A day out with the Nokia N900

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As a rule, I find it painful to go back to a device that I have owned and used in the past. There is usually enough progress in the mobile field for me to consider going back both a waste of time and a downgrade. However, after over 50 mobile phones, that rule has finally been broken and the honour goes to the Nokia N900.


My first outing with the N900 was back in April 2010. Between the first and second comings of the N900 have been six (6) phones, namely: HTC Touch Pro2 (July 2010), Nokia E5 (August 2010), Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro (September 2010), Apple iPhone 3GS (November 2010), Palm Pre (November 2010), and Nokia N8 (November 2010). I still have the N8 and I am devoting it to a totally different purpose in the fields that it shines (stay tuned for more on these pages).

The N900 is an exciting, compelling and extremely powerful device. The battery life was its weakest spot on my sheet. Still, I had been pinning to have one back in my hands for a while. Then I got an opportunity to own one again and took it. The first thing I did was update the firmware to version 20.2010.36-2.002 a.k.a. PR 1.3.

n900 diary


I had a hectic day yesterday – I spent all morning out of the office with the N900 on me as my only phone and mobile office.

I had charged it fully and unplugged it at about 10.00 p.m. the previous night. All through the night, it ran an email sync cycle of 30 minutes. It was also configured to sync my contacts and calendar entries every 4 hours from 6am to 6pm daily.

So, how did the N900 hold up?

Sweet Desktop-like Functionality and Ease of Use

First stop was the banking hall to carry out some transactions. Standing on the queue (yes; its no news that long queues are back in our banking halls), I was attending to mails. One of those mails required me to provide a link to a URL in my response. It was here that I remembered how much better as a computing device the N900 is compared to anything else I have used recently.

I launched the browser, typed out the homepage of the site I needed. Once that loaded, I simply tapped and held the desired link on the page. A drop-down menu popped up and I selected the option to “Copy Link Address”.

Back to the email client where I was typing my response, tapped the point where I wanted the link inserted, and hit Ctrl + V on the keyboard. There it was. Click Send. Done. And all with a full view of the display. No onscreen keyboard to hide anything from view and limit viewing. The N900 just romps over the competition with this. Note that scenarios like this are commonplace in my line of work.


I had also missed that keyboard and the many shortcuts that make so many tasks a breeze to carry out on this Maemo 5 device.

Battery Life

Remember that I took it off the mains the previous night. Leaving home, I had an active Bluetooth connection with a Bluetooth headset, since I was driving. There was an active Skype connection too. I spent two hours at Airtel’s waiting area and had the N900 to keep me from dying of boredom. In addition, I was consistently active on Mobility Nigeria and attending to both personal and official mails, besides browsing websites of interest.

From Airtel, I made a few other stops. Anyway, I finally got to the office after 1 pm and the N900’s battery got emptied at around 1.30 pm. ‘Dayo and I didn’t think it was a bad performance, seeing that his Blackberry device was almost out of juice too by the time we returned to the office (and he had only fully charged his at 5 am that day).

I am still in the process of conditioning the battery of the N900, so perhaps I can still get better battery performance. We’ll see and then I will re-visit the battery issue then.

Laptop Now Stays At Home

The N900 is the closest thing to a mobile computer that I have ever used. again, as before, there is no compelling need to lug my netbook around any longer – except for when special needs are required.

N900 versus N8?

I was amused to see the mild outrage that greeted my naming the N900 my smartphone of the year 2010 from some quarters. I didn’t say the smartphone of the year, meaning that my needs were in view in arriving at that decision. I have no doubts that the N8 outshines the N900 in certain areas and will qualify as the smartphone of the year for many others whose needs differ from mine. But in my line of work, the N900 is the more appropriate device.


As already hinted, you will be seeing my N8 deliver in its areas of strength as an excellent media tool for the Mobility Nigeria team, so continue to expect excellent materials on and from the N8 multimedia monster. But for daily personal use, the N900 is it for me. For now.

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17 comments

  1. Mr yomi, you and this your love affair with the N900, you seem to always go back to the N900 sounds like a abusive relationship that you just can’t get out of, I will find a N900 and see what the joy as you claim is all about.

  2. Very nice article Yomi. You are very good with words, people sometimes misinterpret what you are saying. I am a Nokia N8 user, but I must admit that the N900 is a more powerful device in other areas like web browsing.

    1. turboglendz,

      You are very good with words, people sometimes misinterpret what you are saying.

      Thanks for the compliments. I dare not praise myself, but – Yes; my words are often misinterpreted, and it is refreshing to see someone who shows up and recognises this immediately.


  3. A truly magical device with a terrible archilles heel. I can feel the joy you felt using a physical keyboard again. I use my samsung wave to view web pages, and if i need to type anything on a site, I usually reopen the site on my nokia 5320 XM just to type easily.

    The n900 has a resistive screen. Does this mean you must use a stylus? How would you compare it to the n8’s capacitive screen?

    Have you ever tried porting another OS to the n900?

    1. Spacyzuma,

      I haven’t so much as looked at the stylus, much less use it. Totally unnecesarry. But it is good that it is there. Capacitive is better, of course, but the N900’s resistive is so responsive that you would be forgiven for assuming that it is capacitive.

      Nope; I have not tried porting any other OS to it. Most of those ports have significant bugs that will hinder my daily productivity.

  4. Iam not surprised knowing the capability of this phone the first day i test ran a friend’s own.From that day i knew the defination of a true smartphone began and ended with the phone in question for now.Because it made all other smartphones i ever used look inferior.Infact,i am presently working it out with a friend that is planning to buy one as i told him it is your best phone for the year.I wonder what a meego phone shall look like,may be just a slim n900 with a different code name.Have have you tried dual booting it from maemo to meego with this PR1.3 update?

    1. Have have you tried dual booting it from maemo to meego with this PR1.3 update?

      No; I haven’t. Too many hassles for no real benefits at this time. I will wait till MeeGo is in better shape and runs well.

  5. hello yomi,
    I was told by a friend a friend that one can check acct. bal on N900 is that true? b’cos am plan to get one’….


  6. We need a revolution in Battery technology.

    I once complained about a device battery life and I was told that i use it too much.

    I told the guy that I did not buy the device for decoration i bought it to use it extensively.

    Here is calling on the Nokias and the Apples to give us a revolution in Battery Life.

  7. Yomi, you may be surprised we have a lot in common. At least I share the same delight with you in the love for the Nokia n8. A phone I regard as Nokia’s joker for all who wish to sneer.

    The N900 is also capable. But if it is not upgradeable to meego, then the nate is the clear winner, without even adding battery life. Moreover I prefer the Touch-screen only input on account of the slimness and aesthetic beauty. the N900 is too bulky compared side by side with the N8.


  8. Afewgoodmen,

    Devices with a QWERTY keyboard will always be my preference. But if I may ask, What is MeeGo bringing to the table that will give the N900 the edge in your books?

  9. Yomi,

    Do not get me wrong, the maemo OS is good. But I bet that whenever Meego comes out, it would be cool that you know that you can upgrade. Especially when you know that there MUSt be one or more improvements in the new meego updates. being able to update firmware to the latest in the field is something I love and excell at!

    For the N8, we do not have that fear, because the Symbian ^3 will be upgradeable!

  10. Afewgoodmen,

    I didn’t say that the N900 is not upgradeable to MeeGo. It actually is. However, Nokia say that they won’t provide support for it, so anyone who upgrades is effectively on their own.

    But for now, there isn’t any available information that I know of that tells me of any compelling features that MeeGo will bring to the device.

    I run with information and without info on what MeeGo will bring to me, I cannot get excited about the upgrade, though I am curious about it.

    So, you have your answer – the N900 is upgradeable to MeeGo. Just no info to whet my appetite yet.


  11. Hello Yomi,

    I will like to get the N900 anytime soon, but as it is i don’t know what internet data plan and wat Network provider to subscribe to ..

    Thanks.

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