Before I got my N8 I fancy a lot with other handsets. The most teasing one was in my eyes the Motorola Defy. An Android 2.1 outdoor phone which is feature rich and, for me, pretty compelling.
I will compare this one with a Nokia C7 which was released around the same time. Please note that I only picked some arguable bullet points and concentrated on the hardware. Because this is a rant about Nokia’s hardware choice.
|Device||Nokia C7||Motorola Defy|
|CPU||680 Mhz ARM 11||800 Mhz ARM 8|
|3D-Graphics||Broadcom BCM2727||PowerVR SGX 530|
|RAM||256 MB||512 MB|
|Display||3,5″ – AMOLED||3,7″ – Rugged|
|Resolution||360 x 640||480 x 854|
|Memory||8 GB + MicroSD||2 GB + MicroSD|
If I would only want to rant and make Nokia down, I could have stopped after the first row. But I know that the Nokia C7 has some compelling features. You could turn the table on so, and look mainly at the “Connectivity” and “Camera” row and say that “no 720p recording” or “the lack of the FM-Transmitter” is a deal-breaker and that the C7 is clearly superior. Take that and add the great outdoor-readable display and you have a great defense against this rant. If it would be against the C7 as a whole.
But it’s not, it is only about Nokia decision to use an ARM11 for the C7 (and all first-gen-S^3-devices). Let me make my points by reacting towards possible explanations for the ARM11:
Nokia decided to use an ARM11 because their power consumption is much lower!
1) That is true. At peak the ARM11 drains maybe a half of the power an A8 needs. But Texas Instruments tells us, that their A8 has “Up to 3x performance gain over ARM11-based processors”. That means: Less time at peak, more time in idle. And guess what: The A8 has improved the power savings in idle. So how big is the difference in the real world, when doing the same tasks?
2) If Nokia’s goal was to reduce the power consumption, why didn’t they used the Cortex A5, ARM’s budget CPU. The following graph shows us why it would have been a great idea:
3) There is another way to extend the battery life: Extend the battery! The C7 has a 1200mAh battery, which isn’t oversized. The mentioned Defy uses a 1340mAh battery. At the same price point…
Nokia had to cut costs do deliver at such a great price point!
Hmm… I could just say “Look at the price of the Defy!” and go on, but I will look a little bit deeper.
Motorola shipped 2010 something around 12 million smartphones, not all of them were Defys nor will they ship 12 million Defys in 2011. Nokia plans to ship around 50 million Symbian^3 devices, all of them (or a big part of them) will use the same hardware basis… shouldn’t Nokia have enough purchasing power to get their hardware at very strong price points?
Symbian does not need an 800Mhz A8 to run smoothly!
Again, that is true. I am not saying that the C7 is performing badly at the moment. And the performance will be improved over the coming months, starting with PR1.1. And when the Qt development can focus on boosting the performance instead of completing features, everything will should get even smoother. But there are limits and some are already reached. For example, when ever my N8 checks for new e-mails, Angry Birds starts stuttering.
And: Symbian^3 is evolving. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some reserves, to be sure, that not only the 2010 version of Symbian can run smooth but also the Q4-2011 version? Can you be sure about this with an ARM11?
Let me close this post with a quote from anandtech which hits the nail on the head, in my opinion:
For any current high end smartphone there doesn’t seem to be a reason to choose the ARM11 over it, companies that insist on using ARM11 based designs [...] are either not agile enough to implement a better chip in a quick manner or have no concern for performance and are more focused on cost savings.
P.S.: The quote is from July, 2009!