Samsung i8510 INNOV8 vs Nokia N96

You might have noticed a certain touchscreen war brewing among the likes of Apple, Nokia, Samsung and so on, but hopefully you've noticed that many phones still have buttons too.

Because of this we decided to compare two non-touchscreen phones to see what's also available. We chose two entertainment behemoths from the top two mobile phone manufacturers in the world: The Samsung i8510 and the Nokia N96.


The first thing to realise is both of these run on the Symbian 9.3, with the most recent S60 interface. This means interaction with the Samsung is startlingly similar to the experience most of us will have had in our Nokia handset-owning times (should you have owned/used one before, of course), although both seem to use it in slightly different ways.

The i8510's optical mouse, which appears on a fair few Samsung handsets these days, is a question of taste... some will love the fact you can navigate on your handset like a trackpad on a laptop and some will loathe it, as it can be a mite too sensitive at times, which means you accidentally select the wrong option on a menu. However, you can alter the sensitivity of the device, which helps the problem somewhat.

Both devices have poor themes and skins out of the box for these handsets, although Nokia seems to have made its initial theme look ever so slightly more appealing.


These days a mobile phone, especially a powerful one, has to have a decent internet experience for the power user. Given that both these phones use Symbian, they have exactly the same browser. However, although Nokia's intuition is clearly there, having often had one of the best browsers around, Samsung's optical mouse is a joy to use around the net, making it by far the better experience.

However, there is one thing that will irritate the bejesus out of the i8510 user... the fact that if you don't click squarely on a link, which is easy to do with the sensitive optical mouse, then the screen's zoom will be activated, making everything 125 per cent... which is very annoying.

Entertainment - Video

This is the category where both phones really stretched their legs and got into gear, and we're happy to say that neither disappointed.

The i8510's video seemed to be slicker at running than the Nokia N96... whether that's due to the fact it has 8GB internal memory compared to the 16GB N96, we don't know. But once up and running the Nokia's video was probably the better of the two, prompting you to start from the beginning or where you stopped watching when loading up a vid, which was really nice, and the kickstand on the back made more difference to the experience than we thought possible.

The basic thing people have to remember with video on a mobile phone screen is that it's not really designed for long video watching in the same way as an Archos PMP might be, and that's certainly the case with both these phones.

However, the N96's ability to both view and download videos from the iPlayer makes it a real winner in this category, as popping on an episode of Top Gear for the train journey is very easy and the perfect length and medium for such a trip.

Also, the dedicated media keys on both ends of the phone, although a little excessive, were a very nice touch from Nokia, although those present from Samsung were more than adequate.

The Samsung handset can also handle more media types, including DivX and Xvid, so if you're into preloading movies you'll probably enjoy this feature.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.