As I own both of the phones (the n95 is for sale ;D) I thought I'm in the position to do a little comparison.
As some of the people (yeah, having this review linked on n95blog.com tends to draw a Nokia biased audience :D) reading this tend to somehow be offended by the iPhone "winning";: I'm sorry, but in my PERSONAL view, the iPhone is a better phone to "work with";. The N95 has a bunch of great hardware crammed together, but that just doesn't do it. There are a lot of features that the iPhone doesn't have and the N95 does, but to be honest: those features (MMS, autofocus enabled 5 mpixel cam, …) simply aren't that important to me. I don't send MMS, I don't do Videocalls (and that's the situation for approx >90% in Germany). So be warned that this review doesn't compare facts but is a personal re-view on the experiences while having walked arround with the two phones for some time.
Also: I didn't use the 20.x firmware as it hadn't been released when I used my N95, apparently the N95 got snappier and the "out of memory"; bug has gone away thanks to demand paging… (about time though…)
I made up a random bunch of categories:
- the devices "look and feel";
- the camera
- the usability
- browsing the web
- nerd factor (3rd party apps and stuff)
- music/video playback
- anything else
ok, let's start with the
look and feel:
It's pretty uncommon for such an expensive phone to feel like a childrens toy.
it's basically plastic all over the place and to be honest: I've seen better
workmanship. Apparently the slider seems to be wobbly for some people, I couldn't
really detect that on my N95. The only thing about the slider is that it scratches
the back of the sliding part. It's pretty ok when it comes to looks, but it's not
really something special or what people would call a "goodlooking phone";. I would
have expected more for that kind of money.
The iPhone simply feels good. It has rock solid feel to it and the touchscreen is
a scratch resistant glass, not the usual plastic. As usual with something designed
by apple: looking great :)
A decent 5 megapixel cam with autofocus and LED flash. It's hard to mess up photos
and most of the time they simlpy look awesome. The only thing I noticed is that if
you view them in their original resolution, there is a little bit of noise , color
distortion and bluring going on (look at the pic over here: the grass is loosing details and the precinct is kinda… noisy).
But definately still a great picture for a cellphone cam!
2 megapixel, no flash.
It's pretty easy to fuck up pictures because you're moving your hand while taking
the shot. But if you don't, it's imho above your average typical cell phone cam
and ok for a snapshot.
C'mon, admit it: symbian in sluggish and slow! If you just measure the time it
takes to go into main menu or the time the phone reacts after pictures have been
shot. Besides that, it's a typical phone: you get arround using the navigation
keys (and no qwertz Keyboard). I think if you use it on a daily basis and know
your way arround the menu, you can get pretty fast. Sometimes the menu structure
is a bit "hard to guess";, but I've seen worse (motorola).
The usability is great. Thanks to the touchscreen (multitouch!) managing your
contacts or pictues is a breeze. flipping through your contacts has never been so
easy. Especially the acceleration sensor helps a lot when browsing or viewing
The unified user interface allows you to get arround new apps really easy because
you pretty much know where the "basic"; buttons are supposed to be and what they
do. Also: it's great to have "special"; buttons appear depending on the type of
application you use. Other phones are usually only able to set functions to their
function keys or you'll have to use your navigation-pad to go through menus.
Also: I love the way everything is divided into applications. Because that's what they basically are, applications.
Also: there is no useless "home screen";. Windows Mobile phones at least show your
upcoming appointments and tasks for the next days. Symbian phones show only the
next one and that's about it. usually the first thing you do is go into main menu,
on the iPhone, you're already there.
The main screen on the iPhone is basically a launcher for all of your
applications. There is a dock that allows you to have the basic featues instantly
selectable (phone, mail, ipod, …) and a scrollable list of your other apps. At
the top there is the usual time/ remaining charge/reception bar. Also: you can
instantly see the time and date when you're in keylock mode.
The on screen keyboard has a pretty cool error-correction mechanism and after a
week with the iPhone you can get pretty fast (there is also a youtube video about this… somewhere… :D)
browsing the web:
Although it runs on 3G networks, I didn't find the build in browser particularly
fast. While driving in a car (sitting shotgun) I couldn't get google maps to work.
And I tried 15 minutes! Some tests at home (HSDPA/Wireless LAN) weren't that
impressive either… there are a nice bunch of instant messaging clients, but most
of them pretty much suck.
Also: over the last 2 firmwares, they weren't able to fix the damn "ooops, I'm out
of memory"; bug. To be honest: I couldn't be less interested in the amount of
memory my phone has or wants. I think an operating system should take care of that
without me having to restart apps!
(apparently they fix that in every damn firmware release… I'd have expected more from a "mature"; OS such as Symbian Series 3 feature pack 1)
I don't know why, but somehow the iPhone using edge manages to be as fast as the
N95 with UMTS (there is some youtube video out there shownig that… maybe I can
find the time to do a search). Even when both of them use wireless LAN, the iPhone
seems to be faster.
The "mini"; Safari browser can handle "real"; web pages just fine and the landscape
mode + zooming make browsing the web fun :)
From time to time it seems as if the phone doesn't respond for 500 ms, but that
could be just the "slow connection speed"; experience.
Nerd factor (3rd party apps and stuff)
There is a BUNCH of 3rd party apps (java or symbian c++) and some of them are
really usefull. The thing that tends to be a bit annoying is that developing for
symbian requires signing your apps if you want access to the goodies and whatnot.
Not the easiest task on linux/osx.
After you get through the process of jailbreaking your iPhone, it's pretty much
It simply feels good to be able to ssh to your phone and run your own ruby apps :)
Having OSX on your phone to play with is really nifty. Seems as how many apps
there are available using the "unofficial SDK"; I wonder how great it will be once
apple releases the "real"; SDK. It's a bit lame that it takes them so much time to
release it, but that's IT Project Management ^^
The MP3 player sucks… you seem to have to add everything to a playlist and
update your library and what not. I just want to go to a directory and select an
MP3 to play or at least have my player automatically add new mp3s somewhere.
Concerning videos: there is a version of "core player"; available which can run
"full sized"; xvid files pretty decent :D
It's a friggin iPod! Syncing with iTunes (8 GB are enough for me) works flawless
and the UI is great.
Videos work fine too and I love the choice of h.264 + aac. Looking forward to the
core player version for iPhone (shouldn't be thaaat hard to crosscompile mplayer too).
Works fine using iSync (not all the details are exactly transfered, but the main stuff works).
Syncing media files (read: audio) with "Nokia Media Transfer"; somehow only worked 50% of the time. I didn't find the time to always pick a new "wisthlist"; if audio files, I guess having the 8GB Version of the N95 would have made stuff easier…
works GREAT using iTunes (contacts, podcasts, videos, songs, calendar, …)
The GPS simply sucks… it takes ages to get a satfix (I don't like the A-GPS idea… my external Bluetooth GPS takes less than a Minute without any fancy Data)
The GPS reception sucks
I would have expected something along the lines of Sirf star III for that price
to keep it short: the gps is kinda unusable
It's a pretty cool feature that the phone is able to "say"; who's calling
The Bluetooth stack is crippled and pretty much only allows pairing with my car
stereo to allow me to use my bluetooth-based hands-free car kit.
The N95 kinda sucked because it used to activate the carkit just when you pressed
a button. The iPhone only does when there is an incoming call.