Heavyweight champion of the smartphone world – N900

Hi there! You’ve probably seen my previous post, where I bragged about having the Nokia N900 as a trial device. So, after a few days of rigorous testing, here are my initial thoughts (and emotions).

The design

This side-slider device has a really big resistive touch-sensitive screen (3,5″ to be precise, 800 x 480 pixels), and a three-row full QWERTY keyboard. It is designed to be used with both hands, the build quality is near perfect, and it’s pretty heavy (181 g).

There are no physical keys from the front side when it’s closed, and it gives the N900 very cool, simple look.

The keyboard itself is quite pleasant to use, and the button size is just fine. When pressing two neighbor buttons at the same time, smaller fingers are an advantage. I love the fact that you can use the same keyboard shortcuts as you do on your PC (Ctrl-C to copy, Ctrl-V to paste, etc..), it really makes life easier.

Let’s begin from the top (if you’re holding the device in portrait mode). Here you’ll see a microUSB port (supports charging – as a matter of fact, this is the only way to charge the N900), a left speaker, and a lanyard hole (I’m still looking for the wright word for this thing).

The left side is (almost) empty, and this is where the stylus goes.

From the bottom, you’ll notice the top of the stylus, 3,5mm audio jack, microphone, lock/unlock slide key and the right speaker. Lock/unlock slider is a nice addition, although I find the “Swipe to unlock” feature quite useful.

The right side packs volume keys, power key, camera key and an IR port (why, oh why?)…

At the back side, you’ll see the 5MP camera with Dual LED flash and Carl Zeiss optics (with lens cover – great feature!) and a kickstand. I really like the kickstand, and I use it mostly while watching movies or reading documents. Underneath the plastic back cover, you’ll find a 1320 mAh battery, which simply isn’t enough for this device. The last phone I used was the Nokia E72, whose battery lasted 4 or 5 days, and now I have to charge everyday (or twice a day with heavy usage!). Really spoils the whole image of the cell, but hey, you can’t have it all, right?

The software

Linux-based Maemo 5 operating system is used in the N900, and it’s working extremely well. I am new to Maemo world, but it didn’t take a lot to get used to it (couple of hours). As mentioned in the previous post, the firmware version is at V 10.2010.19-1, and, if you haven’t already, you should update it. I ADORE the fact that there are 4 homescreens, and that you can modify each and every one of them to suit your needs. You can add many widgets, contacts, app shortcuts and bookmarks, so every homescreen shows exactly the stuff you want.

Preinstalled software includes, among other things, PDF reader, media player that plays DivX and XviD videos, great integration of Skype, Google Talk, etc… Messaging is, to be honest, flawless. SMSes are shown as conversations, and that is so refreshing! Email support is also excellent. The one thing that is missing is the (non trial) app for Office files. Also, MMS isn’t supported out-of-the-box, but the corresponding app is easy to download. There are many apps available for download, and I will recommend some essential stuff in one of the next posts.

Special post should be written solely about the inbuilt web browser – IT’S THAT GOOD!!! You get PC-like browsing on the smaller screen, and every single page is displayed perfectly!

If you’re into mobile gaming, look no further – graphics are unbelievable! Check out this screen from the famous game Bounce:

Another winning feature is that you have 32GB of internal memory, which is quite enough for, well, everything you could possibly need.

The camera

As I’ve mentioned before, N900 has a 5MP camera with dual LED flash and Carl Zeiss optics. The quality is quite fine, but it seems that sometimes, some colors are not handled very well. Here are some shots, so you decide for yourself.

Video recording is where this Nokia really stands out. It records WVGA resolution(848 x 480 pixels) at 25 frames per second. Quality was better than expected, even in artificial light.

Conclusion

The N900 is, no doubt, an excellent smartphone with immense capabilities. If you’re scared because of the “mysterious” Maemo OS, don’t be, you don’t have to be a Linux geek in order to handle this device properly. Its size could be a problem to some, but, as I see it, as long as it’s pocketable, it’s fine with me.

I really, really, really enjoy using it, and I hate the fact that I have to return it (alternate scenario: I change my identity, and disappear 🙂 ) .

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