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A maemo to Apple and Google
August 27, 2009 6:43 PM   Subscribe

Nokia has announced the n900 running the maemo Linux based operating system will be released in October. The phone has similar specifications to the iphone, but with a keyboard and considerably higher resolution display (800x480). In addition the OS is an open platform with free GPL development tools. More from The Guardian and CNET.
posted by sien (83 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
5 MP camera? High resolution? Micro SD card PLUS 32 GB?! 1GB application memory? And more!

I don't care if you guys call pepsi blue. This phone is frankly, awesome.
posted by Askiba at 6:54 PM on August 27, 2009


surely this next year will be the year of Linux on the desktop phone!
posted by unSane at 7:02 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


unSane: I was trying to work that into the title.

This year will be the year of the Linux pocket?

This is what Android looked like it could have been.
posted by sien at 7:05 PM on August 27, 2009


This is something I might pay money for.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:06 PM on August 27, 2009


OK, but will it have DoodleJump?
posted by brain_drain at 7:07 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the Nokia press release: estimated cost 500 Euros. That's +/- $720.00 US.

I wish I liked phones, even fancy ones. But for 700.00, I'll keep my Zen and cheapo phone.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:09 PM on August 27, 2009


So the hardware's better than the iPhone's? Well, then it's sure to be more successful.
posted by martens at 7:10 PM on August 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


Does it have an app for that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:10 PM on August 27, 2009


Excellent! I'm on my n800 right now and would lova a phone with this kind of power and flexibility.
posted by notashroom at 7:12 PM on August 27, 2009


Maybe it won't DoodleJump yet but it already has a GBA emulator, Xmame, Scumm and others.
posted by sien at 7:12 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Will it run android?
posted by boo_radley at 7:12 PM on August 27, 2009


What Boo_radley said. I seriously wished that someone could figure out how to "dual boot" Android and iPhone OS on the iPhone. Although I don't know what kind of chops would be required to figure it out, I do know what it would look in my dreams. Simple, when you turn on the iPhone select either the Apple Logo or the green Android logo. Regular boot. Bliss.
posted by Askiba at 7:14 PM on August 27, 2009


This looks cool, but its not specs that made the iphone what it is.

I am a disgusted by Apple's decision to stifle innovation world wide to satisfy AT&T. Adherence to policies like that are what brought about a market demand for a phone like the n900.

That said, the iphone is not that incredible as far as specs go. The iphone is amazing because of thoughtful design decisions. Things like no drop down menus, minimum sizes for touch targets, enforcing ui methodologies, and distilling features for some applications down to the essential. All of which are specific design rules that apple enforces on developers with the intention of making the phone easy and painless to use.

You can have the best hardware in the world, but if its not easy to use, its wasted.
posted by Merik at 7:16 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really like my N800. I think I'm going to really like an N900 even more.
posted by notyou at 7:22 PM on August 27, 2009


As the owner of a Nokia 770 -- which the N900 is a direct descendant of -- I have to say that I'm not very excited. Sure, a phone with a hi-res display and the power of a full browser and Linux desktop sounds great in theory, but the Maemo interface (I'm running Maemo OS2008 Hacker Edition) has always been on the awkward side of things.

Palm has shown that a Linux-powered phone can have the power and panache of the iPhone; Web OS on the Pre is top notch. Google's getting closer with Android. But if Nokia's history with Maemo is any indication, it just 't be up to Web OS or Android standards They've released a lot of phones with brilliant specifications in the past just that aren't the kind of pleasure to use that other, lower-horsepower phones with better interfaces were.
posted by eschatfische at 7:27 PM on August 27, 2009


Sweet! I have an N810 and I like it a lot! Did you know you can install KDE on the N8X0 series and thus have printer support? Also, with a male-to-male USB adapter (hawt) and the USBcontrol application I can mount USB drives. The best part about maemo is that it doesn't have the completely stupid "touch screen physics" that makes me hate hate hate the iphone's OS.

I'm getting due for a new phone, and I was just fantasizing about having an N810 that was also a phone. This is a dream come true.
posted by fuq at 7:28 PM on August 27, 2009


Merik: Adherence to policies like that are what brought about a market demand for a phone like the n900.

Aside from the Linux kids and a few other assorted hardcore geeks, who exactly is making up this market share?

This is a serious question.

What makes smartphones successful is not hardware, it's the apps. After Apple, Google, and Palm, the possible audience for an app developer shrinks mightily.
posted by mkultra at 7:33 PM on August 27, 2009


The n810 was going for $125.00 a few weeks ago. It's not a phone but it runs skype, gizmo, and has a slow but functional web browser. As long as you're someplace with wifi you'll have a programmable unix based tablet without the monthly charges.
posted by rdr at 7:49 PM on August 27, 2009


You can have the best hardware in the world, but if its not easy to use, its wasted.

yeah, cause, y'know, god forbid ordinary people take the time to learn the full potential of their toys and tools.
posted by mannequito at 7:49 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want one so hard. Also, the iPhone 3GS costs $600 unsubsidized, so this is not that much more. It's likely that it'll be offered with a substantial subsidy by T-Mobile USA. Also, I'll bet a hundred bucks that someone gets Android running on this within a month of its release. Personally, I'd prefer Maemo, though. Screw this running everything in a JVM nonsense. Native apps will always be faster.
posted by signalnine at 7:51 PM on August 27, 2009


Many of the posters here are in the US, it's worth realising that globally Nokia has the greatest share of the smartphone market. Nokia phones in general and smart phones in particular are not nearly as popular in the US as they are in other countries.


It's not a question of being after Apple, Android and Palm, it's a question of all of them being after Nokia.

There are already plenty of developers for maemo and you can port Linux apps to the platform.

If you can offer business people a phone where you can really edit documents and work on spreadsheets you'll offer something that the iphone doesn't have. A phone with a 800x480 screen with a keyboard does that.
posted by sien at 7:56 PM on August 27, 2009


This isn't a phone. This is a pocket computer. There are no telephone features, apart from built-in GSM data transfer. You cannot make or receive calls with it... it's an iPod Touch, not an iPhone.

You cannot use this as a telephone! Until you install Skype and Google Voice on it, and then, at long last, the game changes...
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:58 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do want.

Slap*Happy:

"# Call waiting, call hold, call divert
# Call timer
# Logging of dialed, received and missed calls
# Speed dialing via contact widget"

You could actually try and, you know, read the links before posting crap.
posted by rodgerd at 8:04 PM on August 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


yeah, cause, y'know, god forbid ordinary people take the time to learn the full potential of their toys and tools.

Most people don't need that full potential.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:19 PM on August 27, 2009


The N900 is definitely a phone. The previous Maemo devices were not, but the N900 is.

Promo vid.

Interaction demo.
posted by kmz at 8:19 PM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


yeah, cause, y'know, god forbid ordinary people take the time to learn the full potential of their toys and tools.

God probably doesn't forbid. It's just impractical.
posted by device55 at 8:27 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interface demo is a freakin' disaster.
posted by unSane at 8:30 PM on August 27, 2009


completely stupid "touch screen physics" that makes me hate hate hate the iphone's OS

Those "stupid touch screen physics" are to make navigating the OS more intuitive. Like if you try to flick past the edge of a list it lets you pull a little bit more and then rebound like you've started to stretch it and it's anchored to the bottom.
posted by Talez at 8:38 PM on August 27, 2009


5 MP camera? High resolution? Micro SD card PLUS 32 GB?! 1GB application memory? And more!

It's not really the megapixels, it's the lens assembly and dynamic range that really make cell phone cameras suck. Cramming more pixels into a tiny chip with a 2mm lens is not going to get you good pictures.

What Boo_radley said. I seriously wished that someone could figure out how to "dual boot" Android and iPhone OS on the iPhone. Although I don't know what kind of chops would be required to figure it out, I do know what it would look in my dreams. Simple, when you turn on the iPhone select either the Apple Logo or the green Android logo. Regular boot. Bliss.

Why not run both at the same time using virtualization? You would just need a way to pick which VM had access to the cellular network to take calls.

Anyway, the fact that we can buy phones with Open Source OSes on them is pretty awesome. If Nokia makes a "developer" version of this phone, like the developer G1 you will probably be able to hack it to put Android or any other open source OS onto it.
posted by delmoi at 8:38 PM on August 27, 2009


Why not run both at the same time using virtualization?

I'm imagining Parallels Desktop for iPhone and it's awesome.
posted by device55 at 8:47 PM on August 27, 2009


Slap*Happy: "You cannot use this as a telephone!"

The first link seems to completely counter your assertion.


delmoi: "Why not run both at the same time using virtualization?"
This is an intriguing idea, but I'm not sure the relatively low ram of the thing (256MB) would make that an easy thing to do. I'm not a phone nerd, though, so I might totally be wrong.
posted by boo_radley at 8:51 PM on August 27, 2009


Sweet! Can't wait to see how crippled the US version will be, because god knows we Americans can't be trusted with an uncrippled phone! Like, I might install Opera on it or something!

(I've been saying for a while that I like the iPhone, but eventually Nokia will get touchscreen right. Not certain this is it, but here's hoping.)
posted by caution live frogs at 8:54 PM on August 27, 2009


Interface demo is a freakin' disaster.

That clockwise zoom gesture seems particularly wonky - the device doesn't recognize the gesture at first and the window just gets dragged around in circles.

They sure mentioned flash player 9 point blah-de-blah a lot. I wonder how they plan to tackle fiddly flash interfaces with big fat fingers.
posted by device55 at 8:58 PM on August 27, 2009


One problem the n810 has with its Web browser is that since the screen is relatively high resolution, clicking anything without pulling out the stylus is difficult. Of course, it works well if you use sites designed for the iPhone.
posted by nbergus at 9:10 PM on August 27, 2009


Holy crap! I was completely wrong! That's awesome!
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:23 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


They've overhauled the keyboard compared to the n810, which may be a good thing. 3 rows of keys instead of 4. Got rid of the directional pad (good), replaced it with arrow keys (good?). But the lack of a Fn key on the right side of the keyboard probably means entering digits is still going to be a pain. (Could remap one of the arrow keys I guess...)

I use my n810 almost daily but the keyboard is garbage. The keys are cramped, and too smooth to differentiate. Entering anything but small bits of regular text is excruciating.

(And do we really need quick access to the $, ¥, €, and £ all on the keyboard at once? Why not have just one, along with a "system setting" for currency, and all the others available from a drop down or Fn-key combo if necessary.)
posted by lmm at 9:41 PM on August 27, 2009


I like my n770 and still use it occasionally, but the interface is mostly slow and annoying. I wish it had a slimmer standalone ebook reader firmware (which is all I use it for these days anyway). The time it takes to boot and connect to a wifi access point makes using it pretty pointless.

I look forward to picking one of these up for cheap in three years or so.
posted by ODiV at 9:47 PM on August 27, 2009


CMOS sensor, Carl Zeiss optics, Tessar lens

Let me know when they start including CCD sensors on their phones. I have an 8 MB CCD in mine and it simply blows the CMOS types away.

I'd also love to see more clamshell phones from Nokia -- that might help them sell more in Japan... (Yes, I'm aware of the design limitations involved with having a touchscreen in a clamshell form factor -- but they do exist.)
posted by armage at 9:50 PM on August 27, 2009


Like, I might install Opera on it or something

I run Opera on my Blackberry.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:00 PM on August 27, 2009


This kind of thing makes me wish that Psion were still around...
posted by djgh at 10:02 PM on August 27, 2009


I have a n810 and there is probably no better read the web in bed device out there right now (though the browser needs to be updated to make reading multiple pages a little easier.
The screen has just the right resolution for not having to mess around with pinching and squeezing.

That said, I went out and got an iPhone and am not lightly to return. The apps are where it is at.

but if AT&T doesn't get its act together soon I am going to start telling even more people in San Francisco not to get an iPhone. If you live in SF the iPhone sucks as a a phone, and the power of the network is waste. My wife has a Centro on verizon and it always gets a voice signal and 3g data connection, the iPhone just sits there trying trying 80% of the time its not on wifi. The PUC already has a letter on file from me.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:10 PM on August 27, 2009


It'll be interesting to see if other companies bring out maemo phones. Symbian is used by a Ericsson, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Sony Ericsson and Sharp.

With a wealth of applications already available and an open setup it could be popular.
posted by sien at 10:18 PM on August 27, 2009


armage: CMOS sensors can produce some very high quality images - most high-end DSLRs use CMOS sensors.

Hackability-wise, does the "Developer G1" do anything every Pre doesn't do? I mean, apart from disabling the app store...
posted by aubilenon at 10:20 PM on August 27, 2009


CMOS sensors can produce some very high quality images - most high-end DSLRs use CMOS sensors.

Very true -- plus, CMOS sensors have much better power consumption and are cheaper to boot. But for sensors of the same size, CCDs have less noise (better light sensitivity), faster response time, and video performance tends to be better. Obviously, I expect the differences to disappear over the next several years as technology improves, but for now, CCD has the best quality in mobile phone applications.
posted by armage at 11:08 PM on August 27, 2009


The iphone OS is pretty sweet, but I think it would be awesome for everyone if an open source OS wins the smartphone war, so you have to root against apple.
posted by afu at 11:14 PM on August 27, 2009


"Hackability-wise, does the "Developer G1" do anything every Pre doesn't do? I mean, apart from disabling the app store..."

A) This isn't true, only copy-protected apps are removed.
B) If one has a "Developer G1/Dev Phone 1 then one can flash a build that identifies as a normal G1 and has full access.

That said, the prospect of running a higher res screen and potentially better battery life is very tempting.
posted by jaduncan at 11:41 PM on August 27, 2009


Oh, and the rumour is that once Maemo is converted to QT (they purchased Trolltech a while back) it will be standard across their phones. The remarkably poor Symbian/S60 combo is finally going away (not that there's too much wrong with the Symbian kernel to be clear, but what runs on top of it is an appalling collection of hacks).
posted by jaduncan at 11:44 PM on August 27, 2009


What makes smartphones successful is not hardware, it's the apps. After Apple, Google, and Palm, the possible audience for an app developer shrinks mightily.

I really don't understand this fascination with app stores; is the main audience for smart phones app developers? My mom declared the other day that the next phone she gets will be "something with apps". So I asked which apps she wanted, no clue. But it'll run apps! I didn't feel like pointing out Java ME or Brew was already on her phone.

Maemo is a fairly standard Linux env that you can already write programs for. It'll just be a bitch convincing people to pay for them when it's simple enough to port existing Linux apps.

I've been holding off on a smartphone purchase myself, waiting to see how Android, openMoko, Garmin etc. play out. The earlier n800/n810 models were enticing, but the lack of a phone feature was sort of a bummer. It's certainly tempting, and I might just pick up a discounted n810 model to stuff in the car as a nav unit. On the plus side, I've saved myself a few heaps of money by accidentally washing 20 dollar phones instead of 500 dollar ones.
posted by pwnguin at 12:01 AM on August 28, 2009


"it's worth realising that globally Nokia has the greatest share of the smartphone market. "
The interesting thing that the iPhone has demonstrated though is that most existing smartphones aren't really used as smartphones. That's why the iPhone quickly dominated stats for mobile web browsing etc.

I'm a classic example of this. My previous phone was a Nokia N80 with seemingly good specs - 3G, email, web browsing, decent camera, video, etc. But the interface was slow and awkward, so I'd consider checking my email but then not bother, only look something up on the web as a last resort, and only installed one or two underwhelming apps.

The iPhone's key strength is that although its specifications aren't remarkable nowadays, people actually use its features all the time. Maybe Nokia has learned from this clear lesson and has a completely new approach to usability, but I'm not convinced so far.
posted by malevolent at 12:16 AM on August 28, 2009


I really don't understand this fascination with app stores

Because people have become convinced that there is a single source of software for your device, and that's the device vendor.

It's a rather odd idea to me, but there seem to be a lot of people who are so taken in by the marketing that they're prepared to argue that being able to install software of their own choosing on their own system without begging permission is a good thing, not a bad thing.
posted by rodgerd at 12:17 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


From Maemo SDK documentation:

"Currently C is the only official programming language for Maemo. But thanks to the community, Python scripting language also has a good support in the form of pymaemo."

App development with Python will be so sweet.
posted by Free word order! at 12:17 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


... and a big Amen to @bottlebrushtree, AT&T in SF sucks goats. For awhile I tried tethering during the trip on Caltrain down the Peninsula, but it was less reliable than a Ford Pinto. Then one day I had NO 3G DATA SERVICE the entire way from SF to RWC -- it showed five bars, but I got shit -- and decided 'nuff's'enuff.

(Anyone ever notice the mysterious wacky teledata Twilight Zone around Harrison and 4th? It's been there for well over a year, used to have problems there with my Treo 650, too. I could never get through to the city's 311 line (to check MUNI times) from that location, and only from that location. Now I regularly expect to not read my email when I'm around there. The irony is, AT&T has infrastructure ALL OVER that area.)

My new habit: if I'm going to make a phone call, I switch from 3G to Edge, because the likelihood of my call being dropped goes down by 100%.

I am now a satisfied owner of a Verizon MeFi2200 Mobile Hotspot, providing PERFECT connectivity the whole frikkin' way on the train. Consistently good speeds, and my VPN never gets dropped.

That's right, AT&T, me and an entire frikkin city of technophiles with gobs of disposable income have been wiping your ass with stacks and stacks of revenue, but you couldn't get your shit together, so I'm giving $60 / month to your competitor.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 12:17 AM on August 28, 2009


My mom declared the other day that the next phone she gets will be "something with apps". So I asked which apps she wanted, no clue. But it'll run apps!

I didn't know I'd want a sound meter app on my Android phone until I got new surround speakers for my entertainment center. That really is one of the advantages of a phone like this. You don't really know what apps you need until you need them.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:19 AM on August 28, 2009


Because people have become convinced that there is a single source of software for your device, and that's the device vendor.

Android allows you to load apps from "unauthorized" locations.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:21 AM on August 28, 2009


On a related note, tomorrow's Dilbert on the subject of worthless phone apps.
posted by pwnguin at 12:37 AM on August 28, 2009


The nice thing about app stores, (and on android most of the apps are free anyway) is that it puts everything in one convenient place, and you can find just about anything. Hunting for stuff via a browser on the phone would be tedious.

On the G1, you can download and install applications from your PC if you want too. The dev kit is free (it's an eclipse plug-in, actually) so writing applications and running them on the phone is something most people can get setup in 30 minutes. There are also command line tools to load applications onto the phone.

So, if your app didn't get onto the store, you should theoretically be able to distribute it yourself to people who feel like messing around with command line tools.
posted by delmoi at 1:15 AM on August 28, 2009


Am I missing it, or does this thing not have wifi?

I loved my N800, and it's great for skyping. But an iPod touch (let alone iPhone) kicks its ass 9 ways to Sunday.

I wouldn't buy a smartphone without wifi now.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:15 AM on August 28, 2009


fourcheesemac: It has wifi:

from the specs page:

GPRS class A, multislot class 32, maximum speed 107/64.2 kbps (DL/UL) EDGE class A, multislot class 32, maximum speed 296/177.6 kbps (DL/UL) WCDMA 900/1700/2100. Maximum speed PS 384/384 kbps (DL/UL) HSPA 900/1700/2100. Maximum speed PS 10/2 Mbps (DL/UL) WLAN IEEE 802.11b/g


They have just called it by the formal name of 802.11b/g
posted by sien at 2:24 AM on August 28, 2009


I really don't understand this fascination with app stores;

It's a simple metaphor that people are familiar with. Most other shopping is done at a store of some type, so why not apps?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:27 AM on August 28, 2009


That looks pretty great. One of the replacement G1 firmwares just shipped, of all things, Angband. Only graybeards would find that cool, so I guess I'm now officially in that camp. I assume nethack can't be far behind, and I find it very amusing to think of that supremely complex game in that itty bitty form factor. Take that, tiny Yendor!

I'm just not interested in Apple's walled garden. I'm willing to take a bit less polish so that I can do whatever the hell I want with my phone. It belongs to me: I refuse to be a renter.

When phones were just, well, phones, it was okay for them to be locked down -- a single function device, big deal. It's kind of like video consoles; I just stick the disc in and play a game. They're not really general-purpose devices, and I have better ones anyway.

But when it's a full function computer that fits in the palm of my hand, one that can do just about anything, I will be damned if I'll let the vendor decide what I can and can't do with the hardware I bought. I'm not stealing anything, I'm just using it how I want to use it, and installing the programs on it that I want.

There is no real reason to lock the iPhone down; that's for Apple's benefit, not for mine. So I refuse to play that game. I would be more willing to stay in their walled garden if they didn't try to cheat and hold me in with handcuffs. If it were voluntary, I might be happy to subsidize their ecosystem. But it's not; they want to use their position as my forced sole provider of iPhone programs to extract toll. If they want to EARN their toll, with some kind of approval and vetting process, that would be fine, allowing others to compete with them.

But they don't; they want to lock their phone down and extract their toll by force. Fuck that. I don't care how successful or not they happen to be, I'm just not going to play that game.
posted by Malor at 4:00 AM on August 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


On failure to preview: Sien: the 802.11b is a separate thing. They're telling you several things there. It's compatible with GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA, and HDSPA(2g, 2g, 2.5g I think, and 3g), and the speeds and frequencies for those. But it's only tri-band on HSDPA, which I think means that it won't work on either T-Mobile or AT&T. They'd be very stupid to support only AT&T, so I imagine it'll be T-Mobile and perhaps Sprint only. From what I remember, phones have to be quad-band to work with any carrier.

So they're telling you a whole bunch of stuff there. The 802.11 part is just the last three words, "WLAN IEEE 802.11b/g".
posted by Malor at 4:07 AM on August 28, 2009


I also love my n810 but I've been very disappointed in the lack of maemo development. Plus, Nokia walked away from maemo development for their older devices. The older maemo, OS2008, has forked into a project called Mer, but it's disappointing to see a company abandon its users (and its OS). The n900 looks great, but I don't want my OS to be dropped as soon as Nokia starts developing the n1000.
posted by puckupdate at 4:47 AM on August 28, 2009


But when it's a full function computer that fits in the palm of my hand, one that can do just about anything, I will be damned if I'll let the vendor decide what I can and can't do with the hardware I bought.

THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE IN THE APP STORE!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:48 AM on August 28, 2009


Well, it kinda isn't. If you want to tether, you're not doing it in the App Store.
posted by Malor at 6:09 AM on August 28, 2009


Here's a comparison of the specfications of the N900 vs. the iPhone 3GS.

but if AT&T doesn't get its act together soon I am going to start telling even more people in San Francisco not to get an iPhone ... the iPhone sucks as a a phone ... My wife has a Centro on verizon and it always gets a voice signal and 3g data connection, the iPhone just sits there trying

I've had the same lousy experience with AT&T in Washington, DC and environs. After repeated dropped calls from AT&T's network and truly the worst customer service experience from them I've had from any company, I went with a Palm Centro on Verizon. It does everything I need better than the iPhone, including the contacts and calendar handling, and it also does most of the stuff I'd like. For the rest, I picked up an refurb new model iPod Touch and jailbroke it. Now I'd be really pleased if someone would write software to let me tether it to the Centro using bluetooth to be able to use the Verizon data network for times when there's no WiFi.
posted by exogenous at 6:19 AM on August 28, 2009


Would the omission of a digital compass prevent the use of all augmented reality software?
posted by Akeem at 6:42 AM on August 28, 2009


I'd rather have repositories rather than an app store.
posted by fuq at 7:00 AM on August 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Color me dismayed that this looks like it shant be available on AT&T. As someone who would prefer to stick with them due to coverage in my area (and a familyplan I don't want to switch 5 people off of) does anyone have any "Good news everyone!" as to some potential iPhone alternatives coming down the AT&T pipeline? I haven't quite fallen in love with the iPhone anytime I use it and would prefer something opensourcier anyhow.
posted by haveanicesummer at 7:10 AM on August 28, 2009


It's compatible with GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA, and HDSPA(2g, 2g, 2.5g I think, and 3g), and the speeds and frequencies for those. But it's only tri-band on HSDPA, which I think means that it won't work on either T-Mobile or AT&T. They'd be very stupid to support only AT&T, so I imagine it'll be T-Mobile and perhaps Sprint only. From what I remember, phones have to be quad-band to work with any carrier.

The phone will make calls and get EDGE (2G) data on any GSM network. In the US, that means AT&T and T-Mobile. The 3G data radio (WCDMA/HSPA) only has frequencies for T-Mobile 3G. So you can use the phone on either T-Mobile or AT&T, assuming you get an unlocked version, but you'll only be able to get 3G data if you're on T-Mobile.

No GSM phone is going to work at all on Sprint, which like Verizon, uses CDMA.
posted by kmz at 7:26 AM on August 28, 2009


Isn't WCDMA the enhanced version of Sprint's CDMA? I'm really not too up on phone lingo.

Would the omission of a digital compass prevent the use of all augmented reality software?

Uh, well, it'll make it harder. They can presume which direction you're facing only when you're moving. If you're standing still, they'll have no idea what you're looking at.
posted by Malor at 8:00 AM on August 28, 2009


Palm has shown that a Linux-powered phone can have the power and panache of the iPhone; Web OS on the Pre is top notch. Google's getting closer with Android.

I couldn't disagree more. WebOS looks pretty, and the integration with 3rd-party web services is phenomenal, but I found the UI pretty intolerable. It lags horribly, it regularly requires tapping on pretty small targets, and it offers precious little in the way of customization--you can't even change the sound it plays when you receive a message! I had a Pre for several days before I gave up and got a G1, and the difference is night and day. The basic usability is much better, and it's very easy to customize it to suit my tastes and habits.

On the G1 [...] if your app didn't get onto the store, you should theoretically be able to distribute it yourself to people who feel like messing around with command line tools.

Theoretically? Command line tools? Anyone can install unapproved Android apps directly from the web browser.
posted by shponglespore at 8:38 AM on August 28, 2009


Wow, lots of hate for the "walled garden" and AT&T- but my jailbroken 2G iPhone running on T-Mobile is free from both. $68/month (inc. all taxes) for unlimited minutes, 2G data, and 500 texts - all with the iPhone deliciousness.

I'd rather have repositories rather than an app store.

That's what Cydia is! And jailbreaking takes 10 minutes.
posted by exhilaration at 8:57 AM on August 28, 2009


I really don't understand this fascination with app stores

Same reason package management and repositories are so popular in linux-based distros. I would love to have a setup like that for Windows. I'd even like the option of being able to buy apps through them, like Steam does with games. Microsoft would make a killing if they implemented something like that for Windows, and channelled updates for any windows app through Windows Update. Plus the world would be far more secure from all the various security hacks/virus/yadda yaddas.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:00 AM on August 28, 2009


And jailbreaking takes 10 minutes.

Note that Apple has stepped up the rhetoric to claiming to the Library of Congress that jailbreaking is illegal, not just unauthorized. You might get away with it personally, but anyone making it easy is running a legal risk. How much of one, I don't know, but they're hanging out there pretty good.... should Apple decide that Cydia is a real competitor, I don't think it will last very long.
posted by Malor at 9:13 AM on August 28, 2009


iPhones don't respond to my touch and don't have a keyboard. That makes them useless to me, no matter how pretty they might be in someone else's hands.

My N800 on the other hand responds to my touch every time, has apps that are useful to me either pre-installed or free for download, allows me to plug in an external keyboard or flash drive, allows me to control my work computer remotely (with rdesktop), supports multimedia well, does virtually everything I want except function as a mobile phone and fit in the phone pocket of my purse (which the iPhone can't do either). If I hadn't just bought a new Nokia smartphone this summer, I'd seriously be considering an N900.
posted by notashroom at 9:26 AM on August 28, 2009


Isn't WCDMA the enhanced version of Sprint's CDMA? I'm really not too up on phone lingo.
The lingo is super-confusing but WCDMA is the 2.5G/3G data standard for GSM networks.
posted by kmz at 9:52 AM on August 28, 2009


Apple has stepped up the rhetoric to claiming to the Library of Congress that jailbreaking is illegal

Meh, downloading movies is illegal, but it's still a piece of cake to do. Regardless of its legal status, Apple can't stop jailbreaking through the law.

should Apple decide that Cydia is a real competitor, I don't think it will last very long

Why? Cydia doesn't provide any jailbreaking tools, they host user-written apps.
posted by exhilaration at 11:22 AM on August 28, 2009


I reckon Apple could make it harder for jailbroken devices to work with iTunes. Honestly I'm a little surprised they haven't done that already.
posted by exogenous at 12:51 PM on August 28, 2009


I knew there was a reason I never bought an n95, iPhone, or Android. :) Maemo already offers many apps unavailable on Android or the iPhone, like PDF LaTeX, Python, and Perl.

It's worth reminding people that Nokia was the undisputed interface king for power users among the pre-iPhone venders, i.e. Motorola, Palm, etc. I'm sure the n900's keyboard will offend the religious followers of Steve Jobs' but power users never liked the 1 button mouse either.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:32 PM on August 28, 2009


I really don't understand this fascination with app stores; is the main audience for smart phones app developers? My mom declared the other day that the next phone she gets will be "something with apps".

It's convergence. It's a multi-purpose portable electronic with capabilities you might not even know you'd like yet. "Something with apps" means you're not probably going to have to buy another device the next time you want a new feature.

And yes, App Stores are in theory not the only way to do this, but the fact is that so far it's the only distribution model for mobile phones which has proven widely effective.

Personally, I don't like all of this "app for that" stuf either, because it reminds me of the period of time for desktop computing right before the internet when everyone built their own client/software for everything, and I think the web has turned out to be a lot better for most applications (media composition and some processor intensive stuff aside). But on the other hand, it's a huge boost to mobile computing, so it's not such a bad thing.
posted by weston at 2:39 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Meh, downloading movies is illegal, but it's still a piece of cake to do. Regardless of its legal status, Apple can't stop jailbreaking through the law.

No, but they can make it difficult and keep it underground, preventing it from being a real competitor.

The whole concept of NEEDING to jailbreak your own computer is ludicrous.
posted by Malor at 9:01 PM on August 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think one can easily settle the jailbreaking debate with two observations (a) if you need your machine for work, it better function reliably and flexibly, i.e. no restrictions, but (b) restrictions are not show stoppers for a machine that preforms only disposable tasks. In other words, an iPhone is fine if you want a video game console.

I suppose the vast majority of people will surely use jailbreaking for video game piracy. But you can easily imagine needing sshd, SIP, or even Skype on your iPhone for work, but all require jailbraking. What if AT&T or Apple somehow temporarily unjailbreaks your iPhone? It's suddenly not quite so cool that your iPhone has more games than Android, n900, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:14 AM on August 29, 2009


Solid hands on review from the Reg with some speculation.
posted by sien at 4:51 PM on September 2, 2009


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