The N97, was announced in December 2008 and started shipping in June 2009. It was the embodiment of Nokia's shortcomings in Symbian-powered smartphones.
It became a reference point for the mistakes the company had made as it struggled to compete with the advent of the iPhone and a growing number of Android smartphones.
This was reflected in comments by Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia's executive vice president of markets, at the time. He admitted the N97 was "a tremendous disappointment in terms of experience and quality" which resulted from "an unbelievable cycle of events that took far too long to repair and mitigate".
This was in marked contrast to the impressive keynote address Vanjoki gave when unveiling the N97. He reflected on Nokia's efforts to create the perfect "multimedia computer" with its highly successful N95 and went on to introduce the N97 as Nokia's latest "mobile computer".
The N97 was Nokia’s second mainstream touch-screen phone following the 5800, which had been announced three months earlier.
The N97 reflected the growing importance of qwerty keyboards on mobile devices as consumer interest in messaging (text, e-mail and instant messages) increased. In addition, rising mobile usage of social networking services such as Facebook and MySpace was supporting the growth of the consumer qwerty device market.
At first glance the specifications of the device appeared impressive, particularly its 32GB of onboard memory and the large, high-resolution touch-screen display. However, other elements, such as the five-megapixel camera and lack of a Xenon flash, were quickly eclipsed by rival products that had eight- and 10-megapixel sensors.
The plastic casing on the device also fell short of its Nseries "ultimate device" positioning. It was in sharp contrast to high-quality metal casing of the much-acclaimed E66 and E71. In the end the N97 risked being closer to a "5800 qwerty" than a flagship Nseries product making its €550 price tag difficult to justify when compared with the 5800 at €279.