Nokia N9 vs. iPhone 4

Which is better: The iPhone or the Nokia N9?

Nokia's high-end, Linux-based N9 smartphone will be available on all Australian networks as well as from major retailers.

The Nokia N9's hardware certainly looks impressive, but how will it fare in a high-end smartphone market still dominated by the iPhone 4?

Below we have compared the basic specs of the Nokia N9 and the iPhone 4.

Nokia N9 vs. iPhone 4: Specifications

Feature Apple iPhone 4 Nokia N9 Verdict?
Operating system (OS) Apple iOS MeeGo Draw
Display size 3.5in 3.9in N9
Display technology Capacitive retina IPS AMOLED
Display resolution 640x960 pixels 854x480 pixels iPhone 4
Multitouch Yes Yes Draw
Camera 5 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging 8 megapixel, dual-LED flash, autofocus, geotagging N9
GPS Yes Yes Draw
Internal memory 16GB or 32GB 16GB or 64GB N9
Expandable memory No No Draw
Dimensions 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm 116.45 x 61.2 x 7.6-12-mm
Weight 137g 135g N9
Application store Apple App Store Ovi Store iPhone 4
Processor Apple A4 ARM Cortext-A8
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 802.11b/g/n Draw
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP 2.1 with A2DP Draw
HDMI-out No No Draw
Near Field Communications No Yes N9
Quoted talk time Up to 7 hours Up to 7 hours Draw
Quoted standby time Up to 300 hours Up to 380 hours N9

Both phones have similar dimensions and weight, but the Nokia manages to pack in its larger screen by employing an attractive 'all-screen' design: There are no physical controls at all on the front, unlike the iPhone 4 which has a home button. We're yet to put the N9 through its paces, but it is likely to be extremely well built if the Nokia N8 is anything to by.

The N9 is equipped with a 3.9-inch touchscreen — larger than the 3.5-inch iPhone 4 display — that uses AMOLED technology, which should offer reduced power consumption compared to regular LCD displays. The iPhone 4's 'retina' display has the edge when it comes to resolution, offering 614,400 pixels on its smaller surface area compared to the N9 screen's 409,920.

The two phones both have impressive hardware, and if you look at them on a spec-by-spec basis not too much stands out. The Nokia N9 does have double the iPhone 4's RAM — 1024MB vs. 512MB. The iPhone 4 uses Apple's 1GHz A4 processor, which incorporates ARM's Cortex-A8 CPU and a PowerVR GPU. Similarly the Nokia N9 has a 1GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 3630, which has a Cortex-A8 and PowerVR GPU (SGX530; the A4 uses the SGX535). Although the N9 clearly wins out when it comes to RAM, actual performance will no doubt be in large part dependent on software.

Unlike the iPhone 4, the N9 will be available in a 64GB model. But like Apple's premium smartphone it has no removable battery and no expandable storage.

One interesting point of the N9's hardware fitout is its Near Field Communication (NFC) chip — there is no NFC on the iPhone 4. However, the chip is designed for sharing content and paring accessories with the phone, not mobile payments.

The Nokia N9 runs the Linux-based MeeGo operating system. The open source mobile platform is a joint effort by Nokia and Intel, building on the companies' Maemo and Moblin projects. Along with the Maemo-derived smartphone edition of MeeGo, a version is available for netbooks.

Nokia's last Maemo-based device was the N900.

The iPhone 4 is, of course, based on Apple's iOS platform. For all that you might want to rail against the limitations and closed nature of the operating system, there is no doubt that it offers a polished user experience. That, and a mammoth curated collection of mobile apps.

On this front the Nokia N9 is going to have its work cut out for it. The phone will offer access to Nokia's Ovi Store, as well as multitasking. Like the iPhone, it doesn't support Flash. While the interface has been well-received in hands on tests — Ross Catanzariti at Techworld's sister publication GoodGearGuide described it as slick and intuitive to use — and the Ovi Store offers access to quite a few of the same popular mobile apps available on Android and iOS, MeeGo is hardly likely to have a bright future on smartphones given Nokia's decision to go with Windows Phone as its "principal smartphone strategy".

At the end of the day, we have a feeling that, sadly, the Nokia N9 will end up like the N8: Wonderful hardware but a software platform that just can't compete with the heavyweights — Android and iOS. We'd be delighted to be proved wrong, however — MeeGo is an interesting project.

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Tags smartphonesNokiaApplemobile phonesiphone 4

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