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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As you might guess for a phone with 32GB of onboard memory (with up to 32GB more through microSD) the N900 is clearly designed for media, and it's pretty good too.

The media player is a simple affair, with the options to listen to music, watch videos, use internet radio or quickly shuffle all your songs the main icons thrust at you when started up.

Music is probably the main reason you'll pull out the media player on the phone, with the tracks listed nicely and viewed by album cover when you start up. There's no cover flow option here, but seeing as every phone other than the iPhone that tries this struggles terribly, we're not sure that's really a bad thing after all.

Nokia n900

Music quality is pretty good too, with tracks starting promptly and having a little sparkle to them as well. We're fans of the music interface, as it has dual modes - there's the slider to let you navigate through the song, with basic track info, and if you tap the album artwork it takes you back to the track list of the album you're listening to.

Beyond that, it's pretty basic - there's play and stop and fast forward and all those gubbins, as well as another volume slider (on top of the physical key on the phone) and despite the fact they could be a bit bigger, it works well.

Nokia n900

As you can imagine on the N900, video looks superb on the WVGA screen, and is also simple to navigate, supporting WMV, RealVideo, MP4, AVI, Xvid and DivX codecs, although it can't seem to recognise the M4V file format for some reason.

Nokia n900

Video does take a little bit of time to load up on occasion, and there were instances where the phone juddered a bit when beginning a movie.

But whether listening through the headphones or speakers, the sound was more than adequate (although not stellar) and there's also the option to share the video through Bluetooth, email and via built-in services like Flickr (although we couldn't find YouTube support anywhere, which was thoroughly odd. Ovi by Nokia is there, but we're only interested in the big names for a phone like this).

Nokia n900

Internet radio was a real damp squib in our eyes, as not only did the 46 listed stations not work over 3G barely at all (we accidentally started one up once and that was it) it's nigh on impossible for the average user to add a radio station to the list unless their favourite site has express instructions on how to do it and the specific URL, and we couldn't once manage to find that.

It's a real shame, as an easy-to-use FM transmitter is included as standard, and we like the thought of pumping internet radio out in the car (as long as we have a good data plan and an understanding provider).

Nokia n900

But the main saving grace is DLNA. Savour those letters - D. L. N. A. Before, they stood for a real diabolical time trying to get your sodding phone to connect to your sodding computer, with the likes of the Samsung i8910HD refusing to accept there's any such thing in the room even though it's RIGHT THERE, WHY CAN'T YOU SEE IT?

Nothing like that with the N900 though - simply turn on your PC (which needs to be part of your home network - Windows 7 does this automatically for you) and then lo and behold, an option to connect to that PC appears at the bottom. In the words of a popular mammal: simples.

However, there's one really annoying issue – pop in a memory card and the Nokia N900 will simply refuse to read the files on there until a restart, and even then it can sometimes still ignore them. This is really frustrating if you're trying to quickly pop a new album onto the phone, as you don't want to have to keep messing around with switching on and off and changing things around just to do so.

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.