The iPhone 3G isn’t even out yet and already rival phone companies are lining up to release iPhone 3G-killers.
In the last two days I’ve had my hands on two such devices. The first is a Sony Erricson C905, which Sony was kind enough to show to me at a launch party yesterday.
The Sony Erricsson C905 has all the usual smartphone features (3G, GPS, WiFi). In fact, it pretty much matches the iPhone 3G point for point except it uses a much more traditional interface (slide-out keyboard).
On this point it’ll probably fall down when it comes to surfing the web in comparison to the iPhone, although some people will always prefer this for texting.
Like the iPhone it has built-in email, but it also has MMS and instant messaging. But that’s not what makes it a potential iPhone-killer.
The killer feature
Geotagging. The C905 automatically adds GPS data to your photographs (or triangulates your location from mobile phone masts). The C905 can location tag your photos so you’ll know exactly where you took them. This can be used with services such as Locr.com to add information to your photos. You can even see other people’s photographs from the same area. It could bring a whole new aspect to consumer photography.
In fairness, the iPhone 3G will also do this, but the iPhone’s camera is frankly so poor as to make this whole function worthless. In comparison the C905 sports an 8-megapixel camera, built-in Xenon flash, dedicated buttons, image stabiliser, auto focus face detection, smart contrast, red-eye reduction…
It’s probably better than the camera you currently own. Combine that with GPS geotagging and you have a phone we’ll be keeping an eye on. Unfortunately it’s not out until later in the year.
The second iPhone killer also isn’t out until later in the year (August 2008.) However, we’ve got a pre-production model currently charging up in the office.
It’s Nokia’s sequel to last year’s success (the N95) and is called… wait for it… the N96.
The N96 sports a look somewhere between the N95 and the iPhone. It still has the dual-sliding front face. Slide it in one direction and you can access the numerical keypad; slide it the other way and you get the four playback keys (which double up as gaming keys when you hold the phone horizontally). On the front surface of the phone is a four-way directional pad and a set of menu buttons.
The front facia looks more iPhone-esque with more curved edges and a silver bezel. It also sports a large screen (almost as large as the iPhone 3G’s) although it’s not touch-enabled.
It has everything the iPhone has and also does GPS geotagging, although the camera isn’t quite as good as Sony’s offering. Mind you, it’s still infinitely better than the iPhone camera. Like last year’s N95 it has far too many features to list. Let’s just say: “you name it, the N96 has got it”.
The killer feature…
Television. While the iPhone has video playback – and iTunes is now selling movies and videos online – Nokia has just upped its game with Mobile TV.
The N96 includes a DVB-H receiver (that’s Freeview to you and me). And the built-in 16GB of memory can store up to 40 hours of recorded video. You can also expand the memory via a memory stick to a total of 24GB.
Meanwhile the Nokia Video Center offers a wide range of Internet TV from movie trailers, to news and content from YouTube, Reuters and Sony Pictures.
It also has a neat little flip-out stand on the back that helps you rest the phone on a table to watch television.
Aside from that the Nokia N96 has everything that it had last year, which is to say pretty much everything but the kitchen sink.
So will either of them be an iPhone killer? It’s interesting to note that the website iPhonekiller.com is registered but not N96killer.com, or C905killer.com. Because the iPhone is far from the market-leading mobile phone. But it seems almost pre-destined to be so, a least in the eyes of people who take out domain registrations.
I remember talking to a friend last year and the conversation went like this:
Me: “I had an N95 but got an iPhone instead”
Him: “But why?”
Me: “Because it’s better”
Him: “No it isn’t”
Me: “Yes it is”
Him: “No it isn’t”.
And so on…
I can’t really see much this year that will change that. His point was that the N95 did more stuff than the iPhone, which was true. My point was that the iPhone did less things, but did them much better (also true).
This year I don’t see that changing. But will more people buy the iPhone now that it’s only £99 and has 3G, or will they want the ‘everything thrown in’ of the Nokia N96, or the superlative camera functions of the C905?
My money (well, £99 of it at any rate) is on the iPhone 3G.