Nokia C7 vs N8: Female vs Male: Madonna vs Kurt Cobain?

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Yes, it's a Friday Face-off. Sat next to me on my desk are the Nokia C7 and my beloved N8. Yet despite that adjective, I do keep picking up the C7 and err.... fondling it. It's just so beautiful. Could this be a classic battle of the sexes? Smooth, silky beauty vs brute power? Despite the cosmetic differences, the C7 and N8 are surprisingly well matched under the hood. Here's my run-down: would you, too, be tempted by the C7?

C7 vs N8

It all started with Rafe's (always wise) words ringing in my head. A year ago he picked the C7 in preference to the N8 saying that for him it was the better phone. Was he MAD? This is the flippin' N8 we're talking about! Monster camera and gadgets galore!

It turned out that Rafe wasn't mad (a good thing, since he's the boss!) and that the C7 has lasted just as well as the N8 through a year of updates - Web, Store, Anna and Belle (ahem) just round the corner. Both devices are still competitive, at least in terms of raw functionality, with most smartphones of the same size, even in late 2011.

Here are the main differences, along with a brief assessment of the importance of each where appropriate:

Nokia C7 Nokia N8
No sharp edges, everything rounded and sculpted, 'feminine'? Far more rectangular, sharp edges everywhere, plus 2mm camera 'hump' on the back, 'male'?
Smaller in width and depth, 5g lighter 2mm wider, 2mm deeper (despite the integral battery, oddly) and 5g heavier
Screen surround merges into chamfered sides, swiping/touch motions not impeded Screen surround raised, nominally to protect it, though it's dubious that the Gorilla Glass needs protecting?
3.5" AMOLED screen with oleophobic coating 3.5" AMOLED screen, exactly the same component. Very slightly better contrast outdoors but gets more easily covered in fingerprints
Physical call and Hangup buttons None. Calls have to be handled with swipes and taps on the touchscreen
Central, large Menu/Home key Offset, small and fiddly Menu/Home key
720p video capture with full EDoF, stunningly sharp for almost any use, providing light is good enough. Pseudo-intelligent digital zoom provided by EDoF. Digital MEMS microphone. 720p video capture with prefocus at around 2 metres. Intelligent digital zoom up to 3x. Beta Labs replacement app gives continuous auto-focus at mid/macro distances. Digital MEMS microphone.
8 megapixel EDoF camera, great for ad-hoc snaps but ultimately limiting for anything arty or close or in low-light conditions 12 megapixel camera with huge 1/1.83" sensor, plus Xenon flash, still the best camera phone in the world
FM transmitter, 3.5mm out, small loudspeaker, slightly tinny FM transmitter, 3.5mm out, large loudspeaker
just traditional 3.5mm A/V composite video out HDMI out for video/presentation, plus HDMI adapter (though I've never used either in the real world, it has to be said 8-) )
490MB system disk, 8GB mass memory, plus microSD 250MB system disk, 16GB mass memory, plus microSD (the N8 just edges it with the larger mass memory, though anyone needing to load lots of stuff into C: will get on better with the C7)
1200mAh replaceable BL-5K battery (1300mAh once the new battery version comes online) Battery not user replaceable (*
Dual LEDs with built-in keylock toggle torch function n/a
Near Field Communications (NFC) transceiver built-in n/a
Plain, cheap, nasty headphones  Comes with USB on the go adapter, plus in-ear multimedia headphones 
Quickoffice viewers only  Quickoffice editing suite 

C7 vs N8

A quick tot up of the 'green' scores gives the C7 the win here at 10 to 6, but take this with a pinch of salt, since the stills camera attribute should perhaps be double-weighted, maybe even triple-weighted, because of its importance to many people.

The point that's worth making from all this, other than Rafe maybe being right(!), is that the usual assumption that the N8 sits above the C7 in the Symbian^3 pantheon is not necessarily the case. There's at least a strong argument for them to share equal billing, depending on personal preferences. 

And did you know there were so many differences between the two models? Comments welcome, especially if you've spotted a difference that I've missed!

Steve Litchfield, All About Symbian, 9 Dec 2011

C7 vs N8