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Hands on with the Nokia N900 running on Maemo Interface


The Nokia N900, seen wild in this blurry camera phone pic, is in Manila. Yesterday was Nokia’s Christmas Party and apart from winning a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic phone (!!!) at the raffle I got the chance to take a peek at the new N900. I only got the better of 4 minutes with the device so here are my first impressions in bullet form. These are general impressions on the N900 as well as the new Maemo user interface.

The N900 is beautiful. It is a sturdy messaging phone, light to the touch with fast UI response.

  • The multiple desktop functions of the Maemo UI is similar to the iPod / iPhone’s. You are allowed to have four desktops which you can scroll through using your thumb. Imagine combining the widget home screen interface of Samsung and Apple’s iPhone and this is what you get. It works.
  • The “apps menu” icon has been changed to resemble a series of squares on the upper left. Pressing that opens the application menu. One noticeable difference is that “Messaging” has been changed to “Conversations” which is really the move to threaded messaging. When you have multiple messages open, Maemo shows this ala Expose for Mac OS X with each window (let’s say, two message threads and the main Inbox) all neatly aligned. You can delete a window using the big “X” on the upper right hand side. The N900 is highlighted by its really good integration of messaging applications.
  • The new UI is fast. Essentially, the changes are really aesthetic. I can compare it to how HTC made their own interface (before the SenseUI of the HTC Hero) over and above Windows Mobile to compensate for the slow and rather outdated UI. Maemo is Linux based so it does feel lighter.
  • I noticed that Maemo doesn’t have a back button. I could be wrong but going back to previous functions entails using a hidden button on the N900 which I discovered by accident. Again, I’m not sure if this is a feature of the N900 per se or as a part of Maemo.
  • No pricing yet. This phone isn’t even OFFICIALLY out yet locally.