By February 17, 2008

Neonode N2 unbox video and review


I’m sure that Neonode isn’t a name that too many will recognise but the N2, as the name might suggest, is the second device to be released by the Swedish handset manufacturer, Neonode. The original N1 was released back in 2004 and was a interesting device, it was a radical design shift and looked very different to the other handsets available at the time, such as the HTC Canary and the HTC Magician.

The N2 is builds upon the original design and specification of the N1 and includes advances such as integrated Bluetooth and additional memory.

The Neonode N2 is not available on contract from any network here in the UK, Neonode have done deals with operators in other countries but if you want an N2 you’ll have to purchase from Neonode direct from Sweden.

The Neonode N2

The Neonode N2

Neonode N2 Specification:

  • 2″ TFT display 176 x 220 pixels
  • Windows CE 6.0 embedded
  • miniSD Card slot, 1 GB card included
  • 64MB RAM (no ROM as the miniSD card contains the OS
  • 2.0MP camera
  • GPRS
  • MP3/WMA/MPEG/WMV player
  • GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 77 x 47 x 14.7 mm
  • 65 grams
  • 200 hours standby
  • 4 hours talk time

    The Neonode N2 is a tiny phone with a black, hard-rubber case and very few exterior controls. The screen isn’t a true touchscreen but instead uses a patented technology called zForce. zForce is a new breed within touch screens. It is an optical touch screen that doesn’t require hard pressure or a stylus.

    So apart from the screen itself there is very little to see on the front of the device apart from a small joystick-style control at the bottom.

    N2 joystick control

    N2 joystick control

    On the left side of the device you’ll find an up/down volume control rocker and a tiny power button. The right side of the N2 is bare.

    N2 left side

    N2 left side

    The top of the N2 is home to the connector that offers sync, charge and audio connectivity. It’s a custom connector that allow you plug in a charger, USB Sync cable and a set of headphones. Next to the connector you’ll find a switch that allows you to remove the back cover in order to install your SIM card and the supplied 1GB miniSD card.

    N2 top

    N2 top
    N2 inside

    N2 inside


  • Incredibly small and light
  • Cool factor
  • Battery life
  • Excellent touchscreen navigation

  • Has only GPRS, no EDGE or 3G
  • No email client
  • Lacks software
  • OS on removable memory card

    This time around, as a result of feedback from readers, I’ve recoded a brief review as part of our unboxing video which you can see below. I’m going to cover the main points here too.

    Neonode N2 unboxed and reviewed

    Initially the Neonode N2 struck me as looking just like one of those cyberpets that were very popular a few years ago, it certainly doesn’t look much like a typical mobile phone. The N2 is very small and light although I suspect that it might be too small for some peoples taste.

    Having a 1GB memory card included in the package seems like a nice ‘generous’ thing for Neonode to have done until you realise this is actually a necessity. Perhaps one of the strangest things about the N2 is that the operating system – in this case Windows CE 6.0 embedded – is actually installed on the supplied miniSD card! This means that you cannot remove the memory card and put in another until you have copied or downloaded the OS from the Neonode site it also means you cannot borrow someone else’s memory card to look at their photos etc. I cant really see any advantage for this arrangement.

    I’ve been using the N2 for a couple of weeks and I amazed at the battery life. Granted, I’m not using it a great deal, mainly just sending a few texts and making a few calls but then I’ve only had to charge the battery twice. This is great for me as I can carry the N2 in my bag and keep it as a backup phone without having to worry about checking the charge level all the time. In comparison my TyTN II needs charging every day.

    As I mentioned earlier in the review, the touchscreen isn’t a true touch screen as the sensors are optical and use infrared light beams to work out where your finger is on the screen. The result is an extremely sensitive touchscreen that requires the lightest of touches to make it work. This means that the gesture based interface works really well.

    Just a few words on the gesture based navigation then. There has been a lot of talk in the mainstream media about touschscreen phones as if they are a truly new and magical invention. As the rest of us know, touchscreens have been around quite a while. When the iPhone arrived on the scene last year much was made of the gesture based touchscreen navigation and once again there was a media frenzy. Let’s just point out then that the original Neonode N1 has touchscreen gesture based navigation when it was launched back in 2004 – a little ahead of Apple then?!

    The OS on the N2 is Windows CE 6.0 embedded but if you are thinking that this is a Smartphone then STOP. The N2 really isn’t a smartphone or PDA device. You wont find activesync or an email client here and you wont even recognise the custom interface that Neonode have built in. As a result, many CE and Smartphone applications simply refuse to install and those that do will refuse to run. Having tried out numerous apps and games I struggled to find anything that would in fact work. The bottom line is that anything you might hope to use on the N2 needs to be developed specifically for it and as such there is very little out there. However this is a situation that should hopefully improve now that Neonode has some deals with operators in India and the USA.

    I’m sure that N1 owners out there will love the N2. It’s smaller than the N1 but seems to include much of what was missing from the N1 including bluetooth, vibrating call alert and perhaps quite importantly more RAM. Not much else has changed on the inside of the device, it has the same CPU and virtually the same custom OS.

    Neonode N1 vs N2

    Neonode N1 vs N2

    Compared to other devices on the market at the moment the N2 might seem a little basic. 64MB of RAM isn’t much and the 176 x 220 screen seems quite cramped but perhaps there are two more important things that are more likely to put a potential buyer off the N2. First of all there’s no proper email on client. Despite running Windows CE you wont be able to sync your Exchange or even your Outlook email. The only option for reading email is to use the web browser and some kind of webmail. On top of that is the fact that the N2 only has GPRS so there’s no high speed data in the form of 3G or HSDPA. Perhaps this wouldn’t seem so bad of the N2 had WiFi but sadly it’s lacking in this department too. Mind you with no email feature GPRS may well be enough!

    Reading the last few paragraphs you might think that I don’t like the N2, however, that’s not actually the case and there is plenty to like about the N2. The size is a big plus for this phone not only is it small overall but it’s really quite thin and slips easily in the that little pocket in your jeans. The gesture based interface is easy to use and very responsive and there’s a definite cool factor to it.

    Sending a text or dialling a phone number is a breeze on the N2 as well. The on screen phone pad offers predictive text entry as well as regular multi-tap. It’s here also that we see a small extra feature that makes a big difference; When you tap a key on the screen you get a tactile response thanks to the N2’s built in vibrate function. It’s a simple thing but makes all the difference.

    As you can imagine, I get a lot of devices to try out here and I always show other people to see what they think. Never in all the time that I’ve been running the blog have I seen a device generate so much interest among my colleagues at work. Everyone wants to play with the N2 even to the point where they start to argue over who gets to have the next turn!

    Neonode N2 vs HTC TyTN II

    Neonode N2 vs HTC TyTN II


    If you use your phone for business then the Neonode N2 certainly isn’t going to replace your Windows Mobile or even your Blackberry. The lack of email and 3G really does render this phone useless for a business customer.

    However, if you want a discreet mobile phone for making and receiving calls and for text messaging then the N2 is very capable and performs these functions in style.

    I like the N2 but I wont be giving up my TyTN II, however I do carry the N2 in my pocket all the time and use it with may PAYG SIM. If I go out socially then I’ll just take the N2 and leave the TyTN II at home. I just wish Neonode would include some kind of pocket outlook client!

    Review by: Matt

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    Posted in: Videos/Unboxings

    About the Author:

    More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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