Rory Cellan-Jones

Who owns your mobile?

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 10 Feb 08, 21:01 GMT

The answer, of course, is you. But who owns you – or rather you as a mobile customer? That's the question being debated by the thousands of visitors to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. As phones become mini-computers, the balance of power in the industry is shifting.

It used to be simple – your network owned you. After all, you signed up with them, they collected your bill, and they did their utmost to nurture you so you wouldn't stray. But now two other players want to interfere in that relationship – the handset makers and the software giants.

Nokia is tired of watching the networks launch – and sometimes profit from – flashy new services, so it's pushing its own offerings. That includes music, with a new range of “comes with music” mobiles out later this year, and its Ovi service which promises every form of entertainment a mobile user might want and currently gets from the networks.

Then there are the software businesses which are taking their battle from the desktop computer to the mobile. On a sunny Sunday evening in Barcelona, I've just met senior executives from Microsoft and Google, here to sell their vision of the mobile future – one where the operating system on your phone will actually matter. Let's face it, right now, not one in a thousand mobile users could tell you whether their phone ran Symbian (the system backed by Nokia), Windows Mobile, or something else. That may change as phones get smarter.

Robbie Bach, one of the the top three or four executives at Microsoft, running everything from Xbox to Zune to mobile, flew into Barcelona tonight to trumpet a new deal to put Windows Mobile onto Sony Ericsson handsets. As the manufacturer is one of the partners in the Symbian project, Microsoft believes this is a big step forward in its quest to be a major force on mobiles. Robbie Bach says 20 million Windows Mobile handsets were sold last year. I pointed out that this is less than 1 percent of global handset sales, six years after Microsoft got into mobile. He countered that it's a pretty good share of the smartphone market which is only now moving beyond business users into the wider population.

But while Microsoft is making plenty of noise here, it's Google which is getting all the attention. When I caught up with Rich Miner, Google's Vice President for mobile, he was quick to insist that his firm had been a force in mobile for years - but it's obviously the Android operating system which has made it a star of the show this year rather than a bit player. Despite rumours of Android handsets making a bow in Barcelona Mr Miner said a phone would not ago on sale until the second half of the year.

He went on to paint Google's efforts in this field as some kind of philanthropic mission to bring rich new applications to the industry and to mobile users , all for free. But, as he (almost) conceded, it's really all about taking the firm's dominance in search advertising onto a whole new platform.

And that means that there are huge sums at stake as Microsoft, Google, Nokia - and the odd phone network - battle to own the mobile consumer of the future.

You can see a quick interview with Rich Miner below. You would also have seen an interview with Robbie Bach - if I'd not pressed pause on the mobile when I started recording it. Even a smartphone needs a reasonably smart user.


I know my Smart Phones Operating System!

It's MacOSX

Because I have an iPhone!

  • 2.
  • At 10:05 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Matt wrote:

Mine runs Symbian/Series 60. However I work in the industry so it would be a bit embarrassing if I didn't know what my phone was running.

  • 3.
  • At 10:10 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • David wrote:

Rory has highlighted one of the most frustrating things about mobile devices - the User Interface. Because it is so small, grown-ups have difficulty differentiating the tiny buttons. The words on the buttons are also far too small to be easily viewed.
Also, the screens are virtually invisible in bright outdoor conditions.
These devices are really quite impractical.

  • 4.
  • At 10:22 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Gordon wrote:

Let the best product win please, not the company with deepest pockets.

I have no illusions about this though. Sony has all but won High Def simply by buying it's market share with PS3 and Sony Pictures' influence - expect the same dirty dealings with mobile platforms.

  • 5.
  • At 10:23 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Hamish wrote:

Really interesting interview - and my sense is that this will work for Google, especially if it delivers improved location specific content / suggestions, etc. Having just spent a week in the wilds of Wales with my son, reliant on a sat nav to get us from A to B, it demonstrated to us what an opportunity there is for devices to be more helpful as the user travels about - where's the nearest castle, cinema, go-kart track, rock climbing place, etc. There are times when the less organised amongst us would welcome some targeted suggestions and even tolerate advertising.

There are some software businesses that are starting to do this well. The RoadTour software, for instance, is a good innovation for satnav (an audio tour guide for culture vultures that kicks in when you approach an historic monument) and there must be many more things that can be done on mobile devices.

One other thing - the use of a mobile to record these interviews is a brilliant idea. I just wish they came with a tripod!

  • 6.
  • At 10:24 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • patrick simms wrote:

Re:"But while Microsoft is making plenty of noise here, it's Google which is getting all the attention."

Sorry but it's Apple and the iphone that is getting all the attention

  • 7.
  • At 10:25 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Sam Tugwell wrote:

I don't know what operating system my phone runs on - and I don't care, I can call and text, occasionally play music. I don't want a computer, just a phone.

  • 8.
  • At 10:25 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Thumbcandy wrote:

iPhone? No GPS, No 3G, No HSDPA, Lame 1.3MP Camera, No MMS, 18 month contract = not that smart. See how you feel when the 3G version finally arrives & you have 12 months left on your contract.

  • 9.
  • At 10:31 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Simon Buttress wrote:


Yaaawwwwwwwwn, another fanboi.

It'll be interesting to see how the whole scenario plays out for the consumer though.

  • 10.
  • At 10:31 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • johnnybelfast wrote:

Surely Linux based mobiles deserved a mention on this report. There's a whole load of new open-source products being released for mobiles and they are going to give the Microsofts of this world a run for their money. Check out Ubuntu Mobile.

  • 11.
  • At 10:36 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Ty wrote:


Mac OS X on the iPhone has outsold Windows Mobile on ANY mobile in 6 months!

Apple is the company to be reporting on Rory, not some failed has-been in the market like Microsoft.

You don't even MENTION the company that is turning this industry on it's head. Weird.

  • 12.
  • At 10:37 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Mark Huxtable wrote:

Another attempt by Microsoft to force us to be stuck with windows as a standard operating system for phones. Surely a really "smart" phone would be compatible with other operating systems like Apple Mac OS is. Unfortunately for us, Microsoft has no interest in competition and I fear another windows style take-over on phones leaving us no choice but to use windows.

Hopefully alternatives like Apple will become popular enough that phone operating systems will be forced to be compatible with one another.

  • 13.
  • At 10:58 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Rob wrote:

Why no mention on Apple in the article?

  • 14.
  • At 11:00 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Robert wrote:

I enjoyed the interview and it's interesting to see BBC correspondents shooting their own reports like this. But, playing devil's advocate here, why record video on a mobile phone?

I assume your options for using phone videos on broadcast TV will be rather limited? You would get far better quality from a small camcorder, it would be just as easy to use, and you could make more use of the footage when you capture a great interview?

  • 15.
  • At 11:08 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Anonymous wrote:

The Apple iPhone love in is laughable. What is it? 900,000 iPhones sold compared to 900m Nokias? They have hardly sold more operating systems than Symbian now have they folks?

I have a Blackberry for work but looked at an iPhone for personal use as they are a seriously nice piece of kit. But it is awful in reality - stuck somewhere in 2003 with sloooow connectivity and the lack of 3G is embarrassing. I love their ad about browsing 'real' web pages - yes at a speed that was revolutionary in 1997. Being locked in to O2 doesn't help - live outside London and kiss goodbye to full coverage. Pay as you go cheap phones in Tesco have more features.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Apple products but any idiot paying £400 AND having an 18mth contract for what is clearly a Beta product needs their head looked at.

Apple will step up their game but they really need to - if the N95 is Nokia's BETA phone then the iPhone is laggind behind - prob still trying to find a WAP connection...

  • 16.
  • At 11:15 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Jay wrote:

And what about those of us who have so-called "golden contracts" still in place from the earlier days of mobile phone companies touting for business? I have one such with Orange, paying no "rental fees" for phone or line, no charges for answer machine, just straight forward monthly bill for calls and texts. I am a very low user, though would not like to be without a mobile. However, I cannot easily replace my phone with a n other, even from Orange, because all the newer fancier models come with different contracts. Operating System - don't care - just want a newer phone!

I am running osx on my iphone but had a uiq3 symbian Sony Ericsson before that.

  • 18.
  • At 11:20 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • mike wrote:

They are PHONES - not cameras or computers. It is about time the CALL price became realistic - but it is unlikely to because of this rat race.

A friend of my father 'invented' the walkman in the fifties - but he threw his hearing-aid away when it picked up the old light program

We need a little more of that common sense today

  • 19.
  • At 11:27 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Roja wrote:

In answer to Thumbcandy and other iPhone bashers:

No GPS... Location feature gets me to within 100m not that it is a necessery feature of a phone anyway? Infact there is only a very small number of phones that do AGPS in any useful and significant way the obvious being the N95.

No 3G... When was the last time you made a video call? I did once, about 5 years ago when i joined 3. It was pointless then and is still now! EDGE is not perfect for surfing but it is quite adiquate and although 3G would be nice i prefer my phone to fit in my pocket and still have battery for a weeks standby!

No HSDPA... See 3G

Lame 1.3MP Camera... It's 2MP and the picture quality from it is really rather good. Atop that it takes photos quickly! I have had numerous phones with 3.1MP and 5MP cameras and non have been up to scratch with a real Digital Camera! The absence of a flash is more the issue!

No MMS... When was the last time you sent an MMS?? I never have... Ever.

18 month contract... Same as any decent phone, N95 included. Only difference is when I phone up with a complaint i go through to Apple Support :)

It's not perfect but it's a damn sight better than anything else out there. Nothing competes with it's interface, it's looks nor its usability. Where it is light on features there is often real design critera for the absence. Oh and Apple update it :) MMS will no doubt be along soon enough!

  • 20.
  • At 11:36 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

What are all these Apple fans talking about? I've had more features on my MDA (Windows Mobile5) for the last 18 months. And my wife's newish Kaiser (WM6) is far, far ahead of anything Apple by at least a year, possibly 2.

  • 21.
  • At 11:58 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Dennis wrote:

I was in the IT industry/mobile industry for some years and despite the hype it was clear to senior management that all that people really want to do (and pay for) with a phone is talk and text. The rest is window dressing.

  • 22.
  • At 12:07 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Turret wrote:

The networks still own you. Does not matter what operating system, phone type, or application you run a connection to the internet is going to cost you money (except free wifi hot spot) and all that ends up in the networks back pocket somewhere. People shift networks for price not functions (iphone is the one off exception that proves the rule). Not sure I am going to be happy paying to download adverts no matter how relevant a supplier thinks they might be.

  • 23.
  • At 12:11 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Andy Orkney wrote:

OS X in my iPhone is wonderful, but the web apps have shown where this all might be going with the browser being the os. As the experience of using the devices gets easier proportion of time spent using the device gets higher. While I'm paying my £35 month to call, txt, browse, email etc form one device its getting cheaper. But the telecoms companies must be wondering where income is gonna come from as we all use wifi, skype etc. I'd guess its time someone actually found a model for making revenue from advertising, as the subscription model begins to fail....

  • 24.
  • At 12:11 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Steve Cottrell wrote:

Features and connectivity on phones will ebb and flow. Note how some don't care about the OS, just want an easy-to-use device that makes calls and plays music. Others want a full computer in the pocket. Both markets will be catered - and everything in between - so no worries there. Some posters here have acknowledged that the iPhone is behind the cutting edge in many respects, but they are missing the point. It's the user interface that is leading the way. You use a blank canvas and it changes depending on what you need it for. Look for a spread of flattery in the future as designers realise the importance of this. Meanwhile, guess what - it works with essential reliability. That's not a bad start.

  • 25.
  • At 12:20 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Dale wrote:

Yes, iPhone lacks features, we know, I have one. But you all know that features alone don't make a phone a good amazing. Nintendo Wii in the games market proves this.
It could have lots and lots of features, but be buggy, fragileand unstable(my friend's N95 fit into this description)

It's capabilities with its software as an open source device are about to be expanded far beyond that of many other phones.

"The Apple iPhone love in is laughable. What is it? 900,000 iPhones sold compared to 900m Nokias?"

I'd like to see where you got this figure from; it's a bit off. Apple have sold over FOUR MILLION iPhones since summer, and the device is now third on the smartphone rankings:

"Apple squeezed itself into third place in the list of world smartphone makers during Q4 2007, pushing ahead of Motorola and Palm and all the Windows Mobile device suppliers."

For a single phone, Apple's first model, need I remind you, that's pretty damn good, and it certainly isn't laughable.

  • 26.
  • At 12:21 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • paul smith wrote:


Yes the ps3 has won the HD market because it bundled blu ray. Wouldn't call that exactly dirty tricks - unless you are referring to the dodgy dealings from Microsoft trying to stop other film studios from supporting blu ray with their dirty tricks?

  • 27.
  • At 12:23 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Max wrote:

Here Here Dennis!

I am a computer engineer, but I have no idea what OS my phone has, and I don't care. It's an old Nokia that makes/recieves calls AND texts, and even tells the time, what more could you ask for from a phone? Oh and the battery lasts for ages!

  • 28.
  • At 12:25 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • David Wilcock wrote:

[Dennis] I am in the IT industry, also supporting mobiles, and can say that for the vast majority of people, email is crucial.

Give someone a WinMobile 6, or Blackberry for 2 weeks and then try and take it away. No chance. Keeping in touch with your business is addictive even for lowly employees.

What will drive this, is how easy, secure and costly this will be for people to adopt. WM6 is easy for companies who run Exchange server, as there is no additional licensing cost. But the handsets can sometimes be clunky.

Good luck to any organisation that can bring in great design & usability, quick operating systems, and low overheads!

  • 29.
  • At 12:27 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Ty wrote:

hehe it makes me laugh these people comparing the specs of their phone to the iPhone.

They just don't get it.

These people probably think Windows is a good OS too. *rolls eyes*

Specs are NOT the point - it's about the interface and the experience and the ability of the iPhone to get stuff done.

The iPhone on EDGE renders webpages in it's PROPER browser faster than most 3G phones in their cut-down pseudo browsers - due to the fact it is running Mac OS X with a fully specced browser - Safari - on a fast processor.

iPhone users have FREE access to 7500 wifi hotspots and can browse at speeds that make 3G look pathetic.

3G? pah. I design and build these networks and know how overhyped 3G is - mostly thanks to the utterly useless devices available to take advantage of the extra speed.

Some of you people reallly need to wake up.

PS If you want a camera buy a camera for goodness sake.

  • 30.
  • At 12:29 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Simon wrote:

Whilst it may be true that Windows Mobile has more in terms of features than Apple devices, that is not a suitable measure of how good or usable a device is.

I have previously been an owner of a Windows powered device and the experience of making a phone call (a very basic feature) was quite painful. It often took over a second to respond to me pressing answer and sometimes would crash altogether. It could even get into a state where it would show good signal but still wouldn't receive or make calls.

If a basic feature like this is not a priority to get absolutely perfect then it's of little use to me regardless of how many other features are available.

Whilst consumers may be happy to have the ability to do more with their phone, they will not accept any trade off with basic phone features. That is why the iPhone is doing well and Windows mobile is not.

I for one will never buy another Windows based phone again based on my past experience.

  • 31.
  • At 12:31 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Neil Williams wrote:

Why would I care what OS my phone runs, any more than I would what OS my TV or washing machine runs? It's an appliance, not a PC.

  • 32.
  • At 12:31 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Darren Hendley wrote:

I've just read and re-read Rory's article above. Can there really be no reference to Apple and the iPhone? I have one and I know it looks and feels better than anything else on the market.

Come on Rory, call yourself a technologist?!

  • 33.
  • At 12:42 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Matt wrote:

I've got a Nokia 6110 Navigator, and i have to admit i brought it for the gimmick of the GPS! but i really like the Symbian O/S. it really is laid out well, but then they've been doing it for a while now! and it's a really hardy phone, I can't deny that it's been dropped a few times now (would be interested to know how long a iPhone would last with me, and not willing to spend the money to find out).

The iPhone is great looking idea, although i do think it should have 3G! But I've spoken to people that have been really unimpressed, saying that it's nothing new, just the usual Apple laying it out in a new and colourful way, but it probably won't be long before it's replaced by the second generation which will no doubt be a huge improvement on the current one. How ironic would it be if it came out just as all those people that brought the 1st Gen phone have to renew their contracts!

I think they should review what people actually use their phones for! and then like Nokia/Sony Ericsson have a huge range that anyone (whether you like them or not) can find something that's suitable for what they're actually going to use it for! and O/S to match! rather than flooding the market with unusable Smart Phones! it won't be a good thing if it's completely controlled by the company that has the biggest wallet!

  • 34.
  • At 12:47 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Rhys thompson wrote:

My O/S is symbian and its absolutely rubbish!!! Next phojen will have to be windows mobile as it actually works properly!!! I'd advise people to stay away from N series Nokias as symbian software is full of flaws, no matter how many updates you download!

I think the days of people only wanting to phone and text are long gone. Of course that's the core use but I use my N95 to blog, upload photos, listen to music, collect my email on the go, internet, powerpoint, diary and contacts, video stuff, sat nav... If Google can add to that kind of usefulness then great. If they can make the web smaller and quicker to load, brilliant.

I like the iPhone's touch screen interface. It's an iPod with a phone (see iPod Touch), not a phone that plays music. When it catches up with what is already out there and comes free with a contract I might get one.

My biggest issue is a platform that works, is stable and syncs with my laptop. Symbian60 is getting there.

  • 36.
  • At 12:47 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Malcolm Pitts wrote:

Sam - and others - have already said it. I'm just going to reiterate. I have a mobile phone, and that's what I want it to be - a phone. Not a computer, or a gps, or a video player, or any of the other bits and pieces - just a phone. I don't care what operating system it uses, as long as it works.

  • 37.
  • At 12:52 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Malcolm wrote:

I stayed with a Nokia 6310i (Still, in my opinion the best phone ever made) until the iPhone arrived. I had an upgrade to a N70 but couldn't use the phone as the keys were too small and I never used the 3G function after the first month. Sure I would prefer to have stayed with Vodaphone who appear to have better coverage than O2. The thing about Apple products is they work. After 13 years of frustration with Microsoft I switched to Apple and the only time I have any problems are when I run XpPro or Office for Mac. The reason people love Macs and iPhones is they do what you want. Make calls and receive Emails. When Wifi spreads further in towns and cities you won't need 3G anyway.

  • 38.
  • At 01:00 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • vestan_pance wrote:

I recently moved over to the iPhone after being a MS Smartphone user for many years (using the SPV range with orange).

IMHO the iPhone totally outclasses the Smartphone in almost every feature, especially usability and the interface. However, the killer app for me has to be iTunes on the iPhone - I no longer need to carry two devices with me.

As a business user I don't care about having a 5MP camera although GPS and 3G would be useful on the road. Email push would also be useful but I get way to much email anyway so I declined a company blackberry.

Not having these features wasn't a deal breaker for me. In reality the design and execution more than compensate and it will only get better. Top marks to Apple for giving users something they can truly use, and not bad for a first attempt.

  • 39.
  • At 01:00 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Alex wrote:

Hillarious, fanboys are so funny! Buy a phone that suits your life style, budget or needs and be happy without slagging off everything else on the market. These posts are as immature as the xbox 360 v PS3. Nowt wrong with competition but come on guys there’s definitely more things to worry about than HSDPA and MMS. If you want a fancy camera buy a camera. At the end of the day it’s only a phone....

  • 40.
  • At 01:00 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Sam wrote:

Actually, although all the talk is about phones I think things are a little out of focus.

What actually matters is applications. As soon as a market develops a taste for applications the hardware companies will provide a platform.

At the moment the general phone market is vast and immature - voice and text (with some mms for younger groups like School kids)

The challenge facing all these companies is that they are technology companies and need to educate the user to want something more than basic calling and text.

Access to the internet is one approach but this is limited a little by the screen and processor power so uptake is slow.

Three years ago satnav burst onto the market at more affordable prices and that was the rage for a while.

Online gaming may be the way ahead in the youth market but the cost on processor, storage, and memory will probably hold this back for another 12-18 months.

For the older generation 25+ the challenge is still there. Probably best achieved through extending their business environment to the phone (and so MS are probably well placed by default). Outside of work most people don't need mail on the move or anything much on the phone at the moment.

The over 55 group have less need for business applications, or games, they probably have less need for a complex featureset. What applications will be relevant for them?

The question remains what applications will draw people to the new generation of technology from these technologists?

In the meantime nicer interfaces will attract some like a beautiful flower to bees...

The technology companies are not really addressing the question (but they are not particularly good at non-technology questions anyway). They all need to identify the application set that appeals to the various demographics and push the technology in support of these. That way they can hope for a market change and breakthrough,

Just my thoughts anyway,
All the best,

  • 41.
  • At 01:07 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Trevor wrote:

Is response to Andy: Absolutely. *And* your kit is:
1) cheaper
2) customisable (and Micro$oft have enabled anyone to enhance the platform)
3) content is portable
4) platform is future proof (to a greater degree than the iPhoneIsRubbish)
5) platform is standardised
6) platform can be replaced
7) Other
... iPhone is successful because of the marketing hype. Ironic: Micro$oft were criticised because their marketing was as good as their product (and sometimes better) and that's how they won success. Apple have finally realised the truth of this and are doing the same thing. And now, somehow, Apple is more innocent than Micro$oft?
And Micro$oft knew the value of the tech adopters in focussing their (otherwise) misguided technology efforts. Have Apple done the same? Is the iPhone a response to people's eperience or simply what they think will market best?
And to the 'all I want is a phone' neo-generation ... if something can help you be more effective in your life (in particualr: the way you communicate with others) that is a BAD thing? I don't understand. I want to be a more effective *person* and my WM5/6 phone helps me do exactly that.

  • 42.
  • At 01:19 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Paul McGlade wrote:

I'm always amazed at people's blind faith (or is that "bling faith") in Macintosh.

They are innovative trend-setters and have been able to deliver pretty well to date, but that does not detract from the extent to which they demand a level of monopoly on hardware, software and licencing which would never be tolerated from the likes of Microsoft.

  • 43.
  • At 01:21 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • dks wrote:

The iphone doesn't run mac os x, it's mobile os x which is a massively cut down version. The truth is very few care what OS their phone run's, more what it can do. The youtube generation wouldn't consider a phone that could't record video (unless they have more money than sense).

  • 44.
  • At 01:31 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • will wrote:

i have a windows-based smartphone (t-mobile mda compact) and it is rubbish! it frequently crashes, it runs out of battery constantly, it doesn't fire the alarms at the time you set them and and then suddenly chooses to fire and bleep like mad just when you're making a call - that's if you can get it to make a call without having to reboot it. the screen calibration goes all wonky every 2 days and has to be reset, and if it runs out of battery completely you lose all your contacts. plus it has no keyboard so you have to use the stylus and the tiny on screen keyboard to write text messages. i hate it. but i use it so infrequently now that i haven't been bothered to spend the money on anything else. if windows left the mobile phone space and redeployed those developers on making windows more secure, or making x-boxes that didn't die, then they might be better off.

  • 45.
  • At 02:09 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • martin spedding wrote:

I have had a Windows Mobile for years and I still have not seen anything out there which compares in terms of it's capabilities. The Apple phone still does not match up very well in terms of capabilities of my current phone. If you like the browser which is really the main selling point of the device...then just buy the ipod is much cheaper. Not sure about a Google device....I really don't want advertising on my phone.

  • 46.
  • At 02:09 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Drew wrote:

I agree with what Alex said earlier; this is worse than some of the PS3 vs. Xbox360 quarrels that you get on gaming websites.

To take 2 phones that I have personally had some sort of experience with (don't know enough about WinMobile smartphones).

It all depends on what you want - the iPhone is NOT better than the N95... the N95 is NOT better than the iPhone.

iPhone: Fantastic GUI, everything looks smooth and 'just works'. However, no native 3rd party applications (Apple has not released the SDK) and not as much 'control' of the nitty-gritty of the phone (sacrificed for ease-of-use). Note that the iPhone does NOT run MacOSX - it runs iPhone OSX (see for example).

N95: GPS (no need for me personally to save up for that satnav I was gonna get plus can be used when lost on foot), gaming (I can play the original Quake on my N95 ffs!). The OS is currently more open than iPhone OSX meaning anyone can write apps for it if they want. Better camera, also records near-DVD quality video. Faster data access through 3G/HSDPA (if supported by network). More susceptible to bugs etc as you can install uncertified software (but are warned that it is uncertified).

Both systems have wifi and full internet browsing ability.

On a slightly separate note, it really disturbs me how people post one sentence comments about how the author doesn't know what he's on about just because he doesn't mention the iPhone!? Get a grip people! It's good, but it doesn't suit everybody.

  • 47.
  • At 02:34 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Martin wrote:

I use my phone for data connections only these days. 3 network do really dirt cheap all day data deal and I have a BT WiFi account for 500 minutes a month (which works in europe as well) which bacially emans wherever I am I can connect to the internet at high speed

I purchaed secondhand a tiny laptop that goes in a bag.

I've tried PDA's and smartphones, but the bottom line is you can't beat a proper computer.

You can pick up a sub notebook for under £200.

  • 48.
  • At 02:44 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Ty wrote:


The iPhone runs Mac OS X. Period. A weblink to a blog doesn't change facts Drew.

Of course they have removed extraneous code that supports apps only viable on a Mac, but the fact is the iPhone is running Mac OS X, not some cut-down baby version. Just as Safari is the full version of Safari.

You will realise this when you see some of the 3rd party apps that will be released at the end of Feb. The SDK will change alot of opinions posted here.

If it keeps you happier to pretend the iPhone runs iPhone OS X so be it. You will still be wrong.

The iPhone is a generation ahead of the N95 as anyone who has used both will tell you. The huge differentiator? Mac OS X. Good luck on catching up Nokia.

  • 49.
  • At 02:54 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Paul Kerton wrote:

Its great to see that the maturity in discussion has gone downhill here. Its become fanboy zone.

I have no doubt that the iPhone has the potential to become a fantastic product, the only problem for me is that a multi-touch screen has taken precident over features I want. 3G connectivity, MMS and the ability to text more than one person with the same message.

The Symbian platform on my N95 is buggy and unstable, but is just about useable.

I've had Windows Mobile devices too, and those are frankly, poor. They went into the market far too early and came up with some incredibly buggy software in the process.

I am looking forward to seeing Android however, and I don't object to the idea of advertising on my phone, if it makes my tarrif's cheaper, and I can opt out should I desire.

  • 50.
  • At 02:55 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Ash wrote:

All my colleagues & friends who saw my iphone have definitely loved it and the only reason they didn't get one was the upfront cash you need to pay.

I guess if Apple are going to give the iphone free on contract, they should probably shut down the unit producing ipod nano's with similar memory.

I have used Nokia's before and they "were" really good couple of years back (especially 6310i which I still value and reluctantly gave it to my dad who is retired and needs to only make calls)

I have used windows mobile 5/6 before my Iphone and I did enjoy it initially but I don't anymore (have given it away)
Went back to TomTom for GPS since the windows mobile I had wasnt fast enough to ask me to turn well before the road actually splits!!

Making calls was the most difficult bit - My wife hated it!!!
But she loves my iphone - not just for the looks but the ease of use.
I am actually able to do most operations with one hand (while using the other for holding the handles in the train) - my windows mobile didn't let me do this!

I would definitely like to have a faster internet connection in it for the same money but this is better than the wm5/6

The other reason for going to iphone was the bundled ipod and regular software updates that really solve problems and adds/improves applications.

O2 have now offered to increase the minutes for my iphone contract to normal levels for the same price (with unlimited internet untouched) and I am sure Apple would try to offer something to its existing loyal customers when it comes up with the next version.


  • 51.
  • At 02:57 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Mark Stevenson wrote:

I'm rather surprised that given the large number of iPhone / N95 comparisions no-one has yet mentioned screen resolution.

The iphone display outclasses the Nokia and SonyE competition by a factor of 2. If you put the iphone high resoluition display on the N95 or other phones then the jump in useability would be vast - equally if you took the great display away the iphone would fall flat on its face.

Once the rest of the market gets to grip with decent displays (150-200dpi) then the ability of smart phones regardless of OS will rocket.

  • 52.
  • At 03:28 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Gordon wrote:

I use a n95, debranded from its horrendous T-mobile software to run the latest update of s60 software.

I love it. I did consider holding out for an iphone, as I adore apple. I'm writing this on my wonderful macbook! Unfortunately it just didn't fit the bill, and T-mobiles offer was vastly better for an n95.

I use it as an .mp3 player.
I watch films on it on planes and long train journeys.
I use the gps with Sports Tracker software for when I go running.
The 3.5g network is great for quickly looking up web pages, and I can use the wi-fi when at uni.

I would like touch screen, a better media player (I downloaded 3rd party software)., im proved map software though I've not seen Nokia maps 2.0 yet.

My contract should end around the time the n96 is launched and I like the look of it. I'm also interested in the what the google OS will be like, although I feel it may take a couple of generations for it to become a massive challenge to WM or Symbian (as with mobile osx).

As much as I love apple, Nokia has the edge on hardware and software (including third party availability), but the sheen that apple delivers on iphone is amazing. This is what nokia and the other symbian partners must now be aiming for!!

  • 53.
  • At 03:34 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Alan wrote:

To Hamish (post 5), have you looked at Google Maps for Mobiles? It does what it says on the tin!

  • 54.
  • At 05:25 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Drew wrote:


The iPhone runs Mac OS X. Period. A weblink to a blog doesn't change facts Drew.

Of course they have removed extraneous code that supports apps only viable on a Mac, but the fact is the iPhone is running Mac OS X, not some cut-down baby version. Just as Safari is the full version of Safari.

You will realise this when you see some of the 3rd party apps that will be released at the end of Feb. The SDK will change alot of opinions posted here.

If it keeps you happier to pretend the iPhone runs iPhone OS X so be it. You will still be wrong.

The iPhone is a generation ahead of the N95 as anyone who has used both will tell you. The huge differentiator? Mac OS X. Good luck on catching up Nokia."

I suppose it depends how you look at it; Mac nerds and Cocoa programmers are probably surprised how similar it is - but a lot of end-users aren't going to be getting what they expect if they've been told "it runs Mac OSX!!!". You also say it's the full version of Mac OSX Safari... then why can't you install Flash for it? I don't see iPhone Safari doing much more than Opera Mobile does on the n95 from my experience, it's just that the touch interface of the iphone is good for web browsing. At the same time, personally I prefer tactile buttons for texting etc.

I don't like the way you've taken my reasonably even-handed post, showing pros and cons of each and then responded at one point I made in a fanboy-style similar to that I was complaining about. You complain about my linking to a weblog as not changing facts... yet you expect putting 'period' to be sufficient backup for your statement??? And then you sign off "as anyone who has used both" will tell you... when I have already stated I have used both. The main advantage of the iPhone is the interface/GUI regardless of the actual OS behind it, not just that it runs (at least some form of) OSX!

I honestly truly and completely believe that the N95 is better overall for features, but the ease-of-use and reliability of the iPhone means it's more suitable for the average user (but not for myself).

Apologies to everyone else for the huuuuage post!

  • 55.
  • At 06:39 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • AC wrote:

Google has a reputation for being a fair company, and their mote is "do no evil". I'm not sure if I agree with their business model anymore. They want to be ubiquitous without disclosing much. How do we know they do no evil? When the Android was first launched I tried to find some details about it without much success. It's meant to be free and open-source but as we speak it is not.

At least for now, Android=Windows mobile. Good OS (let's assume it will be good, it's made by google) with rich APIs, but a closed box. iPhone is in a different league, it's a fashion accessory for teenagers.

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