Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Time for a dilemma of note... Nokia N8 / Nokia E7 / iPhone 4 / Android... what to choose?

Time sure as hell is moving at a rapid pace...
It seems like just yesterday that the courier arrived with my brand spanking new Nokia N97, much to my disbelief (and joy!) at the time...!

I can hardly believe that I am due for another handset upgrade in about 3 months - 108 days to be precise.
So the question on my mind now, is what phone do I go for next?
I must say that my N97 experience has been a mixed bag, although the pros far outweigh the cons.
The N97 (when it was launched) easily out-specced most other smartphones out there, iPhone included (relax Apple fans :).
For example, only now has the iPhone 4 managed to include a 5MP camera, which the N97 had years back (with Carl Zeiss optics no less).

So on the plus side, this is what worked for the N97 big time:

- 5MP Camera.
- FM Transmitter (I still use this in my car daily).
- Flip out QWERTY keyboard (awesome for typing long emails).
- 32GB onboard storage (class-leading at the time, and still unsurpassed in the market) + microSD slot (up to 16GB).
- TFT resistive touchscreen, 16M colours.

...and the not-so-great stuff:

- Laggy performance (much improved after several firmware upgrades, but still weak due to the 434Mhz CPU and small amount of system RAM).
- Occasional tendency to randomly restart (mainly in earlier versions of the phone firmware).
- Camera lens cover scratching the camera lens on opening and closing.

Overall though, the N97 has earned its place in my book of awesome devices, and it is with that in mind that I now trundle through the various options on offer when I next upgrade my handset.
...and the contestants are, in no particular order:

Nokia N8

Wow - a 12MP Camera with Carl Zeiss optics and a Xenon flash?
No frikkin' way...!
At launch, the Nokia N8 sported the most powerful camera on any smartphone at the time, and one of the best ever, according to many online review resources.

Coupled to an all new Symbian platform (apparently worlds apart from the laggy N97 version), an ARM 11 680 MHz processor, 3D Graphics HW accelerator, 16 GB storage, 256MB RAM, 512 MB ROM, AMOLED capacitive touchscreen (16M colors), FM Transmitter and much more, the N8 promises to be all that the N97 was and a whole lot more, just quicker!

There is just one little con that bugs me... no flip out QWERTY keyboard. That one feature just comes in so darn handy on the N97!

Nokia E7

Although this stunner is only going to market early 2011, it has already made waves in the smartphone world due to its sleek anodised aluminium case, impressive side-slider form factor (a la N97) and awesome hardware specs.
Basically the E7 is the business-targeted version of the N8, as I understand it.

Core hardware is much the same as the N8 (CPU, RAM, onboard storage, but with 1GB ROM instead of 512MB as on the N8).
The obvious difference though is the full QWERTY keyboard, which according to many reviews is simply incredible to use... and trust me they come in handy when you need to do a lot of typing on the go!

The E7, however lacks a few of the best features of the N8, namely:

- No 12MP camera. Instead an 8MP camera (not the Carl Zeiss variety) is included, with a dual LED flash (not xenon as on the N8).
- No FM Transmitter (sounds petty, but I use this feature all the time).
- No card slot for microSD cards to increase device storage.

Even so, initial reviews online are raving about this device big time...

iPhone 4

People either love or hate Apple products.

In my opinion Apple do not sell products. They sell a name - a lifestyle if you like.
Apple people see an Apple logo and they reach for their wallets. Even if that logo is on a brick somewhere, supplemented by the name "iBrick".

They will then proceed to randomly whip said iBrick out, at social events, with an air of smugness that you simply cannot emulate if you own any other brand of device... :)

That being said, the iPhone 4 is one spectacular device.

I have had the pleasure of playing with one of these babies and I must say that I was very tempted to switch to the Apple side of life...

Although the camera is not particularly headline-inducing (5MP), and there is no QWERTY keyboard, the UI experience more than makes up for those absent features.
If you have ever used an iPhone, you will know what I am talking about. The iOS 4 interface is about as slick as you can find on any smartphone, and plenty responsive to boot.
Powered by the 1GHz Apple A4 CPU and packing 512MB RAM, this phone is no slouch.

Perhaps one of the biggest drawcards of the iPhone 4 is the App Store - the selection of applications (paid and free) that you can get for your device is really amazing - something which Nokia could learn a lot from (their OVI Store 'aint quite as good...:)

Seriously worth considering...

Android-based phones...

There are so many new Android-based handsets on the market right now, that it is just ridiculous to try and pin down any one handset.
HTC, Acer, Samsung, Sony, LG, Motorola... tons of brands are jumping onto the Android bandwagon, and for good reason.

Android gives you choices - choice of brand, choice of thousands of free apps for your device, even choice of different UI's for your device.
Having played with several Android devices, I can also say that the Android platform is very slick and responsive.
Being Google developed and backed also adds a great deal of strength to the platform - I tend to rank Google products pretty high up there!

I have however looked at a variety of Android phones, and I cannot find one with hardware specs that quite match up to the Nokia N8 or Nokia E7...

So all in all, it's gonna be a tough choice when it comes to the crunch.
Which phone would you choose?
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