The T-Grid: Nokia’s 5800 XpressMusic vs. the iPhone

By  |  Thursday, October 2, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Give Steve Jobs this: When Apple frets publicly about other companies ripping off the iPhone, it has a point. The iPhone is quickly becoming what the Mac was more than twenty years ago, only more so: A device that sets the style, technological, and functional agenda for an entire industry. And now Nokia is leaping into the game with the 5800 XpressMusic, its first iPhone-like touchscreen phone.

The 5800 XpressMusic certainly looks like an iPhone, and it matches its features in many areas (though not all of them: It’s got a less sophisticated, single-touch screen, albeit one with more pixels). And it’s got some of the features which some people wish the iPhone had, including a fancier camera that has a flash and can record video, voice dialing, and even an FM radio.

The 5800 won’t be available in the U.S. until next year, and we don’t know anything about pricing or the service side of things yet. And the single best thing about the iPhone by far is the software experience; I need hands-on experience with the 5800 to judge how it compares (Gizmodo, which got some, doesn’t seem to think the 5800 is that great on this front). But it’s still worth comparing the two devices in a T-Grid, in the proud tradition of the one we did of the iPhone and T-Mobile’s G1.

As usual, this is our first pass, subject to expansion and revision:

The phones
Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
Apple iPhone 3G
Symbian S60 5th Edition
Apple’s proprietary OS X
By end of the year in Asia, Middle East, Rusia, and Spain; U.S. in 2008
Now, although supply is occasionally spotty
TBD in U.S. (279 Euros–$387–unsubsidized in Europe)
$199 for 8GB model or $299 for 16GB model with two-year contract
Data plan
TBD in U.S.
$30 a month for unlimited data; $5 a month extra for 200 text messages
TBD in U.S.
Yup, to AT&T
Red, blue, and black
Black (8GB and 16GB); white (16GB only)
Size and weight
4.37” by 2.03” by 0.61”; 3.84 oz.
4.5″ by 2.4″by 0.48″; 4.7 oz.
Screen size and resolution
3.2″; 640 by 360
3.5″; 480 by 320
Single-touch touchscreen (fingertip or stylus) with on-screen keyboard; handwriting recognition; T9
Multi-touch touchscreen with on-screen keyboard
Headphone jack
Standard 3.5mm
Standard 3.5mm
Voice dialing
Voice recording
MicroSD slot with bundled 8GB card
8GB and 16GB models available; no memory expansion
3.2 megapixels; flash; 3x digital zoom; video capable; additional camera on front for video calling
2 megapixels; no flash; no digital zoom; no video; no second camera
Quad-band GSM
Quad-band GSM
3G (UMTS with HSDPA, if you want to get technical)
Use as tethered modem?
Not sure!
Violates AT&T’s terms of service; tethering plan is rumored
Wi-Fi and GPS
Done and done
Ditto and ditto
8.8 hours talk time; 406 hours standby; removable
5 hours talk time; 300 hours standby; not removable
Web browser
WebKit based browser; supports Flash Lite
WebKit-based Safari; no Flash
Web searching
Yes, via Nokia Mobile Search (I’m not sure what that is)
Yes, via Google or Yahoo
MobileMe, GMail, Yahoo Mail, AOL; other services supported through IMAP
Yes, with to-do list
Yes, but no to-do list
Microsoft Exchange support
Instant messaging
Only through third-party apps
Yes (Nokia Maps)
Turn-by-turn navigation
Not sure, but “car navigation” is mentioned in specs
No, but may be coming from third party developer(s)
Nokia NSeries music player; Comes With Music unlimited-download version available in 2009 in some areas; supports MP3, SpMidi, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, and WMA formats
iPod player and iTunes Store; supports MP3, AAC (with or without Fairplay), WAV, Apple Lossless, AIFF, VBR formats
RealPlayer; supports MPEG4-SP, MPEG4-AVC, MPEG-SP, and WMV9 formats
iPod player, YouTube; movies through iTunes Store; supports H.264 and MPEG4 formats
FM radio
Wireless synching
Not sure
Yes, through MobileMe
Desktop synching
Yes, through Nokia OVI Suite
Yes, through iTunes
Application store
Not sure, but there’s a Downloads feature
Yes, the iTunes App Store
Any additions, corrections, or questions?

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27 Comments For This Post

  1. Oliver Thylmann Says:

    While I am still getting an iphone 3g and have the 2g one, I thought I’d point out a few things as I do believe Nokia is onto something here. First of all price. The iPhone 3G sells unsubsidized for something between 500 and 600 EURs, the small one. And in general, subsidies of 400 EURs are relatively normal. So even with a basic contract the 5800 will probably cost you nothing here in Europe. Really, the phone is WAY cheaper than the iPhone which is partly due to the fact that Nokia just has GIGANTIC volumes and hence better prices.

    As for search, Nokia does have deals with google and you can download a google search if you want. As for modem capabilities, I see no reason why this is not includes as in the N95 or others. This is just that through the lock in with AT&T Apple got some extra money and that led to AT&T having some extra bargaining power.

    And remember, this is a first step. And it is more of a youth phone.

  2. KenC Says:

    You should point out where features, though not offerered by Apple, are available thru the AppStore. I mean, you can get voice recording for free thru the AppStore, etc.

    The minor niggle is that WebKit is spelled with a capital K, and it is Apple’s donation to the open-source community. It’s just funny how Nokia and Google are using Apple’s work to build their browsers up to a usable state.

    The KEY point you did not make is that the screen for the Nokia is RESISTIVE, not capacitative, like the iPhone. Resistive screens are old tech. That’s why you need the stylus.

  3. Harry McCracken Says:

    Thanks, KenC. You’re right that the Nokia’s screen ain’t no iPhone screen. And anyone who thinks that Apple is always proprietary and secretive needs to remember WebKit, one of the most significant and impressive open-source projects there is.


  4. Noah Says:

    Re: KenC, yeah, feature lists are going to get a lot harder now that these phones are so flexible in terms of software.

    Anyway, for your Nokia questions, based on latest 3rd Edition phones:

    Wireless synching: Yes — Ovi Sync
    Web searching: Is this REALLY a specification? (See KenC’s comment)
    Turn-by-turn directions: This is a component of Nokia Maps when GPS is present
    Tethering: unlocked hardware should be capable, I’ve never seen Nokia willingly lock this feature out
    Application Store: Yes, Nokia Download! has been around forever

  5. pipacs Says:

    @KenC: WebKit is based on the open source KDE HTML rendering + JavaScript engines, so I wouldn’t call it “Apple’s donation”. Apple and Nokia are both improving the engines and giving back code to the community.

  6. Constable Odo Says:

    Based on hardware, the Nokia seems like a sure winner. I like the idea of the Nokia having longer battery life. Something that the iPhone sorely needs. I still don’t understand why Apple doesn’t believe in removable memory card slots. Not in it’s handsets or notebooks. What a waste.

    Symbian is fairly well developed, while Mobile OSX is just getting started. I think Apple needs one more year to fully develop it and it will catch up with some of the standard features on other handsets.

    Whether lots of people will go out and buy this handset is another story altogether. I’m sure iPhone users won’t be dumping their handsets. I think both the Nokia and G1 handsets will merely steal users from WinMo handsets.

  7. Gihan El :oghazy Says:

    Very informative comparison

  8. Gihan El Moghazy Says:

    Very informative comparison. Viva Nokia

  9. nick Says:

    iPhone does have voice record ….it’s just a third party application

  10. Blackberry Storm Man Says:

    The Nokia 5800 is going to outsell the iPhone IMHO. They are already predicting 10,000 units per month to be sold in one store in Russia. since they are rolling this thing out all over the world systematically its going to be a serious threat to the iPhone. Steve Jobs may have something up his sleeve, but these other companies are hot on the heels of the iPhone, including the upcoming Blackberry Storm which is due to be released soon. Personally, I can’t wait for that one, should be very cool.

  11. Mta Says:

    i think nokia 5800 is better

  12. nokia rock Says:

    nokia 5800 is better, it came with 8gb micro SD memory and up to 16 GB, GPS wifi conection, and its just realy awesome xD………………

  13. Ahmed Says:

    Hey i wont buy any nokia phone again i bought this nokia 5800 and after 2 days it started to open slower and sometimes stop working at all!!!!!
    i wll go and buy an iphone right now!!!!!
    and i advice to bring an iphone toooo

  14. james Says:

    hey guyz
    i have iphone “old one” and thinkin of gettin the 3g one
    but wat about this nokia 5800?
    i`m afraid of gettin it cuz i had sonyericsson w960 and it`s very very slow and stupid , so after gettin used 2 iphone software “how fast it is” i`m not sure that nokia can make somethin close 2 iphone
    have any1 tried this nokia ? i just wanna ask bout the software , is it slow and stupid or it`s just amazin like the iphone ?

  15. Anthony Says:


    does the Nokia 5800 Xpress support google talk or skype, can i install any of these on the phone

  16. sree Says:

    you can use Numbuzzz Mgtalk ebuddy for chat and can send photos and files like normal PC chat in nokia symbian phones………
    nokia phones tend to get slow when u consume phone memory ..give path too camera and any downloads directly to memory card and make phone memory as free as possible..finally if u compare price and features iphone and omnia are loosers..

  17. Jenson Says:

    “That’s why you need the stylus” – errrmmm, no. I mean, yes it is resistive, but you don’t _need_ the stylus. We’re talking about different UI input support here, and unfortunately, I believe Nokia have tried to put them all in the same device and write a UI that tries to cater for them all. Not a great idea, but I’ve not had much of a chance to use it yet. Some of the UI has been thought though by the clever people in that company though.

    I think its unfortunate that a phone such as this is going to be shelved under an iPhone killer attempt. Supporting touch is definately an attempt to kill their decreasing market share in a world that seems to be in love with everything touch provides, nicely marketed to the general public by Apple. (With regard to the above ‘redefine’ statement: They didn’t really redefine phones, but they definately improved on the existing touch to the point where a largely under used technology in the UI space was very marketable) The 5800 is, however, very similar to their existing phone lines with the price tag to match.

    I don’t think Nokia have even started on a device that is going to go head to head. They have the N97 out, again ‘iPhone Killer’ is remarked on, but it just an updated version of their communicator devices (again supporting touch, see market demand statements above) and targeted at the same people who bought their Communicators (again, hence the price tag).

    I don’t know if Nokia will go after the iPhone, there are enough problems with Apples offering that they might. I’m not going to go into them here! On the other hand, S60 was designed to support their current form factors and probably will not scale up much further than it already has.

    In the meantime, the iPhone will have more sizzle and the Nokia phones will have better telephony with support for existing operator standards. If the market supports them both and they provide good competition with each other whilst providing consumer choice, who cares?

  18. antman Says:

    iphone: navigation

    Not available, forbiden to develop by the iphone sdk license!!!
    It MAY be developed if a company gets licen$e from apple

  19. mohammed Says:

    can we open youtube from 5800 Xpressmusic

  20. Hassan Says:

    Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is the BEST
    I bought the Nokia 5800 and it is very cool there is a 3.2 Mega Pixel Camera with flash with Video recording, 3G Enabled, Wireless LAN (WLAN), Bluetooth, 8 GB to 16 GB Micro SD Mem. Card and GPS Navigation.

  21. PCGuidePro Says:

    5800 is great. Nice price. Great solid features. But UGHH! no autocorrect feature when making sms messages.

  22. J Says:

    Just to put things into perspective, apples are designed to be user friendly and some applications automatically shut down, typical of mac software which i think is wonderful!!!

    But in regards to a nokia, if you send a text, then play a game, while listening to music, then you hit end and close the game and open a web page via wifi… You have accessed 5 different programs and are drawing resources from your phone. This has plagued all windows mobile and symbian (nokia is latter) Mobile os’ since day one… however on their latest os they made it so simple to close running apps its a joke.

    So for the jokers saying the phone runs slow, and sometimes stops, i highly suggest to you that you read instruction manuals sent with them that direct you to close applications when finished with them. That will make your phone run like a champ

  23. Jason Says:

    No offense, but the iPhone hardly set the technological or functional stage for the industry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent phone, but even with apps, it’s functionality is lacking (unless you jailbreak the phone) – keep in mind this is one of the only phones on the market that can’t properly multi-task, and I consider that far more relevant than some mostly gimmicky multi-touch (which I’ve only found useful for a slightly faster way to zoom webpages). Sure, the features are there, but the UI, while easy to use, is oversimplified (like most of Apple’s products). For a power user like me, that makes the iPhone undesirable at best.

    On a another note, in future comparisons I HIGHLY recommend you list the non-contract price for phones. Subsidized prices are misleading and do not reflect the actual monetary value of the phone.

    @J: “Plagued”? Last I checked, the ability for the phone to multi-task was considered a plus, not a con. Fanboyism at it’s best, the iPhone is one of the only phones on the market incapable of proper multi-tasking.

    Personally I’ll be grabbing the 5800. Besides, I hate capacitive screens. A *well-made* resistive is more broadly useful and nearly as sensitive.

  24. iphone sucks! Says:

    The iphone is losing to NOKIA by uncountable points. The 5800 has better apps. and higher quality of cameras ( 5800 has video cam and normal cam and secondary cam for video call and take pics and can video record, iphone doesn’t) and higher megapixel and resolution. How many models of apple phones u see? Three. Nokia? Thousands. 5800 also has differents camera modes and flash for video recording and pics. With the stylus u don’t need to wipe the screen all the time like the lousy iphone. 5800 also beats all the lg,blackberry,sony ericson,samsung phones, etc……… common sense, DUH!!!!! And u can always put a screen protector ,hello!? And 5800 has better voice quality. Nokia has to-do-list , voice recording, removable battery and longer battery life than the iphone. If the iphone battery starts to lose charge u can’t change. I know cuz i have used the newest iphone and i replaced it with the nokia 5800 xpressmusic. Nokia is the only pro in phones and thats a fact!!!!!

  25. iphone sucks! Says:

    iphone only has one main button, u always have to keep pressing it, it will break pretty soon. I have used the iphone before, the newest model.

  26. ahmad f.f Says:

    khak to sare hamatoon.5800 dar haddi nist k bekhad ba iphone rooberoo beshe.ahmad from iran

  27. bims Says:

    .) I discovered your blog site on google and check a few of your early posts. Continue to keep up the very good operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking forward to reading more from you later on!…

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