Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nokia N900 - Pros and Cons

In one of my earlier posts I had mentioned some of the things I was enjoying doing with my Nokia N900. Now that I have had the device to play with for a solid month I would like to highlight what I feel are the pros and cons of the device. As I know most people just give these articles a quick scan in the first place, for reference I am just going to post my thoughts in an easy to read bulleted list.

  • Fast - The device is quick, sporting a 600mhz processor and 256megs of RAM (with an additional 768megs of swap space) it multi-tasks like a dream
  • Storage Space - By default it has a 27gig storage partition for media and files. Also is a mircoSD expansion slot that will take up to anther 16gigs
  • Powerful Camera - 5.8 mega pixel camera with a full flash. It takes sharp pictures and video recordings
  • Nokia Sponsored Community Repositories - FOSS applications written (or ported to Maemo) by the community are housed in an official "extras" repository. Installing additional applications from here is as easy as adding software to Ubuntu via the software center.
  • TV Out - Provided with the phone are RCA cables to hook your N900 into a television/projector that hook into the headphone jack.
  • Fantastic Browser - The N900 arguably provides the best mobile web browsing experience out there.
  • USB-Micro Charging - The N900 charges via a standard USB micro connection, instead of some odd proprietary jack like many devices.
  • Crystal Clear Screen - The 800x480 resolution is beautiful! Everything displayed on the device is crisp and clear.
  • Battery Life - With heavy usage the N900 dies in about 6 hours. While this is still fairly good I've found I run the battery out almost every day from usage so I've taken to carrying a charging cord with me.
  • Maemo Libraries - Maemo 5 is not compatible with most Debian Armel packages. This is because Maemo uses older library files for many (most notably libc6) packages. Updating said packages manually causes Maemo to stop working in most cases.
  • Default Filesystem Setup - The default file system on the N900 is super non-standard and is my biggest complaint about the device. It contains a 256meg rootfs, 2gig ext2 /home, and 27gig fat32 storage. You can adjust these, but it is difficult to say the least and not something a new Linux user should attempt.
  • Non-Standard Key Maps - Some of the key mappings on the N900 are not the same as a standard keyboard. As a result some Linux applications that are ported need to be remapped to work fully.
  • Awkward Placement of Charging/Headphone Ports - It is awkward to hold/type on the device while either (or both) of these are plugged in. Not impossible, but still annoying.
Did I miss an pros or perhaps do you disagree with one of the cons I listed? If so, please feel free to drop a comment to let me know. Also if you are looking for some good N900 applications check here and here.

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. turn-off for me: no compass (for AR or just to know in which direction you're heading when navigating by feet).

  2. The fact that maemo 6 is coming this year and that Nokia have not confirmed the n900 can upgrade to it IS the biggest Con and the reason why i didn't buy one.

  3. I love the placement of the headphone jack. With inserted hedphones i can hold and use the N900 with only one hand (the right one). The headphone cable goes between the ring- and middle finger. Very comfortable...

  4. (agree with zehjotkah)

    I just tried his suggestion. Its good

  5. "The fact that maemo 6 is coming this year and that Nokia have not confirmed the n900 can upgrade to it IS the biggest Con and the reason why i didn't buy one."

    Ditto !

  6. Maemo 6 is an entire new os with different hardware support (capacative screen for eg).It is IMPOSSIBLE to update it to N900.Cmon guys its not a firmware update that you can get it on your device.Banish those thoughts,get the
    N900 only if you like it for what it is.

    Besides, Maemo 6 devices rumoured to be launched next year not this.This year Nokia may just release another Maemo 5 device..N920 maybe?

  7. good point anonymous about Maemo 6 ... thanks for that information..I will go for N900 !

  8. Its not impossible to upgrade an N900 to the next generation Maemo 6, but you will not get all the 'bells and whistles'.

    Maemo 6 is based on a completely different toolkit and as such will be like a completely new device. Maemo 6 will be QT based whereas previous versions are GTK based.

  9. I received the N900 around launch and absolutely loved it. Such a great device. Maemo is very good and the hardware is amazing. That said, it quickly became relegated to second device duties because the battery life was so poor; about 5 hrs for me.

    I knew I could improve it by using by turning off location services, using less home screens, blah, blah. I don't want to have to lessen my features or charge mid-day just to use the phone for a full day.

    That said it comes with me, but my primary phone is now a Nexus One. I certainly dont like it more than the N900 but it at least gets me through the day (and then some) with everything turned on.

  10. I bought my N900 2 weeks ago and yesterday while i was using the web the screen just froze for 3 minutes.. I switched it off and couldnt switch it on.. So it stopped working...
    I tried by first removing the battery then i tried to charge it.. But still it doesnt work.. Any Ideas ?

  11. There is NO MMS if i read some other posts correct on the web

  12. @Anonymous two up - Sounds like you may have lemon hardware if it no longer turns on. Get it replaced.

    @Anonymous above - By default the N900 does not support MMS no. However by installing an extra package that is in the extras repos it gains this feature for sending pictures and receiving pictures/videos/music. It should support sending the other media files in the near future as well.

  13. Hi all great comments, but i am stuck in choosing between the i-phone and n900. Can i have pros and cons please comparing these two phones. Thanks

  14. I may not be the best person to compare the two, personally I do not care for Apple products (and the lack of a physical keyboard kills the iPhone for me). Be sure to check out this post I made: http://jeffhoogland.blogspot.com/2010/01/state-of-smart-phones-today.html

    As it has some good points about the N900/iPhone. Also this article http://www.starryhope.com/nokia-n900/2009/15-ways-nokias-n900-is-better-than-apples-iphone-and-5-ways-its-not/ makes some fair points for both sides.

    Also remember, Google is our friend "iphone vs n900" gets you pages of good hits :)

    ~Jeff Hoogland

  15. Jeff, a great help thanks. Purchased it now, as you are very knowlegeable, do you know anything about the lack of being able to receive mms, and do you know a legit way round it

  16. There is a application in the N900 repositories called "fMMS" that allows for sending of picture messages and receiving pictures/videos/other media (sending of other media will be added eventually). I use it all the time and it works quiet well :)

  17. i know, i am a pain in the neck, and appreciate all you have done and answered. One last one, now thta it is fully charged, some people recomend i up date it all fully before stating to use it. Is this correct, and what does it involve?

  18. I would always recommend keeping your N900 fully up to date. To do so just connect it to the internet and an update option should popup when it detects your old version.

  19. The n900 is a fabulous device, every one ive met with one loves it, it's an almost apple like affect(with out the blinkers)

    my biggest grumble is the lack of support for exchange 2003, from what ive read 2007 works great

  20. may i know the specific cons of this n900..i have n97, and i m tired of it...

  21. I love my N900. It is the openness that attracts me. I treat it like a computer more than a phone. In fact, I was planning to buy the N97 but I backed off after using its web browser. The N900 browser is the best one out there. I use iPhone on the daily basis. However, when it comes to serious work, I use the N900. The repository is great for me. I used the N900 to download movies, and then view them through the TV out, directly without any modification or videao conversion. For me, iPhone is just a toy for my child. Even she ask for my N900 most of the time. I don't know how good MeeGo is. But then until MeeGo can proof that it's virtue, I will keep my Meomo 5.

  22. These are very useful comments, thanks for sharing your insights. I have had a N900 for a few days... am loving it.

  23. I love my n900 :) very hackable.

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. hiiiii
    i am snehal
    i am using my n900 best
    but the biggest prob i m facing is i cant run any files lik .sis, .jar, .exe and many other than .install file
    as this formated files are very low in numbers and i am the only 1 using these files, i cant share other files from my frnz
    so plz giv me a quick ans for this
    its really killing me

  26. @Anonymous .sis are Symbian install files, Maemo is Linux based - not symbian. It cannot install these files, you will have to wait for them to be ported to the platform. Same thing goes for .exe files (only they are made for Windows)

    As for .jar, you could try installing OpenJDK (it is in the devel repository I believe) and see if it can run the java programs alright.

  27. thanks
    and sumthing lik Qt is launched
    it says we can run all the files on any format and also they can be tranformed
    i wanna knw wht it is

  28. and also i cant run some videos downloaded
    is there anything like convertor fpr converting files of type to others?????

  29. QT is a development platform. There is a packages for the run time files in the application manager.

    As for more media formats, again in the application manager this is an "extra decoders" packages that should let you play most anything.

  30. thank u so much
    and how can i run docs, word and slidesho to go on my cell
    they are expired
    so hw can i use them
    are their cracked versions available??
    if yes then hw can i??

  31. You buy the application for the 10$ it costs. Stealing software is illegal.

  32. ok my frnd
    and wht u think which browser perfectly mathes for the best use of internet on my cell
    nd u told 10$ for all the 3 or any 1 aplication

  33. I am going to buy Nokia N900 tomorrow. But the biggest problem i heard about it is, we cant recieve and send an MMS. Then i heard about a solution of that. It is FMMS. Can anyone tell me, what is FMMS, and how can i install that on my future Nokia N900? Thank you.

  34. FMMS works fantastically. Simply open the application manager, enable the community repositories, and then search for it.

  35. ey sorry
    i might be a little pain ur mind
    hw can i use skype nd whr can i see installed files frm app managr
    i cnt also run .jar tho i hv installed JDK
    nd can i run .tar.tz files

  36. Make a few posts over @ talk.maemo.org Lots of helpful people over there.

  37. hii frnd
    plz help me
    i cant find the applications downloaded from app manager
    wher they go????
    nd hw cn i download flashplayer 10.1

  38. Check talk.maemo.org and www.google.com

  39. fantastic piece of hardware but music player not stable...

  40. it rocks .
    not just 600 Mhz it can be overclocked to 1.7 Ghz.

  41. Nokia is right when they refer to this device as a Mobile computer. I've been using it for almost a week and it surpasses all my expectations, and bear in mind that Nokia will be pushing updates to the OS to make it even better.