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Nokia vs. Samsung – who should you get?

  • Samsung overtakes Nokia as bestseller
  • Nokia playing catch-up with smartphones
  • Compare the Galaxy S II and Lumia 800 to find the right phone for you
Written by Mikaella Clements

Samsung are expected to outsell Nokia this quarter by about five million phones – knocking the mobile phone giant off the top selling spot for the first time in fourteen years.

It's bad news for Nokia and great news for Samsung. Smartphones have made a massive impact in the market, with 37% of Australians using smartphones at the end of 2011 and that number only climbing. However, for low-end feature phones, the first port of call has usually been Nokia. Their easy to use, hardy devices last for years and run for days with very little battery, and for those resisting the smartphone upgrade, Nokia are a great brand with lasting power who know what their consumers want.

Samsung, however, are on a roll. Despite near constant legal bickering with Apple, Samsung's range of smartphones is a deliberate counter to Apple's steadfast remaking of the one phone. Samsung may not have a phone as recognisable or beloved as the iPhone, but they do offer a range of choice in the smartphone market matched only by HTC, along with a standard of quality that is... not matched by HTC.

As consumer focus switches inexorably to smartphones, it's no real surprise that Samsung's range of smartphones is beating Nokia's range of "dumbphones". A good range of phones to choose from attracts a customer's attention, and now that more and more phone buyers are actively looking for a smartphone, Samsung are an attractive choice making it easy for customers to find the phone that suits them.

In contrast, Nokia have only a few smartphones, and only three running the new Windows Phone 7 software which may, in future, give them the edge on the market. An analyst quoted by Bloomberg said: "Nokia is slower than expected in responding to the smartphone market, whereas Samsung is doing better with models like the Galaxy Note. The net result is Samsung edging out Nokia faster than expected."

But is this reason to give up on Nokia altogether? Definitely not. We predict that the future will see more Nokia phones running the Windows Phone 7 software, built along the same stylish lines as the popular Nokia Lumia 800. The phone is a great new smartphone option as an alternative to Samsung's Android OS and the Apple iOS – both look remarkably cluttered when compared to Windows Phone 7.

Nokia have actually been around in one way or another since 1865, when they were a paper manufacturer shifting into the rubber market along with hydroelectricity. Since then they've come a long way, and that willingness to change and adaptability will come out usefully now. We've no doubt that Nokia will continue to adapt itself to the market and eventually make a strong smartphone comeback.

For now, though, who should a customer choose – Samsung or Nokia?

If you have a particular device in mind, it's likely that you've already made up your mind. If you're a smartphone newbie who wants a low price, easy to use phone that's available for free on some great plans, go for the Nokia Lumia 710. If you're torn between a tablet and a smartphone, go for the "fablet" with the big screen, great battery life, and a beautiful screen: the Samsung Galaxy Note.

Outside of the obvious choices, though, let's compare Samsung and Nokia's two flagship phones, the ones that have received the most media and technological attention and see which phone suits you, and what plans each phone is available for.

The Nokia Lumia 800

The Nokia Lumia 800 came out in early 2012 to much fanfare. With a high quality 8MP camera, 16GB of memory, vivid AMOLED screen, and fast 1.4Ghz processor, the phone's specs place it firmly in the high end of the market. Along with this, the Lumia 800 is beautifully and stylishly designed.


Lumia 800

The high point of the Lumia is, of course, the Windows Phone 7.5 OS. Vastly superior to Android and BlackBerry OS and less clutter than Apple's iOS, what is particularly noteworthy is that the Lumia was designed specifically for Windows Phone. This means that, unlike other Windows Phone-running smartphones, not only is the Lumia running the latest version of the OS, it is a phone designed to fit with the OS. That means it's instinctive, easy to use, and just plain pretty. Unlike some claims made about the Android OS, it doesn't try to ape Apple's iOS, and instead creates an entirely unique interface that many will find a refreshing change from stock-standard smartphones.

There are only 50,000 apps available, but the Windows Phone Marketplace is more secure than Android's sometimes troubling security, and the apps are high quality and expected to grow. The Lumia 800 also includes a native Office suite that includes Excel and Word along with Nokia's own Drive GPS system, making this a great phone for the business man or woman who needs a phone that can get them places and create and edit content.

To conclude, the Lumia 800 is a great flagship for Nokia, and other phones in the Lumia line are well worth keeping an eye on. It's a great phone for customers looking for a change from the standard OS look on Android phones and iPhones, it runs instinctively, and the Office suite makes it great for those who want to be able to use their smartphone for work.

The plans

The Lumia 800 has been eagerly embraced by a range of Australian mobile providers, and is available on some great plans.

For the light user: Virgin offers the Lumia 800 on the Virgin Mobile Post-Paid Fair Go Plan. The plan is $29 per month with an additional $8 per month charge for the handset, bringing your monthly fee up to $37. The plan gives you $190 of included value for texts and calls and 250MB of data, along with free voicemail in Australia. The plan also allows you to rollover unused credit for the next month. Call Virgin to find out more or to sign up now on 1300 768 103.

For the contract shy:
It's going to be impossible to get a phone on a plan with no contract at all, but Vodafone are one of the few providers who offer 12 month contracts. The Vodafone $49 Cap gives you the Lumia 800 for only an additional $10 per month, bringing your monthly fee up to $59. The plan includes $550 of included value for texts and calls, 1GB of data, and unmetered access to social networks. The contract length is twelve months. Call us to find out more about Vodafone on 1300 850 518.

For the heavy user:
Optus offers the Lumia 800 on the $59 Optus Cap Plan for no additional hardware fee. $59 gives you $750 worth of credit for calls, unlimited texts within Australia, 2GB of data and unmetered access to social networking sites, making it ideal for the heavy user. Call Optus to find out more or sign up now on 1300 768 194.

Samsung Galaxy S II


Samsung Galaxy S II

The Galaxy S II is wildly popular, selling 20 million units in only 10 months, and for good reason.

The Galaxy S II is essentially the Everyman Phone. It does nothing special, but it does everything well. With an 8MP camera on the back and 2MP camera on the front for video calling, a TouchWiz 4.0 interface that makes it simple and easy to use, and a focus on customisation and shortcuts, the Galaxy is the phone that wants to be your best friend and first port of call. It comes with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of memory, which will come in useful when you take advantage of the video camera that shoots up to 1080p (HD) with autofocus.

The Galaxy is well designed and easy to handle. The battery life could be better, but you probably won't mind it that much as an exchange for the beautiful display screen. Essentially the Galaxy S II hits the sweet spot: a smartphone that does all you could want, and does it well, at great low prices.

For people who want to try a smartphone out, light users, or customers who don't have any real expectation about their smartphone besides the fact that they want it to work and work well, the Galaxy S II is a great choice. It's the phone you get without having to worry or think about it – inexpensive, well-made, and highly functional.

The plans

Just about every provider in Australia offers the Samsung Galaxy S II, and the prices are consistently dropping. Keep an eye on it if your current contract is about to expire and you want a new phone, or sign up to one of these great plans.

For the light user: Vodafone offers the $29 Cap with no added hardware cost on the 24 month contract. This means $29 per month gives you the phone, along with $180 included value for texts and calls, 200MB of data, and unmetered access to social networking sites. Call us to find out more about Vodafone on 1300 850 518.

'Don't worry, just sign up for this': If you don't think you're a heavy user but think you need more than what light plans offer, Virgin have a plan that should take care of you just fine. The Fair-Go Post-Paid $49 Plan gives you the Samsung Galaxy S II for no extra handset charge, along with $400 included call value, unlimited free texts, unlimited free calls to other Virgin mobiles, and 2GB of data. An Everyman Plan for the Everyman Phone: call Virgin now on 1300 768 103.

For the heavy user: TransACT offer the cheapest 'unlimited-ish' plan for the Samsung Galaxy S II. The Endless $69 Plan gives you the Galaxy for no extra charge per month, unlimited texts and calls to Australian landlines and mobiles, and 2GB of data. You can call TransACT for more information or to sign up on 1300 302 514.

I'm still torn!

 Pick Nokia if:

  1. You hate Android or iOS and want an instinctive and beautifully designed interface.
  2. You use your phone a lot for work, and need it to be able to handle a range of different files you might download from your emails.
  3. You don't want a smartphone – Nokia still sells feature phones that are usually available very inexpensively on plans, and as an old-school feature phone user myself, they definitely get the job done. Don't feel bullied into upgrading into a smartphone if you don't need one – you'll save money and get your phone needs met exactly. Now who's smart!

Pick Samsung if:

  1. You're a fan of choice – whether it's the Nexus or the Note or the Galaxy S II, Samsung are sure to have a smartphone to suit you.
  2. You're after an inexpensive alternative to the iPhone – the Android interface is a little clumsier but works very well, and prices are much lower.
  3. You want to get in on a growing trend – which is not a bad thing! Samsung is certainly gathering power, and undoubtedly Android will grow with it. Samsung users may be in for a fun ride.

Still lost? Give us a call on 1300 850 518 and we'll be able to help you find the right phone and plan for you.


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