N9 Vs. Lumia 800- Video & Audio Recording #MeegoVsWP

| April 10, 2012 | 56 Replies

Quick heads up- I had planned for this post to be Video + Photos + Camera UI but when I viewed the video samples on my PC and saw the HUGE difference in quality and the Minor rant that this was going to lead to; I though it would be best to split the two.. Anyways.

I took the N9 & L800 for a day out in some nice good’ol sunlight to get some video comparisons and honestly I was shocked at the results- considering the fact that N9 takes WAY better photos and the fact that they both have the same 8MP camera Sensor with a  f/2.22 aperture I was honestly expecting it to be a close fight or even a slight advantage to the N9…

(Excuse the shakiness the first 15 seconds or so as I was focusing on trying to re-adjust my grip on the phones without faceplanting them)- and in case your wondering why I didn’t do that cool split screen thing that everyone seems to be doing it’s because my laptop would probably die before processing it (new 8GB DDR3 Ram/2GB  AMD graphics/ i7 coming in this summer!) and also I have no idea how to do those effect 😀

Take a good look at the Lumia’s Video quality:

Now prepare to be horrifically shocked by what the N9 claims to be HD:

Video Quality:

  • The N9s quality was honestly appalling to me; how could they both have the same sensor yet be completely different! This is apparently due to the fact that the N9 records at almost half the bitrate that the Lumia 800 does- which is never a good thing. (14047kbps to 8590kbps)
  • The N9 does get an extra point for handling direct sunlight better than the Lumia did (first 3 seconds or so when I was facing the cameras towards me) direct sunlight completely blacked out most of the image on the Lumia; while the N9 maintained a decent amount of quality- although if You do want to some impressive direct sunlight quality check this out (Front Facing Camera on the One X- yes that’s the FRONT Camera: )
  • The N9 had some serious pixelation issues going on (look at the cars) as well as some horrifying dropped frames (around second :22-dropped before youtube processing or anything)- this is apparently also due to some software limitations as well as an underpowered GPU.
  • The Lumia 800 lacks a specific focus box which enables you to choose where you want all the auto-focusing to be going on; although ti did pretty well int he video test above, it does struggle alot when focusing on a subject with a bright light source behind him- although it’s less then ideal conditions this video should give you a good idea of what I mean.
  • Color saturation on the Lumia 800 is LOADS better than the N9- just look at the color of the soil- the N9 gives it a grey dead tint; while the Lumia captured something quite close to the actual colors.
Audio Quality:
  • The N9 admittedly had better sound QUALITY although the capture volume itself was lower than what you got out of the Lumia this is mostly due to the fact that the N9 captures audio at almost 3 times the bitrate that the Lumia does (131kbps to 49kbps).
  • The Lumias audio capture seems a bit off after the first ten seconds (very poor quality as if it’s coming through a tunnel) this is actually because I accidentally had my hand on the microphone so it messed around with it a bit- true audio recording is probably best judged after the first minute or so.
Here’s the full details of both Videos- note that the Lumias total size is almost double that of the N9:

Since the N9 had a much lower Video bitrate than the Lumia 800 this lead to the file size being much smaller (not really a good thing; if I wanted a small file I would record in VGA); all in all I think the video quality on the N9 is inexcusable; hopefully they can tweak it a bit in the next software update (similar to what the N8 went through).


Category: MeeGo, Nokia, Nseries, Video, Windows Phone

About the Author ()

Hey, my name's Ali- Currently a fifth (and final) year Dental Student from Chicago; studying in Jordan. I love all sorts of gadgets almost as much as I love my cookies! Be sure to follow my Twitter handle @AliQudsi and Subcribe to my Youtube for the latest videos - no pressure. Thanks.
  • mitun

    The hardware is the same and only the software is different.
    As the sowftware is different i think it is easily fixable.
    I think more juice can be got from the 8 megapixel sensor.
    Nokia FTW.

    • No, the camera sensor is perhaps the same, but otherwise these two phones have completely different hardware.

  • aboodesta

    The N9’s video quality woes is due to the GPU which can barely play 720p, and can’t play 720p youtube videos or 720p videos recorded by any other phone. So no, it can’t be fixed.

    • Banderpop

      I was thinking that it was probably something to do with the GPU also. It’s the same as the one in phones from 2009, like the Omnia HD and N900, and although it has had a speed increase, recording 720p video with it will push it the to limit, with no room for higher bit-rates.

    • DesR85

      I was under the impression that both the N9 and the Lumia 800 have identical hardware, including the GPU, except for a few differences.

      If that is the case, wouldn’t a software fix suffice?

      • No, from the hardware point of view, these phones are completely different. They share ONLY the design. And the display (a bit smaller for Lumia) and perhaps the camera sensor.

        But Lumia has much stronger SoC, both CPU and GPU, while N9 has more memory. And they have very different software.

        • Trexus

          Actually clock-for-clock the N9’s CPU is stronger.
          (mainly due to better FP performance IIRC)
          But, as it’s clockspeed’s notably lower it’s slightly less performant.

          Their GPU’s are so close that in RWT’s it’s negligible.
          Benchmarking, not so much…

          • Jiipee

            I thought that PowerVR SGX540 was close to Lumia’s GPUs performance – maybe slightly better – and PowerVR SGX530 was clearly behind.

            • Trexus

              It is slightly behind….
              But the benched differences shouldn’t translate to any significant RW advantage.
              Fill rate’s the biggest improvement from 530 to 540.
              535’s only improvement over 530 is 9.0c support IIRC.

    • incognito

      GPU plays a little to no role when it comes to the actual recording – capture, processing and partial encoding phase is all done using DSP chip, the rest is the CPU. Sure, you can use GPU to do some parts of the DSP but you won’t get much of a speed/quality increase.

      GPUs are perfect for decoding process, tho, which is why I suspect Nokia set the recording in such a low bitrate (then again, even with 8.5Mbps you should be able to pull quite a decent 720p quality video at the expense of heavier load while encoding/decoding – heck, I’ve encoded some 720p videos in ~4Mbps VBR (but with double-pass and so on) Main profile that look quite stunning given the size). The N9 is not really bestowed with a very potent GPU to manage decoding in a breeze (although Adreno 205 in the Lumia is nowhere near a champ either) so by making the recording process take lower bitrate/quality videos you are ensuring they can be at least played on the device it took them.

      Still, N9 has more than enough hardware to handle 720p video in almost all profiles and at quite high bitrates – if done correctly – so I blame the lack of codec polish for its shortcomings.

      • jiipee

        Thanks Incognito, that was again very good insight.

        I tried to post some links with GPU comparison that I found (while traveling on a train), but now I understand it was not even needed 😉

        I am still amazed how low spect the Nokia execs gave N9 in the first place, if the purpose was not to have a true flagship later (Vanjoki was tweeting something about Nov 11th 2011 that he would have wanted to see). Or were they stuck with the best SOC supported at the time. Konttori also shows some level of frustration on his blog, where he says something of the “specs given to them”.

        • Trexus

          I’ve received tips from those well connected @TMO that U8500 & OMAP4 prototypes were well on-schedule, ahead even.
          Especially the former….
          Apparently there would’ve almost certainly been a 3rd Maemo6x device based on either by now.

          • Jiipee

            Interesting info, thanks!

            I cant wait to see the first books that cover the burning strategy process from 2011. It seems that Meego was surely late, Maemo in good fit and probably the only valid argument (except possible pressure from major owners) has been the ecosystem aspect. All the talk regarding problems with limited soc support and radiotechnology has not really been valid.

            • Trexus

              MeeGo proper was never late, it was to be a phased transition from Maemo6 to MeeGo.
              They never got even close to starting that.
              Maemo6 was late, but if full resources has remained it wouldn’t have been quite as bad as it was.
              Still, it would’ve remained substantively late.
              But the hard work had been done, beyond that 1st misstep they would’ve remained on schedule.
              I think in the end the big end of town talked, & that was the end of it.
              Plus, I guess the “ecosystem” argument does have some currency in some respects.
              BUT, nothing like having a suite of devices to boost interest in a dev community.
              By now there’d have been at least three, so who knows.
              Oh well, it’s dead and buried now anyway.

            • Mike

              You know I went to the ATT store in the U.S. to buy the lumia 900. The rep seemed pretty knowledgeable as to different OS’s. He mentioned to me that last year ATT was testing the N9, because he said the the 900 reminded him of the N9. The whole project for the N9 got terminated once the Feb announcement was made. This makes sense why there were att icons for the N9 for developers. My conclusion is the MS did its best to end that project as they knew if NOKIA succeeded with ATT in bringing the N9 to the states..that WP7 would have no chance and the N9 possibly could have been the next Hero device for the U.S. This is how big corporations work.

      • dss

        Thanks for that! It makes me wonder what kind of monster DSP chip is in the 808 PureView. It records at around 25Mbps, and it seem that the broadcom gpu is able to decode it as well.

    • Shaun

      Not really. The problem is the N9 codec only supports base profile h264. They need to add support for main and high profiles.

      The GPU is the same that an iphone 3GS has except clocked faster so should be capable enough if they sort the software out.

  • kuzmichov

    A bad review! Either you have a bad copy of N9, or you have specifically made ​​this misleading review! Since the I N9 shoots video is much better than presented here! My conclusion is Fake

    • Aliqudsi

      Dammit You caught me!

      -of course that must be it! it’s not like I said while recording that I expect them to have the same quality or that in the details of the video it shows that the bitrate is half that of the Lumia, I agree this is a fake! must be photoshopped!

      • Rebbe

        You said you like the n9 video more but then you said that the colors and bitrate was better on the 800 so what is the final conclusion? 😀

        As a 800 owner myself the only issues I have with video is slow autofocus that doesn’t always work…

        • Aliqudsi

          Sorry where did I say I liked the N9s video more? might have been a typo- but the Lumias video is def. MUCH better.

          • Rebbe

            Sorry! I read it in a hurry. I read The N9s quality was honestly appealing to me 😀 but you wrote “appalling” ..

            • Aliqudsi

              No worried mate 😀 yeah like u said the autofocus needs a couple seconds to get working sometimes.. Although it’s not too bad on my new Lumia, the one I had before seemed alot worse.

      • kuzmichov

        Even as it shakes N9 can say that you are lying!
        Here are a human comparison:

        Since you have removed the review, I just can not remove the 10 video! Where will set Lumia 800 as the worst!
        This is a real SUBSTITUTE!

        • Bassman

          It couldn’t possibly be that the Lumia is better at video recording?

          I suspect from the tone of your rant that it if the 808 and the N9 were pitted against each other you would still argue that the N9 is superior.

        • Mark

          Wah! Wah! Wah!

          Subjective report doesn’t match my own opinion so it must be fake!

          Go take a chill pill, kid.

        • Aliqudsi

          Lmao– look at who uploaded that video that your trying to rub by face in, stepehenquin- who in fact commented right below you saying he confirms by results and agrees that the Lumia takes better videos. Get real.

          • Jay Montano

            lolol was about to say. Hmm…

            I do really like the stereo sound of N9 and I think (not sure) N9 might perform better indoors? I do much prefer having the whole screen for recording in n9.

  • Can confirm results after having done the same experiment myself, although I found both my videos accepable, the Lumia produced better results and a larger file for an identical video !

    • incognito

      I find both videos quite lackluster – the N9 does focusing, contrast and white balance better but miserably fails on movement (lots of artifacts) and the colors are quite washed; the Lumia 800, OTOH, has smoother movement/transition and definitely better encoding algorithm, but fails with focusing, over-saturates and has contrast/white-balance issues (at the end of the video when the scene is half tarmac – half bright sky it loses all the details and dims the video horribly)…

      Personally, I think that the HD recording game should stop before they are able to do it properly. With the exception of the N8 (which also drops frames and have some of the above issues, but still it at least records decently), I have yet to see a stunning, correctly colored and properly lighted 720p video from a mobile device, not to mention 1080p…

  • Madratz

    Wait.. What..?? Watching both videos on my N9 via Firefox Mobile, the N9 was the better video, in my opinion. Sure the saturated colours from the Lumia looks prettier but the streamed video looks broken in alot of places(as if the screen has broken in different parts) compared to the N9’s which is alot smoother.

    Ooh btw.. overall ur video taking ability is quite bad. So in the end it doesn’t really matter which device u’re using.. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking u personally.. Just an observation. cheers.. 🙂

    • Bassman

      I personally don’t think that the ‘video taking ability’ is bad at all.

      However, surely this would be a better real life test of the camera’s capability as not everyone has studied photography (if that was the case, I’m sure they would have bought an N8 instead…)

      • abcs

        It’s shaking too much, that’s what Madratz meant I think. One dont need to be photography student to try taking with steady hands, even with 2 devices as there are 2 hands.
        Photos/videos taken by photography students are 5X better of course, either with N9 or Lumia 800

    • Ruben

      “Wait.. What..?? Watching both videos on my N9 via Firefox Mobile, the N9 was the better video, in my opinion. Sure the saturated colours from the Lumia looks prettier but the streamed video looks broken in alot of places(as if the screen has broken in different parts) compared to the N9′s which is alot smoother.”

      i did the same, watching them both in my n9 in firefox.

      Ali, do you have the PR1.2 on your N9?
      i find better colours in Lumia video, but smoother in N9.

      Don’t have a Lumia, so i can’t really see it for myself, but i’ll look up some more video comparisons in youtube.

      Does the difference in the video really justifies the double size of the lumia video (405MB vs 251MB) ?

      Cheers and thanks for your review 😉

    • Aliqudsi

      I think you’ve just proven the point about the underpowered gpu. The reason the Lumia is playing whacky on your n9 is because the gpu can’t handle.full HD videos too well, view them on your PC and what you think.

      Don’t worry you can criticize as long as you do it politely, I’m open to improving- although these two videos are shaky because I was balancing two phones in top of each other while filming, not as easy as it sounds. 😀

      • Trexus

        “I think you’ve just proven the point about the underpowered gpu. The reason the Lumia is playing whacky on your n9 is because the gpu can’t handle.full HD videos too well”

        See incognito’s rather coherent post, especially:

        “Still, N9 has more than enough hardware to handle 720p video in almost all profiles and at quite high bitrates – if done correctly – so I blame the lack of codec polish for its shortcomings.”

  • alenbart

    Very interesting, I have a N8 and am very happy with the video quality. Video bit rate of about 12000kbs and audio of 129kbs at 720p HD.

    It would be interesting to see the specs for the 808, the audio quality should be off the charts with its new software.

    Can’t wait to get my hads on.

    Love your blog by the way.

  • Ruben

    Ali, just one thing, i suppose the videos were taken on default settings (automatic)on both of them. Do you think that the n9 altered to sunlight mode (video defs) would do a better job at the colours?

    maybe you did that, but since i don’t know i was just asking.

    Cheers mate!

    • Aliqudsi

      Hmm not sure about that; I was filming both in default as you said; the N9 should’ve switched by itself shouldn’t it?

      • Ruben

        i guess it should, but i was asking because in my 5800 xpm sometimes (most of them) the automatic doesn’t do a good job and to get the best results i have to adjust it manually.

        Don’t know if the N9 has the same issue. Never been a fan of automatic, not even in cars lolol

        Thanks for replying!

      • Trexus

        [“I was filming both in default as you said; the N9 should’ve switched by itself shouldn’t it?”]

        Might be worthwhile comparing both using manual configs.


    while I do agree that video on the n9 looks crap, color reproduction on the lumia is a tad too warm for my taste. the last minute (after you point the phone to the sun) looks as if it was recorded 2 hours before sunset

    and they ruined the streets digging for these pipes…

  • Nrde

    N9 video is crap (both playback and recording) that’s why I use N8 for video (and photo)…

    I hope they still tweak the codecs on it to get at least acceptable result. With the current level it is suitable only for casual shots.

    • Jay Montano

      Yes, N8 is still the most superior and most reliable for video recording out of all current available Nokias. I expect it to be beaten only by 808 (and hope they sort the wobble out)

  • twig

    I have to admit I like my E7 video better than my N9.

    • Jay Montano


      There was a bit of debate whether E7>N8 for video and N8 definitely>N9 (all except audio recording. Better audio in N9 and better stereo mic placement).

  • Annethe

    Have a look at those links below: and
    both made by Nokia N9. Why? The night one looks better then the day one. This is just question of settings, ability to use mobile and understanding how to do it properly in current conditions. For me this comparison is ridiculous & fake, most probably unintentional! – please don’t recognise this as offence or anything personal. The lower data in file just mean there will be less information, so the effect of recording must be worse. Just this is simply about video codding. Less data, less information. Nokia N9 use Texaxs Instruments chips while Lumia Qualcom – who said 2 different companies can produce the same hardware? CPU speed is irrelevant, N8 has slower CPU and make better video and photo then both “tested” mobiles. Nokia N9 have DSP onboard, while Lumia don’t as I know (correct me if I am wrong) – see in Wikipedia what is Digital Signal Processor, and what for. So this quasi-test proofs nothing. Perhaps that to obtain good results in recording proper settings are needed. See the first link, and think how this is possible – perhaps better skilled operator? No offence please. Idea of test is interesting, but poorly performed IMHO.

    • Mark

      Ridiculous and fake?

      Kind of like you pretending to be different people, right?

      Stop flogging a dead horse please.

  • Lee

    Am I alone in preferring the video shot on the N9 here?

    The Lumia looks very dark and to my eyes blurry(look at the black bin bag about 20 seconds in for example, and the plants in general).

  • So Vatar

    I am sorry to say but this “test” of the two Nokia devices reaches the level of Gizmodo’s “test” of the N8, the one where an apparently drunk blogger took out of focus and in general bad pictures and blamed it on the N8.

    I briefly watched the two videos in this blog post and have to say I would stay away from each of these devices if this is the video quality I can expect from a Nokia device. The person shooting these videos has no idea about basics (like you need to keep the filming device still otherwise you get horrible shaking and rattling) or simply does not care. The resulting videos are of poor craftsmanship and not worth to watch.

    I would ask the responsible editor at MyNokiaBlog (Jay?) to assert some kind of quality control before posts like this go up on this site. Unless of course you want to compete with blogs using drunken bloggers like Gizmodo, which I hope is not your goal.

    It is not that difficult to shoot some videos that can be used as somewhat valid comparison, even if it does not meet professional standards. I am sorry to say that I have neither device, so don’t ask me to do it. Unless you are interested in N900 video quality (which is not HD capable at all).

    • Doffen

      I think even a profesional video camera would have looked really bad with that much shaking. However, both cameras was handled the same way so there is some validity in the comparison. In my opinion non of these two phones are a substitute for a reasonably good point and shoot.

    • Bharat Justa

      Any camera can perform well with a good photographer/videographer. The real test of its ability is to give good performance even when an amature photographer/videographer handles it.
      The phones are used by common people who don’t know much about photography and videography. So if a camera can perform well even in their hands, it is good.
      But, both Lumia 800 and N9 fail this test.
      I own a Lumia 800 and I compared its video quality with that of a C7. The C7’s video was better.

  • stylinred

    honestly the differences look to be negligible imo

    except for the 800 being too dark

    they both seem horrible lol

  • Kan

    The image sensor and optics may be the same but thats it. The hardware is totally different.

    As mentioned by Incognito the processing will be done by the DSP which is included in the SOC. The lumia Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon easily beats the N9 TI OMAP 3630. As to the GPU well the PowerVR SGX 530 was seen in the Nokia N900 in November 2009. It’s ancient!