Nokia N900 impressions

I’ve been using the Nokia N900 for a couple of weeks now and I have both good and bad things to say about it. To give you an idea of what I’m comparing with, my previous phone was a Nokia N95. Here’s my list of impressions:

Pros

  • The screen is pretty good, and I rarely have a problem clicking on links and buttons using my thumbs. The fact that it’s resistive feels like an advantage in this incredibly cold Swedish winter. Next to a Nexus One, however, it’s obvious that the color reproduction could be better.
  • The Mozilla-based MicroB browser really is awesome. Scrolling and zooming is so smooth and quick that it feels like surfing on the iPhone, only this time you’re using the real web. By far the best web browsing experience I’ve had on a mobile device.
  • The fact that I can use it to call VoIP, Skype, Gtalk, and regular cellular networks is amazing.
  • The Conversations application seamlessly integrates IM and SMS in an intuitive manner.
  • The media player handles almost anything you throw at it after installing a few extra software packages.
  • Great synchronization with Exchange-based mail services (e.g. Zimbra, which Mozilla uses).
  • Nice multiple desktop solution (though lacks useful widgets).
  • Battery life is impressive in active use such as in a phone call. Though see the standby time below…
  • The “one-click” (actually a few clicks) publishing of both photos and videos to services like Facebook and Flickr is really neat. Though see below about the camera quality…
  • It really is fun to use it. And it’s open source! And it can run Firefox!

Cons

  • This thing is heavy! I thought my N95 was heavy, but this is significantly heavier. It definitely feels like a solid device, for better or worse.
  • The camera is actually worse than the 3-year-old N95 camera in a number of ways: terrible colors in low light, terrible metering, light leaks making the subject in focus appear washed out, and the field of view is narrower than the N95 camera. In comparison, here’s a photo taken by the N95. Both are 5-megapixel cameras.
  • The standby time is a joke. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but sometimes I can just keep the phone in my pocket during the whole day and it will discharge in less than 8 hours. I first kept all accounts logged in (Skype, VoIP, Jabber), but have since then compromised a bit and only keep Jabber online. Still, the battery isn’t impressive.
  • The horizontal layout is annoying most of the time. When I’m out and about, it feels awkward that I can’t use the phone with one hand. I understand the “handheld computer” legacy (I even owned an N810), but feel that my typical use is much more like a regular smartphone than a portable computer. Ideally, all applications should support both layouts.
  • The keyboard, while certainly better than the N810, is still not really good. It’s too easy to click on the wrong keys, and there’s no auto complete feature that can detect (and correct) common spelling mistakes.
  • The auto suggest feature only shows one suggestion, so 90% of the time it’s not suggesting the word you want and as a result you end up ignoring the suggestions altogether.
  • The physical unlock switch is only comfortable to use when in horizontal layout. It’s nearly impossible to reach with one hand if you just want to make a quick call.
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8 thoughts on “Nokia N900 impressions

  1. Nathaniel Tucker

    I get 24hours consistently with mild use (so mainly idle time). Make sure you don’t have any battery hungry desktop widgets like Facebook (basically anything that feels like it needs to update constantly). Also, if you have exchange push on always connectioned, that will drain it faster, especially if you get in an out of internet connection (spotty cell connection).

    Reply
  2. David Tenser

    Nathaniel, thanks for the tips. Do you know how often the Facebook widget updates? I do use it, but I guess I should consider removing it — I tend to not look at it anyway.

    I’ve set Exchange to check every 30 minutes between 8 am – 8 pm, so no push.

    Reply
  3. David Tenser

    Hm, just checked and it turns out I’m not using it, but I’m using the RSS feed widget. I’ll remove that one too and see what happens.

    Reply
  4. Ludovic

    So Exchange-based , is called PUSH email. Zimbra doesn’t implement MAPI so can’t be called exchange :-)

    The picture do look like the ones I take with my n73. Does it change if you select manually the type of pictures you are taking ?

    I have one question , as the N900 is suppose to be a phone. How does it behaves in that regard ?

    Reply
  5. David Tenser

    Ludovic: On the N900, what you have to do in order to sync your calendar and mail is to create a new mail account of type “Microsoft Exchange” — supposedly because Zimbra uses the Microsoft Exchange protocol. But I admit I know little about these things. In any case, it works! :)

    Not sure what you mean with manually selecting the type of picture? No matter what settings I change, it doesn’t change the cons of the lens and sensor as I explain above.

    As a phone, it has its quirks. For example, when there’s an incoming call, it can take a couple of seconds until the UI updates so you end up thinking that you can’t start talking. Then it turns out that it connects instantly and it’s just the UI that is lagging behind, so you end up being quiet the first two seconds of the phone call.

    But in terms of call quality, it’s good. The sound isn’t great (neither speakerphone nor internal speaker) but it’s good enough.

    Reply

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