iPhone 3GS vs BlackBerry Bold vs Palm Pre vs Nokia N97 : A Detailed Comparative Study

By soumitra, Gaea News Network
Thursday, July 16, 2009

iphone-3gs-vs-blackberry-bold-vs-palm-pre-vs-nokia-n97The mobile phone market is crowded by hundreds of mobile phone manufacturers with their thousands of phone models but if you know anything about mobile phones you must have heard the names of iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm Pre and Nokia N97. These phones are four most hyped phones from four major manufactures like Apple, RIM, Palm and Nokia. We have made a detailed examination of the features of these phones and compared their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a closer look at these phones and decide which one you should go for.

1. Design


iPhone 3GS : The full touchscreen design of iPhone has made a revolution in the cellphone design. There are now more than a hundred clones of the iPhone available in the market. The iPhone clones are selling only because they look like iPhone. The weight of 135g feels just right.
BlackBerry Bold : The Blackberry Phones look much smarter than before. The evolved design of Blackberry Bold or Blackberry Storm can look as glamorous as any other phones. It weighs nearly same as iPhone at 133g.
Palm Pre : The design of the phone is less boxy than any other smartphone. Holding the phone in hand gives me a good pebble like feeling. It is also a good looking phone to compete with others. It also weighs the same as the above two at 133g.
Nokia N97 : This is the most beautiful phone Nokia has ever produced. Its slim look and glamorous finish has won the hearts of many. I am also one of them. It weighs a little more than all others at 150g. However the weight gives a nice sturdy feeling about the device.
Conclusion : No one wins in this field. Each phone has its own unique design essence and it is more of a personal preference which one you would like. However iPhone reserves some praise for their revolutionary design.

blackberry_bold2. Display

iPhone 3GS : The iPhone has 3.5 inch screen and a resolution of 320 X 480 pixels. The display is capable to show off 16M colors and the overall impression is that it is an excellent screen with rich natural and vibrants colors with crisp image.
BlackBerry Bold : It has a little small screen measuring 2.6 inches to make room for the full QWERTY keyboard. However the pixel count is the same as the iPhone at 480 X 320 pixels. The color count is not at par with its competitors and is only capable to show off 65K colors. In simple word, the display is not as classy as the others.
Palm Pre : The Palm Pre screen measure at 3.1 inches and has the same resolution as the above two at 320 X 480 pixels. The display is able to show off 16M colors and is as good as the display of the iPhone.
Nokia N97 : The display size of the device is same as the iPhone at 3.5 inches. It also shows 16M color but the resolution is way more than its competitors. The resolution of 360 X 640 means the display is very very sharp and clear and has more room to show things than other devices.
Conclusion : The N97’s display is a clear winner here with iPhone and Palm Pre following closely and BlackBerry lagging behind.

slide-down-n973. Keyboard

iPhone 3GS : No hardware keyboard for this phone. There is a virtual keyboard for typing text but it takes time to master the art of typing fast and accurate in this keyboard. The touches are not always registered and it becomes very fuzzy at times. There is a error correction system but it is not accurate for a large number of mistakes.
BlackBerry Bold : Blackberry comes with a full QWERTY keyboard from its birth. Except the Blackberry Storm every Blackberry has the full QWERTY keyboard covering half of its entire face. Typing in the Blackberry keyboard is a pleasure with sure and fast response.
Palm Pre : Palm Pre also boasts a slide out QWERTY keyboard but the keys are small and those biggies with fat fingers will have problem typing in its keyboard. I was able to press as many as four keys with my thumb.
Nokia N97 : The N97 also comes with a slide out keyboard but the keys are not as small as the Palm Pre and and there is enough space between the keys for a comfortable typing. However, during our review, sometimes the keys did not register with soft presses and we needed to press it a little harder to get a sure type.
Conclusion : Blackberry is a sure winner here with its excellent keyboard followed by Nokia N97 and Palm Pre. Also Blackberry wins at the keyboard accessibility. There is no need to slide out the keyboard to get things done.

blackberrybold4. Memory capacity

iPhone 3GS : There are two models with 32GB and 16GB capacity of internal memory. No Card Slot. RAM capacity is 256 MB.
BlackBerry Bold : It has an internal memory of 1GB and External Micro SD cards are supported up to 8 GB. RAM capacity is 128 MB.
Palm Pre : It has an internal memory of 8GB and no card slot to extend the memory.
Nokia N97 : It has an internal memory of 32GB and is expandable with a 16GB MicroSD Card to make it a total of 48GB. The RAM capacity is 128 MB.
Conclusion : The iPhone has enough memory to store all your favorite music and videos but N97 even exceeds that limit with its whopping total of 48GB.


5. Application Availability

iPhone 3GS : No comparison is complete without a mention of Apple’s App Store. iPhone is the easiest platform to develop application for. This is why there are thousands of developers developing millions of apps for the iPhone.
BlackBerry Bold : Developers of BlackBerry Applications use outdated tools that doesn’t give them enough access to the Core APIs on BlackBerry Handsets. But there are some apps that are very useful to the Blackberry users. For example you can have look at these top BlackBerry Storm Apps.
Palm Pre : Palm Pre supports many of its old Palm Apps and they are developing new apps for Palm Pre also.
Nokia N97 : The N97 comes with preloaded Ovi Store to easily pick up any apps. You can also pick up any programs from wherever you like online unlike iPhone which lets you choose apps only from Apple’s own app store.
Conclusion : Though they Apple is not open like Nokia but still the amount of apps that are available for iPhone makes it a winner in this category.


6. Connectivity

iPhone 3GS : The device is capable of communicating over Quad Band GSM network supporting frequency bands of 850/900/1800/1900. It is also a 3G HSDPA enabled handset with frequency bands of 850/1900/2100 bands. The HSDPA Speed is upto 7.2 MBps. It is also GPRS, EDGE and WiFi enabled phone. It can also be connected using a USB port and Bluetooth with A2DP support for headset support.
BlackBerry Bold : It is also a Quad Band 850/900/1800/1900 phone and is capable of communicating over 3G HSDPA 850/1900/2100 frequency bands. The 3G speed support is upto 3.6 MBps and there is also option for GPRS, EDGE and WiFi connectivity. It also has Bluetooth A2DP support and USB Connectivity
Palm Pre : This one is also a Quad Band phone and has 3G HSDPA capability of the common frequency bands. There is also option for GPRS, EDGE, WiFi connectivity and Bluetooth with A2DP Support alongwith USB connectivity via micro USB.
Nokia N97 : This is also a Quad Band phone and has 3G Connectivity with 900/1900/2100 bands as well as 850/1900/2100 bands for American version. The phone is GPRS, EDGE, WiFi and Bluetooth with A2DP supported. It also connects via micro USB ports.
Conclusion : All of the above phones have same connectivity options except that the iPhone 3GS supports 7.2 MBps speed while others support 3.6 MBps speed. However, in real life you won’t see any speed difference because there is no current service provider that gives out the speeds of 7.2 MBps. So, there is no clear winner in this section.

iphone_blackberry7. Usability

iPhone 3GS : The iPhone may be a bit awkward to use at first but you can use your intuition to get things done. The usability of this phone made this an unquestionable choice for many customers.
BlackBerry Bold : Blackberry is known for its usability focused on business applications. It has shortcut keys to get things done very fast but still it needs some time to master the operating system.
Palm Pre : This phone has both of good usability and applications. Its Web OS is fantastic; has intuitive features as well as good applications.
Nokia N97 : It is based on Symbian Series 60 Operating System Version 5 which is very stable and tested operating system. The symbian users find using this phone very easy and natural.
Conclusion : Every OS has its own Pros and Cons but if you ask me to rate them, I will sort them as Palm Pre Web OS, iPhone OS 3.0, BlackBerry OS and Nokia’s Symbian OS S60 v 5.

pre_open_close8. Speed

iPhone 3GS : It uses ARM Cortex A8 processor clocking at 600 MHz and there is also a PowerVR SGX Processor that handles the graphics. Doing things is nice and fast which makes its name iPhone 3G S : S stands for Speed.
BlackBerry Bold : The Bold uses a 624 MHz Processor which is very fast and doing multiple application are a breeze.
Palm Pre : Palm Pre uses the same processor as the iPhone 3GS - the ARM Cortex A8 Processor clocking at 600 MHz and a PowerVR SGX 530 processor for handling the graphics. Naturally the system, is as fast as the iPhone 3G S.
Nokia N97 : It uses a underpowered ARM 11 CPU clocking at 434 MHz. The animations look slow and jerky and webpage rendering also looks muddy.
Conclusion : Nokia N97 lags behind others in terms of speed. All other devices are quite speedy and have excellent response.

apple-iphone-3g9. Camera

iPhone 3GS : It has a 3.15 MP Camera with autofocus, touchfocus and geotagging facility. It can capture videos at VGA resolution @ 30 fps. Although there is no flash.
BlackBerry Bold : The BlackBerry Bold has a 2MP camera with LED Flash. No autofocus or other advanced features.
Palm Pre : The Palm Pre Camera has 3.15 MP sensor with enhanced fixed focus. It also has a LED Flash.
Nokia N97 : The N97 uses a 5MP sensor with Carl Zeiss Optics. There is LED Flash and video light. There is also some advanced features like geo tagging and video recording in VGA resolution at 30 fps.
Conclusion : The Nokia N97’s camera beats all others with its feature as well as image quality. The next comes the iPhone’s camera and then the Palm Pre and the BlackBerry.

nokia-n97110. Overall

iPhone 3GS : The iPhone is a blockbuster phone that has won many hearts. After some of refinements the iPhone 3GS model seems to remove all the flaws that it had in the previous models. Now it stands as an irresistible champion.
BlackBerry Bold : BlackBerry is always the first choice for the business users and the BlackBerry Bold is the best BlackBerry phone ever made. It is also an unquestionable choice for a corporate person.
Palm Pre : Palm Pre did not get as much hype as the iPhone or Nokia N97 or a BlackBerry. There is nothing outstanding about the device but amazingly there is no major flaw in the device that can be a deal breaker.
Nokia N97 : It is probably the most talked about phone from the house of Nokia. It has a stable OS, a nice touchscreen, superb camera and a plethora of multimedia features.
Conclusion : At the end of the day all of the four phones are tough competitors and it is hard to decide which one is the best. None of the phones can be neglected for their shortcomings because they have some features that outdoes others in some respects. This is why there is no overall winner that outperforms others in every respect.


December 2, 2010: 4:30 am

i agree with n97,and blackbarry bold such good touch,both like mini laptop

August 23, 2010: 11:55 am

the i phone 3gs is the best and the blackberry

July 14, 2010: 9:54 am

i disagree with people who approved the nokia n97.
i have had an n96 for about a year, it was damn good.after, i have bought an n97 which i regretted. its a shitty phone.to slow compared to the iphone 3gs.also the sound quality, its nothing compared to iphone.and the tactile is ridiculous in n97.it sucks.i prefer iphone 3gs.

Rusal gurung
July 8, 2010: 2:37 am

well past few days i’ve been using iPhone 3gs although i used to love it but nowdays im gettin bore bcoz everything in it to use required internet and the sound system wothout headphone is very poor and with bluetooth if we cant share things with frens mobile its kinda sad.

June 21, 2010: 9:31 pm

Nokia n97? Wait till you lay your hands in that device. I need to restart the phone couple of times a day. Keep on changing to default ringtone. No lights after 1st unlock. Need to lock and unlock again. Bad navigation mouse. Slow gps. Lousy apps. Overall I’ll vote for the iPhone. Just love the apps.

Aly Amin
June 1, 2010: 1:46 am

WTS: HTC Google Nexus One,Blackberry Bold 9700,3Gs Apple iPhone 32GB,Nokia N900,Sony Ericsson Xperia x10

March 31, 2010: 6:00 am

Excellent Review. I’ll go for N97.

February 20, 2010: 3:38 am


February 15, 2010: 3:16 pm

’skeen Says:
September 19th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I have the I- Phone 3gs, and the blackberry bold. The I-phone 3gs is nothing compared to the bold. The Bold is about 2 times faster then the iphone 3gs’


what a joke

January 22, 2010: 3:52 pm

i think the blackberry bold is the best!!!

cell phones for seniors
January 11, 2010: 5:05 pm

I prefer a more simple phone then any of these, but if I had to choose, I would go with the n97.

mad man
January 4, 2010: 8:41 pm

nokia n97 is the most beautiful phone i ever seen!!!!!!!!

December 25, 2009: 6:24 pm

i prefer the NOKIA n97, so beautiful

November 30, 2009: 9:18 pm

If the n97 can be reduced from 150kg to 133kg, I would prefer it to all the others.

payasyougo mobile phones
November 24, 2009: 5:57 am

Although the iPhone3G S is a very smart phone, it not intelligent enough to compete against the Nokia N97 Mini.

The Nokia N97 mini is like having a mini super computer on your pocket. The features of the Nokia N97 Mini are very impressive compared to the iPhone.

September 19, 2009: 1:52 pm

I have the I- Phone 3gs, and the blackberry bold. The I-phone 3gs is nothing compared to the bold. The Bold is about 2 times faster then the iphone 3gs, and the quality of sound is much better to.

August 14, 2009: 8:49 pm

Just wondering…
Are there yet any Android phones that are ready to be included in such comparisons?

August 8, 2009: 10:03 pm

Awesome study of these phones. Would love to hear your thoughts on the operating systems though.

I just got a Pre (over an iPhone…over everything I had a choice really of any phone). I have to say as a web developer I’m happy and would make the same choice again.

While I currently don’t own a Mac, I have used Mac’s before obviously as a graphic designer/web developer.

So why a Pre? Well to be honest aside from the keyboard, smaller size than the iPhone…The operating system.

I really think the WebOS is going to be the most overlooked thing in the cell phone industry. I mean it is still new and Palm hasn’t even opened up their app catalog to the masses. So I also love how people complain about the number of apps for the Pre while it’s market hasn’t even started yet.

But I digress. The point is that developing for WebOS with the Mojo framework is far easier than making apps for the iPhone. Further, it’s a much more natural environment. 90% of what we do now on computers/phones revolves around the internet. So using HTML5/Javascript as it’s heart…It’s genius. They also plan to get Flash support and combined with the JS/HTML you’ve got everything you can get on the web and more. More because we don’t use HTML5 yet on the internet. We can’t be certain every browser can render it. However we can be certain all Palm Pre’s understand HTML5. So we take all the benefits of web technologies and put them into a phone.

Once Palm starts accepting applications into their app store (just early access all free at the moment), things will start rolling. Once more carriers get the Palm Pre…Things will start rolling.

The pure fact that Palm Pre will be on other carriers and the ease of making apps gives it the potential to really do damage to the iPhone.

Look at what it/any phone is against though. The iPhone has Apple’s great marketing. It has a SUPER huge foothold in the smartphone world. It paved the way for new technology (not that anything about it other than multi-touch was revolutionary in a phone), but for the masses who didn’t know how to get phones to browse the internet and do things, etc. Those who didn’t want to install cab files, etc. It was great.

So. It’s hard. Impossible to crush the iPhone? No.
People called the Pre an iPhone killer. I would say it -could- be…It hasn’t killed it yet and even if it does…It won’t be immediate.

Do I think it will? Probably not. However for me it was the clearest choice I’ve ever had to make when buying a phone. If I got a phone a year earlier, I’d be an iPhone toting user. However, I’m thankful for the good job Palm did because they actually do have revolutionary features and a vision. I’d say Android would be the only other OS that is as cool and web centric.

At the end of the day…It doesn’t mean Apple can slack off and provide a weak revision of their phone each year. I’m absolutely unimpressed with their updates. They don’t improve the phone by leaps and bounds and they keep their loyal (WAY too loyal) customers buying a new phone all the time. It’s horrible. Especially because it’s forced…No removable battery. The phone is glass. It’s designed to break. I know all companies need people to keep buying things release new models, etc. But Apple is just so terrible about it. I’m much happier just to do business with a cleaner company like Palm.

Just my two cents. I know the OS can go on and on…but I think that’s one of the strongest features about the Palm Pre. That make it a clear winner in that category.

Further. Come on, who else has that sweet touchstone?

July 16, 2009: 4:50 pm

It would have been better to compare TMobile G1 as well with them.

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