Monday, January 18, 2010

FACE-OFF: Nokia N900 vs Motorola Milestone

Every phone manufacturer out there have come up with its own version of a smartphone. It has now become very difficult to choose which handset to get because there is no way to know if the latest phone is really good or not unless you get to try it. The problem is ordinary consumers have no access to these brand new handsets and manufacturers' paid commercials and advertisements only add to the confusion because they only stress the phone's strengths and not its weakneses.

As a public service to our readers, we would be regularly "facing off" the most talked about device now available in the market. This, we hope, would help you decide which of these latest gadgets is best for you.

What follows is a no-holds-barred comparison between the Motorola Milestone and the Nokia N900. We have used these phones extensively for about two weeks now that we have become very familiar with all the features of the phones, meaning we can give you our honest-to-goodness opinion about these phones without any bias or favor. We would reiterate that Technews does not review phones and gadgets unless we have it here in the office.

These phones are the first commercial units available, Technews got these phones from our source in Hongkong.


Nokia N900: The phone looks clean, it only shows the product name "N900" and the Nokia logo on its face. It measures 110.9 x 59.8 x 18 mm and weighs 181 g. It fits comfortably in my hand.

Motorola Milestone: The unit measures 115.8 x 60 x 13.7 mm and weighs 165 g, with this alone we can already see that it is sleeker and lighter.

Conclusion: The two phones are almost identical in height but the Milestone has a protruding lips that makes it a little taller. There is no much difference in width but the difference in thickness and weight is very noticeable.


Nokia N900: TFT resistive touchscreen, 16M colors, Size 800 x 480 pixels, 3.5 inches. Features proximity sensor for auto turn-off, Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate and full QWERTY keyboard

Motorola Milestone: TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, Size 480 x 854 pixels, 3.7 inches. Features Multi-touch input method, Accelerometer senso, Proximity sensor for auto turn-off and full QWERTY keyboard with 5-way navigation key.

Conclusion: The Milestone, aside from having a capacitive touchscreen and multi-touch input has a bigger display making it a winner in this category.


Nokia N900: ARM Cortex A8 600 MHz, PowerVR SGX graphics

Motorola Milestone: ARM Cortex A8 550 MHz processor

Conclusion: Although both phones use the same CPU type, the Milestone is underclocked from 600 MHZ to 550 MHZ presumably to maximize battery life. However, this affects the performance of the device as the N900 feels a lot faster and more responsive than the Milestone.


Nokia N900: Internal 32 GB storage, 256 MB RAM, supports microSD up to 16 GB

Motorola Milestone: Internal 133 MB storage, 256 MB RAM supports microSD, up to 32 GB

Conclusion: The Nokia N900 has 32 GB, period!


Nokia N900: Slide-out offset QWERTY keyboard

Motorola Milestone: Slide-out flat QWERTY keyboard.

Conclusion: The Milestone's keyboard is tighter compared to the N900 because of the 5-way navigation key at the right and being flat adds difficulty in typing. Based on my experience, the N900 has a better keyboard.


Nokia N900: 5 MP, 2576x1936 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, Dual LED flash with video light and features Geo-tagging. WVGA video (848 x 480) at 25fps

Motorola Milestone: 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED flash and features Geo-tagging. 720x480 video at 24fps

Conclusion: You would buy these phones not because of the camera, both phones need improvement in this category. However, the Carl Zeiss optics and good video capability of the N900 makes it better than the Milestone.


Nokia N900: It can handle MPEG4, Flash Video, AVI, 3GPP, H.264 and WMV formats. Multimedia player is clean and simple. With 48 preset Internet radio stations from around the world.
Motorola Milestone: Limited multimedia capability compared to the N900. Does not support MPEG4 and AVI, and no syncing software to manage music transfer/

Conclusion: The N900 wins in this category.


Nokia N900: "Real Internet" in a mobile platform. It uses Mozilla-based web browser with Adobe Flash 9.4 support making the websites look the way they would on any computer.

Motorola Milestone: Mobile internet in a mobile platform.

Conclusion: Among all the smartphones available in the Technews Lab, the browser of the N900 is the best. It supports not only Flash 9.4 and plugins but also Javascript, frames, CSS and most everything a desktop browser does.


Nokia N900: Quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, Infrared and FM Radio transmitter.

Motorola Milestone: Quad-band GSM and dual-band 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth

Conclusion: The Nokia N900 has more connectivity options.


Nokia N900: Standard battery, Li-Ion 1320 mAh (BL-5J)

Motorola Milestone: Standard battery, Li-Ion 1400 mAh (BP6X)

Conclusion: In theory, there should not be a big difference with the battery life between the two phones even if the Milestone's battery is bigger in specs, however the Milestone's battery lived longer when I fired up everything in the two phones. Milestone wins here.


Nokia N900: Maemo 5

Motorola Milestone: Android 2.0

Both Maemo and Android run on Linux kernels. Maemo however is a full Linux distribution while Android is a sole kernel with additional programs on top of it where applications run. Maemo is backed by Nokia alone, while Android is backed by Open Handset Alliance, whose members include 15 handset manufacturers. If the number of device being manufactured is the basis for the success of an OS then Android should prevail, however the Maemo is a tested OS for Mobile Internet Device and will succeed on tablets and touchscreen netbooks. No clear winner in this category.


The Motorola Milestone is one of the most hyped handsets released recently, but falls short of our expectations. For those who are familiar with Android operating system, there is nothing much to be excited about in Version 2.0 inside the Motorola Milestone. The Milestone clearly lacks the overlay other manufacturers offered in the past. There is not much that differentiates the Milestone from any other Android powered handsets.

The Nokia N900 on the other hand surprised us with its features and performance. Released almost at the same time with all the new smartphones without any hype, the N900 has introduced the Maemo OS to ordinary users. While the Maemo before was only reserved for the geeks and hard core techies, it has now become an operating system for ordinary users, the people who would love to have real internet, more connectivity options and additional multimedia capability in their mobile device.


Janette Toral said...

Thanks for the review Art. I'm due to a phone upgrade and the N9000 now intrigues me. =)

Art Samaniego said...

You're welcome Janette :). Go for it. The problem is it costs from as low as 35K to as high as 40K here in the Philippines, but in HK you can get it for just abuot 28K.