How long is five years? Can you remember what you were doing back then, where you were, what was happening? Here’s a small reminder…the Beijing Olympics, Barrack Obama elected president, economic meltdown Part 1 and Sarah Palin. Any help? Of course in technology terms five years is a triple whammy lifetime, and especially so with mobile phone technology.
We thought it might be fun – nothing more – to take a fond look backwards and compare the state of mobile phone technology back in 2008 with today, focusing on top of the range smartphones of both periods. Our choices were a Nokia N82 from the earlier era, and the HTC One representing one of the hottest handsets of the current moment. Both products represent the best of the best of their time, and both brands are global giants, so it’s a pretty even match in some ways.
The goal…to see how far we’ve come in a short 60 months. Just for a laugh, you understand. Nothing more. Our video runs through the tests.
As you can see from the video above, the two handsets share a surprising number of similar features, even though the technology behind them has moved on significantly in the period. They both support Bluetooth, A-GPS, WiFi, 3G, FM radio, stereo speakers and multimedia playback. But there the similarities end.
The HTC is Mike Tyson in just about every way, where the Nokia is understandably more like Napoleon Dynamite. We’re talking a 1.7GHz quad core processor vs a 332MHz for the Finnish handset, 2 GB RAM vs 128 MB, 32 GB on-board storage vs 100 MB (although the Nokia fights back with support for microSD up to 32GB) and so on. And that’s not to mention the WiFi AC (hyper fast wireless), Bluetooth aptx (CD quality audio over BT), 1080p high definition video recording and playback or the stunningly fast 4G capabilities of the HTC.
We were surprised, however, to find out how close the two cameras are in terms of still image quality. Video is, as you’d expect with the tiny processor, rather poor on the Nokia, but the still images, especially in the dark are not that far apart (see samples below). A testament to the optic quality and firmware of the older phone. Similarly we were surprised to find the music output to be really quite decent on the older handset, and while not as rich and rounded as the HTC, the Nokia delivered a sound that is better quality than many of the current smartphone brands. Impressive.
Back in July 2008, when we did our review of the Nokia, we mentioned being impressed with the ‘blazing fast‘ speed of the HSDPA network, and it’s a sad reflection of the pitifully slow roll out of 4G services in this country at the moment, that five years later, we’re not seeing a huge improvement in those speeds, even though the HTC is primed and ready for blistering 4G rates. Of course the relatively large battery and small screen means that we were happy with the TWO DAY recharge timetable, remember those days?
We also were impressed by the TV Out, which may not have been HDMI, but it’s still a cool feature for five years back. But what can you say about the HTC that hasn’t already been said? The gorgeous hyper sensitive screen, the beast of a processor and build quality scream top class all the way. However we have been a little disappointed at a couple of features on the handset which we found lacking.
For one thing, we found the power switch to be more than a little awkward to use, both for things like waking up the screen and for toggling Flight Mode etc. Having a sleek flush minimalist design really can degrade ergonomics it seems. We’re also not great fans of the sealed unibody design school. The lack of a replaceable battery and no external storage capabilities really don’t impress us, especially if you’re used to these features from Samsung handsets.
Any Samsung user thinking about changing to the HTC would do well to remember that the 32 or 64 GB memory card they’ve got stuffed with music, photos and books etc, will be instantly obsolete if they make the switch. But these points aside, the HTC is definitely a superb piece of work, and we can definitely see why it has attracted so many compliments, although we suspect these may be mainly from iPhone users who are used to the lack of upgradability and battery access.
Five years is a long time in technology terms, and we’re not surprised to see how much has changed in terms of functionality and sheer user friendliness in applications such as GPS navigation, web browsing and other data intensive tasks. What does surprise us however, is how close the two handsets seem to be in the more basic functions such as photography, music playing and actual call and texting modes.
While it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to return to the bad old Symbian days, for anyone still stuck to their old Nokia handset, there’s no question that their ‘phone’ experience is probably not going to be that bad, and in fact it’s probably better when it comes to things like one-handed texting while on the move. Despite this we’re happy to report that progress in general seems to have delivered more than its share of improvements, and while we’re still not convinced that the world really needs to be awash with 700,000 apps, it feels good to have that rich resource available to use if you need it.
Sample images taken at night with integrated flash (Nokia on the right). Click on image for larger version.
HTC One – http://www.gsmarena.com/htc_one-5313.php
Nokia N82 – http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_n82-2177.php