Nokia N900 review

Bulky and blocky – yet could this be one of the phones of the year?

The definitive Nokia N900 review
The definitive Nokia N900 review

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Let's just lay this out on the table - Nokia designed the N900 for the mobile phone/developer enthusiast rather than for every man and his dog. It's not a phone that everyone will feel comfortable using, with a very heavy and wide profile making it a little pocket unfriendly.

Nokia clearly sees this as an ultra mobile computer and, as such, we shouldn't try and fight against it, just say 'well done' for what it is.

It's not positioned at someone looking to ditch their iPhone - it's for those that might want a powerful device to develop new applications on, or who simply want the latest gadgetry - and to that end, Nokia must be commended for such an action when the world is desperate to finally call this the Nokia iPhone slayer.

We liked

But, if we're being honest, it does actually do some things that at least match, if not better, the iPhone - not least the fact it has a physical keyboard and the ability to play Flash content. We very much liked this phone, especially the internet browser developed in part by Mozilla. Pages rendered at blistering speed, the navigation was seamless and you feel you can lean on the N900 in a way not many other phones could withstand.

We also liked the chassis in a guilty pleasure way - yes it's big and thick, but at least you know it's in your pock... hey, where did it go?

We liked the simple-to-use menus, we liked the way you simply needed to touch a blurry bit of the screen to exit a menu, and we especially love the multi-tasking that appeared to know no limits.

We disliked

However, every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction - the phone is not without its flaws. The size is a real issue and will be a deal breaker for some people.

For all the grunt under the hood, there were times when the Nokia N900 slowed down to an annoying degree, especially when trying to use the history function on the web browser. At one point the phone actually crashed for a minute - we don't know what was happening there but it was very annoying.

The battery life needs to be picked up drastically, and we'd like to see some support for MMS in the future, as well as an FM radio in there for good measure.

Our verdict

This is a great phone/mobile computer if you're into this kind of thing. If you wanted a Nokia Internet Tablet but were put off because of their size and the fact you need a mobile as well, this is the answer you've been looking for. Well designed, easy to use and intuitive, it's everything Symbian should have managed by now, yet it still hasn't managed to do so.

It's a shame Nokia has said there won't be another Maemo device until 2010, so we'll have to wait and see what the next one will look like - will it have shed the pounds?

We would have liked to have given the N900 a higher score today, but sadly there were too many niggling faults that irked us somewhat. The fact Nokia has two touchscreen platforms worries us slightly, seeing as it didn't manage to crack it with Symbian despite being a very mature platform now.

Considering the N900 costs the same as the N97 when launched, there's no contest between the two - the N900 wins hands down, and actually works in the way you'd want it to.

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Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.