Quick Comparison: Nokia N9 vs. Nokia N8

Posted by

N9 N8 menu
Top Nokia flagships - N9 (left), and N8 (right)

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.

Physical Features
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.

Display
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.

Audio
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.

Miscellaneous Internals
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.

Web browsing
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.

Camera
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.

FM Radio
The N9 also loses out on the radio front. No Stereo FM radio; no FM transmitter.

User Interface
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.

Loose Thoughts
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.

>

32 comments

  1. @yomi.. good work sir. lik I said earlier. am convinced there was no PDPism on this. with wht I have read, if I have the money I will go for N9 and happily sacrifice the camera part of it. I bought my N8 (made in finland) for N66,000 from Ilorin about 2months ago. how much does the N9 cost in nigeria or when will it be available. This morning I saw the list (both the old and the updated list) of countries that the N9 will be lunched, but alas! I no see my 9ja. any hope for us here since u said yours was a gift. thanks once more.

  2. using the N9 in the full glare of the tropical sun is nothing to blink about

    blink again?

    Same usual erudition. Kudos!

    Wish i could say that about my ancient Nokia 5800. Pristine sunlight legibility on devices is what I would give an arm and leg for (not my arm & leg – somebody else’s).

    Now, to the real crux of the matter. What apps are available on the Meego platform that powers this?.
    Real shame that a phone with such impassioned reviews is destined for the graveyard.

    This device is probably a precursor to what to expect of Nokia’s future WP7_powered phones…see memory yanfu-yanfu! Chei!

  3. 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.

    What an excellent and professionally subtle way of hiding the plastic build of the phone behind technical jargons. If it’s from say Samsung, then it would feel plastic but not when we know we are holding a Nokia device.

    Before now, excellent UI and UX are not so important but I guess they are beginning to matter now that Nokia has joined the pace. Good job from Nokia by the way.

    1. Before now, excellent UI and UX are not so important but I guess they are beginning to matter now that Nokia has joined the pace.

      The quoted statement is a classic case of seeing what you wish to see while ignoring the full picture.

      Here is the truth: Before now, excellent UI and UX without the functionality that some of us need and are used to are not important.

      However,m the N9 packs both that functionality (no silly crippling and lockdowns) and an excellent UI/UX.

      Nokia has married the two. That is simply brilliant!

      Some of us don’t want beautiful wives who aren’t of much use besides being admired. Thank you.

    2. What an excellent and professionally subtle way of hiding the plastic build of the phone behind technical jargons. If it’s from say Samsung, then it would feel plastic but not when we know we are holding a Nokia device.

      Another weak attempt. Here’s what to do: get a Samsung Galaxy S or S2 and a Nokia N9 together, and compare the look and feel.

      To make it even more interesting, present both to people and ask for their opinions.

      You see, this is the difference between me and you: I handle the devices; you sit on your high horse and postulate 🙂

  4. @Harry Echemco what is wrong with plastic? Not all ‘plastics’ are / feel cheap, you know.

    Polycarbonate is a versatile,tough plastic used for a varietyof applications, from bulletproof windows to compact disks (CDs). The main advantage of polycarbonate over other types of plastic is unbeatable strength combined with light weight

    Even in cars, nowadays, they use this material to reduce weight & thus improve on fuel efficiency.Usoh high grade plastics does not imply lack of quality or reduced strength.

    You love toying with gunpowder? 😉

  5. I love the N9 sleek design, swipe gestures and build but I still don’t know which to choose from the galaxy S II or the nokia N9. Maybe more reviews from yomi will help me decide that. I hope the N9 doesn’t cost more than a 100k sha *jst thinking aloud*

  6. @Eye.Bee.Kay

    Are you an alchemist? Even when it is water that’s known to be incombustible you will want to turn it into gunpowder when you know that I’m involved. You’ve disagreed with people’s opinion here in strong terms too and nobody said you are playing with gunpowder. If you ever have issues with me, just come straight at me but always trying to cause conflict between me and people. I believe you are too big for that.

  7. Thanks for this beautifully written piece. I was initially scared of the All-Screen, no button interface but it appears the UI is serving you well. And if it could serve you well, it shows that it must be doing well. I know you, you only give credit to a phone’s features, only when the phone deserves it.

    I am not a fan of the Windows phone User Interface. I feel the Nokia N9 UI BEATS that of WP7!

    Only if Nokia is allowed to tweak the WP7 Metro UI to become reminiscent of N9, before I think that they’ll have success. The N9 has been acclaimed all over the world, yet Nokia wants to ditch it! Such Beaty do not belong in the grave. They belong to a podium for all to come and behold.

    Finally, I would state here too just as I state on Twitter, it’s possible that Yomi is trying to make an N9 believer out of me! This is a raving review!!

    Good Work, Nokia! But please DON’T KILL THIS YOUR LINE UP OF HARMATTAN PHONES!

  8. Noted! Apologies. Not intentional. #JustKidding

    Harry Echemco : noun

    Synonyms: temperamental, VOLATILE, excitable, emotional, mercurial, capricious,hot-headed, fiery, quick-tempered, irritable, irascible, impatient; touchy, moody, sensitive, oversensitive, highly strung, melodramatic.

  9. @Eye.Bee.Kay

    Apology accepted. Thanks for those compliments. The truth is, you are not far from the real person but it is not exactly as you made it appear here. Yes it could be said to be a poke on Nokia but you tried turning it into attack on Yomi which is not healthy at all.

    Finally, those are the attributes of most people out there. I truly can take and return jokes so long as they are very direct rather than trying to incite others against me, especially the almighty Yomi.

  10. You see, this is the difference between me and you: I handle the devices; you sit on your high horse and postulate

    NOW! this is the gunpowder.

    seriously we should research well before taking a position. its hard to beat Yomi, but its possible. i am learning superb review

  11. EyebeeKay,

    The N9’s Archilles Heel is the limited amount of 3rd party apps available for it right now. However, Nokia and some developers I have contacted say that more apps and plugins are on the way.

    How many people remember plugins on the N900? See this review.

    Let’s hope that they make good on those promises. Of course, we cant expect too much. This is supposedly the last Maemo/MeeGo device from Nokia. Sad, really.

  12. Here is the truth : Before now, excellent UI and UX without the functionality that some of us need and are used to are not important .

    However ,m the N 9 packs both that functionality (no silly crippling and lockdowns ) and an excellent UI/UX .

    Nokia has married the two . That is simply brilliant !

    I’ve never heard of any other person who thinks that Android is crippled or locked down or even wanting in functionality in any way. I can already sense ganging up in the house, not that Yomi needs being aided so I’m suspending the argument for now.

    1. I’ve never heard of any other person who thinks that Android is crippled or locked down or even wanting in functionality in any way.

      Neither have I. But then there are many of us who swear that android is NOT an example of an excellent UI/UX.

      I describe Android as a mostly good OS that guzzles everything possible, and with a UI/UX that is just as clunky in many places as many have claimed Symbian to be.

      Some other people are not as objective as I am; they simply call the Android UI “shockingly bad”.

      I repeat that what Nokia has done here with MeeGo/Harmattan on the N9 is simply stunning.

  13. And to fan this ember even more…

    I’ve never heard of any other person who thinks

    Can ANYBIDY hear somebody THINK?

    Harry seems tio have that magical uncommon ability! I am joking ooo (++ ducjs ++)

    Peace!

  14. this henry brother seems to have deployed his RPGs GPMG,firing at 1000 ronds per minute.you have to remain ducked! As Ebee key would say bros na joke i de,i want to survive another post from the Oga himself

  15. Like Yomi, I don’t find the Android UI that robust and intuitive as Harry makes it. No offence meant. But I may be wrong. My last Android phone was running Froyo, 2.2. Maybe the OS version is now much improved with Gingeerbrread. And probably will even be exponentially better with Icecream sandwich. But to be fair, there is a rumoured new feature addition to the Android OS that’s coming out with Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS); the ability to monitor apps data gluttony and restrict these in the settings. If this feature comes, the Android data problem will be a thing of the past!

    By the way, with Yomi’s Raving reviews; mY next Samrtphone or my ultimate device will now be a fight between 3 phones. Samsung/Google’s unannounced Nexus Prime. The crazy iPhone 4S, and the Hammarttan maverick, Nokia N9. One of ’em!

  16. If Android is truly bad, why this excitement among Nokia fans on hearing that Android apps is coming to Meego. Obviously they want a feel of Android or rather want Android in Nokia skin [http://mynokiablog.com/2011/06/22/android-apps-for-meego-nokia-n9-with-myriads-alien-dalvik/]

    Before web OS the release of Playbook, RIM promised that it will be running Android apps, There’s this buzz now of bringing it to Windows, [http://mobile.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=25229] and even Windows phone 7.

    If Android is truly bad as you will have us believe here, why this much clamour from almost every other platform?

    @Eye.Bee.Kay

    can ANYBODY hear SOMEBODY THINK?

    hear:
    learn ; hear ; get word ; get wind ; pick up ; find out ; get a line ; discover ; see
    get to know or become aware of, usually accidentally
    “I learned that she has two grown-up children”
    “I see that you have been promoted”

    hear:
    receive a communication from someone
    “We heard nothing from our son for five years”

    I heard thinking in this site severally maybe that’s not you. Read princely’s comment above where he was thinking. aloud.

    1. Harry,

      The N9’s weak spot is the lack of many 3rd party apps. That, sir, is why Nokia fans are excited about the porting of Android apps to Maemo/MeeGo. Both Android and MeeGo are Linux-based, so it is quite logical.

      That has nothing to do with the poor UI/UX of Android. That has nothing to do with the data and power guzzling nature of Android. I expected a better argument from you, but you are so way off base on this.

      Apps, my dear sir; it’s the sheer volume of apps.

  17. Well if it is the sheer volume of apps, then Android has got something after all, but it is on record that iOS has the largest volume of apps for now. Why then are they not going the iOS way?

    Simple. There is just too numerous things that Android is doing better than others, even though argument won’t allow us admit it.

    1. Harry, the last time I checked, no-one here said Android has nothing. No-one dissed Android for availability of 3rd party apps.

      Going the iOS way? What does that mean? Did you read my responses at all or did you scan them? I mentioned the Linux base of both Android and MeeGo making it a logical bridge; didn’t I?

      Your penchant for straying off-topic and addressing issues outside of the focus of a discussion is just disappointing. We were discussing “excellent UI/UX” here; weren’t we? Come on, be a man.

  18. You probably have a point there but I don’t believe that both having same Linux base was the reason for the choice. It is also coming to other platforms that do not have any relationship with Linux.

    1. Android being open source means there is an active community of enthusiasts who are available to do the porting. Info is also usually publicly available. It’s just the easy route for any platform that’s looking for apps to port.

  19. Yes, Yomi. The lack of third party apps is the albatross of the N9. Porting apps from Android is a good thing. Especially as Android operates the closed open source system. Closed in the sense that the OS IS developed in House and final & finished code is then released to the public.

    However iOS apps isn’t a choice because the apps are proprietary and copyrighted, you couldn’t port it without infringing on one or two rights, maybe except with the express permission of the Developer.

    Finally, many apps in the Android store are paid apps! I doubt the developer of such app will allow their app to be ported to any OS for free! That will of course be tantamount to copyright infringement!

    With the lack of third party apps and coupled with Nokia’s intention of killing the N9 line of “Super” smartphones, the N9 obviously has a very steep Nd difficult hill to climb!

  20. Right on point, AfewGoodMen.

    I rather enjoyed the brilliance exhibited by the earlier commentes. I achieved my objective of stirring uo a lively debate! That was the intention.

    Now that the GUNPOWDER has now been expended, we can now all have a somnolent weekend!

  21. @Eye.Bee.Kay

    Though you might not believe it, when I came in with my first comment, I actually had the intention of stirring up a wholesome and inpersonal argument like this, but when you planted the artificial gunpowder, I became afraid that Yomi was going to take it personal and set off the gunpowder on my head, and I was not prepared for that.

  22. Oooh…pls dont tell me this is the end of d argument..i’ve been enjoying myself here…yomi and harry, pls DONT STOP!

    Oya round two: FIGHT!

Have Your Say

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discussions are moderated for civility