|The Nokia N800
The N800 was my first Nokia device, I bought it second-hand on craigslist so I had something I could take to coffee shops or the library and use free wifi to check my emails and catch up on news. We're talking 2008, I had a laptop but it wasn't fun to take out with me. It was a great device, very handy. I'd had a PDA before, but the N800 was something different, with an open platform and a bunch of free user-created apps. The touch-keyboard wasn't responsive enough to write long emails or anything, but it opened my eyes to how productive small devices could in the future---we were almost there.
It had two full SD card slots! I wish I could find a mobile device with two micro-sd slots today.
|The Nokia N900
The N900, well, let's face it, it wasn't much to look at. But it was packed with interesting features. Reflective-pixeled screen so it was usable in direct sunlight, slide out keyboard, USB host mode (might have needed a third party patch?), IR blaster, FM transmitter. A little slider button which was great for unlocking the device, no pocket dialing on this thing.
Oh, and it ran what to this day is still the best mobile OS I've ever used, Maemo 5. The multitasking is still far superior to what Android has today, not that Android's anything to sneeze at. It had the same type of open philosophy to software and the same marketplace to download and install free user apps.
I loved this phone. Seriously. I still have it.
Anyway, the N900 didn't sell well. It wasn't even officially supported by any carriers in the US, though it was compatible with T-Mobile's bands (that's who I used it with). There was no advertising, nobody really knew about it. I never saw a N900 in the wild besides my own. Not even in any stores. I don't know what Nokia were thinking, maybe they had good reasons, who knows?
BTW, Maemo 5 was based on Debian Linux, and it was pretty easy to install desktop Linux apps onto the N900. Just another big pro, especially for nerds.
Nokia started cranking out some beautiful looking phones, but none that pushed all my buttons. I still love the tapered design of the N8, but I wasn't interested in Symbian3, the operating system on it. I think the N8 was used by son-of-Flynn in the newer Tron movie. Maemo 5 became MeeGo, which I think got released on the N9, but I don't remember that device being too impressive otherwise.
I had my eye on the N950, pictured below. This is one of the issues of following tech sites that hunt out leaked pictures and specs. The N950 was just a developers device and was never properly released to the public as far as I know.
|The Nokia N950, only released as a developer device.
Anyway, Nokia brought on an ex-Microsoft executive as CEO, and as every Nokia fan in the world feared, it was a trojan horse maneuver to negotiate the sale of Nokia to Microsoft. I don't think I can fault Microsoft, Nokia must have wanted it to happen. Their handset sales were declining.
Then Windows phones came out with the Nokia logo, and then Microsoft sold the Nokia name to some Chinese company. And press releases say there are ex-Nokia executives working for the new Nokia. I can't find out who they are or what their history with Nokia was.
Anyway, they've released a few standard Android smartphones, "standard" meaning there's no crazy features (FM transmitter) or anything. They're getting good reviews, there's one Youtube video scratching the shit out of the Nokia 6 with a razor blade and talking about how good the build quality is:
He has another video where he takes the Nokia 6 apart and says it's on track to be one of the most durable phones (perhaps the most durable) of 2016. Whoever's running the company, I'm glad they're not dragging the name Nokia through the dirt.
The new execs have said they're going to stick with stock Android and not worry about new software. That's probably a good idea, Nokia tried to get traction with their music and map apps, and it didn't seem to work. I mean, I wish Maemo 5 would make a comeback, but Android's okay.
The Nokia 6 is around $230, the US version can be pre-ordered on Amazon. There's going to be a Nokia 9 announced, a flagship phone (probably $700) that I'm looking forward to.
I'm worried that the Android smartphone market is too flooded for them to make traction by just releasing solid, affordable phones. I hope I'm wrong. I plan to buy the 6 as a backup phone/music player when the US version comes out. It would be nice to see them come out with a slider phone or something more techy like the N900 was, but I'm happy with the phones they just released. I mean, they tried the N900 once already, right?