Nokia N900 review: A new hope

GSMArena team, 26 November 2009.
Pages: 12345678910»

Tags: Nokia, Maemo, Touch UI

Introduction

It's crystal clear by now that the Nokia N900 has almost nothing to do with the traditional Nseries values. The full QWERTY side-slider may look similar to its double-digit mates but the Maemo experience is completely different. However, the N900 is not there for the mere sake of difference - a tablet and a phone, it tries to get the best of both worlds. These are worlds though where Nokia feels at home.

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Nokia N900 official photos

The internet tablet genes are strong in the Nokia N900 so connectivity and web-browsing are its greatest virtues. The large high-res display and great typing skills are the right kind of backup but we've seen plenty of similar packages already. We told you though - the N900 is different. It's a Maemo-powered phone with Mozilla browsing and all-you-can-eat connectivity. Call it good news, call it a good start or just call it good. Let's see if it calls back.

Key features

  • 3.5" 65K-color resistive touchscreen of WVGA (800 x 480 pixel) resolution
  • Maemo 5 OS
  • State-of-the-art Mozilla-based web browser with Adobe Flash 9.4 support
  • Slide-out three-row full QWERTY keyboard
  • ARM Cortex A8 600MHz CPU, PowerVR SGX graphics accelerator; 256 MB of RAM
  • Quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G support
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with dual-LED flash and active camera lens cover
  • WVGA (848 x 480 pixels) video recording @ 24fps
  • 10 Mbps HSDPA and 2 Mbps HSUPA support
  • Wi-Fi and GPS with A-GPS
  • 32GB onboard storage
  • DivX and XviD video playback
  • Foldable kickstand
  • microSD card slot with microSDHC support
  • Built-in accelerometer
  • Proximity sensor
  • 3.5 mm audio jack and TV-out
  • FM Radio receiver, FM transmitter
  • microUSB port (charging) and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Solid audio quality
  • Kinetic scrolling
  • Contacts integration of Skype, Google Talk and other VoIP services
  • Great build quality

Main disadvantages


  • Large and heavy
  • UI only works in landscape mode (for now)
  • No video call capabilities, smart and voice dialing
  • Outdated camera interface and features
  • No preinstalled voice-guided SatNav application
  • No voice recorder, no MMS, and no handwriting recognition
  • No FM radio application (despite that the hardware's there)
  • Limited third-party software availabilty
  • Limited 3G support in the US (no AT&T)

In our preview we saw the Nokia N900 as a lean and mean browsing machine. This price range though has little to no room for one-trick ponies. The chubby phone/tablet will have to play its best and that's where Nseries come in. Of course, the Maemo has still to catch up with Symbian in terms of system expandability but the N900 is an Nseries handset and all-round service is implied.

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Nokia N900 studio shots

One thing to definitely note about the Nokia N900 is the WVGA screen, which is not too frequent to see in other smartphones - platform limitations are hard to get around. There is of course the Vodafone 360 H1produced by Samsung and running LiMo, which even adds 16M-colors support, but it's very much a niche device. Now add the QWERTY keyboard, which turned out pretty comfortable despite the three-row layout, and things are starting to get there.

So, it's time we checked what the Nokia N900 can do for you and where it can possibly fail. A new OS (new to phones anyway) should be able to at least come close to the current crop of smartphone platforms and show a high enough development potential. For what we saw in our preview, the Maemo and the N900 may as well be even more ambitious. But if you take nothing for granted you've come to the right place. Join us on the next page as we power up the N900 and the review unfolds.

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