By January 11, 2010

Nokia N900 Review

Well, here is something interesting from Nokia. The N900 running a new operating system, Maemo 5. The Nokia N900 is more of an internet tablet with the phone function thrown in for good measure but is it any good and could this signal the end of Nokia putting Symbian on all devices?

Nokia N900 Review

Nokia N900

 

What’s in the box:

That’s a hard one as we had the special box with a fox and a cake in it! If you did not see it, and its well worth watching, view Matt’s Nokia N900 unboxing video here.

 

 

The ten second review:

  • Device: Nokia N900
  • Summary: A feature packed internet tablet that’s also a phone!
  • Price: £446.50
  • Best of: Browser, 32GB storage, 3G, Media
  • Worst of: Space bar positioning, Thickness

 

Nokia N900 specification:

  • Dimensions: 110.9 x 59.8 x 19.55 millimetres
  • Mass: 181 grams (battery included)
  • 600 MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 3430 CPU
  • 256MB RAM / 768MB ROM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • 3.5″ colour transflective TFT 800 x 480 pixels
  • Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR and A2DP
  • WiFi – 802.11b/g
  • Infrared Gate
  • Nokia Internet Tablet OS Maemo 5.0
  • Video output
  • 3.5mm headphone connector
  • Quad-band GSM and Tri-band HSDPA/3G
  • FM radio (87.5-108MHz) with RDS
  • Built in GPS and Nokia Maps
  • 5 Megapixel auto-focus camera and dual-LED flash
  • 0.3MP forward-facing camera for video calling
  • 1320 mAh battery

 

General:

The top of the N900 houses the up/down volume rocker, the power button and the camera button. There is also an infrared gate!

Nokia N900 Review-top

Nokia N900 Top

Only a stylus can be found on the bottom, and what a horrible one it is too.

N900-bottom

Nokia N900 Bottom

On the left side is the MicroUSB port as well as a speaker grill.

N900-left

Nokia N900 Left Side

Over on the right is the screen sleep button, the 3.5mm headset jack and another speaker grill.

N900-right

Nokia N900 Right Side

Located on the rear of the device is just the camera lens and flash covered by a nice sliding door.

N900-back

Nokia N900 Rear

And on the front its all screen apart from the ear speaker, sensors and front facing camera. No buttons at all.

N900-front

Nokia N900 Front

Highlights:

  • Slide out QWERTYY keyboard
  • Wi-Fi
  • 3G
  • GPS
  • 32GB Internal Storage
  • 3.5mm headset jack

Lowlights:

  • Placement of spacebar
  • Its chunky

 

Review:

The first thing I thought when I first held the Nokia N900 was “oh my god, this thing is chunky!” I own a HTC Touch Pro2 so I am used to a big device and strangely enough there actually isn’t a great deal of difference between the two handsets in terms of size and weight but the Nokia feels a little more brick like.

Bricks aside, the N900 feels well made. The slide mechanism when opening the keyboard is smooth and the best way I can sum it up is tight.

N900-low-angle

Nokia N900 Keyboard Open

 

The keyboard itself has pros and cons. My first impressions was that it was half decent and over time I have grown to like it more. Its not the best by a long way but its good. Side by side with the HTC Touch Pro2 there is a big difference in size and this did have an effect on how easily I could type on it.

N900-keyboard

Nokia N900 Keyboard

Only having three rows is always a bit frustrating when having to use the number keys and why Nokia have placed the spacebar to the right hand side instead of the centre baffles me. Its a pain having it stuck there! When I type on a slide out QWERTY I like to use both my left and right thumb for the spacebar. Not on this device though!

The keys however feel nice to use in terms of the plastic they are made from. They almost have a slight rubbery feel to them. They are just let down by their size unfortunately.

 

The resistive screen on on the Nokia N900 is pretty impressive. At 3.5 inches its a perfect size in my opinion. Small enough to fit in a pocket but big enough to watch moves and surf the web comfortably. As you will see from my screen shots the colours are bright and vibrant. Nice work Nokia.

 

Onto the software. Now with any new operating system it takes a while to become accustomed to it so I may get a few things incorrect. I like to review a device without doing too much research or reading other reviews as this enables me to give an honest opinion on the unit.

I must say that the Maemo 5 OS has been dead easy to get accustomed with. I certainly found it easier than using Symbian! Sure it takes some getting used to but its not complicated and finding features on the phone doesn’t require delving into as many sub folders as on a Symbian phone.

 

There are four home screens on the Nokia N900 and these can be accessed by swiping the screen left or right. They flow well and are quick to change.

Screenshot-20100104-180024

Nokia N900 Home Screen

Each of these screens can be totally customised. You can add widgets, shortcuts, bookmarks and even contacts. Like Android it really allows you to set the device up the way you want it and I was rather impressed with this. Adding these widgets etc could not be much simpler. Just touch the top right of the screen and a settings logo appears. Give it a press and it then allows you to add, rearrange, or remove on screen icons.

Screenshot-20100104-184634

Another Nokia N900 Home Screen

As you will see from the above image you still get your basic phone information in the top of the screen. This shows you the time, your signal strength and battery level. Next to this info is an orange icon that looks like two small rectangles. A press of this shows you what applications are currently open. You now have the option to close any you no longer require like a task manager.

Screenshot-20100104-174927

Nokia N900 Task Manager

From here you will notice that the orange icon in the top left has changed again. Pressing this takes you into the devices main menu.

The menu is made up of 15 icons and it looks typically Nokia. At the bottom of the list is the “more” icon. This takes you into a second menu where you can scroll up and down and this list will show you all of your installed applications.

Screenshot-20100104-175456

Nokia N900 Menu

 

I think thats it for the the OS. Simple yet effective.

 

So lets have a look at the N900s main features and if they are any good?

Nokia seem to be rather good with their cameras and the Nokia N900 is on par with some of there previous camera phones. Once again they have used the Carl Zeiss lens on the N900 and at 5mp it takes a decent shot. I took it to Tesco!

20091231_004 20091231_005

Nokia N900 Camera Shots

Its not the best but its without doubt good enough for uploading photos to the web or even printing. I was pleased to see that Nokia had included a slide over lens cover to protect both the lens and the flash. Nice.

The camera interface is fairly sparse with not as many settings options as on some other phones like the recent Samsung ones but like most things on the Nokia N900 are simple to use. Video recording was okay but nothing special.

For media I would say that the Nokia N900 is super cool. Entering the media player from the main menu gives you the below options:

Screenshot-20100104-173808

Nokia N900 Media Player

Music playback on the N900 is average. I was not blown away, but the sound was clear and I could hear all the individual instruments on the track I was listening to.

As you will see below the album art is shown and the onscreen keys are uncomplicated.

Screenshot-20100104-173820

Nokia N900 Music Player

Video playback was excellent. The screen really does the device justice here and with internal storage of 32Gb you will be able to store a load of movies on the device. You can view my demo video here.

Messaging was a bit hit and miss on the N900. SMS was no problem. The messaging interface was easy to use and attractive to look at. Where I had a problem was email. I couldn’t set up an email account. I’m sure I must have been doing something wrong but I tried three different accounts and none worked. If it was me then that’s fair enough but what did annoy me was that on every other phone I have reviewed setting up email was a piece of cake. (I nearly said something else then!)

The N900 supports threaded messaging though and that always a bonus.

Screenshot-20100104-175256

Nokia N900 Threaded SMS

I liked the calendar on the Nokia N900.

Screenshot-20100104-174754 Screenshot-20100104-174944

Nokia N900 Calendar

As you can see above, both month and week views are available and i liked the fact that you can screen swipe forward and back to access forthcoming weeks. Setting up appointments was as easy as pie and I am loving the black and orange interface.

Web browsing has to be one of the most important features on the Nokia N900. You really get an almost PC like experience. As the handset is marketed as an internet tablet, rather than a phone, its nice to see flash included. This allows you to watch any onscreen videos without being directed to a third party player. I’m not sure if I prefer this or not. I quite like being sent to youtube.

Screenshot-20100104-174630

Nokia N900 Browser

Accessing and adding bookmarks is a breeze and its dead simple to use the browser.

Screenshot-20100104-174726 Screenshot-20100104-174734

Bookmarks on the Nokia N900

Zooming is a brand new experience on the N900 as it has a rather unique way of doing it. You can use the normal double tap, like on most phones but you can also swirl! Imagine putting your finger on the screen and swirling it round in a circle.  Clockwise to zoom in and anti clockwise to zoom out. Its a bit odd and takes some getting used to but its quite cool.

You can also use the Nokia N900 as a phone!

Screenshot-20100104-175142

Nokia N900 Phone

As far as I am aware this is the only feature where you can use the phone in portrait mode. Everything else is in landscape. When I did the screen capture it came out in landscape. I cant get it to do it again though!

Conclusion:

After speaking recently to a few other people who have used the N900 some said they had big problems with it such as it turning itself off. Not me though. I had no issues at all. I actually really like the Nokia N900. Not enough to get one but I think its a good bit of kit. Its still early days for the OS and I would imagine there will be some updates and improvements in the near future but in the meantime I have to say its my favourite Nokia device yet. Nice work Nokia. Now move that spacebar back to the centre!

 

 

Posted by: James

Posted in: Phones, Reviews
Tags: ,

About the Author:

Five year veteran of the site. BlackBerry specialist, but experienced in most operating systems. Enjoys flower arranging and cross stitch.
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