Two titans went up against each other in a desperate battle for supremacy this week, at the Walking With Dinosaurs show in the Echo Arena.
Yes, amid earth-shaking, smoke machines and screaming children, I pitted an iPhone 3Gs and a Nokia N97 against each other to see which came out top.
Actually, it wasn't quite as organised as that. The truth is, my N95 8GB has died and I was torn between replacing it with a sleek, sexy iPhone and a practical and workmanlike N86. And while I procrastinated, unable to decide, work stepped in, took away my N96 and replaced it with an N97. And I happened to be sitting next to the owner of a swish new iPhone at the WWD spectacular. Well, he was my husband...
The new iPhone has a much-vaunted camera and video facility, but no flash. The N97 has a 5 megapixel camera, Carl Zeiss lens and touchscreen facilities. It also has a flash, but because WWD asked people not to use flash photography, I switched it off for the photos and the video, which made it a more fair contest. (Also, you can see on the videos how distracting it is when people took photos using flash.)
We also forgot to charge our phones before we went in - the Nokia had 3 bars left, the iPhone a quarter charge showing.
N97 (camera settings on automatic, minimal zoom)
I think the iPhone won that - it's much crisper and has handled the low light better - and I think the zoom function compromised the N97 focus.
N97 (florescent white balance; no zoom)
The N97 image is sharper but the iPhone definitely makes better use of the available light. The Allosaurus is barely visible in the Nokia image.
Finally for the photos:
I think the N97 took the better shot although perhaps I was lucky that Mama Rex and tot stopped moving for a nanosecond as I shot this one. Both the Nokia and iPhone images look much sharper when viewed smaller, it's only when they are used larger that they start to degrade.
(Those dinosaur models move rather quickly by the way; it was difficult getting a steady shot without any blur on either phone.)
In terms of video I was really impressed with the iPhone; the sound and image quality is good. The N97 was capturing action on the far side of the stage, and picked up in terms of clarity when it shifted nearer my seat, but I still thought it would beat the iPhone, and I don't think it did, on comparable settings. If I'd adjusted the set-up it probably would have performed better but - using it as a news-gathering tool, you're not always going to have the luxury of time to do that. Of course, a Flip would have blown both iPhone and Nokia away in this test, but you couldn't exactly use it to then mobile upload your videos. Or ring the story through to your newsdesk.
On sundries, the N97 battery lasted about 20 minutes longer than the iPhone. Sound quality on all the videos we took came out better on the N97, but I suspect that was because it's so easy to accidentally muffle the Apple microphone with your hand when you're recording. So which phone won, in my view?
Reader, I went out the very next day and bought... an N86.