My current tech obsession: Nokia N900

Yes, it’s that time of the bi-annual when I have to obsess over a new mobile phone. And it’s going to be a Nokia N900, running Maemo (Linux).

For those of you who haven’t already shied away from this post in sheer “oh no! not tech!”, let me just show you a video of what the phone is about (which I really recommend viewing full-screen in HD):

If you wish for pictures comparing the device to a slew of others (even non-Nokia) and telling you about the contents, check out this brilliant review courtesy of For those of you who are mad like me, read on.

As I’ve dropped my Nokia N95 8GB to the ground far too many times to count, it’s prone to restarting a few times a week. Mostly this is not a real problem for me, as it just reboots without requiring me to enter my PIN-code again, but it’s very frustrating when I’m to do something urgent. Also, I’d really love a physical keyboard to work e-mails, blogging and so forth on; the N95 8GB really tries my patience by utilising a quite flawed T9 which often forgets words. I am running the very latest firmware, so that’s not the case.

So, other than requiring a new phone because of hardware malfunction, why swap for a phone that doesn’t natively handle MMS?1

First, it’s running on Linux. I love stability and the fact that Nokia are settling for an open source operating system to build their version – named Maemo – is beautiful. I’m no developer, but I’m told this opens doors for all kinds of ports, i.e. simply converting a program that runs off some Linux distribution to running on Maemo.

For instance, the N900 already runs Adobe Flash. Natively. This means there’s no software working hard to semi-work out flash on your browser. Did I type browser? Am I a N900 fanboy without ever having held one? Yes, on both accounts. The N900 is able to run a full-scale installation of Mozilla’s Firefox, as well as a slew of other browsers. I’m not even going to consider the implications of running wine here.

Nokia has opened Maemo Select, which is an online app display for free applications running on Maemo. They will open an Ovi Store for Maemo later, which is Nokia’s front for letting you purchase apps.

Second, the process is hardcore like the one running on the iPhone 3GS.2This means that it’s able to to a bunch of hard stuff, but unlike the iPhone, the N900 isn’t locked to a specific app store and you won’t have to jailbreak it to add software. Another reason for my loving the N900 is Maemo’s ability – just like Symbian on my N95 8GB – to multitask. I want to be able to listen to while surfing the web off two different browsers and running Google Maps at the same time. I seriously don’t think I would trade my current phone for one that disallows multitasking. And just watch what Qt will do to the N900:

And third, yes, there are some seriously great-feeling and looking apps already out there, even before the device’s been “properly” launched. I firmly recommend checking out the info on Nokia’s N900 features-page where brilliant things like seamless software updates (i.e. no need for plugging your phone into a computer to make it work), the beautiful dashboard, the touch-sensitive screen, conversations being nested in a variety of ways, kinetic scrolling, editing pictures natively through crop/resize, 32-48GB of memory, TV-out and a great-looking calendar. Mmm.

Speaking of apps, here’s a screencast showing Koffice on the Maemo platform, which is a free office suite capable of both opening and using ODF and the MS Office formats (including the 2007 formats!):

Also, we have eCoach might replace Nokia Sports Tracker, BlueMaemo to replace your remote controls and presentation tools, Maemo Mapper that supports tracking, routing, POI, and other features found in personal navigation devices and utilises the site that lets users add content to maps, Spotify apps galore, Skype, et.c. The list is huge, despite the howling moans from people saying all devices Maemo will wither and die due to apps only being made with Android, Symbian and the iPhone in mind.

So, when’s it due? In all probability in November; Nokia are already taking pre-orders through this site and for Sweden, it means the last week of October. My current cell network provider, Tre, has confirmed they’re going to sell the N900 like hotcakes, so I’m jumping on their bandwagon asap! They’re probably going to start retailing it in November, and here’s to hoping I get my device before christmas…

Anyway, it looks like a brilliant phone-cum-computer, so cheers to it.

BTW, this chart approximates my longing for the N900 quite exactly:

Useful resources:

Maemo News
Info about the differences between Maemo, Symbian, Android and iPhone

  1. It doesn’t. It probably will in no-time, considering how it’s able to run Linux software. So all of you thinking “well, it’s just like the iPhone then”, it’s not.[back]
  2. While some say the Snapdragon family of CPUs will be absolutely terrific to run Android phones off, I can’t wait. I need my fix, man![back]
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