A little while back I wrote a N82 and N95 8GB comparison to pick out a winner and although close but the 8GB won. When we look at the Eseries for a flagship, there is only one device looking us in the face, the E90. While Nseries has a tendency of churning out flagship devices at a quick clip, this isn’t quite the case with Eseries. Traditionally Eseries has been all business with poor cameras, the old pop port, not so great music and so on while the Nseries has been all of that and then some more. When the E90 came out, it bridged this gap, at least theoretically with a 3.2 auto focus camera, stereo speakers, A2DP, GPS almost everything that one looks for in a music phone. But is it enough to make a long time Nseries owner jump ship?
This post pits two unlikely phones, flasgships of two different series against each other and we try and pick a winner.
E90– The E90 is the latest Communicator from Nokia and built on the same form factor as the previous 9xxx series. However it is now based on the S60 platform. The best aspect of this device is that the outer and the inner screen have both been integrated and whatever goes on, on one, when you change screen is immediately available on the other. This makes it a complete phone even if we for a minute forget it has something inside too.
N95 8GB– The 8GB is a slider based on the N95 and tries to cover up whatever fallies it had. It is a good looking device that fits in the hand well, the build quality is good and more importantly it is top spec for today’s standards.
E90– The E90 boasts of a huge 800 x 352 pixels, 16 million color internal display and the outer is brought up by a 240 x 320 pixels screen. It also features a 3.2 megapixel camera, GPS, 2.5mm jack, mini USB, port , microSD slot, full backlit QWERTY and a 1500 mAh battery. What is notably missing is TV Out.
N95 8GB– The 8GB on the other hand has even better specs with a 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens camera, GPS, a 3.5mm plug, miniUSB, TV Out and a large 2.8″ 240 x 320 pixel display. The battery on this device is 1200 mAh.
The E90 packs a 3.2 megapixel camera, however without the Carl Zeiss branding. The pleasant surprise here was that Nokia decided to include VGA video recording at ‘upto’ 30 FPS. In comparison to the Nseries giants who can do VGA, the E90 seems to struggle a little more with low light conditions. As far as still photography goes it does well for random shots, however you will not carry it along as your only camera. The 8GB on the other hand can easily take that role.
Considering its an Eseries taking on an Nseries, most would jump to the conclusion that this is no contest, but the E90 surprises. It features stereo loudspeakers with decent volume and a 2.5mm jack when used with an adapter and headphones that can put the 8GB to shame. There is the same 8 band equiliser, however support for formats like wma is missing on the E90. The radio is plain and not the Visual Radio found on the Nseries, in fact its reproduction also seemed worse. This round will therefore still go to the 8GB due to better loudspeakers and the 3.5mm plug; narrow victory though.
Both devices are HSDPA, WiFi, Bluetooth and IR capable thus similar in terms of connectivity. However inspite of having WiFi it does not feature the Home Media client that allows us to stream/copy music and video over a WiFi network. This is sorely missed.
This is an interesting battle. A 2.8″ 240 x 320 screen v/s a 800 x 352 pixel widescreen. Lets examine it with the help of various tasks they are used for.
WEB BROWSING – The E90 is a clear winner in this department due to its huge inner screen, which on most occasions displays websites in the same manner as you would view on a laptop with almost no horizontal scrolling required.
PHOTOS– When it comes to displaying photos the E90 does have its share of difficulties. There is no slideshow! While the 8GB displays them beautifully with the Ken Burns (Pan and Scan) effect. Individual photographs do look good on the E90’s Hi-Res screen though.
VIDEO– Wide screen video is always a pleasure to watch, however its not as freely available as we’d like. The real player does not even utilise the entire screen and the videos are shown in a small box and the actual physical area covered is less than on the 8GB. When it comes to playback with CorePlayer, full screen video is possible because of the program’s rich features. But if the video is high bitrate and high resolution, then it stutters to the point where it becomes pointless to watch. Bottomline being that you need to convert video to suit the E90 and only then will you be pleased with the results. Therefore because of the additional work required in the E90’s case the winner turns out to be the 8GB. Moreover the loudspeakers on the backside, due to their positioning, also do not help the E90.
There is a debate about T9 v/s QWERTY and I personally prefer T9. The good thing about the E90 is that it has both. I have found myself a lot of times turning to T9 when I needed to enter a lot of text. The 8GB features only T9 and thats where it obviously looses out. The QWERTY is great for entering usernames, passwords, filling forms etc.
SIZE AND WEIGHT
This clearly is a negative for the E90, but the question is does it pack enough to make the user ignore this aspect? The communicator mode requires two hands to operate it and sometimes becomes a problem, specially say when you want to use the device lying down. I have found myself reaching for the N95 on a number of occasions if I wanted to browse while still in bed. Its normal phone mode has a much smaller screen than the 8GB, fully capable though. It is good enough for on the go browsing or any other task, but if one is to use such a huge phone in that mode on most occassions, it kinda defeats the purpose of buying a E90.
One contributor to the E90’s bulk is the 1500 mAh battery which I love. The 8GB on very heavy usage barely makes it through a day while the E90 can do almost two. When you feel the battery is running low, you can restrict yourself to the E90’s outer screen and thus save some juice while on the 8GB the entire 2.8″ will light up no matter what. I personally do not mind the bulk much and the E90’s all round capabilities still win it for me.
WE HAVE A WINNER, BUT DOES THE WINNER TAKE ALL?
I am writing piece from the prespective of an existing N95 owner who is looking to upgrade. What options does he have? N82? N95 8GB? Both of those devices are very similar to the N95 and offer benefits such as xenon and better battery or large screen and better battery. Here is where the E90 comes in. It offers both a better battery and a larger screen.
The dilema I faced when I was looking for an upgrade for myself was between the 8GB and the E90. Since I had no plans to sell/dispose the N95 off, I went in for the E90 because I always would have recourse to the camera or TV out whenever I needed it, its just a matter of swaping the microSD. Thus this was more about making a combo rather than one device.
Had I bought the N82 or the 8GB it would have rendered my N95 useless and give me very little in the way of a new experience. But would I have bought the E90 if I did not have a 5 megapixel device as a back up? The answer is a resounding no. So if you are going to have just one device, choose between the N82 and the 8GB, if not, E90 is definately the way to go! The E90 wins it, but on the back on a Nseries. It doesn’t take all!