5 Responses to “Nokia N900 Unlocked Phone/Mobile Computer with 3.5-Inch Touchscreen, QWERTY, 5 MP Camera, Maemo Browser, 32 GB–U.S. Version with Full Warranty”

  1. N. Singleton says:

    Review by N. Singleton for Nokia N900 Unlocked Phone/Mobile Computer with 3.5-Inch Touchscreen, QWERTY, 5 MP Camera, Maemo Browser, 32 GB–U.S. Version with Full Warranty
    Review Updated June 1, 2010


    Design & Hardware


    [CONSTRUCTION]: The surface of the N900 is a smooth black matte finish. The build material is aluminum, steel and rubber/plastic. The N900 easily fits in a pocket, being smaller than the N810 but noticeably thicker than most phones. The four front components are the status light, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, and VGA camera. There is a consumer infrared port (universal remote), wrist strap option, stylus and kickstand. The removable back contains the main camera, SIM, battery and microSDHC slot. Removal requires some strength but it’s reassuring knowing it won’t fall off.

    [KEYBOARD]: The keyboard is side-sliding with a smooth, springless mechanism providing a solid feel. The keyboard is three-row, localized and backlit with rubberized key surfaces. The keys are more difficult to use than devices with rounded keys but are still easier than virtual keyboards. While reaching speeds of 35-40 WPM is realistic, extended use is rather tiring. It is possible connect a USB or Bluetooth keyboard, gamepad, mouse and even a Wii Remote.

    [TV-OUT]: There is 480i resolution TV-out which uses an included 3.5mm jack with 4 rings. These are ground, audio left and right, and composite video. Useful for watching movies, playing games or doing work that requires a big screen.

    [SCREEN]: The 16 million color, 800×480 pixel display is incredible. It is pressure-sensitive, 15:9 aspect and transflective, making the screen easier to see in direct light. It uses a surprisingly responsive resistive touch screen allowing use with gloves, fingernails or a stylus. The ambient light sensor adjusts the brightness automatically. Lack of multi-touch means cumbersome “swirling” gestures in some software but is generally not a huge issue.

    [CAMERAS]: The main camera is a 5MP Carl Zeiss, the same as the Nokia N97. It comes with a sliding shutter to protect the recessed lens. There is also a front-facing 640×480 webcam. The camera interface is the same as the S60. The image quality is sharp, skin tones are vivid and there is very little, if any, chromatic aberration at the edges. The camera uses the accelerometer when photographing so the photo viewer can show the picture “up” however the N900 is held. Take a portrait picture and view it landscape and it’ll be small. Turn the device and it’ll fill the screen. There are the following modes: Automatic, Macro, Portrait, Landscape, Action, and Auto video. The camera can take 848×480 resolution video at 25 fps. The video quality is crisp, recording at an impressive 3000 kb/s but the framerate usually drops to 20fps and the audio has a noticeable metallic tone. The camera also works with Adobe Flash.

    [CPU]: The CPU is an ARM-based TI OMAP 3430 600MHz clocked at 500MHz but can be overclocked. Some users of the Maemo forums have managed to push it up to 1.2GHz. This allows improved performance with high resolution media, gaming/emulators and web browsing among many others. Overclocking requires downloading a modified kernel with the desired speed. They are generally made available in 50Mhz steps such as 800MHz and 850MHz. Then simply run fiasco-image-update on the download. While overclocking would normally reduce battery life, most kernels also provide underclocks for idle which allows the N900 to use significantly less power when not in use, the net result often being EXTENDED battery life. According to Nokia, overclocking does void the warranty. Since the N900 does not have any active cooling the heat created by overclocking could significantly shorten the N900’s life if pushed too much. N900 units are unique, each will overclock differently. So far though the series does seem to overclock extremely well.

    [BATTERY]: The battery is a 1320mAh Nokia BL-5J, 22% smaller than the BP-4L. A full battery with unoptimized settings allows about 5-9 hours of continuous talk time, 5 hours of music or a few hours of 3G. 3G/3.5G drains the battery faster than Wi-Fi. Lowering brightness, removing desktop widgets and disabling GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G easily triples battery life. Charging is through microUSB which takes about 4-5 hours for an empty battery. An issue with the USB port breaking off has been acknowledged by Nokia as a design oversight, they advise care should be taken while plugging/unplugging devices to mitigate this problem. The “complete cycle” method some people use is for calibrating multicell laptop batteries, but the N900 only has a single cell battery so it’s pointless and marginally harmful to do complete discharge cycles as there’s nothing to calibrate.

    [INTERNAL MEMORY]: The N900 has two memory chips. The first is a 32GB eMMC: 768MB of ‘virtual memory’ (swap), 2GB for settings and software (ext3 /home), the last ~26GB (MyDocs) is for your files only (software not allowed). The second chip is 256MB of NAND memory (RAM) used for bootloader, kernel and rootfs, twice that of the N810. Optionally, several gigabytes are used for the localized offline Ovi Maps, useful in areas without data coverage.

    [EXPANDABLE MEMORY]: The N900 has a hot-swappable microSDHC slot under the rear panel. It supports microSDHC cards up to 32GB of any class. The included cable can connect the N900 to a computer for easy transfer of files by allowing the N900 to act as a hard drive, though only “MyDocs” is accessible.

    [GPS & MAPS]: The GPS is a real GPS and has the addition of assisted GPS. The cold fix time with data is about 10-40 seconds with accuracy as good as the Nokia N97. Pre-loaded Ovi Maps are available so a data connection is not required. GPS usually works fine offline, if slow, but due to a bug can fail as the map engine may ask for a connection even when the maptiles are loaded. Ovi Maps uses the GPS to show local weather information. Navigation and mapping with Ovi Maps is free but there is no turn-by-turn voice navigation. The low 1.0 version is due to it being the first Maemo release of Ovi maps explaining the lack of features it has compared to the 3.0 version available on Symbian. Some omissions being the inability to save routes, and inability to look up a contact’s address.

    [FM TRANSMITTER]: The integrated FM transmitter puts audio from the device into radio frequency so you can tune a radio to that frequency and play N900 media wirelessly. It works as advertised but must be very close to the receiving radio.

    [RADIOS]: The signal strength of the N900’s 3G radio is weak. It is possible to turn off the cellular radio without disabling Wi-Fi/Bluetooth by going into offline mode and then manually enabling either. The N900 can use another phone as a 3G modem over Bluetooth but setup is complicated. Bluetooth DUN and PAN modes are supported via community software. Advanced WLAN security, like different kinds of EAP (EAP-PEAP, EAP-MSCHAPv2, etc.), different ciphers (RSA, 3DES, SHA, etc.) and “authority certificates” (algorithms like X.509, SHA1RSA) are all supported. With Bluetooth DUN, tethering is supported.

    [AUDIO]: The built-in stereo speakers are loud but lacking in bass. They make an acceptable portable radio. Bluetooth headphones work great. The audio quality of the 3.5mm jack is loud and slightly more “forward” sounding than the more “laid back” or “polite” sound of other smartphones but without the response peaks, valleys or ripples that so often mar the critical 1,000 Hz. region. Audio sounds more “present” than with similar devices. The included earphones have a somewhat dirty signal. Higher frequencies hiss, losing details and the brightness and dynamic volume are shallow, lacking weight and depth. The earphone wires feel like they will become loose over time.


    Application Software


    [SCREEN ORIENTATION]: Most software and the main N900 interface only work in landscape mode. The only time it can be switched to portrait mode is when making or receive a phone call. Rotating the phone into portrait mode opens the keypad automatically after a delay. As of PR 1.2, portrait mode is available for the web browser by default. Emails, Contacts, App and File mangers and PDF reader now all support portrait mode but you must press Ctrl+Shift+R every time to enable it. Third party software orientation is at the discretion of the software developer.

    [WEB BROWSER]: The overall web experience is amazing, perhaps the best available in a device this size. The web browser is MicroB and supports full Adobe Flash, video and applets providing a very fast, full web experience. Tapping zooms and centers where tapped. Making a circular motion zooms gradually. Moving a finger off the left of the screen produces a mouse arrow for websites requiring this operation. The Flash version is 9.4. Flash 10.1 was originally planned for Q1 2010 but the Head of Maemo Operations, Mountain View has stated that it is never coming to the N900, only to future MeeGo devices. Many Flash games play fine but the keyboard can be iffy. Unfortunately some Flash applets still run after closing the browser and drain the battery. The simplest fix is to reboot. MicroB is based on Firefox which uses Gecko, Webkit browsers are also freely available.

    [COPY AND PASTE]: Copy and pasting text is allowed in all menus and textboxes.

    [SOCIAL NETWORKING]: The N900 comes with utilities for using Twitter and Facebook. Social presence is a global service, once connected, the contact list is updated realtime, there’s no need to launch ‘Contacts’. IM support for MSN, ICQ, AIM, Yahoo, IRC and more is also available through Pidgin. Video calls can be made over IP using Google Talk. Email supports Mail for Exchange (including 2003) and IMAP/POP3. Nokia/Ovi Messaging provides PUSH email for up to 10 simultaneous accounts, including webmail and keeps the accounts separate. Skype calls can be made using 3G.

    [PRODUCTIVITY]: Included is Documents To Go, a suite of apps for opening MS Office documents. There’s a free version that only opens Office files and a pay version for creating and editing Office files. Full versions of AbiWord and OpenOffice are freely available as well.

    [MEDIA PLAYER]: The media player works but can be picky. Included are some 720p trailers showing the N900’s speed and amazing screen. Codec support is unclear and experimenting with “mostly supported” media can be a stuttering mess. The media player is okay for music but could use some polishing, the lack of an equalizer was a surprising omission for example. There are also free, community media players like VLC available.

    [PHONE]: As a phone the N900 has some significant shortcomings. By default there are only two modifiable profiles, however new profiles may be created with a free tool called Tweakr. The rotational start of the phone interface takes several moments. There’s no way to filter or organize the call log and call duration is not recorded. There’s no speed dial functionality and it’s not possible to send an SMS or access device settings from the phone screen. The poor proximity sensor opens random screens while in your pocket and there’s no per-contact ringtone support. On the positive side, the call quality and signal strength are excellent. MMS is not officially supported but community software fMMS allows its functionality.


    Operating System


    [INTERFACE]: The OS interface is polished and fluid. You can sweep 360 degrees through four desktops filled with your choice of widgets, shortcuts and wallpaper, easily zooming in and out of open applications. The interface is usually quick and responsive but can stutter. When a dialog opens, the application behind it blurs like frosted glass. All context menus are pop-ups dismissed by pressing outside the menu.

    [MULTITASKING]: Multitasking is phenomenal. You can run every application with no sign of slowing. Taskswitching is thumbnailed showing what each program is. The active program’s window shrinks so all open programs are visible at once. Then any window may be closed using the X in the corner in any order.

    [TECHNICAL]: The default N900 OS is Maemo 5. Maemo was started in 2005 by Nokia being based on Debian. Future Maemo releases will be merged with Intel’s Moblin OS creating MeeGo. Nokia originally planned to support the N900 with MeeGo but since has stated that only a Community Supported release will be available for the N900. Maemo supports over-the-air updates and all software is available freely through user defined software repositories. Apt-get also works great. With Maemo there is no app approval process. The platform is open and free, promoting a strong Maemo community and developer network. The current amount of Maemo software is quite limited compared to other platforms, but growing, especially due to the Ovi store offering commercial software. Maemo 5 has some backwards compatibility with Maemo 4.1 software, but it is fairly limited. As of June 2010 there are about 330 Maemo applications available, although judging the total amount of Maemo software is difficult as it does not have a single distribution channel.

    [ALTERNATIVES]: The N900 does not require signed kernels which means alternative systems may be installed like Mer, Nitdroid, MeeGo and Debian. Images may be booted on a card or flash memory, like multi-booting on a desktop.

    [SHELL]: Out of box there is a true linux shell with root access. You can install sshfs and mount shares from a server or even insert a kernel module. Characters missing from the keyboard are accessed with Fn+Ctrl. BusyBox with nano and vi are bundled by default.

    [DEVELOPMENT]: Maemo offers a POSIX environment allowing use as a UNIX system with native software. Useful for *NIX developers since it opens a lot of possibilities. There are a number of different languages available, and more to come. GUI development is done using standard Linux toolkits GTK and Qt. Python is also available. The N900’s implementation of Python is not dumbed down, GUIs can be created with popular toolkits like PyGTK and PyQt. Important since there are many developers that already know how to write N900 applications, even if they don’t realize it yet.


    Drawbacks & Issues


    No official MMS support. Doesn’t work on AT&T’s 3G network. No magnetometer (digital compass). No 802.11n. No handwriting recognition. No USB-OTG. No voice dialing. No global kinetic scrolling. Lack of multi-touch. Lack of portrait mode software. Scrolling can be jerky. Kickstand is wobbly with only one position. Mail for Exchange doesn’t support Google’s Active Sync. Lack of software, especially commercial due to the new OS. Various minor GUI issues that need refining. Various other issues not directly related to the device like spotty Ovi/Nokia support, Nokia launch issues and quality control issues.




    People are saying the N900 is not a Nokia Internet Tablet anymore and it’s just a smartphone but when you use it, you really feel like you’re using a device that is more than a smartphone. If you understand the limitations, as mentioned above, can deal with the growing pains as software matures, and value the advantages the N900 offers, you’ll be really happy with the N900.

  2. TrekGeek says:

    Review by TrekGeek for Nokia N900 Unlocked Phone/Mobile Computer with 3.5-Inch Touchscreen, QWERTY, 5 MP Camera, Maemo Browser, 32 GB–U.S. Version with Full Warranty
    I received my n900 just a few days ago from Nokia USA. For the purposes of this review, I will compare it to my previous phone, the HTC G1. My opinions are solely based on the user experiences in the past days with the n900, and since I’ve never owned an iphone, I will not compare it to such.

    Physical layout:

    *The N900 is a pretty beefy phone, and rightfully so. While having some heft to it, the n900 is solid and well-built. The black metal rim is a nice touch without being too gaudy. The slide is not spring-assisted but gives a nice click upon opening and closing. I have not noticed any creaks or wobbles from the screen. Few have complained about the back being hard to open. Although true, I rather have that with the peace of mind that the battery won’t pop out if I dropped it (God forbid)! the n900 is of comparable size to the G1, albeit being slightly thicker, and not a problem for me.

    *I don’t really understand all the fuss about resistive and capacitive screens. The n900’s screen is gorgeous and is incredibly brilliant. There is a little ‘give’ to the screen, but I’ve yet to have problems with it. The screen is quite responsive and supports kinetic scrolling. I did have some difficulty clicking on small links in the browser, but that’s because your index finger isn’t exactly the most accurate pointing device. This was easily solved by zooming in (more on that later).

    *The keyboard is pretty good. It is a different experience coming from the G1 (as you have to type with the ‘chin’ in the way on your right hand) so naturally, it felt better. The keys have a grippy rubberized texture feel to them, and although the buttons are smooshed next to each other, (like a real keyboard) they have good response. I do miss the 5-row keyboard on the G1, and I don’t understand why the n900’s screen doesn’t open up a bit more. For those with large hands, it might be a little uncomfortable. However, one plus for the n900 is that my thumbs don’t have to travel as far to type.

    *I love that the placement of the speakers are on the sides of the phone, as opposed to the back on the G1. I do a lot of talking on speakerphone, and so I’m not forced to flip it upside down during a call. Sound quality is good and the speakers are decent.

    Maemo 5/ Software

    *This is the ultimate customization OS. When they meant open source, they really meant it. The 4 desktops make things a lot easier to navigate. For example, one page is devoted to my common phone contacts, another utility apps, the third has bookmarks to frequent sites (the homepages of those links are previewed on the desktop, fyi), and so forth.

    *The way Maemo multitasks is ingenious. The “overview” page where you see all your actively running programs makes navigating between windows and programs very easy and efficient. One thing to note is that you have the ability to close out any of those windows upon your choosing, as opposed to the G1 where the 6 app limit neither allowed to you open more nor shut them down, making it very sluggish, especially during critical times (ie texting someone directions while running gps).

    *SMS (called conversations in Maemo) is pretty similar to the G1, but has one added step – conversations either in text or IM by the same person are displayed in the same window. The ability to have the other person’s contact image in the text box (that is if you set one up for that person) is a nice touch. I personally don’t care about MMS, so no gripes there.

    *The email client is pretty decent, I set up my gmail account with a few simple steps, but it isn’t nearly as accessible as the gmail app on the G1. For example, I haven’t found a way to delete an incoming email when it first comes in. I have to leave the letter, go into the inbox, back into the email, then delete it.

    *Browsing experience is comparable to the pc, and is nothing short of awesome. Full flash means I can access full youtube pages, and among others. I think the “swirling zoom” gesture is pretty neat, and helps me to click on the smaller links. I figured out that using your index to swirl zoom produces the best results. Alternatively, you can double click the screen or use the volume rocker. Going to previous pages not only allows you to go to the last page, but scroll through the entire history of that window. Neat.

    *Applications-wise, there are not many out there, but I’m certain many will be out soon. You can also access the Maemo repositories for more (google it) but be careful as many of them are still in development and are potentially dangerous to your phone. Noteworthy apps include Hermes (connects your social sites, like facebook to your contacts so you get contact phones, birthdates, etc) and Qik (live streaming recording).


    *Fast, fast, fast. Need I say more?

    *No hang ups yet, since I can close apps at my own will.

    *The camera is good, that is for a 5mp phone camera. It will never compare to a dedicated camera, but is more than effective for quick shots to upload on facebook.

    *The FM transmitter is a great add-on. Now I can share songs without having to look for an aux cable.

    *Battery life seems to last a little over a day with some text and internet. Wifi is on all the time when I’m at home. My G1 would be down to around 70% by noon.

    Of course, no phone/mobile device is perfect. Here are some things that came to my attention:

    *The volume rocker is on the right side (in portrait), meaning it is nearly impossible to use as a zoom when the screen is up. Same goes for the lock switch, which is on the bottom (in landscape). Would have been much better on the sides, as it would be easier to lock after a phone call, for example.

    *Copy and paste is kinda sporadic. While you can copy all you want on webpages, I couldn’t copy a phone number from one contact to another in the phonebook.

    *The stand is nice, but it swings out way too deep and feels a bit too weak. I’m afraid I’ll break it someday.

    *Little portrait support as of now, but I think it’ll be fixed soon.

    So there you have it. My impressions of the n900. There is still a lot of exploration to be done, but I can honestly say this is the best phone/mobile device I’ve ever owned. In spite of a few shortcomings, its an amazing piece of technology. A lot of things I didn’t mention probably will be fixed within a firmware or two so that isn’t a problem. I hope this helps anyone who is on a fence on buying one, good luck!

  3. Kevin Nicholls says:

    Review by Kevin Nicholls for Nokia N900 Unlocked Phone/Mobile Computer with 3.5-Inch Touchscreen, QWERTY, 5 MP Camera, Maemo Browser, 32 GB–U.S. Version with Full Warranty
    I pre-ordered my N900 the moment I found out about it, back in September. And I patiently waited, and waited, while watching every demo, preview, and review I could find. With each passing day, I knew I was closer to mobile bliss. And one day, my N900 arrived.

    Sadly, it didn’t really deliver.

    Having (briefly) owned an N97, I was incredibly disappointed to discover that Nokia has tried their hardest to port elements of Symbian phones to the Maemo platform. Once you’re past the (admittedly awesome) desktop effects, the N900 feels disturbingly similar to the N97 in terms of use.

    “Mail Not Responding. Quit?”

    If you use e-mail, you’re going to see this message. Using the included Mail application for Exchange and an IMAP account is painful, to say the least. If you’re coming from another Symbian phone, you’ll discover that the Mail application is every bit as slow and constrained as your old phone, but does a (marginally) better job of rendering HTML messages. If you’re coming from something like an iPhone or BlackBerry, forget about it. Having an iPhone 3G and BlackBerry Bold as well, the messaging on the N900 is infuriating.

    The screen is gorgeous, in terms of resolution. It’s trash in terms of accuracy, if you aren’t using the included stylus. I don’t have huge fingers, and yet, nearly every tap is either interpreted wrong, or not registered at all. Using kinetic scrolling will inevitably open something you didn’t intend to open, or do nothing at all. You’ll find yourself asking “Did I tap once or twice?”.

    Web browsing? Brilliant. Seriously. The included web browser is every bit as good as everyone says. Pages render properly, Flash works, zooming in and out is excellent. If you just wanted a handheld web browser and nothing else, I’d recommend this ten times out of ten.

    “But it runs Linux! Linux, Linux, Linux!”

    Sure. I consider myself to be fairly platform agnostic when it comes to phones, and frankly, the “open” nature of Maemo is something of a red herring. Yes, getting applications on the N900 that aren’t blessed by Nokia is relatively easy. Yes, you can compile OpenOffice to work on the N900. The question really is: “Will you?”. In a lot of ways, I can see how the N900 would be an excellent tool if I was a Unix / Linux admin who wanted the flexibility to work anywhere without a laptop or netbook. And, there’s a certain geek credibility that comes with doing something for the sake of doing it, especially when you have such a portable platform. The N900 is great for those things. And keep in mind, that’s largely the audience that Nokia is targeting with the N900.

    For well over a decade, Nokia’s been known for rock-solid performance on signal and voice quality. With the N900, again, they’ve come short. 3G call quality is decent. If you’re outside of a 3G area (which is likely, if you use this with T-Mobile, and a certainty if you’re on AT&T), the N900 has a very difficult time maintaining a decent GPRS/EDGE signal, and dropped calls are frequent. Admittedly, the phone functionality is something of an afterthought from Nokia on this specific model — but it really shows.

    As for carrying it around, the N900 isn’t quite the “brick” some have claimed it to be. It’s definitely substantial, compared to other phones available, though not unreasonable to carry in a pocket. The multimedia functionality is above average, capable of playing just about every type of music and movie format I could throw at it. The camera, while decent, is not substantially better than what you’d find in most midrange to high-end phones in terms of picture quality.

    Overall, the N900 is a huge series of tradeoffs. For many “it doesn’t do…” there are workarounds, or will be workarounds, or might be workarounds. And that’s really the crux of my rating. The hardware, in and of itself, is not very special for a phone that costs this much. And the shortcomings may well be addressed, but you have to question how much time and effort you’re willing to put in to this device just to bring it at par with similarly priced alternatives. At the same time, there’s a lot of wishful thinking, if you aren’t prepared to roll up your sleeves and do some development work. “Maybe Nokia will address this in a firmware update…” or “Maybe someone will write a script or program that does this…” will be your mantras if you don’t do the work yourself.

    ***January 2010 Update***

    I’m now on my third N900 — the previous two were defective.

    I had considered completely re-writing this review, but too many aspects continue to hold true.

    What’s different:

    The newer N900 is much more stable, and doesn’t crash nearly as often as I had described previously. That’s not to say that it doesn’t crash, but with the newer hardware and firmware, it no longer crashes if you look at it the wrong way.

    The developer community is reasonably active on the Maemo platform, and it didn’t take very long for some great apps to come out. Installing them doesn’t hold a candle to what you’d find on an Android phone or iPhone, but if you’re familiar with CVS/SVN or can follow simple instructions, getting some repositories going is a snap, as is finding interesting software. I’ve been particularly happy with seeing open source projects like Pidgin and Keepass ported over so fast.

    What’s the same:

    Mail is still pretty terrible, especially if you have a large inbox. Getting the number of messages down will help to make the application more responsive, however, it still is a far cry from what you’d see in competing smartphones on every major platform. It also inexplicably stops updating (yes, fanboys, even when it’s not set for off-peak hours), and the “Last Updated” timestamp rarely correlates to reality.

    The OS still needs refinement. Case in point: It simply doesn’t do a good job of telling you that it’s busy. Sure, nobody wants to build an hourglass (or spinning beachball) in to their OS, but there are times when the OS is just bogged down when you’re positive the screen isn’t registering taps.

    All things being equal, I’m still going to hold to my original conclusion that the N900 isn’t for the general consumer looking to out iPhone the iPhone. But for someone not afraid of rolling up their sleeves, the N900 can be an amazing device for Unix aficionados and hard-core gadget geeks.

    Oh… and a quick tip: This car charger works perfectly with the N900, and is dirt cheap: Motorola P513 Vehicle Power Adapter MicroUSB Rapid Rate Charger

  4. E. Brown says:

    Review by E. Brown for Nokia N900 Unlocked Phone/Mobile Computer with 3.5-Inch Touchscreen, QWERTY, 5 MP Camera, Maemo Browser, 32 GB–U.S. Version with Full Warranty
    I’ve owned 4 Nokia smartphones & a couple of others. Right off the bat, it’s a great phone that’s fun to use, but I would suggest waiting a while before purchasing this phone. Very few apps available for it, the touchscreen is moody, it comes w/only 1 ringtone. In short, it was taken off the assembly line too soon, but it’s remotely upgradable & has great potential.

    There’s an exhaustive list of features. Itemizing them would take a while. Just know that it’s packed & does more than most. The stand-outs: Mozilla web browser, 4 active desktops, touch screen & hardware QWERTY & stylus & handwriting recognition, FM transmitter, 32gb, build quality. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many apps for Maemo as there are for Symbian or Apple. With only one major phone using Maemo, I’m not sure how many are coming.

    The N900 is a *very* solid phone. For a unit w/a sliding mechanism, it’s built like a bank vault – no squeaks or rattles. Understated matte black, tightly fitted, bright screen. It’s incredibly fun to use and the large screen is a winner.

    If you’ve never used a smartphone before, you’ll probably be dazzled by the multi-tasking & configurability. If you’ve never had a high-end phone, you’ll fall in love w/ the camera, video, web & the host of features. There’s lots to love (Compare this to any other phone at gsmarena.) As a seasoned smartphone user, I’ll itemize my cons below.

    To be fair, the N-Series models are made to have their own specialties. The N82 is the camera, hence the Xenon and editing. The N900 is all about the web and that it does exceptionally well. However, the browser does crash more often than any other smartphone I’ve used. Then again, it loads every page just as it would on a desktop, so the browser is doing more. (Again, not quite ready for production). The web and social networking is top of the line. Unlike Symbian phones, the N900 is very simple to configure.

    CALENDAR/ALARM: Unlike previous N-Series units, calendar alarms do not ring if the phone is off.

    PHOTO/VIDEO: The N900 has no photo editor, only a crop & flip program. It’s a shame for a camera that shoots such quality videos. 5mp & Zeiss lens… but no editor? The N900 offers no video editor either. This is par for the course for iPhones and Blackberrys, but N-Series have always had video editing features. You can no longer cut/merge video and overlay text.

    KEYBOARD: The N900’s wide keyboard makes it difficult to type quickly. As there are no spaces between the keys, serious attention must be paid when entering text. Entering numbers/symbols sometimes requires holding one key whilst typing the number. I’m actually able to enter text much faster on the N82, than with the N900s sprawling layout & jammed keys. In spite of numerous text entry mechanisms, entering text on the N900 is awkward. The virtual keyboard is actually better than the hardware keyboard, but requires greater attention. I wouldn’t have guessed that a teachable T9 would be quicker than both QWERTYs.

    TOUCH SCREEN: Touch screens take getting used to & aren’t as exacting as a cursor, but they’re blingy. The slightest bit of uneven pressure, jerking or inconsistency in your swipe and you’re opening an application. 90% of the time, you’ll be using the stylus as even the smallest fingers will misfire. You have this large, heavy phone, making long strokes on the screen, sliding out a QWERTY or juggling strokes w/ a stylus. Yet, it feels more computer like & it’s fun to use. The large screen is worth the bulk… the QWERTY, not so much.

    2nd CAMERA: The secondary camera does not work. Usually, these second lenses are used for video calls in parts of Europe. In The States, they can only be used for self photos or quick MMS vids of yourself. With the N900, it’s simply window dressing. VERY disappointing, but I’m sure an update is on the way. Again, taken off the assembly line too soon.

    SAVING IMAGES & BLUETOOTH: When transferring photos to the phone via Bluetooth, there is no setting to allow automatic acceptance as there is w/ other N-Series. Additionally, images transferred to the N900 via Bluetooth, are saved in the document folder, sometimes the videos folder, rarely the images folder. Videos may appear in a camera folder. …Who knows?

    OPERATION: You cannot back out of many applications. If you close a program in a file or program from the menu, you must start all over finding that spot. Annoying.

    The phone comes loaded with only one ringer, Nokia’s, unless you add others. I just expect a phone of this price and caliber to have a working front camera and ringtones already, call me crazy.

    The camera flash is good, but this flagship’s flash isn’t on par w/ the older, cheaper N82’s Xenon. Again, every phone has it’s purpose. E-Series are for business, N-Series for multimedia – some camera, others Internet. Fair enough… but at this price?

    If a message comes in while using the device, a small bubble pops up w/ the person’s name & first few words of message… then disappears. Nice touch.

    OVERALL: The N900 is features-packed, solid and quite fun to use. It’s focus is being an Internet tablet… but one that comes w/ a high end camera. To this end, it surely delivers. For the price, however, I expected the N900 to include photo/video editing software, working front camera & document *editor*. If you want a features-packed, high end phone w/a better hardware QWERTY & a touch screen, check out HTC’s. However, Nokia’s smartphones are the only ones (to my knowledge) that don’t require monthly PDA fees of $25 to access the net (like BlackBerry, Palm, Apple do). So, the N900 paired with T-Mobile’s flat fee for Internet usage means you can have unlimited Internet for only $7 extra per month. Everything is a trade-off.

    iPHONE: The iPhone 3Gs isn’t really in the same league as this phone. First off, the iPhone is *not* a smartphone because you cannot multi-task. N-Series allow my music to play whilst I browse/edit photos, calendar, etc. This is what the N900 offers that the iPhone 3Gs does not: 5 megapixels to iPhone’s 3, dual flash to iPhones no flash, FM radio, FM transmitter (so you can play you music in your car wirelessly even if it doesn’t have Bluetooth), takes a 16gb memory card, plays DivX videos, PDF viewer, Flash 9.4, hardware QWERTY, stylus… Get the picture?

    If the web is the most important thing to you… you really want a large screen… you prefer QWERTYs… want a great camera/video recorder… you leave a lot of applications open & need lots of memory… and you don’t wish to be saddled w/ $25 Apple/BlackBery/HTC/Palm fees – the N900 is for you… but I’d wait a few months for more apps and upgrades.

  5. Fmohod says:

    Review by Fmohod for Nokia N900 Unlocked Phone/Mobile Computer with 3.5-Inch Touchscreen, QWERTY, 5 MP Camera, Maemo Browser, 32 GB–U.S. Version with Full Warranty
    Everybody I work with has an iPhone. The N900 is pretty good. What I don’t like about it is that some pretty basic things you would expect for a phone these days to do, it doesn’t do right off the bat. However, these functions are already being added to developers websites so they may not even be a problem by the time you’re reading this review. At the moment what is kinda annoying about the phone:

    * No personalized ring tones or SMS tones for individual contacts

    – Update. (11-Mar-2010) Still no personalized ring tones.

    – Update. (04-Jun-2010) Still no personalized ring tones! WTF!?

    Clarification: You can set any MP3 file as your general ring tone, but so far no person by person ringtones.

    * No personalized alarm tone for different alarms – all alarms must use the same tone.

    * Snooze time on clock setting are only 5min, 10min, and 15min. I want a 7min snooze time.

    That’s all I can think of.

    – Update. (11-Mar-2010) My biggest annoyance is that nobody has developed personalized ring tone option for all your contacts. This is the most open to development phone out there & a lot of apps have been made. So why hasn’t anybody developed this portion yet? They’ve made it so that you can hook up a PlayStation 3 controller via bluetooth to control a super Nintendo emulator that’s linked from the phone to a TV…. but no personalized ring tones for individual contacts yet?! Is it maybe because N900 owners have more video games than friends? I hope not. Really, I hope not.


    The only reason I have this phone instead of an iphone is because of what the iphone couldn’t do. I wasn’t going to change my habits to suit the phone. There are plenty phones out there that have adapted to do what the user wants.

    What I like about it.

    * I don’t need itunes to do anything! you just connect via USB to your computer and transfer a folder of Mp3, M4a, WMA, etc… whatever you have onto the phone and you’re done. It’s sad when you’re a slave to itunes. I didn’t need itunes to rip, burn, or download mp3s before and I’m not gonna start now, or ever.

    * Video playback! I don’t have to re-encode any of my video files. It plays just about every format out there. And I don’t have to resize the videos to a lower resolution. So I just got done watching Dexter season 3 on the phone without having to do anything more than copy it from my computer.

    – Update. (11-Mar-2010) A codec pack was released at the end of Jan that gives additional video support for – AC-3 audio, Vorbis OGG, FLAC, Musepack, Flash video, RealMedia formats, Matroska container support, and MPEG2 Transport Streams. So that is A LOT of coverage.

    * I don’t have to jailbreak it to do all the things it can do. If there’s a new app or widget or whatever, i can just download it and install.

    * As of this post, there’s already an NES, GBA, and Game Boy color emulator for the N900. UPDATE – It also has a SNES and Sega emulator. Awesome.

    * I can use bluetooth straight out of the box to my wireless headset (Motorola S9HD). I could not do this with iphone.

    * USB mass storage mode straight out of the box.

    Because of this, I can stream movies from my phone to any TV in the house over the network without having to copy files onto my computer.

    * expandable microSD slot. So I currently have 48gb (32gb on board +16gb card) of storage. It will be even more when a bigger microSD card is released.

    * It has a video out (PAL and NTSC) cable so I don’t even need a computer to connect my phone to a TV.

    * FM Transmitter!

    – Update. (11-Mar-2010) FM transmitter works pretty good in vehicles. It even sends the artist name and song info to the display of the car radio if your radio is that type. But it really depends on how good the radio is on your receiving device as it didn’t work so great with my boom box unless I placed it directly on top of my boom box. However in my vehicle, it worked fine while it was in hip holster while I was driving.-

    * It syncs up easily with Outlook. Even auto added birthdays to the calendar. – it even synced the profile pictures I chose on my phone back to Outlook for each contact.

    * I like the interface. After about 20 minutes with the device, I was moving around really fast and easy.

    I’ll continue with updates to this post every few months.