Huge Nokia N900 and Maemo 5 (P)Review by My-Symbian

| September 30, 2009 | Reply

Michael Jerz from MySymbian has been testing the Nokia N900 for several weeks and has published a monster of a (p)review. This is, btw, of a Proto N900, so some findings may or may (have) change(d) with actual final production N900.


[N900: Positively small compared to its ancestors]

Skimming through the first page and it’s a fantastic hardware review already, but then there are 4 pages in total to more than satisfy your curiosity for the N900

Some interesting keypoints:


  • Keyboard – Michael confirms my initial impressions, N900 does indeed have much better tactile feedback, even goes as far as saying The tactile feedback seems to be better also compared to the E90 keyboard, which feels softer.”
  • Processor – extremely positive here: There’s really NOTHING one could complain about when it comes to performance and functionality offered by N900’s processor, not only when it comes to the offered “raw speed” but also graphics, video and imaging acceleration.”
  • RAM -  Yes we already know about the 256MB physical RAM and 768MB virtual. According to Michael, the N900 ends up with 50MB after boot, but hold your horses there. Michael explains that unlike Symbian, free RAM is half as important, as with virtual RAM you’ve got about 800MB free which means you won’t get to see out of memory errors. I tried opening up all the apps on the N900 myself and it handled them so smoothly. Don’t expect to see any “Out of memory” errors on this machine. I tried really hard to get one, and I ended up having over TWO DOZEN of applications running at once and multiple browser windows open,”Performance does decrease slightly though as virtual RAM is being used instead of actual physical RAM (Michael says about 20%). Hmm…could N97 users also get some of this virtual memory love please?
  • The tilt on Michael’s proto unit is the same as the N97’s angle, but oddly was lower on final production N900 we used at onedotzero. Hopefully I you can set different angles and we just didn’t manage to do that.
  • The Camera quality is the same as N97 (Though I think it’s nice to have 16:9 option, even if it reduces to about 3mp).
  • The dual LED is weak as I expected. Boo. Oh well…I hope someone makes a torch app for it as that’s the most use I get out of my N97’s dual LED.
  • Build Quality – Solid as ever, except perhaps the tilt stand.
  • InfraRed – Michael wonders whether it will stay in final production handsets – it better had! The ones we tested were final production N900s and apparently they still had their infra red – plus videos have apparently demoed N900 controlling a TV via IR, so they they can’t just tease us with a feature they’re going to take out. They might as well have shown N900 with XENON flash!
  • Audio loudspeaker quality – Michael notes subjectivity here. I found N900 speakers to be quite loud, and clear. Definitely better than N97, I think some long time N900 users have noted it’s better than N95 (which was the benchmark of Nokia phone loudspeakers – though nothing yet has surpassed the N800 – Booklet 3G doesn’t count)
  • GPS – considerably faster than say N97 (When N97 behaves it gets a fast GPS lock – but it can have problems maintaining it if you’re in a vehicle)
  • Compass – Michael says “apparently missing” – interestingly, N900 recognizes direction within a couple of metres. I’ve always thought that would be the easiest solution – just work out direction of movement (like google maps, note how it shows you the arrow pointing in direction of movement) but then possibly orientate the map in the direction you’re going, thus aligning with with your surroundings similar to what a digital compass attempts.
  • Battery life…hmmm?

N900 hugs N97…”there, there, I maybe the flagship you should have been…but you’ve still got an interesting flip!”


These were some interesting points I found after a quick glance (have a 9AM lecture to go to in a sec)


  • True Linux openness – you do what you want to do with your device. You can do whatever you want, just like on a Linux desktop”
  • S60 applications of course aren’t compatible with N900, BUT, There is a much bigger developer base that are familiar with Linux than Symbian OS. You’ll have better quality apps than S60 and ultimately have the potential to run apps as good, if not better than what’s available for Apple’s iPhone.
  • Mostly a general description of applications/features on N900. Check it out here.
  • Switching between windows/closing windows is effortless. Although many say multitasking is being able to do several things at once, another angle of thought is that multitasking should be being able to switch easily and prioritise quickly the between selected applications. The N900 does this in spades.


  • Only grid view option available currently for N900. I don’t really mind as I don’t use list view in S60.
  • You cannot move or reorder icons or put them in folders! Noooooooooooooooooooo! (Well for now anyway. Nokia should really think about being able to SAVE menu layouts and distribute those type of menu layouts for other people to enjoy, so either the user themselves will NOT have to reorder all their icons and their friends or other people can enjoy the same layout without also having to reorder the menu)
  • Web – The reason my N800 is still with me to this day, and in occasional use. Beautifully done with Maemo’s 800X480 pixel screen. Not only can pages be easily fixed to fit width of the screen (so you don’t have to ever scroll left/right), you can also optionally view pages as they are (if you did want to be scrolling left/right). At the end of the year, there’ll be FireFox for N900 too so even better browsing!
  • Volume buttons can be used to resize pages (as does double tapping and that odd but very functional spiral motion)
  • Multiple windows – internet tablets have always had multiple windows but the N900 goes a step further by improving their management and stability. Possibly the best phone for surfing the web with the expectations of desktop experience?
  • Music: Supports management by album covers. Good codec support, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, M4A, MP3, WAV, and WMA.
  • Video Playback – simply OUTSTANDING,… playback is 100% smooth, without a single frame drop (tested with e.g. 800×480 5000 kbps content) I wonder how it will handle my DivX library. I didn’t get the chance to pop in one for testing – N800 also had smooth playback of my files (except faster action ones) but only via MPlayer. It had difficulty playing other files. Supposedly good news for N900, “Supported formats include 3GPP (H.263), AVI (including DivX/XviD etc.), Flash Video, H.264/AVC, MPEG-4 and WMV.”
  • There’s much more to go but I’m heading out now

SOFTWARE PAGE 4 (and conclusion)

  • Looks at the camera UI and other applications again, file manager, RSS Reader (very good one on N900/tablets) and games
  • Fantastic performance and stability, even for a PROTOTYPE (prototype hardware/unfinished software)
  • Beautiful and ADVANCED User Interface
  • Symbian OS phones can only get one answer: they just DON’T compare. N900 is a wholy different league.If any of the existing mobile devices can be (honestly) called a mobile computer then the N900 deserves such a name in the first place.
  • Check out the last page for the conclusion!

Via My-Symbian


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Category: Linux, Maemo, Nokia, Nseries, Reviews

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]