Nokia N9 vs. Apple iPhone 4S: Smartphone comparison

Which is the better smartphone: the Nokia N9 or the Apple iPhone 4S?

Nokia N9 vs. Apple iPhone 4S: Display

The Nokia N9 has a 3.9in, super AMOLED, edge-to-edge display, larger than the iPhone 4S' 3.5 in screen. The display uses gorilla glass in an attempt to prevent scratches and cracks and the glass is curved outwards in order to achieve a more natural swiping motion. This curve makes content on the N9 appear as if it's floating underneath the screen. Viewing angles are excellent and the display is very bright, though it has a yellow tinge when compared directly to the iPhone 4S on full brightness and lacks an automatic brightness setting.

The iPhone 4S has the same display as the iPhone 4. The 3.5in sized screen uses IPS technology and its 640x960 pixel resolution it has been described as a "retina" display, due to the human eye being unable to distinguish individual pixels. The iPhone 4S's screen has a pixel density of 330ppi — higher than the Nokia N9. Text is crisp and clear and images are sharp, though we would have liked to see Apple introduce a slightly larger screen.

Nokia N9 vs. iPhone 4S: Software

The N9 is the first and last Nokia smartphone to run the MeeGo operating system. This is a real shame as the user experience is simple and elegant. The idea around navigating the N9 is that whenever you are in an application you simply swipe from the edge of the screen (either side) to go back to the home screens. The N9 interface is based around three "home views" — an applications screen that lists all your apps, a notifications screen for calls, messages, calendar events and social networking feeds and a currently open applications screen.

Nokia N9
The Nokia N9's interface is based around three "home" views. It's simple, elegant and easy to use.

The iPhone 4S runs Apple's latest iOS 5 operating system. It offers the same familiar swipeable home screen enhanced by folders, and the consistent Apple UI look and feel extending across all of the standard applications. If you have never used an iPhone before, you can expect a device that is easy to pick up and use, a well-populated App Store, and excellent multimedia capabilities. The latest iOS 5 version of Apple's platform also introduces iCloud, a cloud storage solution that automatically stores your content and makes it available on multiple devices including a Mac or PC. All iPhone users get 5GB of cloud storage for free but can upgrade to larger capacities for an extra cost: 10GB for $21 per year, 20GB for $42 per year or 50GB for $105 per year.

Nokia N9 vs iPhone 4S: Camera

The Nokia N9 has an 8-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens. It can't match the quality of the unrivalled Nokia N8 but it performs reasonably well for a camera phone. Images are sharp but do suffer from excess image noise and the dual-LED flash tends to over saturate images. The camera also doubles as a 720p HD video recorder and will record at 30 frames per second.

iPhone 4S
The iPhone 4S has a backlight illuminated CMOS sensor that claims better performance in low light situations. It also records 1080p full HD video.

The iPhone 4S also has 8-megapixel camera. It now includes a backlight illuminated CMOS sensor that claims better performance in low light situations. The 4S camera can record 1080p video and has a new image signal processor for image stabilisation and face recognition. Apple says the iPhone 4S takes 1.1 seconds to be ready for a photo and then just half a second between successive photos.

Nokia N9 vs. iPhone 4S: Internals

The Nokia N9 is powered by a single-core, 1GHz Cortex A8 processor and 1GB of RAM. Though performance is largely slick and fast, there are times when we wish the N9 had a faster, dual-core processor. Apps sometimes take a few seconds to open and more taxing tasks like playing back video files does result in a little slowdown. The Nokia N9 is available in 16GB and 64GB models.

The iPhone 4S is powered by a 1GHz Apple A5 dual core processor, but only has 512MB of RAM. It also has a dual-core graphics processor to speed up gaming. According to Apple, the dual core CPU combined with the dual-core GPU makes graphics performance up to seven times faster than the iPhone 4. Although the improvements in speed are definitely noticeable in day-to-day use, the jump is not huge if you're coming from an iPhone 4. Apps do open slightly faster: the camera app in particular takes full advantage of the upgraded internals. It opens almost instantly, there is minimal shutter lag and time between photos is less than half a second. A real positive is the addition of a 64GB model iPhone 4S, along with the standard 16GB and 32GB models.

Nokia N9 vs. iPhone 4S: Third-party apps

The Nokia N9 comes pre-loaded with dedicated Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Nokia Maps applications. There's also a special NFC-enabled demo of Angry Birds and three other pre-loaded games: Galaxy on Fire 2, Real Golf 2011 and Need for Speed Shift. Aside from these apps though, there's not much else to choose from. There's apps for the N9 available in the Nokia Store (formerly the Ovi Store), but selection is thin (around 500) compared to the well-populated iOS alternative. As a comparison, there are over 500,000 apps available for the iPhone 4S in the Apple App Store.

iPhone 4S
The iPhone 4S is powered by a 1GHz Apple A5 dual core processor and a dual-core graphics processor to speed up gaming.

Nokia N9 vs. iPhone 4S: Other features

The Nokia N9 supports a wide range of video and music files and best of all, it doesn't require software like iTunes to get music and video files onto it. You can simply plug the N9 into a Mac or PC via a USB port and drag and drop files onto the device, or you can install the simple and effective Nokia Link application that enables you synchronise music, photos and videos from a Windows or Mac computer to the N9 and vice-versa.

The Apple iPhone 4S requires iTunes software to synchronise video and music files. It doesn't come with a HDMI-out port, but an optional Apple Digital AV Adapter ($45) can mirror whatever is on your iPhone 4S screen to a high definition TV. The Nokia N9 can't be connected to a television via HDMI.

The Nokia N9 comes pre-loaded with the Nokia Maps application that offers free lifetime navigation and you can download maps for 90 countries. Once a map is downloaded, this means the Maps application will not use your phone's data connection. This is a real advantage over apps like Google Maps on the iPhone 4S that use mobile data, and third-party turn-by-turn GPS applications that often cost well over $50.

The iPhone 4S comes with an exclusive software feature called Siri voice control. It's a voice assistant that lets you talk to perform tasks, such as asking for the weather forecast, making a calendar appointment, setting your alarm and creating a reminder. It’s a Beta release, but Siri works with Australian English in addition to US and UK English languages.

Another point worth noting is the fact that the iPhone 4S is a world phone, meaning it will work across both 3G and CDMA networks. There are no longer any CDMA networks in Australia, but for those who frequently travel to the US, the iPhone 4S' status as a "world phone" will definitely come in handy. The Nokia N9 is a quad-band HSDPA phone, so it will work across all Australian 3G networks including Telstra's 850MHz Next G network, and the 900 and 2100MHz networks used by Optus and Vodafone in Australia.

What do you think about the Nokia N9 and the Apple iPhone 4S? Tell us in the comments below!

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
Topics: Apple iPhone 4S, nokia n9, android phones, Apple, mobile phones, smartphones, Nokia, meego

Comments

Paul

1

N9 has also a Nokia's AV out video from 3.5jack...so...
And, ¿N9 wins on screen dimensions but didn't on dimensions of the whole smartphone? LOL...

Ross Catanzariti

2

The dimensions on the whole smartphone was mainly based on thickness. 9.3mm vs. 12.1mm.

Yes, the N9 can do AV-out but this is NOT via HDMI.

biased

3

dude , meego owns ios in terms of functionality. apple fanboys. How about the price factor? Nokia Wins? N9 is way better then that apple expensive crap.

Details guy

4

I think you may need a fact-check on the 'world phone' write up. The N9 supports WCDMA and is a pentaband 'world phone' according to its spec sheet. There shouldn't be a difference between the two there.

Counting pixel density and resolution seems a little like double counting given the marginal difference in screen size too.

As mentioned above, being able to plug into an HDMI port is great for the iphone, but a fair comparison would also point out that the N9 can do output via the older style standard A/V connector.

Finally the Gorilla glass should score a point, I lose count of how many people I see around with iphones nursing cracked or smashed screens.

Ross Catanzariti

5

@biased - Actually, the Nokia N9 and the iPhone 4S are almost the same price in Australia. The 64GB 4S is $999 and the 64GB N9 is $949. Hardly a big difference.

@details guy - The iPhone 4S works on US CDMA networks, namely Verizon Wireless. The N9 does not. Not a huge point unless you travel to the US alot, but it still stands.

N9 fan

6

The chart lists the N9's memory options correctly, but the body of the article incorrectly states 16GB and 32GB. The actual choices are 16GB and 64GB.

David

7

Nice Nokia has come out with a nice looking phone, but its got an orphaned OS. While my investment in apps on my iPhone 3GS is not too large in terms of money and time spent on the learning curve, I'd hesitate switching to MeeGo as the prospects of robust 3rd party app support is limited, and migration of purchased apps to a future Nokia windows phone is not assured. With Apple, my two plus year old phone can use (albeit with a speed hit) the newly released iOS5. Say what you will about the disadvantages of Apple's "closed" system, but getting a new OS and apps on an old phone is really nice, with confidence that the majority of my app investment can easily (in effort and on the wallet) be transferred to my next iPhone.

Ross Catanzariti

8

@N9 fan - Thanks. I have corrected the error in the article.

Craig

9

I find it interesting that you call the camera a draw when the Nokia sports Carl Zeiss optics. Pretty sure you would find the Nokia camera to be far superior. Personally I would wait for the Nokia Lumia 800, it has the same looks as the N9 but used the Windows Mango OS.

armando

10

Not bad, few mistakes though

whatsa

11

Few things to note:
N9 achieves 7mp at 16:9 wide format(not so with iphone)
pentaband - n9 winner
antenna????? N9 is a certified rural use phone for telstra...IT IS A MOBILE DEVICE COMPARISION!!!!
So Winner(this always seems to get left out with iphone reviews-hmmm)
Operating system? N9 has a full linux kernel (not so iphone?)

FM Radio -yes the N9 has it
see->//my-meego.com/software/applications.php?name=FM_Radio&fldAuto=488&faq=2

Robbie

12

@Ross
"The iPhone 4S works on US CDMA networks, namely Verizon Wireless. The N9 does not. Not a huge point unless you travel to the US alot, but it still stands."

The N9 will work on all US GSM carriers. The market is roughly 50/50 CDMA/GSM in the US so that is a draw. Actually, the US GSM networks have much faster data speeds and simultaneous voice and data capabilities.

Aman

13

A lot of fake information about Nokia n9.....

limon

14

nokia n9 i like it so much.

rayouna

15

oh MG ! i like this phone : i think that's nokia n9 is the best ^^ i'll bay it :)

smartphone

16

IPHONE 4S IS THE BEST AND THE NOKIA N9 IS A GOOD PHONE BUT NOT AS GOOD AS 4S ALL U NOKIA FANBOYS OUT THERE ARE JUST PICKING THINGS (MINOR THINGS) ABOUT N9 BUT ABOVE THAT 4S WINS!!!!!!!!!!!

Sam

17

N9 is equal and better in some ways to the iPhone. A pity the facts did not truely reflect this. The big negative for the N9 is the lack of apps and the future of the MeeGo OS. Nokia was starting to show some inovation & leadersship again - with out the help of MS, but its all a bit too late.

safwan

18

meego can rip android ans ios5

AppleFTW :)

19

Apple iOwn 4s winZ :P the design is waaaay better then the N9 aaand dunno there is just somethin in it that makes me like it more

Dennis

20

I cant believe the delusion going on.

The iPhone is such a better phone its not funny. Im a phone addict, I got the Nokia E6, the Samsung Galaxy S2 and 4S. The iPhone has the nicest music, game, syncing features of all of them, and feels the best in your hand.

I like the screen on Nokia but the RES on the iPhone kills it and to me is so important after the SGS2. Flash missing sucks for the iOS though.
Love it hate it iPhone wins hands down, really.

al mamun

21

nokia 9 is good but iphone 4s best

sakjam

22

nokia!!!!!!!!...... You are the winner. go nokia dont give up and beat other phone. I like nokia

Belle

23

How fast is the N9? I was told at phone stores today that "it's a phone for people with a great deal of patience" and "it is nowhere near as fast as other smart phones". Hard to tell though as the demo models aren't properly connected to the net. Any comments? Thanks.

PS

24

The Nokia N9 supports HDMI-out with a Nokia adapter. Somebody needs to get their facts straight...

Owen

25

Belle - I just got an N9 and it's much faster than the previous android phone I had (HTC Desire). You can get it to struggle by opening Navigation (GPS) and 3 other apps at the same time, but I would expect that! and once they are all running, it is fine, the task management and user experience in general is great. The build quality is fantastic and I'm guessing I won't be breaking the screen as often as my friends do their iPhone 4s....

But such a shame they are killing such a beautiful O/S!!

Yash

26

Nokia 1100 is best phone :-)

junaid

27

@Dennis nd other iphone supporters-
Nokia N9 has Dolby Speakers
Iphone cant even think of beating tht

crazy prices

28

i needed to renew my contract and i was turn between these two phones. the article is pretty spot on, i would have picked up the iphone but it was a little out of my price range. on south africa where i live, the n9 16gb retails for R5800 ($795 US) and the iphone4s retails for over R9 000 ($1230 US). i dont know why mac products are so expensive here, but that was what turned me off apple. still, i would have loved access to the istore.

STEAM accound

29

lolz bad informations of n9 . N9 is the winner MeeGo can launch android apps . Iphone is better only resolution section , but all other is better on n9.

LDLT

30

I think that in any device, the ability to have all sorts of apps to do different things is cool and everything, but I think that its way better to be able to use the device without having to have a bunch of apps, this is the case of the iOS, which comes sooo limited that you have to download app after app to be able to do something, and this is why the ios has so many apps. And although the meego app market is limited, the os really doesn't need a whole lot of apps since the ones that come with it are pretty useful

Sylv

31

I have a Nokia N9. Its a lovely phone BUT I am now buying the Iphone4S as I cant read messages etc very well on the N9 as they are so small and they dont have an app to make the letters larger like the Iphone.

Erind

32

Nokia N9 does have FM radio, you just need to install the app for it.

Sarah

33

Interesting how the N9 fans state their reasons and facts calmy, but the iPhone lovers don's seem to be co calm and somewhat more immature lol

@Sylv... Updates have changed that.

Alvin

34

Iphone have the worst music player ever. You cant even customise it and there is NO 3rd party player with good SQ editor in the app store...

martin

35

Hi all,

Too many mystakes for a serious job!

- IOS : free with n9, locked with 4S! That's a really big difference

- HDD : you do not have 16GO with n9 but 10GO max...

- HDMI out : available with n9!

- RAM/Processor : The N9 is much more efficient with it's 1 GB ram even with the single core processor that is more powerfull! It's also much more efficient to preserve the battery life!

- The gorilla glass of the n9 is better and less fragile obviously...

- what about N9 Swipe?

- what about no button on n9?

For such job, i'll be fired ;)

GrainySnapshot

36

The 4S does have CDMA which the N9 does not. However, my understanding is that unless you activate the 4S using a SIM card from a CDMA carrier, you cannot use the CDMA even if it is available. So, if you have an Australian purchased 4S and you activate the phone using the SIM from the Australian carrier, when you go the US, you will not be able to roam onto CDMA. I do not know whether it is possible to replace your Australian SIM with a USA CDMA carrier SIM while you are in the USA. It may be possible but it may require activating your phone again, which may have other consequences. So, while CDMA maybe could be some use to an Australian phone owner travelling in the USA it appears unlikely (based only on what I have read elsewhere) that you can get seamless worldwide roaming to CDMA networks.

Arya

37

Both are good in the other features mentioned above, but no one is good in the groud with the the battery charge saving....you should carry the charger plug with your self, all the time and all the way

rajni

38

the nokia n9 is way better than thhe iphone 4s.The iphone 4s is crop comepared to the nokia n9

ben

39

the n9 is better off than the iphone cos n9 has long battery life,support video cals to other phones and comes more handy

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