Few days back I got a chance to meet Axel Meyer, Head of Nokia N-Series Design. He was in town to talk about latest Nokia’s N97. There were lots of questions about operating system, camera, battery, storage and touch screen.
Lots of comparison with phones available / or releasing soon in same segment also happened, like HTC Magic, Palm Pre, Toshiba TG01 and Apple iPhone 3G S.
Form and design of all these mobile handset looks similar- thinner and rounded corner. But N97 has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Talking about QWERTY, people aren’t excited about the shorter spacebar and awkward placement. With huge storage capacity 32 + plus 16GB microSD, it could lead the pack but operating system choice make it less attractive to geeky guys. People were looking forward for LINUX based web OS.
Though N97 got both touch (resistive) + QWERTY, it is way behind iPhone which has capacitive multi-touch screen. In fact, Palm Pre has the best offering – Capacitive multi-touch screen + QWERTY. I also heard people’s opinion on slow response of resistive touch if they have used iPhone or own it. Now coming to the camera, being a DSLR holder, I can never enjoy the camera phone but let’s see what everyone is offering. N97 has 5 MP with Carl Zeiss Tessar f/2.8 optics and dual LED flash but N82 is going to launch with 8MP. Same time Sony’s Satio will have 12.1 megapixel camera with Xenon flash.
He talked a lot about India, culture and designing gadgets keeping in mind their needs. One important question was asked by someone- “What are the most important aspects that you keep in mind while designing a phone” and Axel responded “It’s all about people; always taking into account people’s needs as a driving criteria”. Axel also said, “All Nokia N-series devices are aware of beautiful solutions”.
And when I asked why such a high end gadget fitted with lots of features & user friendly interfaces comes only in Black or white colors, I did not get a proper answer from him.
Why doesn’t smart phones come in user’s choice of colors? Take example of Dell, Sony’s laptops or digital cameras, which offer a choice of colors. Thankfully, Sony is quite a leader in matter of colors, heard Sony Ericsson Satio will come in multiple colors.
I also did a small survey to know people opinion- would they like more color choices when buying high-end mobile? The results were interesting- Black is the most popular choice, closely followed by wine. Other preferable colors are blue & silver.
Final verdict– I doubt N97 design team did an in-depth research for colors. Like white color for Indian market and climatic condition is not so good. It’s not an appliance like washer, refrigerator that people will buy for neat & hygiene white feel. Form & design need more fresh approach to look different in league. Immediate improvement needed on multi-touch, camera and OS. It is expected to be priced at Rs. 35,000 +, pricey for sure but most phones are in the same bracket.