The Nokia N9 walks in the steps of the hugely popular N8, which has ruled the cameraphone jungle for about a year now. The N9 is also probably the last flagship device from Nokia outside of the WindowsPhone ecosystem. I suspect that from this point on, we will not see anymore Symbian flagships.
Some weeks ago, someone asked me if I would be dropping the N8 for the N9. That was a difficult question then. I am wary of answering such questions until I have experienced both devices.
Well, my N9 has been here now for about a week, and I have been pushing it hard as usual.
I thought to look over a few key points of both devices by way of comparison.
The N9 is thinner, but longer and wider at 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1 mm. The N8 is 113.5 x 59.1 x 12.9 mm.
The polycarbonate unibody of the N9 is nothing short of outstanding craftsmanship. The N9 is the sexiest phones on the block, and is a phone that you want to be seen with.
The N9 has the better display: 480 x 854 pixels, 3.9 inches (~251 ppi pixel density), as against the N8’s 360 x 640 pixel, 3.5-inch (210 ppi pixel density display. Both are AMOLED and Scratch resistant Gorilla glass displays. But the N9’s display is absolutely stunning.
Blacks are really black and colours are vibrant. With its curve and anti-glare polariser, using the N9 in the full glare of the tropical sun is nothing to blink about. It is simply superb and I rank it the best display on any phone I have ever owned or reviewed.
On the audio front, the N9 Dolby Mobile sound enhancement; Dolby Headphone support, which the N8 lacks.
In addition, and very importantly, the speaker grill on the N9 is well-placed at the bottom of the device. This means that your sounds don’t get muffled when you put the phone down on a flat surface. Good thinking.
On the internal storage front, the N9 offers both a 16GB and 64GB option. The N8 offers 16GB. RAM on the N9 is 1GB, compared to the N8’s 256MB.
The N9 has Wi-Fi hotspot built-in and works without a fuss. Great! That alone is a BIG attraction for me. I am currently having issues with JoikuSpot Premium and the Nokia Store on the N8.
The N8’s browser (even with Symbian Belle) is not any match for the N9’s WebKit2-based browser. Performance is better on the N9, and standards implementation much better as well.
In terms of HTML5 compatibility, for example, the N9 browser is miles ahead. Here, my N8 running Belle scores 96 and no bonus points. The N9 scores 255 with 14 bonus points.
Processor & Power
With a 1GHz Cortex A8 CPU, PowerVR SGX530 GPU, TI OMAP 3630 chipset, the N9 generates more power under the hood too. The N9 has a beefier battery too – 1450MAh as against the N8’s 1200MAh unit.
The better processor on the N9 means that gaming, graphics and general performance is better. I have compared Need For Speed Shift on the two devices, and it launches far faster on the N9 and plays better too.
I had concerns about the N9’s power management, especially as its ancestor, the N900, was let down badly in this department (see Battery Life on the Nokia N900).
I am happy to tell you that the N9 has good power management. I am not sure who to award this to yet though, but GSM Arena reports from their own test that the N9 does 8 hours 40 minutes of continuous video playback on a full charge. It is at par with the power management of the Samsung S8500 Wave, beats the Samsung Galaxy S II, but is bested by the iPhone 4.
On the camera front, the N8’s specs (12 MP with Xenon flash) still outshine the N9’s (8 MP with dual-LED flash), and I am not expecting performance to go contrary to what the specs suggest.
The few random tests that I have done (pictures coming up later) put the N8’s camera ahead of the N9’s shooter in a number of areas.
The N9 also loses out on the radio front. No Stereo FM radio; no FM transmitter.
The Symbian Belle user interface which my N8 already runs is an excellent job. Just so you know, Symbian Anna is nothing like it. Belle is far ahead in the game.
However, compared to the Swipe UI on the Nokia N9, I’m afraid I have to dump Belle. You see, using the N9 is such a joy that after a few days I had my regular SIM cut into a microSIM and permanently inserted into the N9.
Give me the N9 as a better overall device, but if I need to take those absolutely stunning pictures, my choice is the N8.
In the meantime,the absolutely gorgeous Nokia N9 is my new everyday smartphone. At this time, I wouldn’t want to be seen with anything less.
Fortunately, as the N9 is performing so well, it looks like I don’t have to sacrifice functionality on the alter of image. Perhaps I can eat my cake and have it – functionality and looks.