Monday, 21 December, 2009

N97 mini v/s HTC G1 Comparison

Continuing where I left off in my last post about the unboxing of the N97 mini , this post is going to be about comparing the N97 mini with the Google HTC G1.Why ?
Well ..for starters , both the phones have a nice large 3.2 inch touch screen , both have slide out qwerty keyboards and both sell at almost the same price point (without contract) . I shall be covering various aspects of both the phones with a conclusion in the end.

  1. External appearance :
    There is no doubt as to who is the winner in this department. I don't even think the guys at HTC made the G1 to appeal to any design conscious person. The battery cover too feels very plasticky and cheap. The N97 mini on the other hand looks beautiful. The bezel finish and metallic rims give it a very sturdy feel. The G1 is also a little bit wider and thicker which also leads to its overall bulky appearance.

    The nokia engineers really did a good job of making the N97 mini much smaller than its big brother the N97 , and at the same time , not compromising in the looks department

      Winner : N97 mini

  2. Camera :
    The Nokia N97 mini comes with a Carl Zeiss 5 megapixel camera with a dual led flash. The HTC G1 on the other hand has just a 3.2 megapixel camera with no flash, so this isn't really a fair comparison. As expected the Nokia N97 mini smokes the competition with its superior detail , lesser noise and better low light photography.

    The picture on the left was clicked by the N97 mini and the one on the right by the HTC G1. As you can see there is an obvious difference in the quality of the picture and the colours.

    Winner: N97 mini

  3. Keyboards
    Both the N97 mini and the HTC G1 have good QWERTY keyboards, although here, it might all boil down to a matter of personal preference. For eg. The G1 has a four row layout compared to the 3 row layout of the N97 mini.

    For me, personally, although the N97 mini had bigger rubbery keys, it took some time to get used to the three row format. Plus having the space bar on the right was a bit weird and took time getting used to.
    Another obvious advantage of the N97 mini over the G1 is the ability to use it with its keyboard out resting flat on the table. The inclination of the screen makes for comfortable viewing and it's really good if you want to type out lengthy emails or just scroll through some WebPages. The G1 keys feel like plastic and the feedback is not as good as that of the N97 mini's rubberized keypad.

    Although the G1's keyboard is more functional and spaced out, I would award this round to the N97 mini's keyboard for its feedback and comfortable rubberized keys.

    Winner: N97 mini

  4. Software and User Interface
    The N97 mini runs on the Symbian touch screen OS or S60 v5 as it is commonly known as. The HTC G1 on the other hand rus on Android OS and was the first android based handset to be released. I'm a big fan of the S60 v3 (the non touch screen ) version of the symbian OS and I was excited when symbian announced that they would be porting the OS to the touch screen devices. But , after playing around with the 5800 , the N97 and the N97 mini , I was really disappointed. The OS is pretty laggy and buggy for my liking and the single and double clicks are not consistent at all. Ie in some places you would have to single tap to perform an action and in some you would have to double tap to do the same. Sometimes I would single tap and wait for something to happen only to realize that I need to double tap in quick succession for the action to be performed.

    That's the homescreen of the N97 mini on the left and the homescreen of the HTC G1 on the right. The N97 mini allows you to add widgets to the homescreen , but so does the G1. In fact the customizability options with the G1 are much more and allow you to totally modify the way your OS operates via custom ROM's , which is not at all possible with the N97 mini.

    Winner: HTC- G1

  5. Messaging
This is another area about the N97 mini that really disappointed me . I don't get it what nokia could not implement a qwerty keyboard on the touchscreen itself. If Android can do it on the G1's 3.2 inch screen , then why can nokia do it on the N97 mini's 32 inch screen ? Its so stupid to have a touchscreen based OS and then only offer a touchscreen keypad based text input instead aof a touchscreen qwerty keyboard. Another disappointment is that in the landscape mode of the N97 mini , the only text entry option you have is the slide out qwerty keyboard. No qwerty keyboard onscreen as is the case with the HTC- G1.

That's the text entry method of the N97 on the left and the qwerty keyboard text entry method of the HTC g1 on the right. Both are in portrait mode , and yet Android has a full qwerty soft keyboard , whereas nokia just managed to fit in a numpad based one. Is this a technical limitation of the resistive screen that the N97 mini has ? I don't know. But it is definitely something that's a big minus in my opinion.

On a positive note , the N97 mini has the option of handwriting recognition as an input method and I must say I was pretty impressed by the way it recognized even the most badly scribbled alphabets. On the downside , this method of text input tends to get tedious and time consuming , and I cannot imagine using it on a daily basis , especially if you text a lot.

A plus point for android was the availability of the soft keyboard even in the landscape mode. That way , you are not compelled to slide out the keyboard for every small text entry while surfing the web and quick replying to sms messages. You might not realize this as first , but this feature grows on you and you will find it indispensable after a few days of usage.

The lack of an onscreen qwerty keyboard in both portrait and landscape mode of the N97 mini was a big drawback and the HTC G1 deserves to be the winner of this round.

Winner: HTC- G1

6. Dialer

The dialer of the N97 mini is a pretty standard one . As you can see from the picture on the left below , it just has the option of dialing numbers or saving the number you have just typed as a phone number.

The Android dialer on the other hand has much more options. You can access your contacts , last dialled numbers and favourite contacts from the dialer itself. This is really a great timesaver and you once you get used to it you will seriously wonder how you managed without such a setup for so long.

Winner: HTC- G1

7. Appstore

The Nokia N97 mini has a preinstalled Nokia Ovi store app which allows you to download applications from the ovi store. Similarly the G1 comes with the Google Android marketplace preinstalled. On first glance both the app stores look really similar with similar menus and rating systems, but the Android app store definitely has a bigger developer base and there are a lot more functional apps present for the android phones than there are for the nokia phones on the ovi store

That's the Ovi store on the left and the Android marketplace on the right.

Here again the G1 wins this round because the Android market has more number of unique functional apps as compared to the Ovi Store.

Winner: HTC- G1

 8. Internet browsing

Internet browsing is a mixed bag. The nokia N97 mini fared well on some sites whereas the g1's browser was better at some. But the obvious signs that the webkit browser needs a major overhaul are obvious. Sometimes the links on the Nokia N97 mini appeared so small that I had to click on them with a fingernail , and the very same links rendered beautifully on the G1's browser . Another weird thing I found about the N97 mini's browser was that it would not let me click on the tabs on the top of the screen where I accessed in fullscreen portrait mode , but it would let me do it in landscape more. Again here… the lack of an onscreen qwerty keyboard while surfing on the N97 is a noticeable exclusion and sliding out the physical keyboard for every little text entry in landscape mode gets irritating at times.

That's the web browsing experience on the N97 mini on the left , and the android G1 on the right for the site

Winner: HTC- G1

9. Flash player

I must say that the ability of the N97 mini to play flash files within the browser itself was a surprise feature I wasn't even aware of untile I visited youtube. The HTC G1 doesn't play flash files and opens the youtube videos via the video player app. The ability of the N97 mini to play flash files via the browser itself makes it very convenient to watch youtube videos without navigating away from the page you are on 

The youtube experience on the N97 mini above, and the experience on the G1 below

Winner: N97 mini

10.  Maps and GPS

The Nokia N97 ships with the latest version 3.0 of Ovi maps and the Htc G1 ships with the android version of google maps. Both these mapping softwares can be synced to your online accounts so you can sync routes you created on the web based account to your mobile devices. One important distinction is that google recently started offering turn by turn voice guided navigation for free on all android handsets in the USA , while for Nokia maps turn by turn and voice guided navigation comes at a premium and you have to pay for it.

That's Nokia maps 3.0 on the left and the Google maps application for android on the right. Personally I found the google maps application to be faster . The G1 took hardly about 5-10 seconds to get a good gps lock outdoors while the N97 mini took about 30 seconds for the same. Even indoors , the G1 was quicker to locate me via cell tower triangulation and GPS positioning than the N97 mini.
I decided to put the GPS sensitivity to the test by using the sports tracker app on the N97 mini to track one of my jogs , and I decided to use a third party app called Cardio trainer to do the same on the G1.

The track above was recorded by the N97 mini's sportstracker app

The same track recorded by the Cardio trainer app on the G1.

As you can see , the results speak for themselves. The GPS chip on the G1 is far more sensitive and the G1 is capable of getting a more stable lock on the satellites than the N97 mini.

Winner: HTC- G1

Overall Score : Htc G1 - 6 || Nokia N97 mini - 4

So there you have it . Of the 10 categories the devices were compared on , the G1 won 6 of them and the Nokia N97 mini won 4. The interesting part is that most of the areas where the N97 mini lost out were due to the software . In fact , the form factor, the keyboard , the camera of the N97 mini are much better than those of the G1 , but where Nokia fails in creating a successful blend of its awesome hardware with the software , android succeeds in doing just that. I really wish nokia had developed a maemo like operating system for the N97 mini and not gone with the S60 v5 version of symbian. The s60 v5 version of symbian feels more like a stop gap measure by nokia in response to the Apple iphone while they were working on getting maemo out to the masses. I seriously feel that Nokia has to pull its socks up and either go for a revamp of the S60 v5 operating systems , or ditch it and go with maemo for all its touchscreen devices, otherwise …we are just going to have more phones like the N97 mini , where the awesome hardware is only limited by the poor software it is running.

    Thursday, 3 December, 2009

    N97 mini Unboxing

    The awesome people over at Nokia Womworld sent me a N97 mini to trial.  Now I've been hearing all sorts of mixed reviews about its elder sibling the Nokia N97 , and i wanted to see for myself how the little brother stacks up against it. Here are some of my initial observations during the unboxing :

    1. The packaging 

    Nokia has really gone forward and taken the "mini" concept to a whole new level. The packaging is neat and slim. I have compared the sizes of the boxes of my N95 and the N97 mini just to give you a brief idea of how slim the box is. Nokia has really pulled of a wonderful "Mini" marketing strategy with this one.

    I think thats what the "Experiment #097" is all about , "experimenting with smaller packaging". I think that this is a positive step and I would love to see other N-series phones ship with minimalistic space saving packaging too.

    2. The Contents

    As soon as you open the box , you will see the N97 and powerful BL4D battery resting comfortably in the plastic casing.

    Beneath the plastic casing you have the product manuals , the OVI suite installation dvd,  the USB to micro USB cable ,  the charger and the Nokia WH-701 headset.

    One thing that I have observed is that Nokia loves to change the type of headset it provides with every N-series handset , but this is the first time I have come across a N-Series handset with "in ear" earphones with silicone buds , rather than the standard "ear bud" earphones. I've always had a problem with the traditional earphones that all the other N-series handsets came with as the kept popping out of my ears while jogging. The WH-701 comes with a set of adjustable silicone ear plugs that can adjust to any ear size. Even though the N97 is not a music centric phone , I am very pleased that Nokia decided to provide the WH-701 headset with the N97 mini.

    3. The Handset

    The N97 mini is gorgeous. The bronze finish makes is look real classy. Much like a mixture between the sharp E series and the playful N series.
    The N97 mini feels sturdy in the hand and has a very sturdy "snap" sound when you slide the keypad open and close it. Overall , from the exterior , the phone feels like it was sturdily built and there are no creaks and groans or wobbly sliders as was the case with the N95 when it was launched. Over the years Nokia seems to have perfect the qwerty slider mechanism and its latest sliders - The E75 , the N97 and the N97 mini seem to be proof of just that. The Carl Zeiss 5 Mega pixel cam takes decent pictures , although I did click a few and found them to be pretty grainy. I dont know if this is because of the plastic scratch guard on the lens. I'll probably put it head to head against my Nokia N95 (which in my opinion is still the best camera-phone ever made by Nokia !!)

    Well, This was a brief unboxing of the Nokia N97. I am thinking if  writing a comparison review of the N97 mini  v/s the Android G1. What do you think readers ? Would you like to see how the N97 mini matches up against the Android G1 ? Please leave your opinions and suggestions in the comments.