For those who use T-Mobile in the US, choosing a new, unlocked smartphone isn't easy lately. The Nokia N900 and Nexus One both work on T-Mobile's US 3G network and on 3G networks in Europe and Asia. Each runs a sparkly new OS and has high end specs. I personally have a T-Mobile account and with both phones in house, find it hard to pick a favorite. From emails I've received, I know I'm not alone, so I've compiled a comparison list that might help you decide between these two superphones.
OS: Tie. Ironically, Android is considered a new OS, but Nokia's Maemo in its new phone iteration, is a virtual newborn. Both are fun to use, have good eye candy and are intuitive. Nokia's Maemo 5 still has rough edges since the N900 (the only Maemo 5 smartphone) has only been out a month or so. Maemo, like Android, evolves quickly, so we expect Nokia and the open source community to play a good game of catch up. Each is Linux-based and parts are open source, which means community involvement has potential, though historically the community has had more involvement in the actual evolution of the OS.
Looks and Build Quality: Nexus One. Looks are highly subjective but since thin is in, we expected most folks to prefer the Google phone's design. We handed the phone to 20 folks who are phone enthusiasts and surprisingly the Nexus One wasn't the clear winner on aesthetics. Both are well made, quality devices with metal bezels and plastic backs, though the Nexus One does have a metal strip across the back. Clearly if you like thin, pocketable phones, the Nexus is the winner. If you're a QWERTY person then the N900 wins. The N900 looks a bit more plasticky and it is a chunky monkey, so personally I'd give the edge to the Nexus One.
Speed: Nexus One wins. Both are very fast phones and the Nokia N900's 600MHz Cortex A8 CPU with GPU is no slouch. But run 6 heavy programs at once and the N900 sometimes slows a bit while the Nexus One's 1 GHz Snapdron CPU keeps on truckin'.
Available 3rd party applications: Nexus One wins since the Android Market has 2 years lead on the upcoming Ovi Maemo store. We hope the Ovi Maemo Store opens this month, but for now you can console yourself with the "Maemo Select" home page and link on the phone's home screen. You'll find some worthwhile apps there including weather apps, AP news, the Documents to Go Office viewer suite, a stock app with widget and witter (a Twitter client).
Web browsing: N900. It has a Mozilla-based web browser that uses a true desktop rendering core. The N900 has Flash 9.4 built in while the Nexus One doesn't support Flash at all. Flash 10.1 is coming to the Nexus One though... but then again the N900 will also get the ugrade to Flash 10.1.
Phone functionality: Nexus One has full phone features and arguably more standard phone ergonomics. Both have on-screen call controls and dialer with no hardware buttons for calling. But the Nexus One's heritage as a phone OS first shows and it has voice dialing, speed dialing and better call/voicemail notifications. The N900 is still more of an Internet tablet, though we expect Nokia will enhance phone features soon.
Reception and call quality: N900 wins for reception and call quality is a tie. Nokia knows how to build a phone and it's hard to beat their strong reception and call quality. That said, the Nexus One also has excellent voice quality thanks to Audience's DSP chip and the phone's dual mics. While Nokia phones usually work well with most headsets on the market, the N900 doesn't sound that great with a variety of Bluetooth headsets.
Camera: N900 takes better photos and videos and the camera app has more features. The N900 has a a better lens and a protective lens door. The N900 has a powerful dual LED flash vs. the weak since flash on the Nexus One.
Text input: N900 thanks to its hardware QWERTY keyboard. But we give the Nexus One credit for having a very good on-screen keyboard thanks to a combo of large screen size, capacitive display and haptic feedback. And with Google's pervasive voice input, you can avoid the keyboard altogether most everywhere.
Display: Nexus One wins but the N900's resistive has its good points: you can use a fingernail or stylus to tap tiny links and it's more viewable outdoors. But the Nexus One's AMOLED display is more vivid, slightly larger and it's capacitive which makes for an easier transition from the iPhone and other Android phones.
Speaker: N900 has loud, clear stereo speakers while the Nexus One has a tinny mono speaker.
GPS: Nexus One has better mapping software and spoken directions. Both have capable GPS hardware, but we'll take Google Maps over the older version of Ovi Maps that's on the N900.
Storage: N900 wins. It has 32 giggs of built-in storage while the Nexus One has 512 megs. Both have SDHC microSD card slots for further expansion.
And the results? It's a tie! I will say that the Nexus One is more phone-centric while the Nokia N900 is more Web and media-focused. If you're considering a phone, keep this in mind.
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