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Analysis: Nokia N97 vs Samsung Omnia i8910 HD

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Samsung-Omnia-i8910-HD-live-hands-on-imageNokia-N97-live-hands-on-imageONSLUNDA, Sweden – Both the Nokia N97 and the Samsung Omnia i8910 HD have been thoroughly reviewed here at PhoneReport, but let’s sum up the similarities and differences. Is there a clear cut winner?

Hardware

The Omnia HD features one of the biggest and best screens on the market. It’s also the only mobile phone on the market capable of capturing HD video. Adding to the superior specs, the Omnia HD has a faster processor and 256MB of RAM (whereas N97 in what must be considered on of the biggest hardware design mistakes in a long time features only 128MB). So, to put it shortly, the Omnia HD has the better hardware and the difference shows when using the devices, although not as much as might be expected. The Samsung device is faster and smoother in general operation, and the only hardware category N97 can really compete in is keyboard input. The Omnia HD features several different virtual keyboards that all work “okay” for shorter messages, but they are still not in the same league as the superior hardware keyboard on the N97.

Winner: Omnia HD

Software

Since both the Omnia HD and N97 run on S60 5th edition, the system software and general operation on the devices are pretty much the same, but there are still major differences. The homescreen designs are probably a matter of personal preference, but in my opinion the N97 does a better job in offering an active homescreen that provides a good overview of current updates (mail, Facebook, etc.) automatically.

The Omnia HD features no pre-installed GPS navigation application, a major and almost embarrassing mistake on a phone in this segment. The N97 includes Ovi Maps with a three month navigation license. Software support in general is also better for the N97. In theory it shouldn’t differ much since the operating system is the same, but in reality many users have complained about issues both with software specifically designed for S60 v5 and with general Java software, while these issues are very rare on the N97.

Winner: N97

Conclusion

Even though the Omnia HD clearly triumphs in almost every hardware comparison, the N97 does have that hardware keyboard, and for daily use that alone makes a huge difference when writing. Also, while it’s to a large degree a matter of personal opinion, I believe most users will find that when it comes to form factor and overall design, the N97 is the better choice. Again, these are points that may not be obvious at first, but they do matter in the long run.

On the other hand, the more capable hardware on the Omnia HD (especially the camera and the extra amount of RAM) makes for smoother operation overall. That matters too.

So in summary, for users looking at performance only, the Nokia N97 is the winner if writing is the most important use, otherwise Omnia HD is definitely the better performer.

When adding the more subjective values – how the phone looks and feels and works in daily operation – I believe the N97 fares better and pretty much evens the score.

It’s worth noting that both phones still suffer from rather severe software issues, and how good the companies will be at correcting these will go a long way in determining which phone will be remembered as the better one. I’d say the N97 will get a major upswing with the upcoming firmware and actually be around for a few years yet, pretty much like the N95, while the Omnia HD will be replaced by a newer and more successful model before next summer.

Overall winner: N97, but almost too close to call

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By , Nokia-affairs Correspondent on Sep 29th, 2009 GMT +2

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