TimeTravelTuesday: Nokia N95 vs iPhone (Crickey, the N95 was sooo good!)

| August 13, 2013 | 33 Replies

Screen Shot 2013-08-13 at 01.48.01

I read some of our comments mentioning the N95 and the iPhone (5) and whilst searching for a comparison I came across this little gem from way back when the N95 was fresh and the iPhone was a new toy.

We have Suzi fighting for the N95 and Jason for the iPhone. Funnily enough Jason argues about the battery life in the N95 when using GPS…First iPhone didn’t even have GPS, or AF camera, or video recording, or front facing camera. I laughed when they compared music and Jason tried to show off the speakers on the iPhone (N95 had some of the best loudspeakers on a phone, and in stereo!).

Even then we hear in terms of camera that function wise it’s “the most important subsidiary function”.

There’s three challenges. The second one looks at camera. 5MP, AF, Carl Zeiss optics vs 2MP potato. Here how Suzi, from the N95, stopped taking her digital compact around! Crickey! Sounds all too familiar. Whilst Suzi was super pleased with the n95 even in low light, Jason had to concede that the iPhone wasn’t up to the job of documenting a party. For video tests, the n95 had a night mode function (drop in frame rate to get more light). What did the iPhone do? Nothing! It couldn’t record video!

Unfortunately, despite the superior hardware and features of the N95 it wasn’t enough to sway the trend away from touch/iPhone. Sure the N95 sold loads! It sure as heck made Nokia too confident (slow/proud) in not getting with the times and seeing where the future lies – in handing over ‘smartphones’ to the general public (i.e. with a faster, more reliable, easier to use touch platform – at least that’s how some Maemo guys said in when referring to those in the Symbian team).


It’s things like this that make you remember precisely why Nokia was number 1 and why there were so many Nokia fans and Nokia fanboys out there. Whilst some have moved on, I bet they’ve still got soft spots for Nokia.

Suzi talks big about the removable battery, and how should there be any freezing you could just whip the battery out. Ha, kudos on the battery trick for them freezing situations. Not that the iPhone was immune to that.

Holy crap, I forgot that the n95 had 3G. The iPhone did not! 😮 Check out this GPS test. The iPhone doesn’t even have a GPS chip. Unfortunately for Suzi the N95 was not finding any satellites (I believe I also faced that problem when I used early iterations of maps. You just stood there, waiting for a satellite to be found. Nada. It did get better in future software updates but that wasn’t in the time frame of this test. A point there for ‘usability’ in terms of having features that easily and reliably work. The N95 still won with the iPhone causing Jason ‘endless problems’. Despite him really liking the iPhone the pressure got to him and he starts punching the iPhone.

I remember earlier discussions either on this blog or on forums about how there will come a turning point for iPhone and Nokia. How iPhone will get stronger and stronger and how Nokia would face a very tough battle if they did not snuff out the competition in time. Ah well. We gots two problems now. :p


Category: Nokia, Symbian

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]
  • Mariano

    N95 Was the nokia’s last hit

    • Jormmmsils

      Haha I Love N95

      One of 200 my nokia phones

      • b4b4.4l1

        Pic or it didn’t happen :p

  • Timo

    N95 had killer camera. Sadly it looked like brick. =)

  • beefiron

    It’s funny, I was just doing this comparison myself a few days ago. I was thinking back to when I made the decision to get the N95 over the iPhone back then. I was impressed with the look of the iPhone, but it was such an easy decision to make. The features that made the difference for me included:

    3G vs 2G
    5MP AF camera
    Video recording
    FM Radio (I couldn’t believe the iPhone didn’t have that)
    Applications (ironically)
    Freedom to upload music and video from any source
    Hot swappable MicroSD card

    As you say, Jay, it’s sad that the success of the N95 may actually have contributed to Nokia’s stagnation and demise by convincing them that ‘we don’t need no stinking touch’. I don’t think Nokia could ever have produced the original iPhone. It was so feature-poor, it would have gone against everything they believed in. What was so disappointing was that they didn’t understand the power of Apple’s advertising and the brand power they had built with the iPod. It’s easy to blame an uneducated public, but Nokia have to look at themselves for why the public wasn’t sufficiently aware of how much better Nokia’s contemporary high-end phones were than the iPhone.

    Of course, there was still hope until the N97. The implementation of touch (2 clicks, really?!?) and the use of resistive screens was what really did for them then and for 2 years after that. The final kick, IMHO, was the massive delay in the release of the N8. Had that phone been announced and released to market in a timely manner, the ship could probably have been righted. Look at the momentum the 1020 enjoys now. By the time the N8 came out, instead of the message from the potential buyers being “This is gonna be great”, it was “This had better be worth the wait”. That coloured the reaction of both the users and reviewers, so every failing was highlighted.

    OK, I’ve got to stop. Sorry for rambling.

    • No, no that was a very good ramble, I completely empathise and agree.

    • Random Random


      N8 was horribly late and people usually agree that Nokia would have done better if it wasn’t.

      Somehow the same people usually claim that it didn’t matter that Qt was horribly late and Nokia was not competitive on applications. This claim is a really great proof of the ignorance of Nokia fans.

      It’s reflecting the Old Nokia Attitude.

      Software magically comes from some kind of software factory and you don’t have to push hard in order to get quality software.

      The Nokia fans seem to think that once Nokia had Qt there would have magically been all those applications and all the developers would magically wanted to create Qt applications from apps just because Nokia was telling everyone that Qt was great.

      Yes, Nokia just failed on that.

      Then again, if someone compared N95 and the original iPhone today? That would be a different story and the outcome would definitely be quite different.

      Great products stand the test of time. Maybe not indefinitely but longer.

      Then again, that would be almost irrelevant.


    • sks


      you forgot bluetooth with the profiles that matter, the standard usb port, a fully functional phone with SMS, call blocking, voice dialing, voice caller ID, so on …….

  • Random Random


    What we learn from here? Tech blogs have no value in evaluating the success or failure of a device.

    Just like we saw from the most comparisons, N95 was the superior one but somehow the consumers didn’t want to get that but they wanted to get an iPhone.

    Yes, I already saw someone pointing out how the consumers had a wrong opinion and how they were made to buy iPhones. Sure, but it’s a pretty free world what it comes to selling mobile phones. Nokia could have done same but for some reason they couldn’t. Maybe it wasn’t that much better product.

    Back in the days when iPhone was released all the Nokia fan sites were filled with people crying out how iPhone is crap and how it can’t succeed because it’s lacking this and that. In the end of the day we found out that it was Nokia who had all those irrelevant features. In 112 they had to capitulate and forget putting most those irrelevant features into the phones they make.

    That was a great day. A good day for Nokia.

    About the history.

    Of course it’s funny to read how people compared iPhone and N95 and just couldn’t see the future. Not even guessing how it might end up.

    That’s just something more to back up the claim how tech sites doesn’t matter when the future of a product is evaluated.

    About the blog post.

    “I read some of our comments mentioning the N95 and the iPhone (5) and whilst searching for a comparison”

    Yes. It was about someone saying how images produced by iPhone 5 are low quality. That effectively makes the images produced by N95 the same. According to the claimer.

    • “N95 was the superior one but somehow the consumers didn’t want to get that but they wanted to get an iPhone.”

      I thought the n95 sold pretty well. Any sales figures to indicate people did not buy the n95?

      • Random Random

        Of course I wasn’t saying that every consumer wanted to get an iPhone. Then again wanting is something very different from actually buying one.

        But let’s go with unit sales so we can get a better view on this one.

        Yes, giving hard proof about something like that is very hard. We have to select a quarter and dig up some unit sales. Unfortunately Nokia has not released any actual numbers for N95 unit sales in a specific quarter so we have to use something else.

        Channel5 seems to be US based so let’s use US numbers because they focused on the US view.

        In the last quarter of 2007 Apple sold over 2,3 million iPhones and on what areas did they sold those? You probably know the limited areas included US.

        Nokia sold 5,3 million phones in the US back in Q4 2007 and that included all models. From the N-series there were led Nokia N70, Nokia N73 and Nokia N95.

        In the end N95 was sold for a long period of time and according to some Nokia fans iPhone was never really improved when a new model was released.

        Everyone can figure out how this turned out.

        • Deaconclgi

          The iPhone sold well in the US because it was easy to buy on a large US carrier. Not only was it easy to walk into the store and buy it, the amazing ads were EVERYWHERE and even cable news shows were demoing “The amazing new phone from Apple”

          Where was Nokia? Out of sight and out of mind. Selling phones like the 5300 Xpress music, the butchered E71x, the Nokia Surge and tons of flip phones on US carriers.

          Nokia wasn’t even trying to sell their best phones. To get a N-Series phone in the US, you would first have to be techy enough to find out that they existed and then have enough money to shell out the $600 premium.

          Who in their right mind, in the US would buy a N95 for $550 when you could walk in the store and get “the latest and greatest” for $199 or less. The iPhone simply looked better, performed better at the limited tasks that it could do, had a MUCH wider availability in the US with a MAJOR, HISTORICAL marketing push and was simply cheaper to buy up front.

          Who cared if Nokia made vastly superior phones. For some, the simple act of “being there” sitting in line, paying $1,000 for an iPhone was a much better experience than going to and buying an unlocked Nokia N82 for $560…which is what I did.

          The people who bought the original iPhone wasn’t looking for a smartphone, the best phone, the most apps, the best build quality, they were looking for an experience and that experience is what Apple sold them and that experience, the ease of use, the simplicity with a dash of slickness, that “it just works and works with my other services and looks good while doing it” experience is what keeps iPhone users coming back.

          They found what works for them and I don’t blame them.

          • Random Random

            Now who was taking this quite seriously?

            I was not lecturing but just pointing out how it really ended with N95 and iPhone.

            This is the same talk I had with people back in 2007. Yes. I remember walking into Apple store in 2007 and listening how people were just gasping and telling how amazing the iPhone was.

            This is just the same talk I had back then. I’ll quote the essential part “wasn’t looking for a smartphone, the best phone, the most apps, the best build quality, they were looking for an experience”.

            Once again. Just like I said in 2007 I repeat once again.

            It was not about experience. It was about what people needed and wanted. For the normal people, there was no applications for Symbian. Symbian didn’t have those. There was no best build quality with Nokia phones. Not really.

            What people got with iPhone was what they wanted to have. Something that did the job and didn’t feel like torture when you used it.

            Here in Finland people ended up genuinely hating, yes I mean that, hating Symbian and Nokia for the products they made. That much iPhone was different from Symbian. I even remember poor people dreaming about iPhone and trying to find a cheap alternative.

            Unfortunately the alternatives were quite bad until Android annihilated Symbian even in the low end, in early 2011.

            The conclusion?

            It was the “N95 strategy” that eventually almost killed Nokia. Yes, that and the “N97 strategy” where Nokia started to save costs on basic components.

  • John

    N95 was one of the best, had it for 5 years and let it go for Lumia 720 but still missing it, wish nokia makes an upgraded N95…

    • John

      my opinion on nokia failure was their pathetic N97 which was so buggy, if they had delivered a good quality phone things could have been different, they lost a lot many nokia fans because of N97

      • Random Random


        N97 really destroyed Nokia’s reputation.

        The problem with N95 was that it was the old design. Perfectly fine for people who were not looking for a modern smartphone, but with iPhone people wanted to look for modern smartphones.

        At that point Nokia was no competitive in the very high end. This was very hard for Nokia fans to understand.

        IMB invented the smartphone and Apple invented the modern smartphone. Nokia really succeeded with the smartphone but not with the modern smartphone.

        • Dave

          However in one area the N95 was right on hardware was having a dedicated GPU. Nokia then dropped the GPU for subsequent models. The N85 was a slicker device, but overall it was a little slower.

          The N97, X6, 5230, 5800 – all had the same basic processor and memory. Makes sense for construction costs, but when your “flagship” device has the same core as the entry level, it made absolutely no sense.

          Regardless of that, I’d still like to pick up an N85 or N86 … especially an N86.

          • Random Random


            Once OPK dropped the GPU and saved some costs on the flagships, it’s incredble to see how some people keep blaming Elop while the real villain was OPK.

            OPK almost destroyed Nokia.

            Shame on him.

            • xxx

              “OPK almost destroyed Nokia.” – another nonsense. Maybe you should say – Elop saved the world”. OPK made important changes and introduced good strategy based on QT. It requires years to create new system Meego, and adapt existing systems to support QT applications. What do you expect? Look at apple, how hard is to implements new features to the system, look at ms and it’s crappy windows phone. If there were no Elop probably we would be enjoyed next generation of meego and great phones.

          • invertol

            I have a white N86, a really nice looking phone but with a not so nice USB port.

            I wouldn’t call the first iphone a smartphone, more of a dumbphone with touch. Like a Nokia 6233 with capacitive touchscreen.

            • Random Random

              That’s still the problem with old school people understanding the modern smartphone.

              The original iPhone has App Store and all those nice features. Apple was able to upgrade it and they actually upgraded it. Nokia on the other hand. Where is N95 today? While you can still download apps for the original iPhone, the N95 is long gone and only some random random applications remain.


              Apple invented the modern smartphone with iPhone.

              Really, notice the ‘has’ instead of ‘had’.

              • Shaun

                Utter rubbish.

                The original iPhone got two major OS updates. It was a year before it got an app store and the year after the 3.0 update only added some of the features that the 3gs got. It never got multi tasking or game center for example.

                The minimum requirement for the app store today is iOS 4.3 IIRC, ruling out even the iPhone 3G.

                You can still release N95 compatible apps on the Nokia store.

                • Random Random

                  Sure, when was the last time you downloaded applications for N95?

                  I still have iOS 3.x based device and last time I checked, App Store worked perfectly fine. No problems with accessing the content.

                  The first iPhone truly was the first modern smartphone.

                  Symbian based phones were not modern smartphones and that’s why they had to go.

                  • rafaelinux

                    ¿? I still dl apps on my n82 and 808 o.O

                    • Random Random


                      There are very few applications available for those devices.

                  • Shaun

                    The app store will still show you apps even if you can’t run them.

                    You’ll also not get any updates from the app store for existing apps that work on 3.x. Minimum requirements were moved to iOS 4.3 in September last year.

                    App developers aren’t allowed to support anything older.

                    I don’t have an n95 and never did. E71 is the oldest I have and I updated the apps on that last week – Gravity and CuteTube IIRC

                    • Random Random

                      I’m pretty sure I have downloaded apps from the App Store even after that date. Of course most apps are no longer compatible but then again that’s also the case with any older hardware.

                      Then again, it’s possible to jailbreak iOS3 based device and use app store designed for 3.x based devices. That makes iOS 3 based devices to have more apps than N95 could ever dream of.

                      Obviously N95 has zero apps but only applications, but you probably already knew that.

                    • Shaun

                      You might have downloaded OLD apps after the minimum iOS version requirements but trust me, developers are not allowed to provide updates or new apps targeting anything prior to iOS v4.3.

                      You of course do not have to ‘jailbreak’ a symbian phone. You can sideload apps from any source. I’m just using ‘Apps’ as shorthand of course. Apps or Applications – same thing.

                      The point I’m making is that you’re making out as if Apple have supported a phone from 2007 all along but they stopped OS updates in 2009/10 and you can’t even develop for it since a year ago.

                      Nokia weren’t that great at OS updates certainly in the N95 era. You were pretty much stuck with the OS that came with the phone bar a couple of minor bugfix updates. They changed that in the Symbian^3 era with Anna then Belle and even some featurepack interim updates. But, the store itself never had a restriction on what developers could support and you could still sideload apps anyway. That’s quite different from Apple’s walled garden.

                      Anyhow, this is kind of a silly argument as IIRC about 98% of Apple users are on 4.3+ anyway and I would imagine the number of active Symbian users that do not have a Symbian^3+ device is pretty slim too. I was just pointing out that you were being falsely revisionist casting Apple in a good light which it did not deserve.

                    • Random Random

                      Yes. Developing for 3.x and distributing with App Store is not possible but just like you said jailbreaking is a great way of enabling access for the older hardware. Not to App Store but to lots of content.

                      The point is that Apple invented the modern smartphone.

                      You can’t jailbreak N95 to make into a modern smartphone.

                      It’s as simple as that.

  • Darrow

    Yep, the n95 was great, I bought a n95-3 when they came out – and I am still using it! I replace parts (from ebay) every once in a while.

    Normal wear:
    screen ribbon cable
    volume switches

    after a pond drop:

    My main gripe is that, with the 32gb sd card, it is slow (and it was not fast to start with!). I typically reboot every couple of days. And no 4g 🙁

    But, it is getting a bit old and creaky, but what new phone? No desire to dive into the Android/Apple ecosystem, I will probably have to go with some mini form factor linux device with a 4g card.

    It would be nice if someone kickstarted an updated n95 with a modern cpu and 4g.

    • Random Random


    • D Harries

      I could almost be alright with N95 8Gb edition. Button press was better. But do people want mechanical phones any more?

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