In March last year, I declared the 2007-released Nokia E90 to be my All-round Champion device. In this article, I draw direct comparisons between features

Finally, a replacement for my trusted Nokia E90

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In March last year, I declared the 2007-released Nokia E90 to be my All-round Champion device.

In this article, I draw direct comparisons between features on the Symbian-powered Nokia E90 and the Maemo-powered N900.

E90 versus N900

Business First

Business-wise, the N900 is up to speed with a 3.5″ WVGA display at 800 × 480 pixel resolution (the E90 sports 4.0 inches at 800 x 352 pixels). While the E90’s display is larger, it is narrower, making the N900 display more usable. The displays on both are vibrant.

Both the E90 and the N900 feature full QWERTY keyboards, but admittedly, the N900’s keyboard does not match the E90’s though it is very usable. The E90 has a 5-row tactile keyboard, while the N900’s keyboard is only 3-row. That notwithstanding, the N900’s keys are as tactile and almost as good as the E90’s.

The screen and keyboard combinations of both devices make them potential formidable business devices. Reading and editing of text on both is a breeze, with the N900 offering on-screen text input via the touchscreen in addition to the QWERTY keyboard. Then throw in Office documents applications, note applications and PDF readers, and the mobile office is almost complete on both devices.


The E90 had it all – or so I thought: infrared, bluetooth 2.0, and USB 2.0, Wi-fi, GPRS, EDGE, 3G and HSDPA (up to 3.6mbps). The N900 adds 2 Mbps HSUPA, bumps HSDPA to 10 Mbps and Bluetooth to version 2.1.

The built-in browser on the E90 was good, but after using the MicroB browser on the N900, I testify that it blows the S60 browser on the E90 to smithereens. It is the most awesome browser ever on any mobile device. Take any desktop browser task and you can get it done on the N900 without breaking a sweat.

Mobile Entertainment

Being an N-series device, the N900 lives up to expectation and leaves the E90 in the dust. The loudspeaker is loud, and a wide range of audio and video formats are supported. This includes DivX and XviD support, which is not so common on mobile devices. Of course, the N900 plays videos directly in the built-in browser as well.

The E90 had a very good 3.2 megapixel with LED flash and auto-focus that produced escellent still shots and video clips. The N900 does better with a 5 megapixel unit with dual-LED flash and auto-focus.

Multi-tasking Power

With the huge RAM and capable processor, multi-tasking on the E90 was taken for granted and running multiple applications running in the background was no issue.

Multi-tasking on the N900 is a whole new experience. RAM on the N900 is double that of the E90 and the power of the processor nearly doubles that of the E90 as well. While the E90 had a reputation of being somewhat sluggish, the N900 is smoother to use. The “dashboard” on the N900 makes the term “task-switching” outdated. On the dashboard, all running applications are displayed as live icons (you can actually see the progress of the tasks being carried out by each application).

Battery Performance

So far, my usage of the N900 suggests that The E90’s battery life is better than the N900’s. I wish Nokia had put in the famous 1500 mAh battery used in the E90 in the N900. But they didn’t and I’ll just have to live with the 1320 mAh unit available for the N900.


The N900 is more compact and lighter at 110.9 × 59.8 × 18 mm (181g) compared to the E90 at 132 x 57 x 20 mm (210 g).

The N900 also comes with 32GB memory built-in against the E90’s 128 MB.

Hail the NEW King

Since that article in March 2009, I had been unable to find a device that qualified as an upgrade to the E90. But my search is over. The E90 no longer rules the mobile jungle. In terms of specs, the N900 is more advanced and its user interface is years ahead of the dated Symbian OS v9.2, S60 rel. 3.1 that the E90 runs on.

The N900 rules

As of today, there isn’t a better communicator in the market than the Nokia N900.


  1. It appears you’ve fallen so much in love with the N900. I don’t blame you. It appears to be a superb device. Albeit the price will scare me from it for sometime, before I could ever buy it, and by then, Nokia shall bring something newer.

    Something in favour of the N900 which you correctly mentioned is the size. The N900 is niftier, lighter and much more compact as compared with the E90. As far as I am concerned that design of the E90 is outdated. What will I be doing with two LCD screens in this age? That design of communicator reigned those days. For now, A single large LCD or Oled Display and an accompanying Qwerty is the in thing!

  2. Afewgoodmen,

    Yes; I have fallen in love with the N900. It is indeed an awesome device. Simply imagine desktop-like expereience on a mobile device and you probably get the picture.

    The email problem I faced would have been the end of my relationship with the N900, but thankfully it was resolved.

    The E90 was a great device in its day, though Nokia didn’t invest much in bringing it up to speed over time. It is still a capable device – annd its one phone you want to have in hand if someone tries to mug you A hit on the head with that thing and the mugger’s out cold. And after the hit, the E90 will keep working as if nothing ever happened. It was built like a tank. The N900 is very well-built too, but not as well.


  3. artwales,

    Naturally, Symbian has more apps available than Maemo currently, so you are right on that. Still, I haven’t missed anything significant. All the 3rd party apps I ever needed on my E90 have equivalents for the N900. I currently have the following installed:

    – Bible app
    – Facebook app (did I have that on the E90? Not so sure now)
    – themes
    – JoikuSpot
    – Word processor and Office viewer
    – loads of games (though I hardly touch them)
    – weather app
    – barcode app
    – eBook reader

    Plus, the N900 supports widgets, and I’ve got tons of them running on my unit right now. The N900 also has 3rd party apps that integrate IM e.g. GoogleTalk and Yahoo Messenger directly into your contacts list and shows you their status.

    There are others that I haven’t bothered with e.g. twitter apps, News widgets, and SSH clients (I’m going to install one soon).

    So far, if my memory serves me right, there isn’t a 3rd party app that I used on the E90 that I don’t have running on (or available in the Application Manager of) my N900 now.

    The beauty of Maemo is that it has an active developer support because of its Linux roots.

  4. @ Yomi

    After reading your comparison of the two phones, I am not so sure I love my E90 like I used to.

    Till date E90 can still be seen in the hands of professionals, how long do you think the N900 will last until outclassed? Do you think it offers revolutionary stuff that will make it last as long as E90? Forgive me, I know its a difficult question to answer but I can’t help it.

  5. Do you think it offers revolutionary stuff that will make it last as long as E90?

    That reaally is a difficult one. I can tell that the N900 will be around for some time, but to say whether it will be around for as long as the E90….. I choose to watch and see how it goes.

    One thing is for sure, it is a device ahead of its peers.

  6. yES, The E90 is old, tested and rugged. But if you give me the two to choose from free of Charge I’d choose the N900. The UI is better I think. ANd like Yomi noted, it is a feature monster. What more can one want?

  7. I must start off by commending you guys on mobilitynigeria. As a nigerian in diaspora, it feels good to see our own engadget/gsmarena/gizmodo…anywhoo, its an added surprise to see someone that shares my sentiments.

    Had an E90 for sometime before i switched to the N900. As much as i love my phone, lets be real, MAEMO 5 is still a total mess. I mean the pluses exceed the minuses but a visit to the maemo forum is bound to reveal the overwhelming negatives on this device. I sometimes find myself going back to my E90 thanks to that awesome keyboard and snappier response (maybe multitasking is that great idea if speed is at stake)…

    Hopefully, PR 1.3 will shed off alot of the issues with this thing but until then, i cant wait for the N9 to rear its head. I want me my MEEGO Nokia…NOW!

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