Over the last few days, the internet has been abuzz over Nokia’s first (and only?) Meego phone, the N9. However, more appealing to me is their recently uncovered developer phone, the N950, which is very similar in design to the N9 except it has a cool flip-out QWERTY keyboard. The real shame is the fact that the N950 isn’t designed to be sold to the public, instead, it will be released to developers as testing hardware, prior to the release of the N9.
The N950’s keyboard-flipping mechanism is extremely similar to several other phones that use the form factor, such as the HTC G2 and the Sidekick 4G. Mobilenet.cz (via Engadget) has a hands-on video of the N950:
The N950 shares most of the internals with the N9 with a few changes here and there (the most significant being that the N9 uses a nicer AMOLED screen). Here’s what we can expect from the phone:
- MeeGO 1.2 Harmattan OS
- 4 inch capacitive TFT LCD screen @ 854×480
- TI OMAP 3630 (ARM Cortex A8) CPU @ 1GHz
- PowerVR SGX530 GPU
- 1GB of RAM
- Possibly 16GB or 64GB of built-in memory (unconfirmed)
- 8MP rear camera with 720p HD recording
- front-facing cam (unconfirmed MP)
- 4-row QWERTY keyboard
- WiFi b/g/n & Bluetooth 2.1
- Sensors: dual-mic, accelerometer, light sensor, magnetometer (compass), proximity sensor
- Micro-SIM slot (interesting)
- Aluminum body, around 135g
- 1320mAh battery
I’ve been waiting for Nokia’s N series of Internet Tablets to break into the mainstream one of these days, but time and time again I’m disappointed with what I find. I owned an N810 back in the day, which was just one iteration prior to when Nokia would begin to cross it’s N-series MIDs (which they called Internet Tablets) over into the phone realm. First was the N700, then the N800, then the N810. All of these devices ran an open-source Linux-based OS called Maemo. With the release of the N900, which we revived back in January of 2010, Nokia merged their Internet Tablets with phones, and the result was the phone-capable N900 running Maemo 5. Unfortunately, both the N810 and N900 shared the same problem â€“ beautiful hardware, but weak software that wasn’t ready for primetime. Every once and a while thoughts of the N810 and N900 pop into my head and make me happy. They were gorgeous devices. Then they make me sad as I come to the realization that they never took off.
Now along comes the N950 running Meego Harmattan, a merger of Maemo and Intel’s Moblin, and it actually looks pretty good. The only problem is that Nokia decided to drop Meego in favor of Windows Phone 7 several months ago, and the N9/950 is the only device from Nokia that’s ever going to run the Meego OS.
The circumstances surrounding the N950 very similar to what I witnessed with the N810 and N900 except this time Nokia is specifically branding the N950 as a developer phone, something they probably should have done with the prior two devices. What strikes me as extremely odd, and perhaps even stupid, is the fact that Nokia is offering developers a dev device which has a huge difference (they keyboard!) than the phone that they are presumably developing for. The N950 doesn’t require an OSK that takes up much of the screen for text input, while the N9 doesâ€¦. You’d think that Nokia would want to give developers a phone that at least shares the same input method as the device they are developing for. Seems like turbulent times ahead for Nokia as they attempt to market the N9 with an OS that we already know is dead to the company.