Okay, this is a putative head to head. We’re going to have to take Steve Jobs’ word for what the iPhone 4 can do and my experience of the Nokia flagship N8 is based on a play around with a prototype yesterday, but both these phones will be massive so we wanted to line up what we know.
So until we can do a hands-on comparison – here’s the iPhone 4 versus the Nokia N8.
Price and status
The iPhone 4 is sitting up near the apex of the smartphone market – at a cough-inducing £499 for the cheapest one, it’s top of Apple’s range.
The Nokia N8 is the flagship for the Nseries and we’re told Nokia’s top phone for quarter 3 in the UK, but because Nokia produce so many more phones, for many different markets, it will have a slightly more diluted impact. Price TBC but at a guess I’d say somewhere around £350-400.
Size and shape
Nokia’s previous top N-series phone was the chunky rectangular N900 slider, but the N8 is a touchscreen with tapered ends that comes in a range of glowing metallic colours (Dark Grey, Silver White, Green, Blue, Orange). The cases are scratch-proof ionised aluminium and the N8 has a little bulge on the back for the camera kit.
Specs: 12.9 mm thick, 135grams
The iPhone 4 promises to be the slimmest smartphone on the market and comes in Apple’s traditional black or white. The metal band around the edge is reminiscent of a Leica camera according to Steve Jobs.
Specs: 9.3mm thick, 137grams.
This is where the fight gets tough.
The N8 has a very nice camera – a wide-angle Carl Zeiss lens, and flash, two microphones and takes gorgeous 12 megapixel photos and high-definition video.
Both pack onboard video editing software and have instant share with the web features.
Jobs made a big deal of the iPhone’s camera – though it’s only 5mg pixels, he claims it has been specially adapted to take great films and images.
On balance, seems like a win for the N8 here.
Okay, Symbian ^3 is really nice but for user experience Apple wins hands down here.
I know, Apple has only just introduced multitasking, I know, but it does promise to be a silky smooth experience. And that app store is pretty good.
Symbian is very functional but it still has some ugly menus and Options and Back buttons which take up a lot of screen space and are not very intuitive.
This is a big battlefield. It will undoubtedly have to be seen to be understood, but Apple’s Retina Display technology is marketed as revolutionising screen display. Is it really really that amazing? I don’t know.
I do know that the N8 has a lovely very high resolution screen that looked great. The N8 can also be wired up to a television that made much more sense of watching the videos on it. Both have 3.5″ screens. The resolution on the N8 was 640×360, on iPhone 4 it is 960-by-640-pixel resolution.
The jury’s still out on whether that difference is significant.
Nice feature on the N8? It has a mini HDMI out port letting you plug your phone into your widescreen TV and pump HD video content straight to the big screen. Vidoes shot on the N8 camera look great blown up to that size and it sure is easier to see compared with the small 3.5″ screen. It also plays back sound in 5.1 Dolby surround quality – pretty lovely.
The iPhone 4’s Facetime video chat is billed as the killer feature of this phone, though the Nokia N8 also a front-facing camera which allows for video chat, will be interesting to see how the two measure up.
Both phones look good, it’s a question of what you prefer. Will the iPhone 4’s screen live up to the hype? if it does, it could be the feature that knocks other handsets out of the water.
It’s clear top end smartphones are investing heavily in the camera side of their devices – with some stunning top end lenses and video quality in their skinny frames. The N8 seems to have a slight edge here.
And Nokia’s open ethos and compatibility with other devices (like your TV) could be the trump card for the device. It’s likely it will be available with some Comes With Music deal – and that would be sweet. You could plug your phone into your music system (or anybody’s music system) and have any song you ever wanted playing in really high quality surround sound. We like it. On the media front, Apple is bound into iTunes – not exactly everybody’s favourite music player.
Still we’re looking forward to meeting them both in the flesh…
See more on iPhone here and more on the N8 here