N95 vs. iPhone

I have tried to be fair in my appraisals of the N95. I have given the phone some strong praise (including calling it “addicting”) but I realize I have been critical at times as well.

The iPhone certainly has been receiving all the buzz of late, but it looks like we are beginning to see the euphoria waning a bit and people coming down to earth. Amy Tiemann expresses some buyers remorse in her article “My summer fling with iPhone”

Apple convinced me that the iPhone was the next quantum leap in the digital lifestyle.

Well, now that iPhone and I have been together for a couple of months, I wish I could kick it to the curb like a summer fling. Unfortunately, we’re bonded together by a two-year contract.

Martin Varsavsky says his iPhone was stolen and he’s not getting another one and provides a long list of reasons why.

I don’t have an iPhone. I offered to accept one, but none was forthcoming. :) Therefore, I can’t speak with first-hand experience, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe below is a short list of a few important things I can do on my N95 that I could not do with an iPhone.

  1. GPS. The N95 knows where I am, shows my location on a live street map, and offers real-time voice guided navigation.
  2. Shoot video. There’s irony in how much Apple brags about video and the iPhone, but while one can watch videos made by others with the iPhone, they can’t make videos of their own with it. At least they can watch the videos I shoot on my N95!
  3. Shoot real photos.The N95 shoots pictures that are comparable to modern digital cameras at 5.5 megapixels, certainly photo-quality, even for printing.
  4. Comfortably carry it in my pocket. The fragility of the iPhone is a major design flaw. The N95 is pretty rugged while still being light and small enough to survive my pocket.
  5. Download applications. I can install applications, both Symbian and Java (like PhoneGnome Mobile) on the N95.
  6. VoIP over Wifi. While the SIP capabilities on the N95 may not be perfect, at least it has them, including being configurable for any SIP provider.

And, one of the biggest differences of course is, with the N95 I can use any SIM card from any provider. I am not locked to a specific plan or carrier. This is an immediate show stopper for me when it comes to the iPhone — I’m never going back to a locked phone again. Consider the situation of international travel use where I can pop in a different SIM for different countries (really the only way to get decent rates abroad).

With a few of the harsh things I’ve said about the N95, it’s easy to lose site of how cool and powerful it really is. I do hope some of the iPhone user-interface simplicity and design rubs off on Nokia and the Symbian OS though (and other cell phones for that matter).

13 comments for “N95 vs. iPhone

  1. Instead of making a comparison, here is a list of differences between the iPhone and the N95

    iPhone – May work, but is a very limited and closed system with few practical uses.
    Nokia N95 – Has A2DP and AVRCP. This means you can
    Use it as a wireless music storage device in your car to transmit your music in excellent quality to your car stereo to play back the music.
    Control the phone’s playback of your music collection from your car radio.
    Use both cameras of the phone as an excellent wireless webcam for your PC with Mobiola Webcam.
    Use microphone of the phone as a wireless microphone for your PC with Mobiola Microphone Remote.
    Use a wireless keyboard such as space saver Think Outside keyboard or any typical BT wireless keyboard.
    Use high quality wireless headphones (Sony, Bose, Motorola, etc.) that allow control of the music playback on the phone.
    Use your PC wirelessly to move, copy, delete, and edit files directly on the phone.
    Use your PC to wirelessly control all the features of the phone and at the same time display the phones screen on your PC, recording it if your wish, with Mobiola Remote Phone Control.
    Access and utilize external Bluetooth GPS positioning devices.

    Computer access
    iPhone – Very limited closed system with no direct access to the data for repair if it were corrupted.
    Nokia N95 – With cable, WiFi, and Bluetooth you can
    Drag and drop, synchronize, share, and stream files, (music, pictures, video, documents, files, and folders) to or from any PC on your network, to any uPnP device.
    Map network drives on your phone for access from PC’s, access mapped network drives on your PC’s from your phone with SymSMB.
    Access and download all the data on your PC’s and listen to and watch your entire PC media collection of streamable media (music and movies) from anywhere in the world with Orb.

    iPhone – Works
    Nokia N95 – Works and is reported to stream data at a faster rate than the iPhone.

    Bar-code reader
    iPhone – None
    Nokia N95 – Get contact information instantly at trade shows from the other members cards.

    Record sounds and voice
    iPhone – None
    Nokia N95 – Excellent microphone with which you can
    Record anything you want, including calls. No limit in length.
    Remove the required 5-second beep with Ultimate Voice Recorder.

    iPhone – Cell tower emulated triangulation. Voice instructions.
    Nokia N95 – Built in real GPS hardware, cell tower emulated triangulation, External Bluetooth hardware capable, Assisted GPS or any combination of all three. You always have some kind of fix. With the GPS you can
    Find your current location in a foreign city at night and find and get direction from where you are to where you want to go.
    Get directions to services of all kinds.
    Use third party add-ons such as Tomtom.
    Use the Nokia Sport Tracker for walking, riding bikes, hiking, etc. This provides several different statistical analyzes of distance, elevation, time and distance, including laps and the actual path taken with the ability to save and compare your results with other results.

    iPhone – 2 mega pixel. A common place phone camera that will not produce images that most people would want if they went to a concert or show.
    Nokia N95 – 2 cameras. 5 mega pixel and VGA for video conferencing on EU networks. The 5 meg camera takes stunning pictures day and night. Carl Zeiss optics. Comes with editing software right on the phone. With third party applications your can take pictures of pages and email them or fax them.

    Video capture
    iPhone – None
    Nokia N95 – 640 x 480 @ 30 fps. Stunning quality, even at night, with audio. Includes digital stabilization.

    iPhone – 2 year contract that adds up to quite a bit.
    Nokia N95 – Buy it unlocked from Nokia or Dell directly and have a warranty and no contract to take it where ever you want.

    iPhone – None
    Nokia N95 – Works great. With it you can
    Transfer data.
    Control all the Infrared devices in your house and office.
    Connect to your PC and use the phone as a modem.

    iPhone – Very nice large touch screen. (finger print prone). Requires 2 hands to operate easily.
    Nokia N95 – Smaller screen than the IPhone. A larger screen would have been nice. Easy one handed operation.

    TV Out
    iPhone – None
    Nokia N95 – Works great with the supplied cable. Use it in a hotel room with a BT keyboard to read email and edit office documents, Use it on your TV to play video games, movies, and share pictures.

    Cable Interface
    iPhone – proprietary iPod type connection.
    Nokia N95 – Mini USB and a standard mini plug that all ear buds use. (same plug for TV Out)

    iPhone – ?
    Nokia N95 – People do not even know I am on it.

    iPhone – Mono sound
    Nokia N95 – Probably the best set of stereo speakers every installed in a cell phone.

    Ring tones
    iPhone – Is it even worth mentioning?
    Nokia N95 – Use pretty much anything you want. Any audio track on the phone can be used. Create your own mix right on the phone itself and save it as a new mp3 or ring tone.

    iPhone – You are locked to ATT, period.
    Nokia N95 – Unlocked and support for various networks across the globe. If you are traveler, the iPhone is not even a consideration if you do your research.

    Sexiness (I am putting this here because CNET mentioned this)
    iPhone – Sleek and cool looking, but viewed as a toy in the workplace.
    N95 – Viewed as THE phone of a technologically competent professional.

    IPhone – Longer lasting than the N95, but not removable
    Nokia N95 – Replaceable battery. If you find yourself in the EMERGENCY situation where you need to make a call and do not have access to a charger and your battery is dead, you can just replace the battery with a spare. With the iPhone you could be stuck off the side of a cliff in a car with no power and trapped. Unfortunately, Apple seemed to overlook this MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE OF HAVING A CELL PHONE IN THE FIRST PLACE. EMERGENCYS!!! I would actually be willing to get my wife this phone if it were not for this issue.

    Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
    IPhone – None
    Nokia N95 – Excellent on board chip for hardware decoding of video and 3D games. Supports DirectX and OpenGL. Stunning game playback on the phone or your TV that the most hard core XBOX/PS# games are impressed with.

    Additional third party applications
    IPhone – None at this time.
    Nokia N95 – Several different office applications, programming, game emulators such as MAME (allowing playing pf 1000’s of known arcade game classics), Synch applications, Tune musical instruments, Gmaps, Google maps, Phone Guardian, GSM Tracker, ybroswer, FExplorer, SysExplorer, studio nokia, mobile web server, cCam, Carbide ui, SymSMB, Instant Messaging, VoIP,, SSH/Telnet, rar files with Mobilerar, stream with Orb or TVersity, Mobiola Webcam, Mobiola Microphone Remote, Mobiola Remote Phone Control, Tomtom, NavXS and others, Aspicore GSM Tracker, ultimat voice recorder, really nice 3D games by the hundreds, HourPower, Digital Clock, Mobisophy InteractiveVoice Call Master, Webgates Advanced Call Manager, MobieGenie, Divx player, CORE Player, Flash 5 player, PeerBox, TextQuick, Mobile Weather, eBuddy, MSN, Mig33, ScanR, Palringo, Adobe PDF support preinstalled, MS Excel and Word support pre installed, S60 Internet Radio, VCEL, ShoZu, TypePad Mobile, OperaMini, The Kaywa Reader, Jaiku, Nokia Sensor, Nokia Team Suite, Gmail Mobile, Symella, SymTorrent, Python for S60, PuTTy, QReader, ReadM, Chords for S60, S-Tris 2, Nokia – Wellness Diary, Acala 3GP Movies, studio_nokia, MyStrands, OggPlay, JabpLite, Calcium, GCalSync, Autolock, MobileRar, Nokia Local Search, Scenetone, Tasky, Nokia DJ Mixer, Fring, WorldMate, CellTrack, Loc Bluepulse, Spodtronic, Mobixie, Hibaru, DJMixerNSeries, SafeTxt, GamesFlash, Market Simplified for Mobiles, myNumbers, Qibla Compass for Mobiles, Handylearn Counter, Weight and Measures Quick Study Guide, mShell, Virgin Radio & Podcast Player….

    I could add to this list for hours. Many of these applications are free. Most of these programs are well written and feature rich. These are not trivial little tidy bits. If you really want a smart phone, it has to be smart enough to know that it will not do everything out of the box and some things should be left to outside programmers to develop. The iPhone ‘s application list is not even a bad joke compared to the N95. The problem with comparing the two is that it takes months just to get a handle on the capabilities of an N95. Most N95 users do not take the time to respond to such comparisons, as the comparison is not only foolish, but requires quite a bit of time to accurately list the N95’s capabilities.

  2. You didn’t mention the N95 stereo FM Radio with "Visual Radio," city by city Station Directory, presets, etc.

  3. The photo and video editing features on the N95 are amazing. Few stand-alone digital cameras have this many features. Still photos can be edited adjusting contrast, sharpness, brightness, color, cropping, resizing, adding icons, red-eye correction, add text, frame photo, create a muvee etc. With the video editor you can take several video clips, edit each one then splice them together with titles, sub-titles, transitions, credits and soundtrack. Then play it on your TV through the video out jack. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a "telephone."

  4. how about internet browsing? This was very simple to browse and read. Im even on the EDGE network which isn’t that bad considering there is no 3g service near me. Its a delight to use this phone which costs 349 refurbished. For the ease of use this phone is clearly better for the money. 649 is absurd for a phone. 350 is quearionable.I’m on the iPhone right now by the way.

  5. I appreciate the post DaveW, and I agree with you for the most part. However, as someone that now has hands-on experience with both devices, there are couple of things I would say are more personal opinion than commonly agreed upon fact.


    The iPhone wins hands-down for practical use by ordinary people. Selecting and managing WIFI networks on the N95 is a crap experience.

    Bar-code reader
    Really? You’re going to list that one? Nobody I know has ever been able to get this app to work on any of my Nokia phones.

    The specs on the N95 are clearly better. However, in terms of using the camera, the iPhone wins again, hands down. I disagree that the N95 takes "stunning pictures" day and night – it’s good for a phone (maybe near "stunning" in bright light) but pretty terrible in low light conditions.

    I would say the iPhone speakerphone is better than the N95. And overall the basic call handling is much slicker (call waiting etc.)

    Your comment "Viewed as THE phone of a technologically competent professional" makes technologically competent professionals sound like fifth graders. Give me a break. Somebody with an N95 is not going to score points in the "technologically competent" department with me nor is someone with an iPhone going to lose points.

    You also fail to mention Visual Voicemail (a big name for a fairly basic feature), but it’s something the iPhone has that the N95 does not.

    Overall, I hope Nokia and Symbian OS take something away from the iPhone in terms of user interface lessons. I think your statement that "it takes months just to get a handle on the capabilities of an N95" sums it up pretty well. People want to start using their phone without making that kind of a commitment and the iPhone UI makes it possible to hit more features faster for the average user. So even if the N95 has more features, regular people will perceive the iPhone has having more because they can actually find them and use them.

  6. HA

    bunch of non hacked/jailbroken/unlocked iphone owners – LOVE it

    i’ll give you everything but the camera and video capability..

    everything else there are apps for ;)
    here is jsut one source for apps, and there are more and more popping up everyday

    having used a N95 i can say its good, but some of the comparisons and claims of what the iphone cant do are funny.. i admit apple doesnt want you to do most (yet – or without paying them) but with a little patience and some googling you’ll be amazed at what the community is doing :)

  7. The N95 camera is certainly not of the same quality of even a relatively cheap digital camera, especially for action shots.

    It is also a total pain to use. The settings options are difficult to navigate and don’t work very well. They never do what you wanted and if you are trying to capture something dynamic, by the time you’ve put the thing in camera mode and made the adjustments, the moment has usually passed.

    It is fine (pretty good actually) for static outdoor scenery and that’s about it. Because it is so hard to use, it doesn’t even work well for snapshots because of what I said above — by the time you take the picture, the kid’s expression is gone, or they refuse to pose that long.

    On the other hand, the iPhone camera has NO settings at all and therefore is ONLY useful for quick snapshots of well lit subjects.

    IOW, both cameras are pretty limited and the N95 may actually be worse in practice because it wants to be a real camera, but isn’t, making it less practical and less effective. At least the iPhone knows what the camera is for and doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.

  8. iPhone is for people who’s mental capacity is limited, people who want to play with kids stuff or toys. N95 is for die hard technocrats who are hungry for change not for silly stupid devices like iPhone crap.

  9. Oh yeah, the fragility of the iPhone, I find that a serious problem… The aluminium and glass finish is pretty weak compared to the plastic of the N95! I just get that feeling that the iPhone’s casing might break at any moment, especially when I put it in my pocket. mmmm, the ruggedness of plastic!

    You also forgot to mention the amazing screen on the N95 in comparison to the iPhone, and of course the OS – isn’t the Symbian OS far ahead these days!

  10. I agree with the fragility of the iPhone and have mentioned it numerous times in blog posts here. Other than the fact that I cannot use the SIM I want in the iPhone, this fragility factor is the main reason why I still don’t carry the iPhone around as my actual cell phone.

    It’s kind funny how many of the N95 advocates sound like shallow adolescent dolts with comments like "iPhone is for people who’s mental capacity is limited."

    And Mo Hoyt, you’re going to argue that Symbian is a good OS? That it is ahead of OS X? Now Apple may have crippled OS X on the iPhone, but the underlying BSD/Mach based OS is head and shoulders above Symbian OS.

  11. The N95 takes boss, classy pictures with it\\\’s 5 Megapixels. i phone can\\\’t even comprehend such technology! If N95 takes terrible pix in low light conditions, than the i phone is f***ing screwed cuz it don\\\’t even have a flash. Any sensible person would rather have a practical, straight, does-everything, all-in-one phone than a phone whose concept is that of touch only…(What are u 3 years old?) I would love to see how are u gonna use your iphone when both you\\\’re hands are full and when you\\\’re wearing gloves! Now take a pic of your Loser self with your loser phone and like the cheap imagery in the iphone\\\’s display against sunlight…evapourate!!!

  12. In all fairness, I personally think the iPhone is crap, BUT, I love the iPod touch. I own a N95 8GB, but really, that thing owns me because it does SO MANY things for me, I could not possibly go back to living without it.

    The thing about the iPhone is, its an amazing device with the coolest interface EVER. Problem is, thats what it is. Its a device with an amazing interface but doesn’t fulfil its very basic need first. The iPod Touch however, does what its suppose to do very well, AND comes with all the bells and whistles that the iPhone has. I’m guessing we already know what the iPhone lacks out of the box, so I’m not going there again.

    The N95 is one such device that does what its supposed to do and more. It does its job of being a phone, but it comes packed with all these other features that make it more like a computer-in-pocket. I was blown away with all the things I could do with it. This is what I use my N95 8GB for on a day-to-day basis:

    – Check my emails with emoze push email
    – Download files using Symella
    – Connect to MSN using IM+
    – Use Truphone for free phone calls and SMS
    – Watch Divx or Xvid videos and movies WITHOUT ANY CONVERSION using Coreplayer
    – YouTube videos with Mobitubia
    – Edit and view Office documents using OfficeSuite
    – Browse the web on Opera Mobile (not mini)
    – Give my colleagues free wifi with JoikuSpot Premium
    – GPS to guide me around when I’m lost

    The list goes on, but the point I’m trying to make is I rarely need to go back to a computer and do most of the things I usually do. The iPhone does alot of those things to, and with a jailbroken iPhone, the limits are really stretched too. But I’ve always wondered to myself: Why did Steve Jobs not include all the little things that every other phone in the market has? Sure, it is possible to add these features on later, but isn’t better to come right out of the box? For me, that was the deal breaker. That made the N95 the obvious choice for me.

    I’m not here to argue about the differences between the N95 and the iPhone. Cos’ thats what they are: Different. I use my iPod Touch together with my N95, and man, that kind of combination rocks my ass off. Even though I could view the web in my N95, surfing using the Touch is like 100 times better. For me, the iPhone is a waste of time. I’ll rather go with the best of both worlds and leave the excess baggage behind.

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