Rory Cellan-Jones

Battle of the smartphones

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 17 Jun 09, 18:00 GMT

For the last week I've been trying out two very smart new phones and concluding that this is the year the mobile web revolution really comes of age - for those that can afford it.

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The phones will be seen as the rivals in a heavyweight contest for the affections of consumers who demand an awful lot from their mobiles. One is the iPhone 3GS, the phone Apple hopes can build on the momentum generated by the success of the iPhone 3G.

The other is the N97, Nokia's latest N-Series device, which the Finnish giant of the mobile world believes can put its upstart rival from Cupertino in its place.

Jonathan SumbergI needed help in this task - it's hard to give two phones a real-life test at the same time, when one of them will not have your usual number in it, so won't be used in anger. So I enlisted my producer Jonathan Sumberg. I told him that the N97 was supposed to be a smartphone that was idiot-proof - and he was the man to test that. But I also knew he was both a long-term Nokia user, and someone who saw little point in using the web on a mobile - so would this phone change his view? Here are his thoughts:


"Test driving this Nokia phone was a bit like working with Rory. It's a cliché, but it really was love hate.

I have always been a Nokia man, and while I have an Apple at home for a computer, I have never bought into the must-have-iPhone crowd. Every mobile I have ever owned has been a Nokia, so obviously I was excited about this one.

The touch screen took a few days to get used to, but after a while, I loved it. Better than the other touch screen I've tried, the Samsung Tocco, and with a really useful home page you can personalise to reduce the endless button pressing.

The keyboard LOOKS cool, but I am not sure who would actually use it for texting. I can tell my wife to 'put the oven on as I am leaving work' faster as a predictive text than one I would type out letter by letter.

The voice control worked well, most of the time. But I don't know why people would use it though - the thought of hearing "no match found" again fills me with horror. Frankly, if I want to call my wife or set an alarm or view the calendar, I'd rather press a few buttons.

The internet also worked well, and I was able to read up all the tech news on the BBC website. It was clear and I could zoom into the pages very easily.

Then I went to the Nokia Apps store, Ovi. Sadly this part of the test drive was the most frustrating. Having seen a little of the iPhone apps store, I knew Nokia had a lot to live up to. It took an age to register, and after an hour of trying to download a free Darth Vader ring tone, I gave up. Too many error messages.

It's at this moment, when frustration levels can go no higher, that I see myself telling Rory why I view my phone as just a device to call and text, nothing more. I know this makes me sound like a dinosaur, but if I want the web, I can use a computer, if I want my music, I can use an iPod.

Because I was frustrated, I didn't try to buy any music - I did however attempt to listen to some songs before I bought. As an iTunes user, I assumed Nokia would make this easy too. Nope. Again, after 20 minutes of trying to preview a Beyonce song, I gave up.

Quite a few negatives there, so you might be surprised to read that when Rory called me to part with the phone, I was rather reluctant. I loved the camera, I loved the touch screen, and I loved how much easier it was than the phone it replaces, the N96.

iPhone 3GS

At first sight, the new iPhone looks identical to the old one - which is not a bad thing as the device crafted by Apple's Jonathan Ive is already regarded as a design classic.

iPhone 3GS.jpgThere are some hardware differences, but it's a case of evolution not revolution. The key aspect, according to Apple is speed - that's what the "S" in "3GS" represents. And the phone does seem much faster when it comes to launching applications and loading web pages.

The other big change is aimed at improving the iPhone's weakest aspect, its camera. It's had a modest increase in megapixels from 2mp to 3mp - but it now includes autofocus, and a clever touch screen widget which enables you to choose just where to focus. While this leaves it still some way behind the N97's 5mp camera with its Carl Zeiss lens and flash, the iPhone now takes a surprisingly good picture.

And - at long last - it now has video capture too. This launches swiftly, takes perfectly acceptable moving pictures, and has one of those classic Apple touches, a very simple editing interface which allows you to top and tail your video clip and send it to YouTube.

However poor the iPhone's original camera, it was so easy to use that its pictures were far more likely to be uploaded onto the photo-sharing site Flickr than those from any other camera - the Nokia N95 came a very distant second. Expect the same thing to happen now with iPhone videos on YouTube.

I'm not so sure about two other innovations - the Voice Control feature and the inbuilt compass. At first sight - or sound - Voice Control is a brilliant party trick. You say to the phone "Play songs by The Killers", and a few seconds later out comes "Mr Brightside". But the more I tried it, the worse it seemed to get. "Play songs by U2" resulted in the phone trying to call Motorcyle News, and attempts to make calls or control the music went completely haywire. As for the compass, it may well help you find whther you're walking south or north, but it's hardly going to change your life .

But the real difference is not in the hardware but in the new 3.0 version of the iPhone's software. This fixes a number of long-standing grumbles from the phone's users - the lack of MMS messaging, the challenge of finding an old e-mail or a contact without a decent search function, and the absence of cut-and-paste, which made writing anything long a real pain.

The software also allows you to use your phone as an external broadband modem for any computer - though it will cost you £15 per month for 3gb.

The sheer usability of the iPhone has always been its main selling point, and it's now even more simple to operate. But of course all of these new software functions are available to exisiting iPhone users, without paying the hefty bill for a new phone.

So two phones which will probably appeal to existing fans of each brand. Whether either will prove a real game-changer is open to doubt. The iPhone isn't quite different enough from its earlier versions to win over a whole new crowd - and the N97 doesn't quite have the wow factor needed by a must-have gadget.

By the way, you may notice that the video which accompanies this piece features just one tester, myself. Letting the producer creep onto screen is always a bad idea - but he has edited the video and I hope you'll agree he's done a very nice job.

Update 1512, 18 June: A couple of points have been raised about this post, in comments and in messages to me.

Some people are asking why we didn't compare other phones, notably the Palm Pre and the new Android phone from HTC. Well, this was never meant to be a comprehensive review of the smartphone scene - just a look at the two phones coming out in the UK this week.

The Palm Pre might have made for a good comparison - except for the fact that it hasn't launched in the UK and we have no idea when that might happen.

The other criticism is that I failed to see what a breakthrough the compass on the IPhone will prove to be.

Now, it's true that the compass is more about telling the phone where it is rather than the user. That enables the kind of application now appearing on Android phones which enables them to "look" at a scene through the camera and overlay information.

This development, "augmented reality" as it is known, is getting many people in the mobile industry very excited. But remember when 3G launched and you were told that video calls would be the "killer app"? I'm still not sure that the compass will change the world, but maybe I should not have been quite so dismissive.


  • Comment number 1.

    I think that you're missing the point of the compass (or magnetometer) - it's not intended for you, it's for the device. Knowing where it is, how it's oriented and in which direction it's facing offers huge potential for augmented reality as is starting to be happen with applications like Skymap on the G1.

  • Comment number 2.

    The Palm Pre looks very nice too. That said I'm more than happy with my G1.

    An on screen keyboard is all very well and the on screen keyboard on the G1 is fine but when I actually want to type something extensive a hardware keyboard is a better and easier to use option.

    Maybe I'm not an average phone user, I don't much like passive consumption.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Nice reviews. I see what you mean - I'm a long term Nokia user and the N97 just doesn't excite me. In saying that, from experience I know that Nokia are really good at improving software with time - which they need to as the first version of the firmware is always a bit dodgy! The iPhone 3GS looks really good but £275 plus £35 a month good? No, sorry.

    I think I'll stick with my 5800 for now.

  • Comment number 5.

    I have been using a Nokia N95 8GB for the past 16 month's. It's been a great phone. It has a 5MP Camera, DVD quality video, 8GB of storage, tomtom, youtube, gmail app and much more. It's been a great phone. I recently visited both the apple and nokia stores on regent street to try both phones out. I was only able to try out the iphone 3g at apple. First impressions were good and everything looked nice a crisp on the screen, but once the novelty of the apps wore off (about 15min) and it took me ages to send a text using the tiny touchscreen keys I was ready to head across the road to check out the N97. They actually had a working N97 for me to try. First impressions... a very sleek, stylish phone. On flicking open the keyboard, the hinge felt solid. The phone felt very tough and at the same time, very elegant. The home page included a number of useful widget's which are continuously updated, such as Facebook, Gmail, You Tube etc. All literally at my fingertips. The touch screen worked well and the keyboard would be very useful when sending emails or using the web browser. I even used the stylus to write a text message using the predictive text function which works extremely well and recognised my handwriting straight away. The screen was bright and the camera took some great pictures, with not too much lag between shots. I prefer the phone in white, It's different and complements the phone's screen and keyboard better (less visible fingerprints too). I was offered a £15 sim card only deal from Vodafone which gives me 600min, unlimited txts and internet every month for 12months. I will be buying the phone on friday in white from the nokia store. This works out cheaper than the contract deals on offer and I will be free to upgrade in 12months time to a new shiny, improved nokia N Series phone :-) Nokia win's hand's down for me......Roll on Friday :-)

  • Comment number 6.

    I realise Nokia and the iPhone are really popular - but I think you are completely ignoring the G1 or any other Android based mobile phone. I think Google are going to be a big contender in the mobile market this year. I read somewhere that Android had already got 6% of their websites readership (and we're talking tens of thousands of readers).

  • Comment number 7.

    Great idea, one opinion per phone, neat way to conduct a comparison, if useless.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well, perhaps someone can compare the iphone and n97 to some android based phone's and explain the advantage's and disadvantage's of both. My reason's for buying the N97 are (5MP camera, DVD quality video, TomTom, good web browser, ease of texting, big and bright screen and good build quality).

  • Comment number 9.

    iPhone took the smartphone market by storm - it was able to combine both the Enterprise smartphone with the Entertainment end very well.

    If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch check out this app on the App Store.

    iLondon - a great app for Londoners (you can find a detailed description and screenshots at the link below)

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 10.

    An iPhone (any version - 2G, 3G, 3G S) with iPhone OS 3.0 installed on it kicks every other smartphone completely off the map. All the people on these discussion boards 12 months ago who were complaining about the iPhone having no copy/paste, MMS, SMS forwarding etc., these have all been addressed and every single iPhone owner can get this update for free by simply plugging into iTunes and clicking Update. And we're only on version 3.0 of iPhone OS. Remind me again, what is the latest version of Symbian? :-) Or Win Mobile? Or Sony Ericsson's OS? A lot more than 3.0, and look how far behind they are in terms of UI, 3rd party APIs, ...

    As an iPhone dev I've had the GM for about 7 days, and I have also been testing the push notifications using a special pre-release AOL messenger App. All I can say is WOW! Very impressive, and completely does away with the need to have background Apps running.

    Nokia, Sony, LG and the rest are all battling for 2nd place; the iPhone has already won, by a country mile.

    My $0.02

  • Comment number 11.

    But Iphone is all about the apps. The majority are rubbish, the decent ones cost money and that's what Iphone is all about. 18 / 24 month contracts with extortionate line rental charges for an over hyped phone. It has a screen that is vulnerable and non-resistive, only a 3MP camera and rubbish video quality too. It's restricted to the app store. If you want TomTom you will have to pay a high premium. If you have a load of money to burn then the iPhone is for you, but if you add up the initial cost of the phone, the line rental, cost of apps and that you won't be able to upgrade for at least 18months, it's not such a good deal. Yeh the web browser is a bit better, but then O2 coverage will never be as good as Vodafone so it won't always work. The N97 outperforms it in many areas and looks great. You can make the N97 your own, and its the uniqueness that sells it for me. 1st Place Nokia and one big expensive app (THE IPHONE!) In 2nd place.

  • Comment number 12.

    I would still prefer the N96 (or even the N91) to the N97 (or the iPhone, or the HTC Touch HD, or anything else touch). Proper buttons for music playback control, always available on the front panel. A number panel for when you are forced to wade through menus, or for when you check voicemail. The UI is simply better! Also, the N96 still has market leading specs in most areas (I think it loses to a Samsung on some camera features - no 3x optical zoom), and the N91 also was a market leader at launch.

  • Comment number 13.

    I can understand why Apple haven't invested heavily in a revolutionary iteration of the iPhone. It wouldn't make sense given the attitudes of consumers in this economical climate. But they seem to recognise that the natural tech cycle dictates that consumers need their fix - so why not give them something they've been grumbling about for years (cut, copy, paste, better camera etc)to tide them over until the next iPhone - Which I predict will indeed be revolutionary. Or maybe the one after...

  • Comment number 14.

    completely does away with the need to have background Apps running.


    is it, because the iphone can't??

    i have never had a nokia or iphone, being with the SE and Moto but one thing is clear

    the iphone has had a coupla years for people to make applets, and the screen slides around in a more dramatic way, while the N97 has everything else

    i dont wanna carry a video camera about, at the same time, dont want it to look like i filmed it on a 1940's technicolour then pirated it twice on video tape.

    and for the argument "just buy a dedicated camera for the money" is like "just jump off a cliff if u can't sleep"

  • Comment number 15.

    I agree with many people on here. HTC are the real contenders to Apple and it would have been good to have an Android comparison.

  • Comment number 16.

    Windows Mobile ignored again! No mention of the real contenders, the Touch Pro 2 and Touch Diamond 2. Both replacing million+ sellers. Why ignore a platform that makes up 47% of the business market in the UK and it still the biggest selling touch screen platform in the world?

  • Comment number 17.

    Come on Guy's! Someone write a HTC Touch / Android / N97 / Iphone comparison to cheer us N97 fan's up :-)

  • Comment number 18.

    "completely does away with the need to have background Apps running.
    roflolmao, is it, because the iphone can't??"

    Actually it can, and it does. Mail runs in the background. You can be on a call and use other Apps, the iPod can be playing whilst using other Apps, SMS/MMS is a background process, and the new Push Notification Service is a background App. And that's the point, Apple's Push Servers are doing all the hard (battery draining) work, and when an event happens in a 3rd Party App, you are notified. It's really easy for a 3rd Party developer to implement the Push API in their App, so instead of worrying whether their App has a memory leak or bad code that will drain the battery if it is left running in the background, they can concentrate on making a great App and implement Push Notification with a few clicks... Apple really have made it easy for devs to tap into this Push Service - and with no cost (it must be costing Apple a fortune to have the Push Servers running 24/7).

    You do realise that Apple bought PA Semi last year, and are now technically a chip producer? I'd expect even more improvements and solutions in this space as they develop better, less battery sucking CPUs for the iPhone. Push Notification is an elegant solution to the current problem that WinMob etc. have - Apps running in the background that crash, refuse to quit and drain the battery before you realise what's happening, let alone isolate the rogue App, force quit and hopefully save some battery for that all important post to the BBC blog :-)

  • Comment number 19.


    Except, as Engadget and others have pointed out, it isn't as good or as flexible as true multitasking.

    Sorry, it's a great phone but let's be real here.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm confused as to why the review is of the N97 which has been criticised by both reviewers and previewers as being outdated, and the iphone 3GS.

    Why was the Samsung i8910 HD not reviewed? This has far more advanced hardware than the cheap and nasty N97.

    The iphone excels at apps - everyone knows that. But what it doesn't excel at is hardware. 3MP camera in 2009? Oh dear. i8910 HD has an 8MP camera and 25FPS video playback and HD recording.

    So why not pitch that against the iphone? The iphone is well marketed, average hardware with good software. The i8910 HD is less well marketed, with top-end hardware and decent software.

    So comparing the N97 with either is irrelevant as it is a country mile behind - and even Nokia fan-boys are admitting as much.

    I say do the review again and include the i8910 HD.

  • Comment number 21.

    "Except, as Engadget and others have pointed out, it isn't as good or as flexible as true multitasking."

    You can't make a blanket statement like that Mark, without backing it up with some facts. Why isn't it "as good" or "as flexible" as multitasking? What does "as flexible" mean?

    Give me some real world examples of where Push Notifications aren't as good as a background App IN THE CONTEXT OF A HANDHELD PHONE and you might have a point. As it is, you just sound like you're quoting a website for the sake of argument.

  • Comment number 22.

    "The iphone excels at apps - everyone knows that. But what it doesn't excel at is hardware. 3MP camera in 2009? Oh dear. i8910 HD has an 8MP camera and 25FPS video playback and HD recording."

    jamieladc, it sounds like you're a victim of the "megapixel myth', the belief that cramming more pixels onto a sensor will result in better images. I'm afraid that megapixels are just one factor that determines this. Focal length, aperture and many other things make up the rest, and unless you want a phone with a huge lens sticking out, 8MP cameras will just produce bigger pictures at the same quality as a 3MP camera.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ Twelveeightyone,
    Could you not make a blanket statement like 'it kicks every other smartphone completely off the map.' without some facts?

  • Comment number 24.


    Since the original iPhone went on sale in July 2007 (23 months ago):

    21 million iPhones sold to date. Over 40 million devices running iPhone OS sold to date. App Store has had over 1 billion downloads to date. Apple profits are their best ever, based largely on iPhone/iPod sales...

    And remember, there has only ever been 1 model of iPhone on sale at any one time (until tomorrow when the 3G and 3G S will be sold). Compare that to Nokia who have hundreds of devices in their portfolio, 90%+ are not smartphones...

    Need any more proof?

  • Comment number 25.

    twelveightyone is on the money here. It does kick every other smartphone off the map, why have all the other vendors copied it? Because it has been developed from the ground up to be user friendly by the best UI people in the business. Many are trying and some are getting close but they will always be 2 steps behind.

    Hate Apple, hate Macs, hate iPods, hate iPhone all you like... those of us who chose not to get along just fine. Maybe some should actually try the kit out first and then form a more rounded opinion.

    Now if only O2 would sort the 3G S upgrade farce out....

  • Comment number 26.

    @ Twelveightyone,
    Sorry, why is it the bet phone again?
    Because it has sold the most?

  • Comment number 27.


    21 million units of two different models. If we're going to to do that then let's add all the N-Series together. I'd also point out that Nokia has no meaningful presence in the US where half of iPhone sales are made. In Asia, Europe and Russia Nokia dominates with the N-Series and 5800 comfortably eclipsing iPhone sales. Bottom line: it's not perfect for everyone and therefore obviously doesn't kick every other device into touch.

    As for the sales of the iPod Touch, who cares? It's not a phone so it's utterly irrelevant how many it's sold.

    I actually think the iPhone actually is probably the best all round smartphone out there just now. That doesn't mean it's perfect or that it's worth what O2 are asking for it. However, this is a subjective opinion as, indeed, yours is.

    As for the multitasking issue - the respected tech journals feel it's a halfway house and I tend to agree with them. You will, of course, have your own opinion.

    Finally, the old accusation from others of being Apple haters is an utterly tedious strawman. I own a Macbook for example and it's a fine piece of kit. It doesn't follow that I should mindlessly shower adoration on any other product they come out with as that would be foolish indeed.

  • Comment number 28.

    I love gadgets perhaps more so even than the mighty Steven Fry, but I have never bought into the iPhone (or iPod for that matter) and have absolutely no intentions to buy Nokia's N97 or any other smart phone either.

    The simple rationale behind my decision is that I believe the phone industry has it backwards. I don't want a "phone that can do everything", I want whatever the primary device I use to also act as a phone.

    What do I mean by that?

    Well drop the notion of a smart phone and instead pickup the notion of something like the PSP or DS having a true phone function to it; especialy the PSP considering the PSP's hardware is far more capable than an iPhone and less than half the price - the only real advantages to the iPhone, besides the "phone" part, being the touch-screen and motion sensors - which are hardly revolotinary and will no-doubt see their way to Sony and Nintendo's next incarnations (yes the DS already has the touchscreen part nailed down).

    If that isn't enough of a reason, there is also the ludicrously calculated price. For the cost of an iPhone or an N97 I can buy an entire 15" laptop. Why on earth is a mobile phone the same price as a fully fledged laptop? Ok they can surf the net, ok they can run apps, but they can't even do those things better than a PSP at less than half the price.

    Are we really to believe it costs over £200 to add 3gs and touchscreen technologies to a phone? I really find that hard to believe.

    At the end of the day I look at the iPhone and most other smart phones and see companies racking in £200+ in profit from a single device that should really cost less than £200 total.

  • Comment number 29.

    Reviews with contributions from employees can often get bitter and twisted - my phone is better than your phone - and both distracting and distracted.
    I'm lucky enough to have used both of many comparable devices like this and I've found that even if the pros and cons and clear, purchasing will ultimately be influenced by price or just style (regardless of price and features, witness high sales of Vertu phones).
    I have a Nokia E75 at the moment and a like the dual keypad but it's a lower spec than the N97, so I'm looking to upgrade. Both have downloadable 3rd party and native apps. Both have qwerty keypads available. Both have a compass and can copy/paste - who hoo!
    I've not played with the iPhone much, but here's some differentiating points I've noted for myself when considering which to buy next.
    - has Carl Zeiss optics 5MP camera with dual led flash and 30 fps video
    - has RDS radio and FM transmitter - this is a great feature for me.
    - has TV-out with the standard 3.5mm jack
    - has better usability in cold weather & with gloves. Not an issue this week, I'll grant you.
    - can be used as a modem - also good for me when travelling.
    - has Apple styling
    I'm not a dedicated follower of fashion, so I'll go for the richer hardware features in the N97, which aren't available with any number of OS updates.

  • Comment number 30.

    "I've not played with the iPhone much"

    I'd suggest you use one for a while before writing a comparable review about it!

    Talk about negating your own point!

  • Comment number 31.

    no 29. I could argue your points but your in depth analysis says it all, maybe a job with the BBC will come your way!

    On a general point the pixel scoring argument is daft, if you knew anything about digital cameras then you would know that the sensor/lens and processing software are the areas where the difference counts.

    All technology has its good and bad points, smartphones are no different. We all will try and justify that the one we own is the best due to this that and the other but the real reason is that after spending several hundred pounds on a phone its difficult to admit it has some failings.

    What you can be sure of is that a better faster one will appear in a couple of months! Myself I have an iphone, it might have failings (actually the worst one is the one nobody mentions, the actual phone is poor in marginal 3G areas), but it just works, this allows me to get on with the rest of my life....

  • Comment number 32.


    focal length aperture have nothing to do with the quality of your pictures taken by a camera. At the end of the day it is the lens and the sensor. While the megapixel count doesn't mean anything about quality, 3MP is still going to be giving you pretty small pictures. You should really check what you are talking about before being harsh on others.

    While we are here, I notice that you tend to post some ridiculous statement every time there is an article on apple, saying something to the tune of "mac osx is the best, everything else rubbish" or like in this article "iphone kicks every other phone off the map".

    I am fascinated as to why there are people like you that seem to commit their lives to evangilising apples cause. You do know that they are just another greedy company who wants to suck every penny out of you that they can?

    Personally I use windows xp at the moment and the HTC Universal. Neither of them I would say are "the best" (although the universal punches way above it's weight for a 4 year old phone), they are just the best at my price for my situation. If I had the money would I buy macs and iphone? Of course not, because the locked in system doesn't suit my needs, I need freedom in choice. But would I advise my technically challenged friends not to get a mac, no, because it may suit their needs better.

    So I am interested to know why are the likes of you so narrow minded?

  • Comment number 33.

    I don't understand the fuss, so I probably really am a dinosaur. But to me, a phone is a phone is a phone - I use it to talk to people, and anything else is unnecessary icing.
    So, to me, I think both of these are pretty, complicated, excessively expensive examples of one-upmanship.

  • Comment number 34.

    @ mark_mwfc

    my last post was not directed at you personally.
    I'm the first to slate Apple for poor performance. I simply get annoyed with the band wagon jumpers who moan about Apple product but have not used them. (again not at you).
    I'm sure Apples marketing gets up a lot of peoples noses but it works, loot at the numbers at the moment.
    Redmond have taken notice and are reacting at last, as will Nokia et al.

    I all makes it rather fun......

  • Comment number 35.

    'I'm sure Apples marketing gets up a lot of peoples noses but it works, loot at the numbers at the moment.'
    I think that plays a huge part in disliking apple. They have a habit of 'exaggerating the facts' and before they can be corrected the general public believe it. Whilst I know this is rife in the advertising world, its pretty unique in technology marketing.
    I have a problem with people saying anything is the best, when what they mean is 'I like this the most.'
    If something is the best, it has to be for a reason.
    Great design and UI only go so far.
    Is there anything the Iphone can do that another smartphone cannot?

  • Comment number 36.

    No Android based G1 or G2, why is that?

  • Comment number 37.

    Its just a shame that existing iPhone fans cannot upgrade there handset as easily as they could when going from the iPhone to the iPhone 3G.

    Being able to use my iPhone as a Modem would be a really handy addon that would prevent needing a second contract or dongle.

    If I wanted to get the iPhone 3GS I would have to pay out my old contract in full which still has 16 of the 18 months on it then buy the new phone! Its a shame. I suspect they will have something even better out in 16 months time anyway.


  • Comment number 38.

    I'm sorry but I must trump you all - the BlackBerry does everything these "smartphones" does and it does it a lot better.

    Doesn't look as good mind you but any BlackBerry is better than an iPhone where you have to press the screen 9 times in some cases to get special characters to appear when typing...

  • Comment number 39.

    Have to say I like the look of both the iPhone and the N97. Have currently got a Sony K810i, which is a good cameraphone, but have been enviously eyeing up the better internet and the GPS of the smartphones, I remember one time going to Cheltenham with a mate, who was convinced a hotel was one way, a GPS phone would have saved us a 4 mile round trip!
    The thing with mobile phones is that everyone has different requirements, for me after the obvious phone function, it has to be the camera function, followed by the internet, followed by GPS. A music player is irrelevant, as I carry a small USB flash mp3 player and most of the apps are quite frivolous, so not really fussed about Apple's massive advantage in this area. Therefore for me, the camera of the Nokia (both lens and resolution) is better, the internet of the iPhone is better (interface is nicer) and GPS on both is the same, although someone above mentions Tom Tom is free with Nokia?
    Therefore given my priorities, for my purposes, the N97 is more suitable, however, wouldnt rule out getting an iPhone in the future if they sort out the camera. On the other hand, both smartphones are quite expensive, so Im thinking do I even need one! And for those who think Im anti-Apple, this weekend I will be purchasing an iPod Nano.

  • Comment number 40.

    I was going to buy the new iPhone... now I think I am going to get the N97. The keyboard is a win for me. I hope the build quality is better than the N95's.. I'm on my second and it's got a broken volume key (google n95 broke volume key, it's a common fault) but I'm willing to risk it based on the fact that I've had a Nokia ever since my trusty 3310 in 2002 and they've all been really well built with that one exception.

  • Comment number 41.

    Why all the fuss about the G1/G2 . . . Is it because it Google branded? thats the same flaw that most people fell for when buying an iPhone. HTC make the G1/G2 but they have been making smartphones for a long time including devices that have been doing what Apple claim to be "breakthrough" features for years . HTC Touch Pro II for me is the only smartphone on the market thats worth owning .

  • Comment number 42.

    I can't believe how much money people are willing to shell out for a mobile phone. I used to love getting my free upgrades etc.

    Come on be honest a huge number of you apple iphone owners buy it because it's shiney and makes you feel younger...

    I know my friend who drove 40 miles ridiculously early to be one of the first to get their phone from an apple store and then drove back again with said device to get to work, thus being late and getting in trouble, was only interested in saying they had it and it was shiney.

    I tell you what... Fashion and posing has a lot to answer for. I want my free upgrade phone with a decent battery that makes calls and sends text messages.

    As ever I say buy what suits you and satifies your needs. For those of you using either of these phones for more than just posing I tip my hat and applaud you.

    On a business front I still think blackberry has the edge as a proper business phone and email device.

    So there you have it my tupence.

  • Comment number 43.

    @ Steveh11
    "But to me, a phone is a phone is a phone - I use it to talk to people, and anything else is unnecessary icing."

    Yes! So many 'fashion technology users' (rather than people who understand technology) seem to want to buy icing by the spadeful... they don't notice, or care, or understand that icing in the wrong place is just a little pointless, and so they end up with icing in their hair, on their faces, on the keyboard - very expensive icing, too.

    If they stepped back from gadget myopia they'd eventually spot that a mobile 'phone is inherently one of the worst imaginable devices for typing, viewing web pages, taking 'videos'; in fact for most things other than making 'phone calls. It's about as useful as a toy car would be for traveling, or a doll's house tea set for preparing and eating a meal.

    Still, if there are mugs who throw megabucks at the wrong devices because they have 'style' (What!? Really!? Like the Millenium Dome did?) and if they can so easily be persuaded to fall in love with the likes of Apple - who while making some good design decisions, make some pretty bad ones too (how long have they been fighting for survival against Microsoft because of a weak long-term design choice - 'lock the punters in'?), then let the fashion slaves pour money out of their wallets into the piggy banks of 'phone makers. If they feel happy that they've impressed their peers, then good luck to them and their choice of peers. The more savvy and discerning of us can enjoy a wry smile as we watch the gadget-kiddies playing.

  • Comment number 44.

    The N97 has a compass built in also.

  • Comment number 45.

    Me? more than happy with my three year old HTC Wizard - totally windows compatible,built in wi-fi, slide out keyboard and integrates totally with word, excel, powerpoint, Outlook, pdf etc etc etc and also runs Java programmes likke Opera browser. Also very pleased with the Sony-Ericsson Cybershot/Walkman camera/mp3 handsets. 8MP/proper flash, browser, e-mail, gps and a superb music player. Also active-sync compatible with Outlook/exchange etc. Why would I want to go to Apple or Blackberry, when these (proprietry) devices have been doing this for many many years! Incidentally, a 'phone has not been a 'phone, but a personal communicator, for many years... And my Palm Pilot III had cut'n'paste in 1999 - and an add-on camera and cellphone for the handspring visor device... been there, done that

  • Comment number 46.


    "While we are here, I notice that you tend to post some ridiculous statement every time there is an article on apple, saying something to the tune of "mac osx is the best, everything else rubbish" or like in this article "iphone kicks every other phone off the map". I am fascinated as to why there are people like you that seem to commit their lives to evangilising apples cause. You do know that they are just another greedy company who wants to suck every penny out of you that they can?"

    It's called an opinion, and I'm entitled to mine my friend. You can disagree, and that is your entitlement. In my opinion, the iPhone is the best smart phone on the market, and for my needs no other phone comes close. Your mileage may vary, but I still respect your opinion. My wife loves her Sony Ericsson, but I'm not going to call her narrow minded. And yes I know Apple are a business, and I know that most businesses are there to make money. However, Apple products are well made, no other design comes close (thank Jonny Ive for that) and they integrate superbly with one another.

    "Personally I use windows xp at the moment and the HTC Universal. Neither of them I would say are "the best" (although the universal punches way above it's weight for a 4 year old phone), they are just the best at my price for my situation. If I had the money would I buy macs and iphone? Of course not, because the locked in system doesn't suit my needs, I need freedom in choice. But would I advise my technically challenged friends not to get a mac, no, because it may suit their needs better.

    So I am interested to know why are the likes of you so narrow minded?"

    How on earth does me choosing an OS that is used by 6% of the computing population and an iPhone make me narrow minded?!? If anything, I'd say I was more open to new ways, rather than using Windoze "because it's the most popular, not the best, but hey, everyone uses it."

    Neither of them are the best you say, so you are prepared to accept mediocrity just so you can say "I'm not narrow minded"?

    Sounds like I'm not the narrow minded one.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think it would sound a lot more like an opinion if you weren't so dogmatic about how perfect you think apple is.

    Just out of interest, if indeed you are able to give an honest opinion, what do you think are the flaws in mac OS and the iPhone, and what areas do you think Windows PCs are better than macs?

    The reason I have to accept mediocrity in the phone market is because the best phones, in my opinion the HTC touch series, are way out of my price range. I think, for me, if I were to get an iPhone I would be embracing mediocrity, but thats just my opinion.

    The reason I accept mediocrity in the OS area is because, in my opinion, there are no outstanding operating systems. Windows XP does the job for me as well as any other is going to do, and I hope that linux becomes more usable in the mainstream sooner. BTW I think Microsoft treat their customers in a far worse way than even Apple.

    I think the reason you come across as narrow minded is because you seem to preach that there is only one way which is the best. All the companies have pro's and cons, but I never seem to hear any of Apple's cons from you.

    Narrow minded? Far from it, and certainly not the reason that I use the stuff that I use. Can you say the same?

  • Comment number 48.

    Hey, thanks for info on Smartphones. There are some really good articles on technology and cellphones at my article directory. Just can't decide on which phone to get next!

  • Comment number 49.


    Sorry I didn't realise that I had to justify my opinions to you. Please forgive me, I will attempt to satisfy your somewhat obsessive curiosity (I must admit I was slightly disturbed by your verbal attack on me; you even went so far as to dig through and thoroughly reading my previous posts... scary stuff and I hope I never do something to really upset you).

    Flaws in OS X - none for me. Works 100% of the time, uber-flexible and connects with every machine I need to (using RDC, VNC or VirtualBox if I need to - all freeware). I have yet to have something land on my desk that can't be done using my Mac. Spotlight works very well (especially using Boolean searches), Safari gets 100/100 in the Acid3 Test, iLife, system-wide dictionary...

    Flaws in iPhone - I can't find one. Is that the wrong answer, or do you want me to make something up? Perhaps the fact it is tied exclusively to the O2 network is the one flaw I can find in an otherwise stunning phone, especially now iPhone OS 3.0 is now out.

    Flaws in Windows - insecure (viruses, spyware, adware galore), unintuitive interface (Click Start to Shutdown etc. etc.), closed source (unlike OS X - open where it needs to be, fully UNIX 3.0 compliant), no consistency in installers... I could go on, but I hope you get my point.

    Let's get things into perspective here, no one is being "dogmatic" or "narrow minded". This is an informal blog on a website. I still laugh when people type things on here about the Mac that haven't been true for years (no right click, can't connect to Windows machines etc etc) but I don't get angry about it, I try to correct them. But then the old classic "fanboy" word gets used, so I just leave them to wallow in their ignorance.

    I think you are the first person ever to call me narrow minded, and if you knew the real twelveightyone, you would know how daft that statement really sounds!


  • Comment number 50.

    It would be good if the BBC would register in the Technology news that Apple has just announced that over 1 million iPhone 3GS phones have been sold over this past weekend. Pretty damn remarkable, wouldn't you all agree!

  • Comment number 51.


    Not really since the Samsung Jet has pre-orders of 2 million.

  • Comment number 52.


    You don't have to justify your opinion to anyone, however if you want people to take you seriously it may help a little.

    Actually I haven't gone looking through your past remarks, I read most of the blogs that I find interesting on here and I often see your name against posts, that seem to be preaching apple, with very little in the way of justification for why Apple's products are "the best". Maybe you don't mean to come across in a preachy way that suggests that Apple is the one and only way for everyone to go, but that is certainly how I read it.

    If you are not a Apple zealot then I am sorry I misread you, but there are plenty out there that are and I am indeed very curious to know what makes those people tick.

  • Comment number 53.

    Look guys, all the naysayers some two years ago, including execs from all the notable mobile handset makers, were categorically stating that Apple hadn't a chance of entering the mobile handset space... "how can some upstart computer company suddenly be successful in a space where WE have been developing capability for 20 years". Look at it now! Even last week I read that some critics were stating that the iPhone 3GS did not stand a chance because it was 'more of the same', with no real innovation. Again, for a handset that 'looks the same' as the previous iPhone 3G, 1 million sales in the first three days is pretty awesome, wouldn't you all agree?

    Let's also remember that the iPhone is a platform that hosts INNOVATIVE software. Put simply, this means that not only are people who buy the iPhone 3GS getting a good deal, but all those people who bought the previous two models (iPhone and iPhone 3G) are also benefiting hugely from the iPhone 3.0 OS upgrade.

  • Comment number 54.

    There's that word again...'Innovative'.
    Please tell me about this innovative software, is it available anywhere else? have you even looked at the apps available for other mobile platforms?
    Again, apple advertisiing shows third party apps, that are (and have been for sometime) available on other platforms, and states 'Only on the Iphone'
    If you want to see software innovation then look no further than google. Otherwise, enjoy your ifart.

  • Comment number 55.

    @ Mike3Gs

    Innovative software with the iPhone 3.0 OS upgrade? the phone i had 3 years ago had video recording, proper bluetooth and MMS. Not very innovative if all they're doing is playing catchup to other phone companies.

    The main reason people ever bought the iPhone and 3G was, unfortunately, for the image. They overlooked its lack of standard functions so that they could look cool. FINALLY apple has brought out the phone that should have come 3 years ago. Better late than never.

  • Comment number 56.


    Come on! OS X 100% perfect? Nothing is 100% perfect...don't get me wrong, I'm a Mac user of many years, a big fan, and I have several Macs in my house (my old Cube even runs OS 9) but perfect they are not. Are you telling me you've never had a kernel panic, or have programs crash? If so, you are either lying or don't do much on your machine. However, despite this, it is my preference of choice and in my opinion, for myself and my needs, the best.

    Getting back on topic, the iPhone is a great bit of kit, but as others have pointed out, it again isn't perfect and neither is it entirely original - Windows Mobile phones have had touchscreens and apps for years, and even basic GPRS phones have had email capability for just as long. The key thing is that Apple did it extremely well and marketed it to people who didn't realise they needed or wanted a smartphone. In the same way, the iPod wasn't exactly a groundbreaker - but in 2001, the other hard-disk players were dreadful and no-one wanted them. However, ask any audiophile whether he/she'd want an iPod or a Sony/Cowon etc., and they definitely wouldn't choose the Apple. It's simply the ease of use, slick looks and usually brilliant (but not infallible) software...and the hoards of foaming zealots like yourself that keep Apple doing so well in the phone and portable media markets.

    Personally I got an Android phone, despite being an Apple fan - it has a hardware keyboard, something I can't see the iPhone getting for a long time, if ever. Plus, I wouldn't enjoy looking like a foaming zealot...

  • Comment number 57.

    I most definitely have looked at Apps on other mobile platforms, as have millions of other aspiring (or is it asprin taking) users. Unfortunately, those apps are often clunky, are not intuitive and more often than not do not work. The INNOVATION that Apple bring to the party is the whole environment ... phone hardware, apps that can be easily downloaded, paid for, are cheap, and that actually work across all variants of the iPhone/iPod Touch.

    I agree that the iPhone is EVOLVING; the great thing is that the evolution is on one solid foundation; other mobile companies issue new hardware with each evolutionary step, because so much of their functionality is based around a specific hardware configuration. The magical thing for original iPhone and iPhone 3G owners is that they actually get a new phone just by downloading the OS 3.0. Great isn't it!!

    Come on guys, go buy yourself an iPhone 3GS and accept defeat.

  • Comment number 58.

    Lets just clear up a few things.
    The iphone is a great bit of kit, only a foolk would deny that. I have recommended to to many people, but normally only to those who are 'technically challenged'.
    Apple, as always have a great UI and the app store is a great leap forward. But is improving the user experience really innovation? I would call the advent of 3G innovating, leaving little room for UI to come under the same category.
    Apples phone hardware...innovation?
    Apples apps work over Iphones and Ipod many versions? Its a wonder how the developers cope, hold on a minute, how many winmo platforms are there?
    Firmware upgrades have intruduced new functions to many devices in the past, nothing new. What is new is a firmware upgrade that gives functionality to a device that should have had them from the start.
    If the new Palm was released without MMS you and other Iphone fans would ridicule it.

  • Comment number 59.

    Most phone companies build each range on a base model, they all just look different, unlike the iphone range. Granted its a solid design which is still very desirable.

    I dont think you really understand the true reason for the 3Gs. Its clearly just a stop gap until a brand new iphone is released, in order for Apple to make some more money. Think about the money they saved in developing a brand new model, the profit margins must be incredible!

    Id be so gutted if id just got an 18 or 24 month contract for an iphone if 4 months down the line they released the new must have version. What would my friends say? If you believe otherwise then you must have just been suckered into a juicy new iphone 3Gs contract. oh well.

  • Comment number 60.

    Why do you assume that Apple need to build another iPhone form factor?

    That is the beauty of the real differentiating capability being in software. The 3GS was to enhance the camera, performance with a processor/memory upgrade, better battery technology and adding a capability to support a compass for orientation (which I am sure Tom-Tom and others will use to the maximum).

    I think apple is making plenty of money if they sell more than 1 million iPhone 3GS models over a 3 day weekend, in only 8 of 80 countries (the remaining 72 countries seeing the iPhone 3GS launch in coming weeks).

    The last point about being 'gutted ..... if you just got into an 18 or 24 month contract ....'. Surely, this is exactly where Apple differentiate themselves again, because in unison with the iPhone 3GS, Apple also release OS 3.0, thereby providing all those 'to be gutted' people with decent upgrades of their iPhones (original and 3G) at the same time as the new iPhone 3GS handset is released. More to the point, I think a lot of people are 'actually gutted' with most of the other handset makers who release multiple phones, causing ridiculous confusion in the market. Just go into Carphone Warehouse and try and have a sensible conversation on which phone to purchase.

    If most phone companies 'build each range on a base model, they just look different', how come they all require different OS levels, firmware patches and different versions of Apps in the proliferating App Stores being launched?

  • Comment number 61.


    "Are you telling me you've never had a kernel panic, or have programs crash?"

    Of course I have! But I always have a reliable backup, Time Machine backing up hourly, and Carbon Copy Cloner creating a bootable clone of my HD every other day at 6pm, so the most I could ever lose is an hours work. However, I use InDesign CS3 for most of my jobs, and that ALWAYS recovers my work if the program crashes (I'm still amazed about this, it's the most underrated feature of InDesign ask any InDesign user and they will tell you the same!)

    It's an amazing piece of equipment, a Mac. I had a meeting today with a company who are setting up new costing software for our Accounts Dept., and the Sales Director had a MacBook Pro. He'd had it since Christmas and was "fumbling around" using it. So many of his existing clients were asking about Mac compatibility for his software he thought he ought to try one out, but mainly he was using his Terminal Server via RDP to use the Windows box back at his office. During lunch, I showed him a few Apps to help him out - Carbon Copy Cloner, HandBrake, Perian, CyberDuck, TextWrangler... all freeware. He remarked about how fast I could use a Mac. I've been using Macs for 12 years, and I always use the keyboard, very rarely the mouse - I can use all the shortcuts in all my Apps (plus 'Ctrl F7' activates full keyboard control), because there is consistency across the board. Granted, there's probably people on PCs who can do the same as me, but I just prefer the look and feel of OS X. It just feels better to use, and I don't have anti-virus and a hundred other necessary (on a PC) processes running (please see Disclaimer below before refuting this statement).

    So for me, OS X is 100% perfect. Until they come up with something amazing completely out of the blue (like when Expose was introduced... I use it all the time, along with Spaces; a Space for each App is a great way to set up your Mac).

    As of Tuesday June 23rd 2009, I can't think of a better machine to use.

    My $0.02

    Disclaimer: I am not imposing my opinion on any posters in this forum. It's all mine. You are entitled to agree or disagree. But hands off. It's mine. It belongs to me.

  • Comment number 62.

    Firstly, i was trying to point out that apple are clearly trying to make as much money as possible. This is why the original iphone was missing a few key features, so that they could bring out the must have improvement, the 3g, a year later. The 3gs is just another link in this chain.

    As for the software update? It would be pretty harsh on their loyal customers to not offer them the update, and its not really going to damage sales of the 3gs too much, seeing as the old iphones wont be available/desirable pretty soon. However, it is an update that made the phones have the same capabilities as ordinary phones already on the market for a few years now. So in a way it just means the iphone actually catches up to current manufacturers and is in no way innovative.
    Id be happy to have a phone that was eventually working how it should have from day one.

    Regarding the contract, £275 for the phone and £35 a month for 18 months is quite a lot of money, for a phone they may just replace in the coming year with a full upgrade. I know other phone companies do the same, but not at this cost! And most other phone companies at least seem to try and bring out their best possible phone from the start, even if they are a bit rubbish.

    Most other phone companies use the same OS for each model but update them separately, some use the same base platform for numerous phones, eg samsung AMOLED phones all use the same OS and quite similar technology and LG Arena, Crystal and Viewty Smart use similar base tech. The main difference between those phones and apple ones is that the iphones just look the same as each other.

    ps. i wouldnt go to carphone warehouse anyway, you'd get better advice from a brick wall

  • Comment number 63.

    The Apple iphone does everything. It is a superb bit of kit.

  • Comment number 64.

    Rule #1: Keep Things Simple. People do not want to spend an entire year learning how to use every tiny function built into their mobile phones, only to replace it after 12-18 months with a newer, different model.

    Nowadays, it's customary for a phone to be able to:
    1) Call/text/videocall/etc, and have a phonebook/contacts function for this. This is it's main purpose, it MUST do this well or it fails as a phone.
    2) Music/Video playback.
    3) Camera/videorecording/etc, (it should do this reasonably well, but that megapixel number means nothing in comparison to the quality of the lens)
    4) Some sort of organiser and alarm clock function.
    5) Internet access. (as others have said, you won't ever get this to work brilliantly as webpages aren't designed for tiny screens)
    6) various apps / games.

    The trick is to make the user interface as simple to use for these things as possible. But above all, It needs to be REALLY easy to make calls, texts, and add new numbers. Any idiot should be able to pick one up and do this, even if they've never used one before. If this is designed right, you've got a good phone.

    As for Augmented Reality, it's a neat toy, but it's not for mobiles, the screens are far too small. You need some sort of heads-up display, like a projection on a car windscreen, or some proper VR googles with a camera on the front. The best you could do would be to hook the phone up to such a projector.


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