Hands on with Nokia N95

[intro]You may have noticed I've been obsessed with the iPhone of late. But Nokia's next-gen smartphone has a few killer weapons in its armoury. Wa

One of the most common questions I've encountered since the launch of the iPhone is 'so where does that leave the N95?'. You see, I've been banging on about Nokia's next-gen smartphone for a few months now, proclaiming it to be some sort of gadget panacea.

Well, I've just had a play with a pre-production unit, and I have to say that, even in this post-iPhone world, it's a very impressive smartie. The screen is the same resolution as my current fave, the N80, but it's noticeably larger, which means the web browser is much more fun to use. And yes, I really do use my N80's web browser a lot, both over 3G and Wi-Fi. It's not as intuitive as Apple's touch-screen Safari, but it is based on the same WebKit foundation, so it's not a million miles away.

So how do the N95 and iPhone compare? Well, the N95 benefits from HSDPA – aka super3G - which allows broadband speeds on the street. The iPhone will use GPRS, which is more akin to a dial-up account. The N95 features a 5MP camera with flash. The iPhone has just 2MP. The N95 includes a GPS receiver and navigation software. The iPhone has Google Maps that will only be worth using when you have a Wi-Fi connection. And won't tell you where you are.

But? The N95 uses Nokia's Series 60 software - formerly my favourite smartphone UI, but now horribly outdated in comparison to the iPhone's Mac OS X. And of course it lacks the iPhone's touch-screen interface and incredibly eye-candy. Still, Series 60 does allow third-party applications (unlike the iPhone), and it does have a long history of satisfied customers. Will the iPhone's operating system be flawless first time around? Even the most hardened Apple fan wouldn't claim it'll be totally bug-free.

So, in short: the N95 is the best smartphone on the market. It'll be in the shops soon, and it'll keep you happy until the iPhone arrives at the end of the year. It might even keep you going until version two of the iPhone makes an appearance in 2008, replete with 3G and a much higher memory capacity. But who knows what tricks Nokia will get up to in the meantime. Let the battle commence!