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15 hardware changes that would have made N900 physically irresistible – [15 essential hardware features for its successor]

| December 27, 2009 | Reply

The N900 is a great phone, but it is (as Nokia themselves have more or less said) a work in progress. I’ll say it again, it’s step 4 of 5 to Maemo glory.

Software evolution to one side (see firmware update wishlist for N900),  understandably, this early adopter product isn’t physically “perfect” for mass market.

I.E. No point wasting resources on features not necessary to attract your target audience.

So what would the N900 have needed or at least what would the N900’s successor need to be physically irresistible on the hardware front?

Below I’ve quickly listed out top 10 physical attributes the N900’s successor needs to be inexorably alluring (physically) to your 2010 smartphone consumer. Areas I’ve omitted I’m assuming meet the N900s standard, e.g. 1) stay with the black theme 2) screen resolution 3) expandable memory 4) Notification lights etc.

I’ve included 11-15 but stopped there as I could go on forever adding features I’d like to see in the N900′s successor (continuous autofocus, placement of buttons/ports/additional buttons/more in built memory/oleophobic screen/e-ink keyboard/optical zoom etc etc etc).

This, as usual, is just an opinion [feel free to disagree and/or add your own points :)]. It’s mixed with a touch of personal preference , but mostly filled with what Nokia needs to do to satisfy the market’s demand from a 2010 smartphone leading the pack (based on frequently mentioned suggestions).

As such, 1-10 is ordered in what I reckon is the necessary priority of features that would make the N900’s successor undeniably physically desirable (to the mass market audience), leaving only OS of choice as the final deciding factor (which by then, Maemo 6 will have made its appearance with even more bling and eye candy UI]

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  1. Capacitive Screen (with multitouch).
    1. I will not go into resistive vs capacitive, except that for the market the N900’s successor is trying to reclaim, it MUST have a capacitive display, and that’s already been confirmed as well as multitouch.
    2. Capacitive is essential to compliment the “feather touch” nature expected of UIs. It’s also necessary so Engadget won’t spit on it.
    3. Multitouch is necessary for multiple key input used when typing on virtual keyboard, gaming and finger gestures.
  2. Needs to be much slimmer.
    1. The concept of what size is acceptable has changed radically.
    2. It’s more acceptable for phones to be long (New LG chocolate) wide (TGO1) but not fat.
    3. If it’s long or wide, it’s OK. As long as it’s not thick.
    4. Ideally anything around 11mm or under. If there’s going to be a keyboard of sorts, try to stay within 14mm
  3. AMOLED display
    1. Go that extra distance with the better brightness, contrast and vividness
    2. Generally consumes less electricity (could contribute slightly towards battery life)
  4. Increase screen size – [Maybe 3.7″, maybe at least don’t go below 3.5″]
    1. The previous 4.13″ Nokia tablets had the perfect screen size for viewing the web on the go.
    2. Comined with the 800×480 screen, you hardly ever had to zoom in to view fine text.
    3. Though screen size (at the moment) is the main limiting factor in size, with minimal borders/space wastage, it’s possible to have a 4.13″ fit more or less in the N900’s foot print.
    4. N900 dimension – 111x60mm.
    5. 4.13″ [800X480] approx 90x55mm
  5. Made mostly of metal -minimise the plastic
    1. This will be a high luxury item.
    2. Metal phones are intrinsically more appealing than plastic ones.
  6. Keyboard – 4 row
    1. If we are going to have a keyboard, can we please have a 4 row
    2. 4th row must be for numbers
    3. More space must be used for the keyboard. I get that you’d want some screen interaction, but you’d save so much more time overall if you could have an extremely efficient text input with a well designed and thought out keyboard.
    4. I won’t go into keyboard layout, except for the love of god, do not hide basic punctuation as secondary symbols.
  7. Xenon Flash
    1. I’m hazarding a guess that the majority of photos the average consumer takes are of people [Friends/Family/Self/Spycam haha]
    2. On that presumption, Xenon Flash is absolutely necessary to make sure that in even low light conditions you can light up the scene and freeze the action.
    3. You can also keep Dual LED for video light. Don’t need to pick one or the other – have both.
  8. Increased MegaPixel count
    1. Nothing to do with picture quality, just keeping up with the times.
    2. It’s more marketable and you won’t fall prey to “Same 5MP cam as 3 years ago” comments.
  9. Higher resolution TV out. 720p at least.
    1. The N900 has proven itself to be a fantastic home media centre, plugging into the TV via TV-out functionality.
    2. HD output is a must for 2010.
  10. Compass/Magnetometer
    1. Assists in navigation of maps to provide real time Map orientation
    2. Gives the option of Augmented Reality style applications.

  11. Solid, spring loaded slide
    1. If we are going to have a physical QWERTY keyboard, it would be nice to have some kind of mechanism to quickly snap open and reveal the keyboard.
  12. Gesture areas
    1. These are spaces left or right of the screen (or both)
    2. Gesture areas can be configured to contextual function and may light up accordingly, but most of the time are invisible.
    3. Extend UI navigation without taking up space on the screen.
    4. e.g. Going back/forward/selecting menu/could possibly even work as green-red call/end buttons as well as dedicated music/media controls.
  13. Higher capacity battery
    1. Go back up to 1500mAh
    2. Possibly increase that?
    3. It’s great to have fantastic features but even better to know you don’t have to ration their use because the battery won’t last a full day. (N900’s battery life is fair, though I’m still pretty much in honey moon period so using it extremely heavily)
    4. You can of course get accessories like the Proporta Turbo Charger or a spare battery to keep yourself going.
  14. Wide angle lens and improved low light sensor
    1. Basically the N86’s optic prowess. Similar to #9 but this one actually does improve the quality of images that you’ll take.
    2. Wide angle lets you get more of your subject in the frame, composing better pictures – improved low light sensor means that you can take great photos when flash isn’t an option [e.g. distant subjects/through glass/situation of no flash photography allowed, often indoors with low light)
  15. Totally flat screen, no dust cave bezel
    1. Raised bezel accumulates dust and dirt
    2. Raised bezel interferes with finger swiping
    3. Make the bezel (if there will be one) flat and flush with the screen

Processor/RAM/Graphics card – can’t give definite specification on what I’d want, but at least improve on what we’ve already got.

We’ll have to wait it out and see what Nokia’s got cooking when the N900 successor is announced. If due in 2010, it’s most likely not possible for any major hardware changes to happen to it now. If it has the first half I’d be ecstatic.

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Category: Maemo, Nokia, Nseries, Rant, Suggestions

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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 mynokiablog.com and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and  Facebook.com/mynokiablog. Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@)mynokiablog.com or email me directly on jay[at]mynokiablog.com