Archive for August, 2009

Best of Smartphone Experts, 30 August 2009

Nokia announces N900 Maemo 5 device, most exciting Nokia product of 2009

n9001The Nokia N97 was the device I looked forward to most after the announcement last year at Nokia World, but unfortunately it has an anemic amount of RAM that continues to hamper a power user like myself. I think the N97 is a solid piece of hardware that a large majority of people will be happy with, but smartphone enthusiasts can’t deal with it at the selling price. Nokia announced the N900 and I have to say I have not been this excited about a Nokia product for quite some time and with the T-Mobile USA 3G support I will definitely be picking one up as soon as I can. The N900 fixes all that is wrong with the N97 and then throws on a slick Maemo UI and feature set that should have most any geek drooling.

The list of specs is quite impressive and includes:

  • ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz processor with 256MB of RAM (and 768MB of virtual memory)
  • Maemo 5 user interface
  • Up to 1GB of application memory
  • OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics acceleration
  • 32GB of integrated storage
  • Expandable up to 48GB via a microSD card
  • WiFi (b/g) (includes UPnP support)
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • HSDPA connectivity (triband WCDMA 900/1700/2100 and quadband GSM)
  • 5 megapixel digital camera with Carl Zeiss optics
  • 3.5 inch WVGA (800 x 480) touch screen
  • FM transmitter
  • Integrated A-GPS
  • 3.5 mm AV jack (audio and TV-out)
  • Nokia BL-5J battery with 1320 mAh capacity

Even more than the specs though you have to browse through the Nokia Maemo site and check out all of the features related to the panorama desktop, Maemo browser, phone, conversations (looks like Nokia FINALLY got it right here), media player, Ovi Maps, and so much more. I sure hope it supports Amazon Video On Demand movies as they would look fantastic on this device.


I can’t express how excited I am about this device and am even more disappointed that I wasn’t able to attend Nokia World in Germany next week to get some hands-on time with it. I will be linking to those mobile writers who are at the event next week to help you gather information and see what is going on.

With the Nokia Money, Booklet 3G, and now Nokia N900 announcements I have to wonder if there is anything else left to be announced next week and imagine we may see a service or two and maybe a more traditional smartphone.

Nokia stated availability in October in select markets and with the T-Mobile USA 3G support (that is the 1700 MHz frequency) I have to hold out hope we get it here early on.

Anyone interested in a fairly cheap Nokia N97?

Nokia Money may be one of the most compelling Nokia services ever

A major focus of Nokia these past couple of years has been about expanding services and I have to say that today’s announcement of Nokia Money may actually be one of the biggest and far reaching yet. While most of us in the US have bank accounts (required for most jobs) Nokia reports there are 4 billion mobile phone users and 1.6 billion bank accounts worldwide. While one can’t say that all of these mobile phone users want a bank account, it is probably safe to say there are millions of people who would like access to or need basic financial services.

Nokia Money will start rolling out in early 2010 and will allow people to send money to another person just by using that person’s mobile phone number. The Nokia Money user will also be able to pay merchants, pay utility bills, recharge their SIM card, pay for movies and services, and more. Unlike a bank, the service is available 24 hours a day. There will also be physical Nokia Money agents where users can deposit money or withdraw cash if necessary. Is this a service that will further the cashless society?

As stated by Teppo Paavola, VP and Head of Corporate Businesss Development,

Rural consumers will particularly benefit from money transfers and, for urban consumers used to online services, we are enabling services such as payment of utility bills, purchase of train and movie tickets, top-ups, all through their mobile phones. Nokia Money is simple to use, secure and available across different operator networks and on virtually any mobile phone. This means millions of new consumers will soon be able to manage all their financial needs from their mobile phone.

You don’t need to be using a Nokia phone to use Nokia Money either so it should reach across all carriers and devices. Nokia Money will be shown at Nokia World next week.

23 issues with the Ovi Store, main one keeps me away

What's wrong with the Ovi Store? Just about everything actuallyReaders here know my feelings about the Ovi Store and why I currently avoid making any purchases there at all. As Ewan pointed out in his number 1 item of 23 things Nokia needs to fix in the Ovi Store, buyers should be able to redownload purchases to the same device as many times as they need to. I know I am not the only one that performs resets to clean up a device and start over or to fix some rare error with the device and not being able to ever again download an application is an extremely poor practice.

The great promise of the Ovi Store that could have had it stomping on the iPhone App Store was relevant user recommendations and I have yet to see this work at all. There are just so many disappointments in the Ovi Store as clearly described by the folks at All About Symbian and I have to wonder who is actually using the store. I have found a couple of free apps and themes to use, but unlike the Android Market or App Store I don’t actually go to the Ovi Store to find new cool apps and browse around.

It would be interesting to see someone post a list of what is right about the Ovi Store and I fear it would be MUCH shorter than what is wrong with it.

Nokia entering the PC market with the Booklet 3G

nokia_booklet_3g_group03_lowresI am looking forward to hearing more news about a possible upcoming Maemo Internet Tablet with T-Mobile 3G and was a bit caught off guard with the news this morning that Nokia would be rolling out at Windows PC netbook called the Nokia Booklet 3G. While I am sure it will be a high quality product with a couple of unique features, the netbook market is flooded with low cost choices and I highly doubt this device will be priced to compete with a sub-$300 netbook. We will find out market availability and pricing next week at Nokia World, but I won’t hold my breath that this will come in under $600.

I understand Nokia is trying to use this to promote their Ovi services on a PC platform, but I would much rather see them focusing on stopping the loss of smartphone market share every quarter. Nokia was a leader with a huge market share, but other mobile operating systems with much more user friendly interfaces have been taking away their market and I would rather see something in this area than another netbook computer.

Netbooks were big in 2008 and actually seem to be losing some of their luster here in 2009 with PC makers dropping the price of their full size notebooks as well. The only real attraction of a netbook over a notebook is the price and if Nokia can’t bring it in low like other netbooks I don’t see much of an appeal for this device. Of course, Nokia fans will buy one, just like Apple fans will buy anything Apple makes at any price.

What do you think of the Nokia Booklet 3G?

Hands-on photos and screenshots of the Nokia N900 Maemo 5 device

More details started leaking out about the Nokia Rover/N900 a couple of weeks ago and now Eldar has posted his hands-on first impressions of the Nokia N900 device. This is indeed confirmed as a Maemo 5-powered device and it honestly looks quite slick. It cleared the FCC with T-Mobile 3G support and I would be extremely pleased to see it launch on my preferred carrier. You will find a TON of photos and screenshots in his first impressions so have some fun.

With Nokia World just two weeks away I am starting to suspect that we may just see this device officially announced, especially if the 2009 release of the N900 that Eldar states is actually going to happen. I wish I had the time to attend Nokia World and am bummed to be missing it.

Shazam now free on the Ovi Store

Shazam now free on the Ovi StoreI am terrible at identifying music artists when listening to the radio and I can’t tell you the number of times I had to try to scramble to find a pen and paper to write down an artist so I could find their music later. I started using Shazam on the iPhone and this has helped a lot. As I mentioned back in June when the Ovi Store launched you could find ShazamID on the store, but it was not free. I read over on Symbian Guru that you can now get ShazamID for free in the Ovi Store until 30 November.

In case you are not familiar with the application, ShazamID allows you to hold your phone up to a speaker and then “tag” the music. Your phone “listens” to the song for about 30 seconds and then connects to the internet, a data connection is needed, to figure out the song and artist. On various mobile operating systems results are returned with links to iTunes, Amazon, etc. so you can actually buy the song as well. I have not tried it on my N97 yet to see if there are any of these purchase options on S60 devices. You can usually also then share that result via email or text so you can find the artist and song later too.

Have you tried it yet? Let us know how it works please.

Best of Smartphone Experts, 16 August 2009

Nokia E55 arriving in reviewer’s hands, sleek and powerful

Nokia E55 appears on the FCC siteThe Nokia E55 was showed off way back in February at Mobile World Congress and was one of those devices that I longed for since I am pretty dang fast using these half-QWERTY keyboards. Rafe posted a first look of the E55 that I recommend you check out. I thought the E52 was a great device, but prefer some type of QWERTY keyboard over a phone keypad and now you get a half-QWERTY in just about the same form factor. I have not heard any word yet on whether or not the E55 will be coming to the US, but let’s hope so. We did see it appear on the FCC site so it may be coming.

I LOVE that the E55 uses the BP-4L 1500 mAh battery also found in the E71, E71x, N97, Nokia Surge, and Nokia N810 Internet Tablet and would be very pleased to see this become a standard across even more lines.

I also found it interesting where Rafe stated, “The purchase prices of the E55 and E52 include a lifetime (of the device) subscription to Nokia Messaging.” We always knew that Nokia Messaging would eventually move to a subscription service and it looks like it may be going that way soon. The subscription is specific to geographic regions though so it remains to be seen what it will be in the US.

Tips & tricks: Remove the Boingo access point from your N97

boingomobileFunny, I was reading Mark Guim’s latest blog entry on how to remove the Boingo access point from your Nokia N97 and learned that new N97 owners were given 3 months of free access with the device. I have used Boingo in the past to stay in touch with my family while traveling and could have used it just last month while traveling in Mexico, but I had no clue I had a 3-month account. I’ve been thinking about getting an account since the mobile version is only $7.95 a month, but I am holding out for a true Skype client for the N97 that Nokia promised a while ago. I supposed I could get it to use with the Skype client on my iPhone 3GS 😉

Are any of you readers Boingo customers? Care to share your experiences with the service around the world?

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