back to article Nokia announces Linux-based smartphone

Nokia has launched what it calls an "internet tablet", though the device's size, shape and set of features will seem to many to put it slap bang in the smartphone category. N900_01 Nokia's N900: internet tablet or smartphone? The N900 – which leaked out earlier this week – runs Maemo 5.0, a Linux-derived OS that the firm …


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  1. Peter D'Hoye
    Thumb Down

    not a phone at all

    Ever come near an N8x0 tablet (previous generations)? It looks more like a pc than a smartphone, and it lacks the usability of one too.

    I seriously hope Nokia gets its act together on this N900, because the SW of the previous models sucked BIG time. I' still waiting on Mer/UbuntuMID to mature to finally take advantage of this expensive toy after more than a year.

    And the new version that comes with the N900 isn't even compatible with the previous models. Thank you Nokia, why should I upgrade hardware after being treated like that?

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Try a little test

    take your computer monitor, put a couple of sheets of A4 over it, so the screen is completely covered. Now cut a rectangluar hole in the paper, about 3 inches by 2, somewhere near the centre of the screen.

    Now try and do any useful work in that area.

    Congratulations! you're now experiencing "smartphone" computing.Although this phone may allow you to have "... many windows open at once ..." in practice it can't even manage one, decent sized one. Of course, you could always use the smartphone (or tablet? whatever!) outside. Then the number of open windows becomes immaterial - as none of them will have any visible contents showing in any conditions brighter than darkening twilight..

    To further enhance the smartphone experience, put on a pair of boxing gloves and try typing. Excellent, you now know what it is like to use the keyboards on these matchbox-sized devices.

    While the technology is impressive - what with all the gigabytes and megahertz (and most of all the price), in practice it falls far short of anything that could be described as "smart" or bear any resemblance to tablet computers (which I thought had died a faddish death sometime around 2003, oh well) in the usability stakes. While you may get lots of geek-points from all your nerdy friends for having the latest tech - well, for a few weeks anyway, it's really nothing more than a phone: press buttons, talk to people. Trying to use it for anything else[1] is great for the marketing box-tickers, but falls short in practice.

    [1] except, possibly listening to music.

  3. Real Ale is Best
    Thumb Down

    If the battery lasts as long as teh N810

    I'd buy one!

    Bet it won't though.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At last

    I've been waiting for something like this for a long time, a decent o/s AND decent h/w. The i8910 was the closest so far, great h/w but although I think Symbian is great, I wanted something a bit more up to date. Android isn't fully mature yet and still not on the h/w I want, though that could change soon. WinMo on the Omnia 2 was interesting but still fails for me in a lot of ways. IPhone, too limited in both h/w and s/w. But this, I want one now !!

  5. PaulR79


    Smartlet? Phonelet? Instead of N900 I suggest the name of Nokia IDE-A which stands for "It Does Everything - Almost". The main question I'd have about this is about that screen. Resistive or having seen the light is it capacitive? Not likely to have seen the light I fear since there's now two versions of the frankly horrid N97. How could they take so long to finish the N97 while seeing what works and could be improved on in competitors products and STILL manage to screw it up so badly?

  6. REMF

    looks awesome

    i want one

  7. Peter D'Hoye
    Thumb Down

    @Pete 2

    Actually, if there's one thing I am positive about, it's the screen. 800x480 is usable for a lot of things, and the n810 has a hardware button on the site to ALT-TAB the open programs.

    It almost has the resolution of a netbook, but this one goes into you pocket!

    So please only comment if you have actually *ever* used such a device please

  8. David Webb


    Firstly, that guys hair was fantastic. Anyhow, that phone/tablet looks smart as hell and appears to be very fast, I only noticed juddering just the once, so it seems powerful enough.

    As its run on Linux, does that mean you'll be able to install Linux applications on to it?

    Odds' are it will be on a 18 month contract at £45 per month and the handset will cost around £400, or a £75 per month for free, or something stupid, way out of my price range of 25p and a packet of crisps :( Shame cause I want one!

  9. 20legend

    a little test for Pete 2

    Pop your monitor & computer and into your coat pocket and leave the house/office for the day - then try and do ANYTHING at all with it. Now you are experiencing portable computing, only not quite in the same way an N900 may offer :-)

  10. Ian Michael Gumby
    Thumb Up

    I want one!

    When my crackberry died, I wanted to replace it with one that GPS and Blue tooth. At the time, the only crack berry models that had that, also shrunk the key board.

    Since I use my PDA more for e-mail and text messages, A full size qwerty keyboard for a regular guy's hands,(thumbs) is a must. Sorry iphone you just don't cut it.

    I got my hands on a Nokia E90, of course here in the states you can't really use some of the features. Phone held some promise but a bit under horsepowered.

    I would have bought the 810N if it had a cell radio.

    It sounds like Nokia is on the right track. Lets hope that they put in a better GPS receiver and better mapping software. Hint: They *own* Navteq and the auto market for them is in the crapper. ;-)

    Maybe they could work something out and let Garmin OEM the phone too?

    But hey! What do I know? Its not like I spent time within Navteq. ;-)


    I definitely want to check

  11. Gene Cash Silver badge

    @Pete 2

    Actually the DPI of the display is over twice that of a desktop monitor, and it's crisp and sharp (at least on my N800) so you can get a fair bit done. I've had one in my pocket for 2 years tracking my money and quite a few other parts of my life. It's a perfect form factor.

    Shame about the crappy OS though. I'm still 2 revs behind, as they got crappier and started crashing quite a lot.

    @David Webb

    If you can compile apps for the ARM processor, which there's a dev kit, it'll run. It runs a really bastardized descendant of Debian.

  12. captain veg Silver badge

    Just the job

    Looks like exactly what I need to replace both my N800 and Palm Centro.

    You'd be surprised at what is possible on such small devices if you haven't tried. I've even used VNC on the Centro to operate my work PC. Webmail is usable on the N800 despite the lack of physical keyboard. The key is high screen resolution, though you do sometimes end up squinting a bit.


  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Pete 2

    How strange. I've found my Psion 5, Communicator, 7710 and N97 all quite usable for web, office and development type work.

  14. thomas k.


    I guess it must be a Finnish thing ...

    That said, it certainly is a very stylish-looking device but I'm a push-over for the ultra-minimalist look. Sony-Erikson could take a few pointers from this thing.

  15. Cameron Colley

    I want one!

    But I bet it costs the earth and a large amount of the moon. Would be good to have something less phone-like than Symbian that's not made by Microsoft though.

    @Pete 2 -- Reading, and commenting on, El Reg while waiting for your mates in a pub isn't possible on a Desktop PC -- and taking a laptop with you everywhere is just a little annoying.

  16. GregC
    Thumb Up

    Looks good to me

    As a very happy N800 owner this looks good. I like the Maemo OS as it is now, and from that video and the leaked screen shots I've seen elsewhere the new version for the 900 looks pretty slick. I'm guessing the price is going to hurt though :(

    I can't help wondering if this has anything to do with the recent price drops on the 810 - £129.99 from Play at the moment which is a bloody good deal.

  17. Jeff F.

    Its the UI that kills it

    The Maemo developers are trying to get some useable PIM going on these things, but I haven't seen one that will eliminate duplicate data and needs to synch contacts etc with desktop. I hope they improved that..*ha,ha..(we are still waiting right?).. Get a killer PIM that works across the Nokia brand.

  18. G-HAM 2000


    Have you ever used a smartphone/smartphone-esque device before? Your post sounds like something someone might have said in 1997 or thereabouts. The screen is smaller, yes, and the user interface is designed with that in mind - as are websites, increasingly. The convenience and applications of having a small computing device with you at all times can be massive, although this obviously depends on your lifestyle.

  19. Indy

    Nokia dont claim the N900 is an internet tablet.

    This text is from :

    "The Nokia N900 has evolved from Nokia's previous generation of Internet Tablets and broadens the choice for technology enthusiasts who appreciate the ability to multitask and browse the internet like they would on their desktop computer.", note the word "evolved".

    Also from :

    Maemo is available on the Nokia N900 - a high-performance mobile computer with a powerful processor, large internal storage, and sharp touch-screen display.

  20. Dave Bell

    Flash 9.4?

    I have Flash 10, and still sites tell me I have a too-old version.

  21. Bad Beaver

    Wrong series

    I won't be caught DEAD with an N-Series device. All bells and whistles, no substance. Sad hardware. Then again, why would you want this as an E-Series device? E-Series is for real work, not blingy playdoodle. Why I don't agree 100% with Pete 2, I'd say that bigger is definitely better when it comes to doing actual work on a mobile device. The ultimate example is — as always- the Newton MP2100. It has the *perfect* size for mobile work. Big, big screen, and hardware with some heft. That's a real computer, not some inbetweenish-dunnowhat. I want that thing refreshed, with current specs. *yeah*

  22. Prodigal Rebel

    Dave Bell Flash

    I have the same... I think Adobe and Flash are buggerd lately :)(

  23. Robert E A Harvey

    want want want want want

    But I wanted the previous internet tablets, until I got my hands on one to try it.

  24. LaeMi Qian

    looks very nice

    Still tossing up between a netbook in a backpack and a bluetooth headset, or a smartphone in a pocket.


    Aside: Someone should contact the Zeuss estate for a licence call their mobile OS "Wocket" ;-P

  25. Andy Hards


    Who made you the moderator? Don't tell me what I can and can't comment on.

    I've not been able to have internet access at home due to where I live for the pasttwo years but have succeeded in doing almost everything I've wanted to do on an N73, then a 6220, which does eveything the N95 does but isn't a slider. I'm due for an upgrade in the new year and will be getting one of these. It's just the sort of thing I've been looking for and with flash and a proper keypad I can't wait. LLooking forward to the review.

    Played around with the 97 amd was dissapointed so I hope this is much better (looks like it will be.)

  26. Puck
    Thumb Up

    @pete2, G-HAM 2000, Cameron Colley

    Well, Pete2, I must also count myself amongst the followers of the Church of Smartphone. The gadgets can be shockingly good. My favourite app (and I think this is KILLER) is using to run BBC Listen Again or live radio via Realplayer on my 3yo Nokia E61 - whilst up a ladder, in the countryside or wherever, miles from any copper wire. Or just in parts of the house which aren't getting good reception off the Roberts.

    They also seem to bounce on pavements a lot better than laptops (although please anyone correct me if I'm wrong), and mine survived being fully submerged for a whole minute in several inches of water in the footwell of my VW Golf.

    Oh, and the N900 looks goood...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is it a touch screen?

    I hope it is. It would be a shame if it wasnt.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    PIM + desktop sync!

    Maemo has its ups and downs, but it was primarily let down by two gaping lacks:

    PIM. and sync.

    Activesync and exchange are I believe up for licensing. And there is always the ye olde Palm hotsync kind of route.

    There are software teams responsible for (and I should hope, available to work on commision by Nokia) such gems as Agendus / Pocket Informant / DateBK stuff.

    I only want the flexibility of Windows Mobile, with the ease-of-use of Palm Pre, with the community of Android, and with the minimum battery of a Blackberry - all packaged in a durable package like a Nokia or Iphone. Throw in unlimited clean energy and world peace while you are at it..

  29. Christian Berger

    @Anonymous Coward PIM+desktop sync

    This is not a PDA!!! I'm sorry, but many people confuse those devices with PDAs which they clearly are not. They are portable workstations. You do not sync down from some superior computer, you share the database. Or in face you log in from any x-terminal onto the device. The N900 will finally have enought RAM to do that comfortably.

  30. Tim Walker

    It's the apps...

    What is it about Nokia, which lends them so perfectly to the phrase "so near, and yet so far"? I feel they've only ever created one device which "does the lot" for me (my N95 "classic"), and everything else afterwards was missing one or more "deal-breaking" items which stopped me going for an upgrade.

    That said, the N900 looks like the closest yet to "that upgrade", especially if it can run Skype (and video calling would clinch the deal). However, if PIM sync isn't possible one way or another - e.g. with Google Calendar, Ovi and/or my Mac via iSync - then that would be a hefty weight on the "nope" side of the scales... and this all assumes that (a) T-Mobile UK will offer it (b) for a non-eye-watering upgrade price.

    Ah well - just have to wait and see...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Improving the UI

    Maximize use of the available screen area by using the ratpoison window manager. And GNUemacs runs on maemo. 'nuff said?

  32. pixel
    Thumb Up

    Re: It's the apps...

    @Tim Walker, it supports MS Exchange sync and Nokia desktop sync. Probably google sync too. Skype is there, but not sure about video yet, as is generic "Internet Calling" (SIP).

    They've said 500E +VAT, which works out at around £500. Still a little high, but that is the RRP.

  33. Anonymous Coward


    I think Apple has really done good for mobile and computer industry. We'll see if rebel gets eaten by revolution - which usually happens.

    I mean - the world has become weird place - we might get good Windows version and this is what Linux is like nowadays.. in a mobile device with touch screen.

    Nokia booklet with Maemo will be intresting.

  34. Wortel

    N900 eh?

    That looks good. Now to get my hands on one for a bit of testing to see if it makes good on it's promising looks.

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