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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

iPhone vs Nokia: Packaging and contents

This is the first in a series of comparative posts looking at the iPhone and how it compares to a typical Nokia Symbian device, the N96. While I realize that the N97 would probably be a closer match, I firstly don't own one and secondly feel that the N96 is a better example of Nokia's common Symbian devices. The N96 is (or was) also positioned by Nokia as a very similar device to the iPhone with regards to functionality, focusing on media, navigation and gaming.

Steve Jobs and his Cupertino company are known for their love of simplicity (much to the chagrin of two-button mouse users) and this apparently carries through to their packaging choices. The iPhone, despite being some 30% larger than the N95 comes in a box less than half the size. Naturally due to this diminutive size the device and accessories are tightly packed and the amount of additional inner packaging is negligible. Nokia on the other hand have lots of breathing room in their box, and the device even rests in an angled display-like cardboard partition, the partitioned compartments housing accessories liberally packaged. Nokia could really learn a lesson here from Apple in keeping waste to a minimum.

In addition to the actual device, both packages include a number of accessories. The Nokia includes a wall charger, USB adapter cable, car charger (a nice touch) and wired hands free kit. The headphone component of the handsfree kit can be swapped out with any wired headset using a standard jack, which is welcome to anyone that doesn't enjoy the feel of the included set. The inline handsfree control has buttons for volume, stop/resume, fast-forward and fast-back, as well as the main action button used to answer or end a call, or to trigger voice recognition (by holding it down for an extended time). The playback controls take some getting used to, but in general do the job.
The iPhone also comes bundled with a charger of course, but it quite smartly makes use of the included USB adapter cable, eliminating the need for an extra coil of cabling. No car charger is included, which is a bit of a pity since it could easily just have used the USB cable in the same way. The included earplug handsfree kit is exceedingly simple-perhaps too much so for such an expensive device. The plugs are basic, but offer crisp and clear sound quality. The inline controls are not as extensive as the Nokia's, and are barely thicker than the earphone cables. The whole arrangement has a cheap feel, and looks as if it would be easily damaged. This is one area where Nokia really wins hands down.

Bundled Software
Whether it be for backing up essential contacts, notes and calendar data or transferring media to and from the phone, software which allows devices as complex as these to interact with a PC (or Mac) are an essential part of the package. Nokia caters for this need out of the box, including their comprehensive PC Suite software on a CD in the box. For Windows users (i.e. the vast majority of computer users) getting everything set up is as simple as popping in the disk, installing the suite and attaching the phone with the provided USB cable. The suite includes, among others, music management software, backup tools, data sync tools and a messaging interface. Internet connected users will be able to download and install the latest maps and software updates to their phone with relative ease (provided they're not behind a corporate firewall, since Nokia still doesn't support ISA servers). The suite also includes all necessary drivers for the phone to be used as a 3G modem, and setting this up is dead simple.
The iPhone, on the other hand, takes it's simplicity a little too far. There is no PC (or even Mac) software at all in the box. The buyer is expected to download and install iTunes for whatever platform they intend to use the phone with. This is a large download, and for users without internet access or with expensive 3G access (not unlikely at all) this is a bit of a slap in the face. Once iTunes is installed, music and other media is of course easily transferred, and data is easily synchronized with common applications, but the solution is nowhere near as robust as Nokia's. Once again, Nokia comes out on top.

Additional goodies
Nokia have begun bundling some decent extras with their phones, and the N96 is no exception. The South African bundle includes the full Transformers movie, a license for N-Gage Tetris and a year's mapping license (more on that in a future post). iPhone comes with exactly zip in this line. For a phone marketed on it's music, gaming and navigation capabilities this is really disappointing. Nokia wins again.

That's it for this post, next up I'll have a look at the phones' general appearance and construction, as well as ease of use.

Posted via email from Matt's posterous

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