Nokia N8 vs Samsung Galaxy S

Introduction and Design

If a Clash of the Titans movie was to be made for the smartphone industry, it would certainly feature the Nokia N8 and the Samsung Galaxy S. These are the current cream-of-the-crop handsets of the world's largest and second-largest cell phone manufacturers. The Nokia N8 and Samsung Galaxy S might be the high road for both companies, but the purposes behind them are different.

The Nokia N8 is a flagship phone with premium feel, and still, with Symbian^3, it feels like the pinnacle of Nokia that were, a peak hardware effort, before the Finnish company morphs into something yet unknown. Nokia wanted to make the highest end device to run a tried and true mobile OS that millions of users are accustomed to for years. In that respect, it is an evolutionary phone, despite some best-in-class features.

The Samsung Galaxy S, on the other hand, represents the top effort of a novel path that Samsung undertook with Android, having the fastest graphics chipset in a phone, and an enormous  4”  Super AMOLED screen. Nokia N8 is like the brilliant film of a beloved movie star at the zenith of their hectic carrier, while the Galaxy S is the straight-As grad student, ready to change the world.


The Nokia N8 and the Samsung Galaxy S are both touchscreen-only devices, and that is where the design similarities end. Nokia N8 is beautifully crafted from a single sheet of anodized aluminum, and exudes that premium feel, aided by the solid heft of the metal body. It is enough to run your nail along the back, or rub your thumb against the etched logo, in order to conclude that this is a high-end craftsmanship.

The Samsung Galaxy S also wows you, but from a different perspective. It is extremely thin at just 0.39 inches (9.9 mm), compared to the Nokia N8's 0.51 inches (12.9 mm). It is also very light in the hand, and thus doesn't feel like the big phone it actually is. Being made entirely of plastic has its positives - plastic is lighter and less rigid thаn metal, and this might actually help the precious Super AMOLED screen survive drops and other rough handling.

The Galaxy S experience centers around that 4” 480x800 pixels Super AMOLED display, and the 3.5” regular AMOLED with 360x640 pixels  can't hold water against the Super AMOLED Goliath. Thanks to the Super AMOLED tech, the Galaxy S delivers incredibly high-contrast ratio and great viewing angles. For the most part, the ordinary AMOLED screen on the Nokia N8 manages to replicate this experience, but things get quite different when taken outside, under direct sunlight. The regular AMOLED has a relatively high reflectance ratio, while the Super AMOLED's is only 4%, one of the lowest in a smartphone. Still, Nokia has done a great job coating the N8, and the display is decent outside, but the Galaxy S fares even better, on par with the best LCD screens out there.

Both handsets have physical home buttons under their screens. The Samsung Galaxy S, though, also adds capacitive back and menu Android buttons on its sides. Android’s hardware back and menu keys are frankly a better idea, since the virtual Options and Back in Symbian just take screen real estate.

Looking around the handsets, we find not less than ten openings and buttons on the sides of the Nokia N8, compared to the four in the Samsung Galaxy S, indicative of the difference in the design approach.

One notable difference is that the Nokia N8 has a non-removable battery. The card slots (SIM and microSD), are taken out of the battery compartment, and placed on the left side, while Galaxy S has them inside. On the right side the Nokia N8 has the camera button, while the Galaxy S uses the touchscreen to focus and shoot.

The buttons on both handsets are very responsive, with enough travel. The important ports are protected either by sliding lids or by plastic caps, and, all in all, despite the difference in materials, both the Nokia N8 and the Samsung Galaxy S are manufactured with precision, and feel like they can go for years of faithful service.

Nokia N8 360 Degrees View:

Samsung Galaxy S 360 Degrees View:

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