Nokia N900 Nightmare on Maemo Street

In Nokia N900 nightmare on Maemo street, Mister Mobility tells of that time his brand new Nokia N900, running Maemo OS, died after giving him lots of high blood pressure.

Let’s get this clear upfront – I am angry and frustrated right now. Very. So excuse the passion that you will feel as you read my words.

First, It Was MTN

To give you a background, for the last three weeks, family, friends and associates have been largely unable to reach me on my mobile line. Mostly, they get the error message “The number that you have dialled does not exist on the MTN network“, or “The number you have dialled is incorrect“. I am mostly also unable to dial out as well. Contacting MTN customer care has not helped any bit. Please understand that for reasons like this, I have changed my mobile line several times in the last years. I’ve had them all – ECONET, GloMobile, MTN, Etisalat. Okay, I never got Mtel. Was that ever a network?

With the battle I have been fighting with voice on my line, I didn’t really need any other issues like I got with the Nokia N900. Yes; that super mobile computer. Oh, its a great device – voice calls are clear, speakers are loud, video is awesome, TV-out is sweet, camera is splendid, web browsing – you need to use it to understand how sweet it is browsing on the N900, firmware updates are smooth, even preserving your data, the user interface is sweet, and the processor is powerful enough to let the phonedo all these without breaking a sweat.

Sounds like I am insane to gripe about a phone like that; right?

Then I Couldn’t Send Out Emails

No; I am not insane. For all the wonderful things that the N900 can do, you cannot begin to imagine the frustrations of not being able to send out emails on the device. My lowly Nokia 3600 Slide sends out mails without issues. My even humbler Sony Ericsson does so too. My Windows Mobile powered LG GW550 does it without hitches. But the N93,000 super mobile computer from the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer and world’s largest smartphone manufacturer does not let me send out emails.

I tried my Gmail account. Tried Google Apps hosted email. Tried my corporate email. Tried my Hotmail account. Even my Ovi (that’s angelic tongues for Nokia, I suppose) email account is unable to send out emails on the N900. I have never battled with email on a mobile device as I have on the N900 in the last few days. But I found out soon enough that I am not alone in this. Just do a Google search for “cannot send out email on N900“, and you’ll find more than enough to chew on.

Besides not being able to send out mails, it takes forever to refresh the inbox and to open received items in it to read.

The problem is that no-one really has been able to put a finger on what is the problem with the N900 email client. It works with Gmail for some, but does not for others. Some are able to send out mails by changing the SMTP port, but others are not. Some are not able to read downloaded mails, but others are able to. The N900 mail client is about the most amazing pile of dung on a smart mobile device that I have ever beheld.

I even re-updated the firmware of the device, just to be sure. No show.

Finally, I thought to myself that surely with the avalanche of complaints about the N900’s email client, someone would have developed a 3rd party email application to help Nokia’s incompetence. Sorry; no dice. The built-in email client on the N900 is an example of an application that should never have shipped with a production device. Ah, but perhaps typical of Nokia, three years after the launch of the N900, they will come up with a firmware update that will finally get the mail client to do what it should have been doing from Day One. But that would be MeeGo, not Maemo; right?

Well, as for me, I’m going. Yes; me go (MeeGo; get it?) now.

Someone give me an HTC Touch Pro2 over this any day. If email is your thing, stay away from the Nokia N900. You will get your fingers burnt. But if what you want is multimedia, web, etc, you can’t go wrong with the Nokia N900. Someone make me a good offer for the N900 and its yours. Just like that. You see, I live on email. That makes the N900 a very useless device to me right now.

Earlier on, my friend Oluniyi David Ajao said he wasn’t going to buy another Nokia smartphone. I hereby join his club. No more Nokia smartphones for me too.

Finally, The Nokia N900 Nightmare Happens

I wrote the above section of this article yesterday evening. The next part was added today.

But just in case you think email is all the trouble I have had with the N900, you’ve got another think coming. This evening, I plugged the device to my PC via the USB cable (as I had already done several times before without any issues) and it simply powered down. “Ah, no problem“, I thought, “I’ll just put it back on again“.

Nokia N900 nightmare

Sorry, but it has not come back up again since then. I have removed the battery and put it back, among other tricks. It starts to power up, then the Nokia logo fades away into the background and the screen goes blank. Awesome. That’s a N93,000 miracle from Nokia.

Sorry, guys, but I am pretty much tired of the N900. Unfortunately, I cannot sell it while its dead 😀

To Flash

I am currently downloading tools that will enable me to flash it. If that does not work out, I will have to take it over to Nokia Care first thing tomorrow morning and see if they can sort it out. I expect that they’ll ship it off to Abuja again, like they did my E90 back then. But there’s this nagging fear at the back of my mind that someone will tell me there that they do not have support available for the N900 here in Nigeria yet.

That, dear friends, will be Nokia putting icing on my cake. But who knows, perhaps the gods of mobility will have mercy on a devotee like me and I’ll get my loved-and-hated N900 back, this time with email SMTP working as it should. Just maybe.

Who wants to offer a sacrifice on my behalf?


Update: I did get the email problem resolved after flashing my N900. Be sure to read through the comments for details. One can be thankful that this Nokia N900 nightmare ended with my head still firmly fixed to my neck.

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13 comments

  1. @Yomi

    I tend to believe that your mind is one of those specially made to withstand stress without breaking. If I were the one involved, i’ll probably be under Ojuelegba overhead bridge by now in my underpants shouting ‘maaeemooo… maaeemooo… mee goo mee stay… mee buyyy… ninety threee thousand…. ‘

    Well, hope is not lost. You should still have a warranty for the phone. Nokia Centre will definitely take it back for repairs or replacement. What matters is that you DO NOT VOID YOUR WARRANTY by flashing or doing anything stupid.

    One last thing, don’t let this experience scare you off nokia products. They are still more durable than S.E., or L.G., or Samsung and they have fairly acceptable after sales services unlike the other brands (at least in Nigeria).

  2. Ah! A N93,000 phone can’t send mails? Wonders shall never end. I thought stuff like that was taken for granted on smart phones?

    Anyway, I believe the outcry about the problem will lead to two things:

    (1) Get Nokia execs red faced (assuming all are whites) and they will issue updates later;

    (2) Software gurus will make apps to rectify the problem. Since people who shell out N93,000 for a smart phone can afford to throw extra bucks to get the brick working like a smart phone, I am betting they will charge for it feeding off Nokia’s slip.

    Anyway, thanks for the heads up Yom. Some of us may have to go hungry for weeks to afford a phone like that… and to discover such flaws may lead us to suicide!

  3. deoladoctor,

    As long as one is flashing official Nokia-provided firmware using official tools, which is what I have just done, there’s no risk of invalidating warranty.

    Anyway, the good news is that the N900 is back up and running fine after the flashing. The email issue still remains though.

  4. Good news, everyone: after the flashing, I have been able to send out mails with two different email accounts.

    Now, the N900 feels like a proper mobile computer. The wonders of flashing! Will keep you updated. At least now that the N900 is back alive, we can proceed with our reviews.

    A point in passing though: Nokia needs to up their game. These devices need to just work out of the box. All this stress just to get SMTP to work? Please.

  5. Very interesting experience with this piece of Nokia super phone. If I was in your shoes, I may have gone raving mad. 93,000 is a lot of money to put on a phone. If I dare do that, I should expect the best of everything. The least I should expect is that E-mail sending should work.

    And it is interesting how Flashing seems to solve your problem. Nokia has remained a very good brand with lots of Loyal Followers. With your experience, I think Nokia may just well be really okay! Especially with good after-sales as indicated by Deoladoctor.

  6. @Yomi
    I rejoice with you. But don’t forget to send me an IV For the party.

    Seriously, i thing you’re just unlucky to have a faulty phone. Am not sure i want to believe that your experience is the norm for all N900 owners. There’s no way nokia can justify such a thing.

  7. deoladoctor,

    I don’t believe that every N900 owner has had the same experience as I have, but believe me when I say that the internet is full of N900 looking for help to get their email working properly. Unfortunately, so far as I have seen, most of them never got the problem solved.

    That is bad enough. These devices should just work. Many less expensive devices give no such problems. Why a top-end device like the N900?

    Give Google a try and its shocking how widespread the N900 email problem is.

  8. @Yomi Adegboye. Great nEws. I just googled N900 on Google and confirmed your statement on the universality of email problems on the N900.

    My suggestion is that you should post your solution to the Email problem on the net and Nokia Fan sites!

    Flashing May just be all these N900 owners NEED!

  9. i duno if u gt da 1st comment.bt i used nokia messaging account it workd right away even 4 yahoo.im usin mtn bt as soon as i connect ma cred is depleted.is der a bundle for days onli cz i use laptop at night

  10. Chei! This N93,000 miracle from Nokia no easy @ all. LOL. I would literally die if this were to happen to me. Best of luck flashing the phone cos I’m yet to come across a good Nokia Modding Forum with tons of resources. There exists a load of them for Motorola.

    BTW wouldn’t your flashing the phone void your 1 year guarantee with Nokia?

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