging, just so that when you fire up the search messages thing you think it might search the emails because they are in the messaging area. Anyway, I digress. I set up my "messaging" area to be on the internal memory, there's more room there. Randomly however it resets to the phone memory meaning that I lose all sight of my email and text messages. Once when I set it back again to the internal memory, I found they had all been wiped. Whilst the emails were just a copy of what was on the Internet, there was no copy of all the text messages. I'm not backing up the phone twice a day and I don't expect this to happen. Stop it.

22. I'd like to turn off the stupid nanny messages such as "Exiting will disconnect the active mailbox connection. Exit anyway?" Yes, you fool, that's why I just pressed the exit button.

23. When I press the off button, I expect the phone to turn off. If an application has hung then too bad. Off means off. Consider the functionality for a second of the off button, it means the user is wanting to turn off the phone. It doesn't mean that they want the phone to remain on because an application has hung. This basic introduction to the functionality of the off button should be enough for a company of Nokia's size to code it up properly that the off button does in fact turn off the phone when the off button is pressed. Otherwise I will resort to removing the battery, that powers off the phone at the same speed the off button on the phone should work at and does in fact work even if an application has hung (unlike the off button). Take a tip from the old "reset" button on an Apple II. It reset the computer no matter what state it was in. That's what I want in an off button.

24. You can't independently put the browser in silent mode to stop those incredibly annoying websites that auto-play music when you land on them, yet still have the audio on so you can hear calls and text messages arriving. There is no audio control for the browser. A mute function would be expected in a flagship product. Try reusing the code from the media player.

25. When you open the contacts address book it's called "contacts" but when you go to search it, it's now called "people" rather than "contacts".

26. There is a grid view and list view for most things, but only a list view for settings. Why?

27. The delay on the camera is completely unacceptable. See earlier points about the phone being slow. There is a couple of seconds delay between pressing the button and the picture being taken which makes action shots almost impossible. Are the electrons for operating on the camera going on a detour via the moon when this happens? Seemingly a light beam could bounce off the moon quicker than it takes the message to travel the 6cm or so from the shutter button to the camera. Totally unacceptable. If you can get the phone to respond instantly there's an incoming call, you can make the other applications work the same way. Deal with it.

28. If you are going to write a phone with such sluggish performance try giving better feedback to the user, such as greying off a button they have pressed to give some feedback rather than just vibrating the phone and making it look like its hung.

29. You can configure your alarm on a N97 to go off on days you specify. I have mine on a Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri as I get up at 4am on a Monday but not on the other days. However, the same flexibility is not available to calendar reminders. So I can have an alarm for 6:30 on a Tuesday, but I can't have a calendar entry for a Tue-Fri that says "leave to get train". I can't even have it on workdays only. This is pants. Yet another example of useful functionality in one part of the phone that isn't reused everywhere it could be useful.

30. The previous and next buttons on the calendar and emails are pretty useless and work randomly. The sensitive area for these isn't under the icons as you might expect but somewhat near them.

31. When I open up the music player and select "All songs" in music library it says "7 days 11 hours" of music. When I go into playlists and select All songs it says there's only 1 day. Even if I open up the bookmark and add "all songs" to it, it still says 1 day. Huh?

32. In the music player, the term "song" and "music" is used randomly interchangeably. Guys, just call it music will ya? you don't know if it's a song or not because you have no idea how many tracks are instrumentals.

33. I would like the facility to show my contacts in order of most recently used, rather than having to favourite and unfavourite them. Besides the favouriting function is also buggy as they favourites get randomly lost when synchronising with another phone.

34. I still can't understand why there is such a conceptual difficulty between text messaging and emails and translating between the two. If I get an email I might like to forward it by text. If I get a text, I might like to forward it as an email. Why is this apparently impossible? How about a useful "select all text" option on the options menu rather than the hopelessly erratic slide and copy and context sensitive copy function that appears of its own free will?

36. The space bar belongs in the MIDDLE of the keyboard. See your PC/Laptop for a clue.

37. Why does the help for the calendar describe a function to view lunar data, but this function does not exist?

38. Why is there no facility to colour code entries in the calendar? How about a facility to have daily reminders auto delete themselves once the day has passed (user configurable)

39. Why does my phone light go out after 10 seconds when the display light out feature is set to a minute? I'd like a setting for the display to be permanently on, where is it?

40. Why is it that when I open the clock application it has nice rounded figures, but when the same digital clock appears on the homepage it looks like a bad digital LED display from the 1970's?

Any others anyone?
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