Few years back, Nokia started its journey from being a mobile manufacturer to an Internet services company and the company will go through certain iteration before they ‘get it’.

Nokia earlier launched N97, then N97 Mini and then the big change, i.e. adoption of Maemo over Symbian.

N900 is Nokia’s first product based on Maemo OS and if you compare N900 with N97s of the world, you surely have a winner in N900. As always, we do a review from user perspective and not so much from gadget freak context.

Nokia N900
N900 - Nokia's Linux (Maemo) Based Phone

So here goes the part 1 of the review – based purely on first impressions (of using the phone for few days).

N900 – Form Factor

If you eat a lot of Apples (pun intended), N900 will look a bit odd! :). It’s a bit bloated and flat – big and bulky are the right words to describe it.

My first impressions of the phone was that its too bloated to be called a smartphone (remember those brick phones?), but once you start using the phone, you will find that its more comfortable that ways only. The phone is easy to hold and the form factor goes well with the slide-out QWERTY keypad.

N900 – Boot Time

Like a PC, boot time is important for smartphones and while one can always measure it to the nearest second, the experience lies in ‘how slow is too slow’. As compared to a few other Nokia phones (N97), N900 worked better (Iwith installed apps). Technically speaking, N900 uses upstart to reduce the boot time.

N900 – Navigation

Navigation is quite a big deal with this phone. It beats me to understand why Nokia designers made it so difficult to use this phone. For instance, importing SIM contact isn’t so intuitive, making a call again ain’t so intuitive (where is the dialpad?).

Nokia understands this issue very well and when you buy a N900, you get custom demo/support (from the services team) as part of the buying process.

Battery

Smartphones are an alternative to PCs and while there are technical explanation of better battery power in these phones, the simple analogy is that if you use smartphone like a PC (i.e.  play games, browse, create docs etc), you better charge it like a PC.  Rather, keep it charged like a PC. As simple as that.

Do I have to say more?

Display

A major confusion between landscape vs. portrait mode – the phone works primarily in landscape mode. The portrait mode is active only while making calls. This, I believe is driven by usability research (especially when the phone is optimized for playing games/browsing etc), but it takes a while to get used to this change.

There are a few interesting features in the phone like notification light, which toggles between different colors (blue, white, yellow, orange)–  Blue light means that you have received a SMS, email, missed call or IM. When the battery is charging the light turns Orange and when full it turns Green.

There is no button to make a call/cancel call – its all touch driven. And again, it will take some time to get adjusted to this, as we all are trained to have the green/red buttons on the phone.

Having said that, UI is an eye candy. It actually is unique to N900 and notifications (of missed calls/sms/IM) etc is super cool.

Touch(y)

And now the most important part, i.e. Touch experience.

Compared to N97, there is a major improvement on N900 touch experience, but if you actually compare this with an iPhone, you would still cry for 100X improvement. Most of the times, touch is not responsive (hey! makes me feel if I have fat fingers?) and lack of keyboard support dampens the experience.

N900 Price?

The good news is that Nokia has slashed the price by 5K/ and the N900 price in India is INR 25,000 (MRP), so you might get that at INR 24,500. Not too expensive for a phone like this which offers 32GB of storage (specs below).

In the next part, I will share a detailed review of the phone, especially on the UI front where Nokia has actually done a great job. Stay Pluggd.in.

Disclosure: Review done using a sample device from Nokia.

N900 Specs

  • 32 GB internal storage
  • Up to 16 GB of additional storage with an external microSD card
  • Full QWERTY tactile keyboard
  • Full QWERTY onscreen keyboard
  • Quad-band GSM EDGE 850/900/1800/1900
  • WCDMA 900/1700/2100 MHz
  • Maemo browser powered by Mozilla technology
  • Adobe Flash™ 9.4 support
  • Full screen browsing
  • 3.5mm AV connector
  • TV out (PAL/NTSC) with Nokia Video

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