Nokia Had The World’s Best Smartphone – Then Came The ‘Inferior’ iPhone

Nokia Had The World's Best Smartphone – Then Came The 'Inferior' iPhone

Image Credit: Sami Keinanen via Flickr

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Guest Author Nigel Linge, University of Salford

Ten years ago, anyone who wanted the latest and best smartphone was excited about the Nokia N95. Launched at the Nokia Open Studio in September 2006, it was trumpeted as the all-in-one multimedia computer and went on to achieve sales of a million handsets within the UK in its first year.

On paper, it had everything a gadget-lover could desire, including a 2.6-inch LCD screen, a 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and video recorder, up to 8GB of storage, 3G and WiFi connectivity, and a built-in GPS receiver with navigation software. The N95 showed the world’s number one mobile phone manufacturer, Nokia, at the top of its game. Yet, as we now know, all of that was about to change dramatically when, on Jan 9 2007, Steve Jobs announced that Apple was entering the mobile phone business with the launch of the iPhone.

At a technical level, the iPhone was significantly inferior to the N95. To start with, it was a 2G device not a 3G one. Its camera was only 2 megapixels and it didn’t support GPS. Yet, what it did offer was a totally new concept in smartphone design.

Until Apple’s entry into the mobile world, handsets had been designed by companies who viewed the device as a phone first and a computer second. That’s not too surprising given its history and evolution, starting out as a basic telephone and slowly but surely acquiring more computing features. But a new entrant can turn thinking on its head, and that’s precisely what Apple did by viewing the handset as primarily a computer that just happened to include a phone capability.

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