iPhone

Two weeks with the Nokia N95 and iPhone


My T-Mobile Dash and I hardly talk any more. Over the past month or so, I have been seeing other cellphones. There was the meaningless fling with the Upstage from Samsung which ended badly. And for the past three weeks (2 weeks each with one week overlap), I have been messing around with both the Nokia N95 and the Apple iPhone.

I decided to test the N95 and the iPhone at the same time because they are considered by many to be in competition with one another. After spending a couple of weeks with each, though, I'm not sure why (other than their hefty price tags). They both have very specific strengths that make them appealing to different segments of the market.

Both in hand

Apple's iPhone ($599) and Nokia's N95 ($795). Nothing like carrying $1,400 worth of phones in your pockets.

Nokia N95

The N95 is the high-end Swiss Army knife of mobile devices. It does just about everything you could ask for: camera, video recorder, GPS, WiFi, music player, video player, FM tuner (yes, an FM tuner), external stereo speakers... oh, and it makes phone calls. Of course, all of these features will cost you. The N95 retails for $795.

The Good

The Nokia N95 is the most full-featured mobile device I have used. As I mentioned above, it has just about everything.

The 5 megapixel camera blows away every other built-in camera you will find on a mobile device. And because the phone is shaped like a camera, it is easy to hold while shooting. It features zoom, auto-focus and a powerful (sometimes too powerful) flash.

N95 camera

The back of the Nokia N95 looks like a regular digital camera.

The video quality is pretty impressive, too. The N95 even includes an AV cable to connect it to a TV. How many other phone manufacturers would want their phone's video blown up onto a big screen. A 2GB MicroSD card gives you about 1 hour of video recording capacity.

The built-in stereo speakers on the N95 sound really good, too. I often used it without headphones to play music. The N95 also includes audio and EQ settings that let you tweak the sound that comes out of them.

The hardware and software interfaces are better than average as well. The N95 features a 2-way sliding design that shows your phone keypad in one configuration and media player controls in the other. I never really bothered with the media controls because all of those controls were available on-screen when in portrait mode.

Slider up

Nokia N95 with keypad exposed.

Slider side

Nokia N95 with music player controls exposed.

Menu items can be selected via 2 separate menus. One is an animated menu (seen in the photo) above. The other is a more conventional list of icons that you would see on a Windows Smartphone or the iPhone. Both do the job, although the animated menu is definitely cooler looking.

Web browsing on the N95 is also pretty good. N95 uses a custom open source browser that supports Flash Lite 2.0. It does a good job of rendering pages and the mouse, which is controlled with the 4-way directional pad, works really well. Of course, there is no QWERTY keyboard, but we'll cover that later.

Web N95

Twitter on the Nokia N95.

There are also a ton of apps available for the N95.

The bad

Battery life on the N95 is terrible. It would have been better if they had just added a hand crank. At least that way I could guarantee that I would have a usable phone at all times. I think the N95 died on me 5 or 6 times over the two weeks due to low battery. If you don't charge the Nokia every 8 hours or so, you will have a very expensive paper weight in your pocket. In fact, as I type this post, the N95 ran out of juice. Nice!

The build quality of the N95 is a little lower than I expected. The case feels a bit light and the navigational buttons on the front feel kind of cheap. I expected a much sturdier product for $800. In fact, I let several people try out the N95 and all of them commented that it felt a little flimsy. It is also a little bulkier than other devices. Part of that is due to the fact that Nokia tried to shape it more like a camera.

Thickness

iPhone on the left, N95 on the right.

There is no QWERTY keyboard on the N95, so texting or typing in URLs is pretty tedious.

The GPS requires you to be outside to get a decent signal.

There are also some minor usability issues with the N95. If you slide the N95 to open the media player controls, your screen will be in landscape mode until you slide it the other way to open the phone keypad. That got a bit annoying. Also, by default, the keypad would lock everytime I slid the screen closed. So if I just finished with the media player and then wanted to interact with the N95, I had to hit "Unlock" before I could do anything. Also, if you hit the camera button, but forget to slide open the lens cover, the N95 doesn't let you know what the problem is. I also found that the sliding earpiece section of the phone never felt like it was close enough to my ear. Minor annoyances, but they added up the more I used it.

The bottom line

The Nokia N95 is a good mobile device. It has a lot of high-end features that you wouldn't expect on a mobile phone, especially the 5 megapixel camera; however, the flimsy build quality and bulky case make me question whether I would pay $795 for it.

It is best suited for someone who wants to carry around a single device but still have high-quality audio, photo and video capabilities. Of course, the battery life could make it difficult to enjoy the N95 for long periods of time without stopping to recharge.

Apple iPhone

OK, there is no need for me to give an overview of the iPhone. You do everything with your finger and it costs $599.

Let me start off by saying that I was not a fan of Apple products in general, so I don't want the rest of this post to seem like the ramblings of a fanboy. In fact, I built the iWipe parody just to show what I think of most Apple products. That's why it pains me a bit to admit how much I like the iPhone.

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32 comments
jimtravis
jimtravis

The device is called an iPhone which would lead one to believe one of its primary functions is to make phone calls. According to the reviewer, the sound quality is not good, and he frequently asked people to repeat. Yet, he raves about the device which is supposed to be a phone first. Also, the review indicated that mobile Safari displayed all pages attempted. What is your secret? Safari on my desktop Mac cannot display all the pages attempted.

brian
brian

I have to say that the iPhone is the best all round device. I have tried nearly ( I did say nearly ) every other kind of device. I was just about to purchase an N95 (being a Nokia fan boy and all) when I decided to get the iPhone instead. Sure the N95 would have done everthing the iPhone does and more but with more frustration, with all the multi layer menus and all. So, after a few weeks with the iPhone I have too agree it is rock steady. FYI: here are my top complants about the iPhone. 1) no third party apps ....yet 2) no landscape mode when viewing email 3) no video recorder 4) no MSM messages 5) no voice recognition 6) no custom ring tones...yet 7) no profiles 8) Bose QC2 Don't work...the plasjtic casing around the jack gets in the way and it will not seat all the way down. Even with all that I love the batt time and it has not crashed on me yet un like my nokia

MichChampagnie
MichChampagnie

We're getting closer all the time. My ideal device would be a Palm TX with a built-in phone, with voice dialing, compatible with a bluetooth headset. That would be heaven. I'd start thinking about buying at $700 and pay maybe $500.00 for that bit o'heaven.

jac
jac

I posted a review on not one, but two iphones I had for a week, and there were battery issues with both. I got two hours of active use with them (constant use, browsing internet, etc.) and then the battery indicator turned red... Once Apple fixes this issue with the batteries, (and adds the ability to take video with it) then I will cough up the money for it. for more of my two-cents, my post is on http://www.constantskeptic.com/

peter
peter

Interesting read about the phones. But if you don't mind not having GPS and a dinky QWERTY keyboard, then try the Nokia N73. That has got to be the best phone on the market. It has everything built into a small and good-looking package that fits well in your pocket.Battery life? No problem. Sound quality? Great. 3.2 MP camera, video, 3G, loads of good applicaitons, the best sync program on the narket and lots more. You can get one for under $300.

bo
bo

What about mobile email and other PIM functions to utilize Outlook data?

jfreedle2
jfreedle2

I have the Cingluar 3125 and it does pretty much everything that I want it to do. With a 2 GB MicroSD card installed, I have about 64 hours of music on my phone. I also got the Jabra BT8010 headphones and they sound great. It is also a great organizer and allows me to hook up to the company's Exchange server to send/receive corporate email, as well as to BellSouth's servers to check my personal email in two accounts. I don't see where anybody would want the iPhone specifically, but I do love how my phone functions and it is extrememly easy to use.

Harlemite
Harlemite

First, I believe you're spot-on in implying that choosing the right mobile device depends on what the user's looking for in a mobile device. However, I can't help but think you've been hypnotized by the beauty of the iPhone. What else could explain your actually excusing a phone functioning poorly as a PHONE? You mention the N95 has a terrible battery life. As an N95 owner I can "Amen!" that song loudly! Nevertheless, you mentioned nothing of the iPhone's battery life or, and QUITE importantly, the fact that the owner cannot change the battery him or herself. Reports by some are that the iPhone battery life isn't much to write home about either. And it only makes sense that a device with many, many more features on it will require more battery strength to run them. At least with the N95 one has the option of carrying an extra battery around (as sad an alternative as that is). With the iPhone, you are guaranteed sometime in the future being without your phone as you ship it off to Apple for a quick surgical battery-changing procedure. It'll be interesting to see what folks in Europe have to say about the iPhone. They are, in my opinion, a bit more savvy when it comes rating mobile devices. Of course, ultimately, it comes down to what the user wants.

dave_wilkinson
dave_wilkinson

I've had my N95 since April. The battery issue seams to be quite random. Sometines it will last for days of solid use. Sometimes it dies within an hour. You have to keep an eye on the running processes. In the last few weeks I've totally fell in love with the N95. At first I was quite dissapointed. I don't know whether it was the firmware update or some of the 3rd party apps I've added (fring,route66,games,goosync with my google calendars etc. It does pretty much everything I ever wanted in a mobile device and does it quite well. I would like to point out that in every other area of my life I'm a total apple devotee. Dave

slksport
slksport

Blame the poor phone call quality on AT&T. While their coverage (at least for me) is great, the sound quality on their network completely blows. I've found it to be inferior having used a Motorola StarTac, a Nokia 6620, and a Samsung Blackjack. I've swapped SIMs with friends on other networks (I know, kinky) and in my completely unscientific test the incoming sound was noticeably better on Verizon and slightly better on T-Mobile. But hey, these phones do so many things (camera, email, browsing, plus they get your teeth whiter and your laundry brighter) how can I quibble about the ability of the phone to make an actual, you know, phone call? You know who will kill every cell phone company? The first firm that comes up with a VOIP phone that uses WiFi and Wimax and 3G to make calls in beautiful hi-fidelity stereo, with sound as crisp and clear as if you were in the same room with your caller. Toss in a good speakerphone, and you have a device I'd pay $500 for (well, okay, I'd get my employer to pay it), and it doesn't even need a camera or an organizer or the ability to play the Ramones "I Wanna Be Sedated". Though that would be a plus...

comomom
comomom

I think you are wrong. You get the stupid ipod in any phone lately(last 2 years), it's called "mp3 capable". You get the iphone features in any single pocket pc phone or smartphone in the world (since 2-3 years ago), the only thing that is new is the interface. Oh, yeah, for not so bright people it's very good to understand it in 3 seconds. What phone ever took you more than 30 seconds to fully understand it? Not having a 3G band is stupid since cingular has a very capable 2Mbps (runs at that speed, tested by me) especially stupid since it will be improved/expanded. If you just need a device good for talking than you will not pay 500$. You can get it for free, you know ..it's called cell phone. If you are willing to pay $500 then there are plenty of choices available (for the last few years) with more features than iPhone. And don't tell me an Windows Mobile 5 or 6 it's hard to understand, every single guy out there will know how to handle a Windows OS. Just push the START button. And then Internet Explorer is a web broswer, Media Player will play video and music, Calendar is really a calendar and so on. Common man, besides the cool factor, there is no reason the buy the iphone. It's like a ferrari (cool, eh?) with a honda civic engine. It will look really nice, it will go from A to B, but it's ... a fake.

marques.coburn
marques.coburn

After all I've read, here and elsewhere, the main conclusion I've come to is that NO ONE has yet to "get it" right. If you're going to cram a device with everything I need, I need it ALL to work right. 7+ MP camera, a ton of onboard memory, good battery life, swappable batteries, unlocked versions so you are not stuck with a lame carrier, etc. What I'm still seeing is that even after paying a premium price, one still has to make compromises. If these devices were available for $200-$300 I could see putting up with some of the shortcomings. One of the points of paying premium is that you get the best, but if these are the two best options available I'll just have to wait until SOMEONE gets it right. When they DO get it right, they can charge whatever they think the market will support.

radicalspud
radicalspud

"According to the reviewer, the sound quality is not good, and he frequently asked people to repeat. Yet, he raves about the device which is supposed to be a phone first." and several people have noted that AT&T call quality is poor in general, which is a strong indicator that the problem is...AT&T service, NOT the iPhone. until there are other providers available for comparison, using this as the sole criterion to judge the iPhone inferior (or whatever) is foolish. i agree with the curiosity about Safari rendering pages correctly. i bailed on my Mac finally because i got utterly disenchanted with the lack of a reliable web browser on the platform. whether we like it or not, having IE as a fallback is essential for anyone who does a lot of web-oriented work (IE 5.2.1 doesn't count and sorry, but Firefox doesn't cut it either, though it's pretty good.) if they've managed to finally make Safari compatible with nearly all pages, at least on the iPhone, hopefully that will soon extend to Mac OS X as well.

mhawkins
mhawkins

OK, this is a really cool device married to a really uncool network (IMHO) I really hope that v2.0 (if not v1.1) of the IPhone offers a swappable SIM card and the opportunity to go to other networks besides AT&T. This had to be a cash plus exclusive contract talks type deal. Is anyone deliriously happy with the AT&T/Cingular network that doesn't work for them? OK maybe there are 5 or 6 people.... I guess it won't be v2.0 since they signed a 5 year deal. I suspect Apple will live to regret it though. For one tech savy person with 5 pounds of electronic hooey in his pocket, I passed on the IPhone because (and only because) of the AT&T only (we welded in the SIM card)aspects of this tempting offering.... Oh well. We wait......

mkhan
mkhan

Apart from battery life, the N95 is a successor to the N80/N73. All you mention apply to the N95. "Sound quality? Great. 5 MP camera, video, 3G, loads of good applications, the best sync program on the market and lots more." I think the N95 is the 'best'. If you're on a budget, I'd agree the N73 is a good choice. If you need that extra bit of 'ooomph'.. go for the N95 with it's better camera - DVD quality video recording, GPS, stereo speakers and more.

lfloyd
lfloyd

I have a 3125 also, love it like the fact it is a flip phone. Great battery life. When I got mine I was looking for a flip I can Sync with my Outlook and access e-mail with this does that. The web can be improved but alot of that is programing in the websites, or lack of ability of the Windows Mobile Browser. AT&T service is a problem with browsing and call quality, but other than that I love my 3125. If iPhone made a flip I would serious try it out. Until I do I will stick with my 3125.

laura1234
laura1234

Seems the battery in the iphone is needing a charge every night, which makes me worry about how long it will last. Apple's $85 price to change it seems really hight too so I did a little looking around so I'd be prepared when battery changing time came. I found a site called ipodjuice.com that already has an iPhone battery replacement service for less than apple's. Nice to know.

sMoRTy71
sMoRTy71

I never got to the point where the iPhone was close to running out of battery, though. BTW, the iPhone is hypnotizing; however, it was the ease of use that won me over. And, as for the call quality issue, I was simply pointing out that it isn't the best *and* that, for me, it's OK since I really don't like to use a cell phone that much. I want a mobile device that gets the internet right. And the iPhone does that.

sMoRTy71
sMoRTy71

I was excited to get a hold of the N95 because of the feature set and because I know several people who have them (and love them). However, right before I took the N95 review unit home, TR Executive Editor Jason Hiner showed me the iPhone he had just picked up. I used it for about 15 minutes and fell in love with it.

Harlemite
Harlemite

This fellow N95-lovin' Apple devotee is right on-board with you. I'm very pleased with the N95, but even more so after the latest firmware update. Now the GPS app FLIES in comparison with before.

troy
troy

I really did when I read that post. Rolled on the floor laughing my f**king @$$ off at your stupidity. Yes, there are other phones that can do what it can, but the seamless and smooth way it does it, added to the fact that it ACTUALLY WORKS!!! (Shock Horror!!!), makes it anything but a... what was the word you used?!? Hmm, let me see, I think it was Fake?!? this is the opinion of almost everyone who has used the iPhone!!! Yeah, people know how to use a Windows OS. so what. That's because, while some might not like the fact, Windows is the OS seen on 9 out of 10 computer monitors world wide. Everyone knows how to use it. The point people are trying to make about the iPhone is, and I'll point it out because I'm sure you missed it, it is easy, fun and functional all in one, according to people WHO HAVE ACTUALLY USED IT. There are drawbacks to it, yes, and in some situations the N95 would suit CERTAIN PEOPLE better, but it comes down to what you need it for. Same as there are drawbacks with any piece of technology such as these. I understand your frustration about not having one perfect for you, but that is why not everyone walks around with a $500+ phone, music player, organiser and "genie in a bottle" in their pocket! Devices like these are designed to meet a specific need, or fulfil a specific purpose, and they do it well!!! Like a Ferari with a Honda engine my saggy left... Please, please, please if you're going to post on an opinion poll like this, state an opinion AS AN OPINION, and don't just go to town ripping into what you don't like left right and centre, simply because you don't like it. Both of these devices meet a specific need, even if it's not one of your own, and I urge you to realise that before blindly jumping in and blabbering about things before you think about it. Or, better yet, think about it dispassionately and form a SELFLESS point of view.

minori_aoi
minori_aoi

That guy who review those phones describe each pros and cons. What's wrong with it ?? Why did you hate iPhone that much ?? Don't say you hate it because you can buy it ;p. Grow up man (or woman if you're female). I'm still using the ancient Motorola MPX200 running Windows Mobile 5.0 right now. Of course it have Internet Explorer, but it's suck. That's why I'm using Opera. And even in crossbow (WM 6.0) the icons still crappy. Can't M$ hire a better artist to design the GUI ?? About iPhone, even if only watching the video review from Youtube, I'm still impressed with it's User Interface. The only cell-phone which can walk near (but still can't catch up with it) iPhone is LG Prada with it's Flash UI. For me, it's always been fun reading about M$ vs Apple (and/or vs Linux). Ha ha ha... Please tell me if you have a nice "flame war" about it. :) Sorry for the bad English.

sMoRTy71
sMoRTy71

If not, then come back when you have. And this was just my opinion, so it's tough to be "wrong." Sure, other phones do all of the same functions of the iPhone. I think I mentioned that in the review. The point is that most other phones suck at those functions, especially when compared to the iPhone. I have a Windows Mobile phone. In fact, I have 3 or 4 of them. I use a T-Mobile Dash when I'm not reviewing ones for the blog. And, yes, they are, indeed, adequate to do most things (except Web browsing which is terrible). However, compared to the iPhone, they seem like ancient technology. There is really no comparison. And the iPhone isn't just about talking on the phone. If that's all you want, then definitely get something else for free with your service contract (and spend that $500 on a Unix box or something that isn't new or shiny). However, until you have actually tried the iPhone, it's tough to take your comments seriously. BTW, how come your criticism didn't include anything about the Nokia N95 which is $200 more than the iPhone? Is this just an Apple v. Windows thing?

martin.reading
martin.reading

Totally true - exactly my thoughts..these gadgets are just out there to help us part money from our wallets. Of course that is true for any device but with these gismos it is all about "hey look at me,arnt I rich and dont you want one too". Over here in UK we are heavilly into mobile phone contracts and so the phones come free. Of course if you got one of these babies you are saying Im more important than you cos I paid for it- which is why anyone seen with with one, over here,isnt so much admired but branded a dickhead !

sMoRTy71
sMoRTy71

It is still more of a matter of being the best of the worst; however, both of these are getting closer. One thing I would like to stress is that using the iPhone makes you forget about a lot of the stuff it doesn't have. At least it did for me. I'm actually dreading having to give it back. I won't buy a first generation iPhone because of the EDGE performance; however, if they release one that is 3G, has a larger hard drive and (maybe) a better camera, I would definitely shell out $600 for it.

jimtravis
jimtravis

I disagree that my comments on the iPhone call quality are foolish. Apple selected AT&T to be their exclusive provider for several years. If you want an iPhone in the US for the next couple of years, you have to select AT&T. The iPhone may or may not have better voice quality on a different network, but we will not know for several years. The overall experience of a voice phone call is a combination of the hardware, and the network it runs on. Apple selected the network to release the iPhone on; therefore, I believe the network can be included in rating the overall phone call experience for a device. We do agree about Safari. If Apple finally did get Safari to render more pages, I certainly hope they do quick updates for the Mac as well.

Harlemite
Harlemite

How old are you, troy? I'm just rather curious based on your dispassionate and SELFLESS comment.

martin.reading
martin.reading

Hey I know I shouldnt agree with him cos yes if you havent used a gadget then really you shouldnt diss it...but what he says makes sense. I think that the iphone looks cool - I reckon it is a joy to use but will it make better calls than my Moto ? I think I will stick to my poor mans mobile for now :)

richard.stroud
richard.stroud

Without a stylus with virtual keyboard (for fat finger syndrome) or better yet - voice command, both are lacking what is needed for Internet use! Voice command is the future and my Razor does this for free! Battery life if a top priority! I don't care if it weighs 2 lbs. Get me 24 hours of full use! Then we will have the closest to perfect mobile device.

Harlemite
Harlemite

Okay. If you read through the entire post itself, you'll see that I have several comments throughout the post. That, of course means, that I HAVE read the entire post. In any case, for a 38 year-old IT professional, by now you should be used to exactly what you're experiencing here. And I'm willing to bet you, like everyone else here, are guilty of doing the same in the past. It's part of the business we're in. Hotheaded name-calling won't get rid of it or increase your chances of people taking you seriously. Trust me on that one. No offense intended.

troy
troy

Well, I'm 38 if you need to know. Also, I don't believe you took my post in context. My post, unlike the one I was replying to, was not giving an opinion on products based on use/experience. I was not bandying about an opinion as fact, and therefore dispassionate and selfless didn't come into it. If you would read the "Entire Post as a Whole", rather than individual lines, you should realise that. I may have sounded immature and hotheaded, but I get so sick and tired of insensate alienated propagandizing drones who take whatever they hear to be fact and idiotically and ficticiously bag what they're told to simply because it isn't what they've been told to believe.