Web rendering differences on mobile devices

Patrick showing me the Family Guy on his iPhone

Tonight Dave Winer linked to Nik Cubrilovic’s blog where he was talking about Twitter vs. Pownce. More on that in a second. I was reading on my Nokia N95. When I got there the page was completely black. Or at least the content area was. So, I called over Patrick and said “give me your iPhone.” I think I might even have said “please.” But that’s unimportant here.

He handed it over and I quickly tapped in Nik’s URL and visited his Web page. Looked great on the iPhone. Even the fonts looked better.

See, this is why I say the iPhone is better than the Nokia for MOST PEOPLE.

Later I saw Eric Rice talking about his own Nokia vs. iPhone debate. See, I have a feeling that Eric would actually LOVE a Nokia N95 over an iPhone. Why? Cause Eric is a geek. Geekier than me, even. And he’s also a content developer. A much better one than I am. Yeah, he uses different tools than I do to create content (I’ve mostly seen his work in Second Life) but he stands out of a crowd. Most people don’t create content. Most people don’t really care whether their phone has a GPS or a video camera. Most people DO want their Web pages to render decently, though.

Even on the camera front I had to reboot my Nokia several times today. See, my camera runs out of memory after opening and closing too many apps. So my camera refuses to load on the Nokia. I have yet to see that behavior on the iPhone.

Campbell's water tower during dinner

Eric has it right in his post above. It’s not how many features you have. It’s how many of those features thrill you. My Nokia rarely thrills. Look at the picture above. That’s Family Guy playing. Patrick downloaded it from YouTube. It is an experience that thrills. Thrills in a way that my small screen on my Nokia rarely does.

I take it back. There is one time my Nokia thrills. When I get home and look at my photos. They remind me I had a good day and they are almost as good a quality as my Nikon pocket camera. Yet I have it with me.

And that’s why Eric Rice might really love the Nokia N95 but most everyone else would hate it.

Oh, one other thing. My battery died. Sigh. So unthrilling.

Comments

  1. Sure, love to chat about it. But I think we have a different definition of ‘experience’… going to gmail via a browser and seeing a link to ‘download Gmail, it’s fast!’ is a more human experience than ‘people cant’ install apps!’ Saying the latter sounds nerdy, but in reality, people might be doing it anyway because their sites like Yahoo and Google tell them too.

    And the camera is important to me, as cameras are on oodles of phone, and the world of Youtube is people doing crap with video. I’m kinda normal there.

    And also, I have HD camera and an 8.3 megapixel. But I just don’t lug that stuff everywhere I go.

    Experience is end-to-end, not limited to an interface experience. I’ve had more non-techies complain about the things it misses– which I was blown away by? They aren’t supposed to care?

    Sounds like a great idea, let’s do it. :)

  2. Sure, love to chat about it. But I think we have a different definition of ‘experience’… going to gmail via a browser and seeing a link to ‘download Gmail, it’s fast!’ is a more human experience than ‘people cant’ install apps!’ Saying the latter sounds nerdy, but in reality, people might be doing it anyway because their sites like Yahoo and Google tell them too.

    And the camera is important to me, as cameras are on oodles of phone, and the world of Youtube is people doing crap with video. I’m kinda normal there.

    And also, I have HD camera and an 8.3 megapixel. But I just don’t lug that stuff everywhere I go.

    Experience is end-to-end, not limited to an interface experience. I’ve had more non-techies complain about the things it misses– which I was blown away by? They aren’t supposed to care?

    Sounds like a great idea, let’s do it. :)

  3. Eric: Gmail comes into the iPhone. Not sure what iPhone you’re looking at.

    Of 1,000 people who visit YouTube how many upload a video? I’d bet the number is smaller than 10. So, no, you aren’t normal. That’s the whole point. Go into the street and do some real market research. Ask 1,000 people how many of them need/want a phone with a camera or video camera? The number is sizeable, but the percentage will be small. This is why Nokia sells so many phones around the world.

    Maybe that’s why Maryam and Patrick are so excited about their iPhones and I’m still sticking it out with an N95. Cause I’m weird. So are you. Which is why I like hanging out with you! :-)

  4. Eric: Gmail comes into the iPhone. Not sure what iPhone you’re looking at.

    Of 1,000 people who visit YouTube how many upload a video? I’d bet the number is smaller than 10. So, no, you aren’t normal. That’s the whole point. Go into the street and do some real market research. Ask 1,000 people how many of them need/want a phone with a camera or video camera? The number is sizeable, but the percentage will be small. This is why Nokia sells so many phones around the world.

    Maybe that’s why Maryam and Patrick are so excited about their iPhones and I’m still sticking it out with an N95. Cause I’m weird. So are you. Which is why I like hanging out with you! :-)

  5. Hi Rob,

    I think we are again fixated on the same issue of trying to compare apples with oranges. No one can discount the fact that iPhone is way more cooler that Nokia or any other product in the market. They have always been the best when it comes to UI. Because of the same reason is why they sometimes create restricted products. Think about iPod for example. It does not have an FM radio. In Singapore almost everyone commuting to work in public transport listens to FM. That was a big big feature loss and you don’t have to be different or geek to expect those features.

    Again, I must reiterate that I am not religious about Nokia but I think we should accept both products as they are and one should see the benefits of these two products and its deficiencies in its own light.

    By the way, additional battery is only 30 grams and you can carry two without any problems. But if the iPhone runs out then one can’t afford to carry two phones can they :)

  6. Hi Rob,

    I think we are again fixated on the same issue of trying to compare apples with oranges. No one can discount the fact that iPhone is way more cooler that Nokia or any other product in the market. They have always been the best when it comes to UI. Because of the same reason is why they sometimes create restricted products. Think about iPod for example. It does not have an FM radio. In Singapore almost everyone commuting to work in public transport listens to FM. That was a big big feature loss and you don’t have to be different or geek to expect those features.

    Again, I must reiterate that I am not religious about Nokia but I think we should accept both products as they are and one should see the benefits of these two products and its deficiencies in its own light.

    By the way, additional battery is only 30 grams and you can carry two without any problems. But if the iPhone runs out then one can’t afford to carry two phones can they :)

  7. I had a conversation with somebody who works in high tech for a living, but is not at all technical really, about the iPhone and the Nokia devices (since I have both at the moment). One of my comments to him was that the iPhone had the better OS.

    Of course, his reply was immediate: ‘who cares about the OS on a phone.’ Which, on the face of it is true, but when it means the difference between one application failing and the whole phone rebooting, is something that consumers care about. I’ve had the mail app on the iPhone crash several times now, but nothing else is affected. The OS does what it is meant to do. On the N95 when things go wrong, they really go wrong!

    Don’t get me wrong, the N95 is a great device (and I’m not going to swap it for an iPhone, or anything else, any time soon), but I do think Nokia might have pushed Symbian beyond its limits. I think it is time for them to think about doing the same thing Apple did with the jump to Mac OS X: get a new OS under the covers.

  8. I had a conversation with somebody who works in high tech for a living, but is not at all technical really, about the iPhone and the Nokia devices (since I have both at the moment). One of my comments to him was that the iPhone had the better OS.

    Of course, his reply was immediate: ‘who cares about the OS on a phone.’ Which, on the face of it is true, but when it means the difference between one application failing and the whole phone rebooting, is something that consumers care about. I’ve had the mail app on the iPhone crash several times now, but nothing else is affected. The OS does what it is meant to do. On the N95 when things go wrong, they really go wrong!

    Don’t get me wrong, the N95 is a great device (and I’m not going to swap it for an iPhone, or anything else, any time soon), but I do think Nokia might have pushed Symbian beyond its limits. I think it is time for them to think about doing the same thing Apple did with the jump to Mac OS X: get a new OS under the covers.

  9. i guess it’s what you class as unthrilling, lay about in my house watching simpsons on a phone screen isnt thrilling it’s actually pretty tedious and very boring, being able to experiment with a device, like attaching it to a kite and caputring 30fps video at 640×480 resoultion is pretty thrilling, or like when i and used GPS to find my way back to my hotel from montmartre at 2am is also quite thrilling. But I guess you’re right in a sense, your regular joe blogs will want to sit about and watch youtube and will in turn, think that’s a decent thrill.

  10. i guess it’s what you class as unthrilling, lay about in my house watching simpsons on a phone screen isnt thrilling it’s actually pretty tedious and very boring, being able to experiment with a device, like attaching it to a kite and caputring 30fps video at 640×480 resoultion is pretty thrilling, or like when i and used GPS to find my way back to my hotel from montmartre at 2am is also quite thrilling. But I guess you’re right in a sense, your regular joe blogs will want to sit about and watch youtube and will in turn, think that’s a decent thrill.

  11. Robert, you also need to change the flickr page. It still shows Simpsons.

    And, btw, don’t even get me started on the Simpsons vs. Family Guy and South Park vs. Family Guy drama. I’m sure that there is a lot of trolling going on ;)

  12. Robert, you also need to change the flickr page. It still shows Simpsons.

    And, btw, don’t even get me started on the Simpsons vs. Family Guy and South Park vs. Family Guy drama. I’m sure that there is a lot of trolling going on ;)

  13. I am surprised at how relatively few people mention the HSDPA (3.5G) on the N95 as its one great advantage over the iPhone. The N95′s interface really does suck (though I prefer it to the one on the HTC Windows Mobile device I was using previously), and it is pretty unstable – but I really can’t imagine using the ‘net at GPRS/EDGE speeds now that I’ve been using 3G for a couple of years. For me, better data speeds outweigh the interface.

    Are there more open Wifi hotspots in the US than over here in the UK, making high-speed data from your cellphone provider an irrelevance? Or are there just fewer 3G/3.5G providers, making the N95′s support of it less useful? Or am I just more concerned about the data speed to my handheld device than the everage user?

  14. I am surprised at how relatively few people mention the HSDPA (3.5G) on the N95 as its one great advantage over the iPhone. The N95′s interface really does suck (though I prefer it to the one on the HTC Windows Mobile device I was using previously), and it is pretty unstable – but I really can’t imagine using the ‘net at GPRS/EDGE speeds now that I’ve been using 3G for a couple of years. For me, better data speeds outweigh the interface.

    Are there more open Wifi hotspots in the US than over here in the UK, making high-speed data from your cellphone provider an irrelevance? Or are there just fewer 3G/3.5G providers, making the N95′s support of it less useful? Or am I just more concerned about the data speed to my handheld device than the everage user?

  15. Robert – finally, this post says what I think you’ve been trying to say, regarding N95 vs. iPhone. They’re different devices aimed at different people.

    I finally went and played with an iPhone yesterday, and after 20 minutes, I was bored. The UI is MILES better on the iPhone, there’s no arguing that.

    But the things that I use DAILY on my N95 weren’t there. Video, good stills, GPS, etc.

    The iPhone wasn’t DESIGNED to compete with full-featured phones like the N95. It was DESIGNED to bring regular consumers to a friendly relationship with their phone. To make cellphones an enjoyable experience. And it does that well.

    And the result is some people will be satisfied with lackluster camera and other missing features. And some won’t. But the thing is, the iPhone has brought more people to see their phone as something other than, well, a phone, than any other phone in history.

  16. Robert – finally, this post says what I think you’ve been trying to say, regarding N95 vs. iPhone. They’re different devices aimed at different people.

    I finally went and played with an iPhone yesterday, and after 20 minutes, I was bored. The UI is MILES better on the iPhone, there’s no arguing that.

    But the things that I use DAILY on my N95 weren’t there. Video, good stills, GPS, etc.

    The iPhone wasn’t DESIGNED to compete with full-featured phones like the N95. It was DESIGNED to bring regular consumers to a friendly relationship with their phone. To make cellphones an enjoyable experience. And it does that well.

    And the result is some people will be satisfied with lackluster camera and other missing features. And some won’t. But the thing is, the iPhone has brought more people to see their phone as something other than, well, a phone, than any other phone in history.

  17. @gilesthomas No one mentions the HSDPA of the N95 vs. the iPhone because it’s not usable in the US. In the US market, the N95 has the same data speeds as the iPhone, unfortunately.

  18. @gilesthomas No one mentions the HSDPA of the N95 vs. the iPhone because it’s not usable in the US. In the US market, the N95 has the same data speeds as the iPhone, unfortunately.

  19. I have to give credit about the OS issue… while it’s been so long since I used the Sony Ericsson 910 and a Motorola, I distinctly recall that one of them had a WAY better experience in use– (duh I can’t remember which one was lamer).. Even though the phones were different, the methodology in navigation make sense was apparent on one over the other.

    No question I’m a producer-consumer so my needs will be better.. but then that leads me to question why Robert would pick the iPhone over the N95 based on that baseline.

    The very important fact to remember about me here is: I had never paid attention to the N95 until this whole iPhone vs. N95 thing came up. And I’m an Apple fanboy, too. So cultural and functional are colliding all over the place.

    Once upon a time I thought the RAZR was awesome, and it was– with a bluetooth headset. Until I was too lazy to keep the headset charged, and then, the RAZR become the most uncomfortable, irritating POS when having to hold it/cradle it between the shoulder/chin. It’s still an amazingly sexy device and I’m keeping my old one for nostalgia’s sake.

    But anyway, that’s ‘experience’ too, that doesn’t have anything to do with features or OS or usability (I didn’t dig the keys no matter how sci-fi they were and fun to touch).

    I’m also consulting mobilejones.com for her take on all this too. She makes my head hurt.

  20. I have to give credit about the OS issue… while it’s been so long since I used the Sony Ericsson 910 and a Motorola, I distinctly recall that one of them had a WAY better experience in use– (duh I can’t remember which one was lamer).. Even though the phones were different, the methodology in navigation make sense was apparent on one over the other.

    No question I’m a producer-consumer so my needs will be better.. but then that leads me to question why Robert would pick the iPhone over the N95 based on that baseline.

    The very important fact to remember about me here is: I had never paid attention to the N95 until this whole iPhone vs. N95 thing came up. And I’m an Apple fanboy, too. So cultural and functional are colliding all over the place.

    Once upon a time I thought the RAZR was awesome, and it was– with a bluetooth headset. Until I was too lazy to keep the headset charged, and then, the RAZR become the most uncomfortable, irritating POS when having to hold it/cradle it between the shoulder/chin. It’s still an amazingly sexy device and I’m keeping my old one for nostalgia’s sake.

    But anyway, that’s ‘experience’ too, that doesn’t have anything to do with features or OS or usability (I didn’t dig the keys no matter how sci-fi they were and fun to touch).

    I’m also consulting mobilejones.com for her take on all this too. She makes my head hurt.

  21. Yeah watching youtube on the n95 screen isn’t as nice as the ipones. But then pluging your n95 into a tv and viewing it with everyone is MILES better than an iphone. I wouldn’t change over to an iphone if you paid me.

    Si

  22. Yeah watching youtube on the n95 screen isn’t as nice as the ipones. But then pluging your n95 into a tv and viewing it with everyone is MILES better than an iphone. I wouldn’t change over to an iphone if you paid me.

    Si

  23. I love how when people proclaim their love for the iPhone all fanboys/girls/persons of Nokias come out of the woods like you’ve personally offended them. For example that Symbian guru, why did he make those videos? Do you see any iPhone videos making fun of other phones like the N95? Imagine a “We’ve got a bigger screen!” “We have multi-touch!” “We’ve got a proximity Detector!” “We’ve got an accelerometer!!!” “What, you’re charging your phone again?? hah ah ah hah!!…”. See my point? Let the iPhone users think what they want and stop trying to “prove” your Nokias are better, because they aren’t. Do you really think iPhone users are saying “oh my godoness, I hate my iPhone because it can’t output crappy bit-rate videos to my HD TV!! What junk!, I better get an N95.”

    Both phones have some advantages and disadvantages.

  24. I love how when people proclaim their love for the iPhone all fanboys/girls/persons of Nokias come out of the woods like you’ve personally offended them. For example that Symbian guru, why did he make those videos? Do you see any iPhone videos making fun of other phones like the N95? Imagine a “We’ve got a bigger screen!” “We have multi-touch!” “We’ve got a proximity Detector!” “We’ve got an accelerometer!!!” “What, you’re charging your phone again?? hah ah ah hah!!…”. See my point? Let the iPhone users think what they want and stop trying to “prove” your Nokias are better, because they aren’t. Do you really think iPhone users are saying “oh my godoness, I hate my iPhone because it can’t output crappy bit-rate videos to my HD TV!! What junk!, I better get an N95.”

    Both phones have some advantages and disadvantages.

  25. Fair points, JJ, although I would mention that as the N95 doesn’t have a touch screen it hardly needs a proximity sensor. In addition, things like a slightly bigger screen and an accelerometer are nice to have but it’s not quite the same as missing key features like video recording and GPS.

    But yes, arguing over which phone is ‘better’ is pointless because it’s always going to be a subjective decision. The iPhone is cooler than the N95 and to most trendy young urbanites that’s all that’s going to matter.

    Well, at least until the next great thing comes along I suppose. ;)

  26. Fair points, JJ, although I would mention that as the N95 doesn’t have a touch screen it hardly needs a proximity sensor. In addition, things like a slightly bigger screen and an accelerometer are nice to have but it’s not quite the same as missing key features like video recording and GPS.

    But yes, arguing over which phone is ‘better’ is pointless because it’s always going to be a subjective decision. The iPhone is cooler than the N95 and to most trendy young urbanites that’s all that’s going to matter.

    Well, at least until the next great thing comes along I suppose. ;)

  27. Yes, that’s my point, unless one device has every feature of the other and is better in all of them then it would be safe to say it’s “better”. Otherwise in this case if a person wants a billiant screen that is 100% bigger and 100% faster processor than which is better? In his case it would be the iPhone, and he would be aboslutely right. BTW, the iPhone does have GPS, I think all phones in the US are required to have them for emergency purposes. Why Apple doesn’t tap into into it’s features is puzzling, unless of course they want to sell you a bluetooth GPS down the road which wouldn’t surprise me.

    So I can’t agree that it’s just the “coolness” factor alone, the iPhone has a lot more going for it than just that.

  28. Yes, that’s my point, unless one device has every feature of the other and is better in all of them then it would be safe to say it’s “better”. Otherwise in this case if a person wants a billiant screen that is 100% bigger and 100% faster processor than which is better? In his case it would be the iPhone, and he would be aboslutely right. BTW, the iPhone does have GPS, I think all phones in the US are required to have them for emergency purposes. Why Apple doesn’t tap into into it’s features is puzzling, unless of course they want to sell you a bluetooth GPS down the road which wouldn’t surprise me.

    So I can’t agree that it’s just the “coolness” factor alone, the iPhone has a lot more going for it than just that.

  29. JJ: the iPhone doesn’t have GPS, it uses cell phone tower triangulation for E911 in the United States. That’s not the same as real GPS like my Nokia N95 has. At least that’s what I understand. If I’m wrong, it’ll be very easy for Apple to add some software to turn on GPS capabilities in the future.

  30. JJ: the iPhone doesn’t have GPS, it uses cell phone tower triangulation for E911 in the United States. That’s not the same as real GPS like my Nokia N95 has. At least that’s what I understand. If I’m wrong, it’ll be very easy for Apple to add some software to turn on GPS capabilities in the future.

  31. I’m a marketing consultant and an ‘early adopter’ of tech gadgets. I have to agree there’s no point comparing the two devices as they fulfill two very different needs.

    The N95 is a ‘category killer’, it shames every other PDA and smartphone out there by bringing an unprecedented wide range of fairly functional features to a single device. All those utilities suck juice, so yes, as we don’t want to carry a pro-videographer’s battery belt with us, N95 users need to carry a spare battery. (I bought an oversized belt pouch that fits the back-up battery and my Jabra earpiece — never have had a serious ‘out of juice’ moment due to the back-up.)

    The biggest thing holding up the introduction of things like LBS (location based services leveraging both triangulation and GPS) and more functional (better user interface) apps for mobile in general is the fact that smart phones only have about 12% of the market, and those users are generally business people using BlackBerries (and RIM’s competitors) for email accesss.

    Until MANY more average consumers are using smartphones, the pressure to develop technology to take full advantage of them isn’t there, hence the industry NEEDS a simple to use, THRILLING tool to make smartphones cool and popular — enter the iPhone. Well done Apple, and RIM, Palm, Nokia, etc. should be applauding them loudly!

  32. I’m a marketing consultant and an ‘early adopter’ of tech gadgets. I have to agree there’s no point comparing the two devices as they fulfill two very different needs.

    The N95 is a ‘category killer’, it shames every other PDA and smartphone out there by bringing an unprecedented wide range of fairly functional features to a single device. All those utilities suck juice, so yes, as we don’t want to carry a pro-videographer’s battery belt with us, N95 users need to carry a spare battery. (I bought an oversized belt pouch that fits the back-up battery and my Jabra earpiece — never have had a serious ‘out of juice’ moment due to the back-up.)

    The biggest thing holding up the introduction of things like LBS (location based services leveraging both triangulation and GPS) and more functional (better user interface) apps for mobile in general is the fact that smart phones only have about 12% of the market, and those users are generally business people using BlackBerries (and RIM’s competitors) for email accesss.

    Until MANY more average consumers are using smartphones, the pressure to develop technology to take full advantage of them isn’t there, hence the industry NEEDS a simple to use, THRILLING tool to make smartphones cool and popular — enter the iPhone. Well done Apple, and RIM, Palm, Nokia, etc. should be applauding them loudly!

  33. “By the way, additional battery is only 30 grams and you can carry two without any problems. But if the iPhone runs out then one can’t afford to carry two phones can they :)

    Comment by Aditya Moorthy”

    No one is probably reading this page anymore (I got linked here from an article on Digg), but just in case I thought I’d point something out that is NEVER mentioned in relation to the iPhone’s ‘non-removable’ battery – the iPod Dock connector.

    This jillion-pin connector already has a jillion products out for it including an endless number of (iPhone compatible) battery-life extenders and chargers that one could just as easily keep with them if going out for longer than the the iPhone’s (considerable) charge-life. There’s probably even one that’s 30 grams ;)

    Just thought people should know that there are many cheap iPod-connector battery packs already available that might affect their perception of this ‘problem’.

  34. “By the way, additional battery is only 30 grams and you can carry two without any problems. But if the iPhone runs out then one can’t afford to carry two phones can they :)

    Comment by Aditya Moorthy”

    No one is probably reading this page anymore (I got linked here from an article on Digg), but just in case I thought I’d point something out that is NEVER mentioned in relation to the iPhone’s ‘non-removable’ battery – the iPod Dock connector.

    This jillion-pin connector already has a jillion products out for it including an endless number of (iPhone compatible) battery-life extenders and chargers that one could just as easily keep with them if going out for longer than the the iPhone’s (considerable) charge-life. There’s probably even one that’s 30 grams ;)

    Just thought people should know that there are many cheap iPod-connector battery packs already available that might affect their perception of this ‘problem’.

  35. “By the way, additional battery is only 30 grams and you can carry two without any problems. But if the iPhone runs out then one can’t afford to carry two phones can they :)

    Comment by Aditya Moorthy”

    No one is probably reading this page anymore (I got linked here from an article on Digg), but just in case I thought I’d point something out that is NEVER mentioned in relation to the iPhone’s ‘non-removable’ battery – the iPod Dock connector.

    This jillion-pin connector already has a jillion products out for it including an endless number of (iPhone compatible) battery-life extenders and chargers that one could just as easily keep with them if going out for longer than the the iPhone’s (considerable) charge-life. There’s probably even one that’s 30 grams ;)

    Just thought people should know that there are many cheap iPod-connector battery packs already available that might affect their perception of this ‘problem’.

  36. “By the way, additional battery is only 30 grams and you can carry two without any problems. But if the iPhone runs out then one can’t afford to carry two phones can they :)

    Comment by Aditya Moorthy”

    No one is probably reading this page anymore (I got linked here from an article on Digg), but just in case I thought I’d point something out that is NEVER mentioned in relation to the iPhone’s ‘non-removable’ battery – the iPod Dock connector.

    This jillion-pin connector already has a jillion products out for it including an endless number of (iPhone compatible) battery-life extenders and chargers that one could just as easily keep with them if going out for longer than the the iPhone’s (considerable) charge-life. There’s probably even one that’s 30 grams ;)

    Just thought people should know that there are many cheap iPod-connector battery packs already available that might affect their perception of this ‘problem’.