On first touch, Nokia seems to have a nice package in the N97. Physically, the unit is light, although it is chunky next to other phones of its class, similar to the Android HTC G1, however, which someone had next to me. The surface finish is ok, although the white matte back felt a bit cheap to me.
The full keyboard is good, with each key having the right size and space for fast two-thumbs operation—at least with my chorizo fingers. There's no multi-touch support, just single touch. The quality of the display was good in this unit, which is headed for release this summer, according to the press conference this morning.
Overall, my first impression has been quite good, but it still feels like a follower, and not a trendsetter. There's nothing in this cellphone that you can find elsewhere. On top of that, "elsewhere" has two rather exciting software supermarkets, one of them massive. It's hard to see Nokia competing against Apple and Google in that front, because their N97 fails to better those two except for the better camera, in all regards.
More hands on details from our earlier look at the phone.