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Nokia N86 vs Sony Ericsson W995

Introduction:

After a long time of making fans wait for it, Nokia has finally launched its 8 Megapixel phone in the market - the Nokia N86 8 Megapixel. The phone has been a force to be reckoned with everyone hailing it as the best non-touchscreen smartphone that you can buy today. Sony Ericsson couldn't have come up with a better competitor. The W995 has combined the best of both Sony Eric
sson mobile phone worlds, the Walkman and the Cyber-shot along with a bevy of features making it incredibly talented all-round feature phone. Both phones manage to match each other almost completely on the spec sheet with the only major difference being the presence of a full fledged smartphone OS, Symbian S60, on the N86. We often have people asking questions on which phone is better. They usually don't care for smartphone functionality which makes their choice even more difficult. So, to make their life easier, we set out on this mission to compare and find which one of these two multimedia juggernauts is worth their hard earned cash.
Design and Construction:

Let us start with their form factor. Both the phones are essentially sliders, however, the N86 goes a step ahead and slides both way. Underneath the other side are a set of music keys. This has been around since the N95 and has been pretty much useless until the N-Gage functionality came along which made good use of these keys. The W995 has none of these and uses a standard slider design. The music controls, a rarity before on Sony Ericsson phones, find their place on the side of the phone.
 The front side of both the phones are pretty much common, with the speaker, camera and light sensor placed above the 2.6" display and the navigation and Call/End keys placed beneath. Both phones use scratch resistant protection glass over their displays. The one on the N86 extends over the entire front surface which is good but, it also increases the area attracting fingerprints.

The sides on the N86 are far less cluttered since the buttons and ports are all placed elsewhere. The W995 gets tiny music keys on the sides along with the camera and volume keys. The N86 has its speakers placed on the sides. On the left side, the N86 gets just the keypad lock key while the W995 has the Walkman key and the Fast Port connector. Both the phones have their memory cards slots placed beneath the battery cover. But isn't too much of a big deal as the N86 has built-in 8 GB memory while the W995 comes with an 8 GB memory card. So, you won't be changing cards much with either of these phones.
On the top, the N86 has the power key, the 3.5mm headphone/TV out jack and the microUSB port. The N86 also supports charging over USB, something which the Sony Ericssons have been managing to do since ages. On the W995, there is only a 3.5mm headphone jack and the left stereo speaker. The W995 is the first Walkman phone to sport a 3.5mm headphone jack. It does not have TV-out though. The right stereo speaker is placed at the bottom of the W995.

On the rear side, you'll see that the N86 has a more simplistic design. The cover extends all around the rear. The W995 cover is made of metal, the only metal bit on the phone, and only covers the centre of the rear side. To open the rear cover, you need to flip the kickstand up, slide a button beneath it and then the cover can be opened. This arrangement is much better than the 'pry-it-open-with-your-nails' approach of the N86 battery cover. It must be mentioned, however, that the letters '8.1 Megapixel' that was printed on the cover started to erase by just scratching your fingernails on the it.

The lens of the N86 is protected with an active lens cover. The one on the W995 has been completely left exposed. The W995 also has a single LED flash compared with the dual flash on the N86. Both the phones have a kickstand at the back. The one the N86 is made of plastic and is a bit flimsy while the one on the W995 is much more solid. However, the N86 has an active kickstand which can be set to open any application of your choice when you open it, something that the W995 cannot do.

Previous N-Series and Sony Ericsson phones were far from being perfect in the build quality department. However, that's not the case with these two. The overall build quality of both the phones is very solid, almost exemplary. The N86 uses metal along the sides with high quality plastics used elsewhere while the W995 is content with having plastic everywhere except the battery cover. The N86 is the heavier of the two, the downside of using all that metal, but not unpleasantly so. Both the phones fit perfectly in hand and sliding them open is easy as well. The W995 has a faster sliding mechanism with a nice click sound at the end of the travel, however, there is a slight roughness in the motion. The N86 on the other hand has a smoother, softer mechanism with a muted click at the end but requires a bit more effort to slide open. We have been using both the phones around a month now and the sliding mechanisms have held well so far.

The designs, well, is a matter of personal preference. However, I preferred the simpler and more mature design of the N86 better looking than the W995 which was quite handsome looking as well. However, the shiny chrome bits were overdone. I also could not understand why the battery cover had a different (brushed metal) finish than the rest of the rear side (matte) as it did not blend in.

Speaking about the respective bundles of the phone, the supplied accessories on both the phones are more or less the same. The N86 has a remote control built-in to the headset and for once comes with good quality pair of earphones for a Nokia phone. The W995 lacks the remote but comes with a neat little portable speaker that snaps on the phone and runs on the phone's battery. The N86 also has a carry case provided but no TV-out cable.

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