iPhone 3GS vs Nokia N97: Who wins
Thanks to the iPhone that was unleashed by Apple Inc in October last year it's raining touch phones this season.
While Nokia came out with its flagship N97 device this June at a price of around Rs 35,000, the new iPhone 3GS (where S stands for speed) was released in the US on June 19 and will soon makes its touch felt later this year in India.
Its Indian price hasn't been announced yet but is likely to be close to the N97.
So how do these phones compare, touchscreen-by-touchscreen? More importantly, should you go for the N97 or wait for the new iPhone?
Here is a checklist that might just make your task easier if you were to choose one of the two.
The smooth touchscreen interface has been the single biggest selling point of the iPhone since its debut. The capacitive screen is highly responsive and the interface features multi-touch gestures for things like zooming in and out of maps. The 3GS has a more powerful processor, which makes the interface even quicker than before.
The N97 has a resistive touchscreen that is much less responsive especially for scrolling. As of now its touch interface doesn't work as well as that of the iPhone either. On the plus side it does allow for stylus use, which enables features like handwriting and drawing. Overall the iPhone is clearly superior in this category
Winner: iPhone 3GS
Many users find the touch-keyboard of the iPhone quite unsatisfying compared to a physical keyboard that provides proper feedback. The 3GS does improve the touch-keyboard by allowing it to be used in landscape mode but it's still not a substitute for a QWERY keyboard.
The N97 comes with a slide-out QWERY keyboard. There is some debate about the quality of the keyboard and while it's not the largest or most comfortable phone keyboard it's perfectly usable. Most users will likely prefer it to a software keyboard.
The camera has been a major weakness of the iPhone but the 3GS has made some improvements with added specks. It bumps up the resolution from 2 to 3 megapixels and adds autofocus, which is useful for indoor photos. It's also the first iPhone that shoots videos. No flash, sadly, though.
Despite these improvements the N97 is still the winner by a distance. Its camera hasn't improved much since the N95 two years ago but it's still a solid effort with 5 megapixels, a Carl Zeiss lens and a dual-LED flash.
The iPhone didn't invent user-installed applications; in fact the first version of the phone in 2007 was widely criticised for not allowing users to install their own applications without hacking. However since 2008, when Apple opened the AppStore, the iPhone has seen a surge of interest from developers and is today probably the leading mobile development platform.
Nokia has been moving fast to catch up and recently opened its Ovi Store for mobile applications. However it has a long way to go before it catches up with the number of applications on the App Store and the Ovi interface also needs a fair bit of work.
Winner: iPhone 3GS
One of the key features of a smartphone is to multitask and keep several programmes open at the same time. The N97 can do this along with all other Nokia smartphones.
The iPhone doesn't allow for this kind of multi-tasking. The 3GS does allow for 'push notification', which allows your applications to be updated in the background but that's still not a substitute for full multitasking.
The iPhone has two models with 16 and 32GB of internal storage.
The N97 comes with 32GB of internal storage and also comes with a microSD slot so you can expand the storage to 48GB.
Processor and RAM
In recent years smartphones have been converging with PCs and just as with computers the processor speed and RAM are important numbers in evaluating the performance of the machine.
In this regard the N97 has been disappointing with a 434 MHz processor and 128MB of RAM, which probably contributes to the relatively sluggish interface.
The latest iPhone by contrast has a 600 MHz processor and 256 MB of RAM. This means faster-loading applications and a more responsive interface.
Winner: iPhone 3GS
Like all Apple products including the iPod, the iPhone doesn't have FM radio. This doesn't matter much in its main markets but in India, FM radio is an important feature for many young users.
Like most Nokia phones the N97 does have FM radio. Further it comes with an FM transmitter that allows you to play the music on your phone to any free radio frequency. This allows you to transmit your music wirelessly to your car radio or stereo system.
Winner: N 97
So the overall scorecard is 5 for the N97 and 3 for the iPhone 3GS.
Does that mean the N97 wins? Not necessarily. It all depends on what the user cares about. For some users Apple's great application store may alone be enough to tilt towards the iPhone.
Ultimately both are very solid devices with their own strengths and weaknesses.