The most user-friendly Maemo yet?


When was the last time you saw such a thoughtful touch on an S60 handset? It’s rather obvious, but a nice touch for novice smartphone users. And it was something I was entirely unprepared for on Nokia’s high-powered Linux-driven N900.

Not too long ago Mobile Industry Review‘s Ewan MaCleod was aghast when he spotted an ad for the N900 in the London Tube. Said Ewan:

The N900 isn’t for the faint of heart — it’s a hugely powerful device that the super-geeks will *love* but that your average consumer will have issues with.

And yet, the first thing that struck me about the N900 as I poked around it was how user-friendly it seems to be.

Sure, there are no less than four home screens, but your average Android user would be comfortable with that. There are special software repositories for  developers and testing, but those aren’t enabled by default — in their place are Maemo Select and the familiar & comforting presence of the Ovi Store:

Ovi Store & Maemo Select

The web browser is definitely worthy of all the accolades you’ve read elsewhere, shaming its S60 equivalent with a speedy rendering engine. It’s also significantly faster, by the way, than any iPhone browser I can remember. And at 800 pixels wide it gets pretty darn close to delivering the same web experience as a desktop browser, though 1024 pixels seems to be the going standard for page width.

There’s even an ad-blocker for it — hooray!

I has a sad.

The only thing the N900 doesn’t have out of the box is (infuriatingly) support for a hosted SyncML server. I’m attempting a fix for that today; it won’t be a trivial task, but a necessary one if I’m to put my SIM card in this thing and really see what it can do…


  1. AC:

    As usual, your timing is perfect. After my Jebusphone study, I’m now looking at Nokia, given how many of their phones are iSync-friendly with Mac OS 10.4/5. Looking forward to the results…


  2. I definitely have to agree with you about the N900’s user-friendliness. I was seriously caught off guard by the smooth transitions and general intituitiveness; although I know some people didn’t find hitting the background as a logical step for going backwards in navigation, it made sense for me pretty much instantly.

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