Nokia N900 proof that a good phone is more than just hardware

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I was lucky enough to be given the chance to trial a Nokia phone for two weeks by womworld.  I chose the N900 because it supposedly represented where Nokia thought the future of mobile phones should be.  Of course since it was released we’ve seen the rapid evolution of iOS and Android, and even Nokia have even tweaked Symbian so the N900 isn’t quite the cutting edge mobile it was intended to be.What did I think of it?I have to say I was extremely disappointed.  In fact so disappointed that I didn’t use it for the two weeks of the trial – I soon went back to my Nokia 5800 which felt much more usable.  So where did Nokia go wrong?The build of the phone is very good (although a tad chunky) and feels well built and made of good quality materials.  The keyboard is small and fiddly but you soon get used to it (I’m sure Blackberry users find this too!).  The interface is fast and responsive, and similar in functionality to Symbian so most features are easy to find.Browsing – web browsing is a pleasure on the N900, whilst no-where as slick as using Safari with multi-touch on the iPhone, web pages are displayed well and navigation is easy (aided by being able to type on the keyboard).  The only criticism of the browser is that text fields aren’t highlighted when you type in them – and you can sometimes lose your place on a page.Messaging – this was where I started to fall out with the N900.  I live in Gmail and all my contacts, emails and calendar are in a single account.  My 5800 is able to sync contacts, calendars and my email if required using the Exchange protocol.  The N900 should have been capable of this but struggled to pull in my contacts, and then they didn’t show up until after a reboot.  I wasn’t able to get exchange sync working (and I wouldn’t even consider using POP3/IMAP on a high end phone in this price bracket!).Apps – although the Ovi store does have Angry Birds for the N900, there is precious little else in the App store (with the exception of the excellent Firefox mobile browser).  Whilst the Ovi store is generally full of low quality free apps and the odd useful but very overpriced app, there was virtual tumbleweed blowing through the N900 store – and this doesn’t seem set to change.Camera – the camera took good quality pictures – on the 50% of occasions they came out in focus.  It may have been because my test photos ended up being close up photos, but my cheapo 5800 has no problem with these shots (and the Share-online support is much better in the 5800 too).Interface – whilst Nokia has tried to embrace widgets, all you can add to the homescreen(s) are contacts, web-links and other static content -I couldn’t find anything worth adding or any dynamic content like Android offers.That’s not to say the N900 is a bad phone – but we’ve come to expect more from a modern high-end smart phone.  We expect a good selection of apps, a good camera, reliable push email and good text entry (or am I alone in seeking these features in a phone?).  The N900 would suit someone who uses their mobile as a phone, and perhaps just uses the camera, Facebook and texting.I’m sorry Nokia but you are going to have to do much better than this if you are going to hold your market share against the threat of Android and iOS!Photos taken with N900: