Nokia N8 vs. iPhone 4: Smartphone showdown

Nokia's N8 smartphone throws its hat into the ring, challenging Apple's iPhone 4.

Nokia's N8 smartphone is set to hit Australian shores in Q4 2010.

Nokia's N8 smartphone is set to hit Australian shores in Q4 2010.

Apple has thrown down the gauntlet to its competitors, releasing the fourth-generation iPhone, appropriately dubbed the iPhone 4. Samsung has already signalled its intent to challenge Apple with its Galaxy S Android smartphone, while HTC's flagship Desire smartphone is already on the market. Now Nokia, one of the world's largest mobile phone manufacturers, has also entered the ring with its new N8 smartphone.

Read our comprehensive Nokia N8 review.

UPDATE: The Nokia N8 smartphone will be available through all of Australia's three major mobile telcos — Telstra, Optus and VHA — for $749 up-front from 1 November.

On paper, the Nokia N8 certainly looks like an impressive piece of hardware. We were taken through an early sneak peek of the touchscreen smartphone with Australian Nokia representatives and were reasonably impressed. The N8 has a 12-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens and a Xenon flash, it records 720p HD video and has a HDMI-out port so you can watch high quality footage through a television, and it also supports Dolby Digital sound. It also has an aluminium body and is available in five colours including white, orange, green and black.

During our demo, the HDMI-out capabilities were particularly impressive — we watched a short movie clip through a full HD television and the video was clear and smooth. The Nokia N8 will ship with plenty of accessories, including a dongle to connect a USB flash drive to the phone to share, transfer and store a range content.

With this in mind, how will the Nokia N8 stack up against the Apple iPhone 4?

Feature Apple iPhone 4 Nokia N8 Verdict?
Operating system (OS) Apple iOS4 Symbian S^3 iPhone 4
Display technology Capacitive retina IPS Capacitive OLED iPhone 4
Display resolution 640x960 pixels 640x360 pixels iPhone 4
Multitouch Yes Yes Draw
Camera 5 megapixels, LED flash, autofocus, geotagging 12 megapixels, Xenon flash, autofocus, geotagging, face detection Nokia N8
FM radio No Yes Nokia N8
GPS Yes Yes Draw
Internal memory 16GB or 32GB 16GB iPhone 4
Expandable memory No microSD card slot Nokia N8
Dimensions 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm 113.5 x 59 x 12.9mm iPhone 4
Weight 137g 135g Nokia N8
Application store Apple App Store Nokia Ovi Store iPhone 4
Processor Apple A4 ARM 11 (680MHz) Unknown
3G networks HSDPA 850/ 900/1900/2100 HSDPA 850/900/1700/1900/2100 Nokia N8
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n 802.11b/g/n Draw
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP 3.0 with A2DP Nokia N8
Quoted talk time Up to 7 hours Up to 5.9 hours iPhone 4
Quoted standby time Up to 300 hours Up to 400 hours Nokia N8
Adobe Flash support No Yes Nokia N8
HDMI-out No Yes Nokia N8

As you can see, both smartphones stack up reasonably well, with each possessing its own strengths and weaknesses. The Nokia N8 is the first Nokia phone to run the latest Symbian OS, Symbian S^3. The changes are mostly related to performance and stability, with only minor changes to the actual user interface. During our brief hands on, the Nokia N8 was zippy and fast, and offered a smooth multitouch experience, bringing it closer to the iPhone and Android smartphones. However, the menus don't look as polished as the interface on HTC's Android smartphones or Apple's iOS4, and we were left feeling that Symbian S^3 merely brings Nokia in line with its competitors, without pushing ahead of them.

Although we're looking forward to seeing Nokia really take the next step with Symbian S^4 (scheduled for release sometime in 2011), it's the N8's hardware which is getting some serious attention, in particular the 12-megapixel camera, HDMI out and HD video recording features.

The N8's 3.5in display is the same size as the iPhone 4's screen but uses OLED technology. Apple's iPhone 4 utilises IPS technology (as does the iPad, but thanks to its 640x960 pixel resolution it has been described as a "retina" display, due to the human eye being unable to distinguish individual pixels. We are keen to see exactly how it stacks up against the N8's screen, but it is expected to beat a regular OLED display. Unlike Samsung's Galaxy S, the Nokia N8 has an aluminium body that feels well constructed.

What do you think about the Nokia N8 and the Apple iPhone 4? Tell us in the comments below!

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Tags ApplesymbianApple iPhone 4mobile phonesNokiasmartphonesNokia N8

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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