The Motorola Droid continues to be the king of Android devices that include a hardware keyboard, and the smartphone which bore the Android flagship crown for some time before the Nexus One. Meanwhile, the Nokia N900 runs Maemo linux 5 - the operating system which - with polish and joint collaboration with intel - will soon emerge as MeeGo and power a host of Moorestown-packing devices. We're doing something a bit irregular by reviewing both phones in one article, but that's again because they're both running on the same Texas Instruments OMAP3 SoC. Let’s dive into both phones and see how they fare.

Motorola Droid - Still Does

As you probably already know, the Motorola Droid marked a turning point for Motorola, for Verizon’s smartphone lineup, and quite possibly a coming of age for Android as the first shipping smartphone with a mature 2.0 release. It wowed the market when it debuted Google Navigation, but puzzled everyone with its initial lack of multitouch support inside all official Google apps - despite packing a full multitouch digitizer.

 

Since launch, the Moto Droid has and will continue to see continual incremental updates. First, the Android 2.1 update added multitouch to the browser, gallery, and google maps, along with a number of other improvements brought alongside the entire platform update. At Google I/O 2010, we’ve now learned that the Moto Droid will see another update to Android 2.2 before year’s end - bringing a promised 2-5x speed boost to Android’s Dalvik virtual machine with a new JIT compiler, full in-browser Flash 10.1 in addition to Adobe Air support, cloud-to-device push APIs, OS-level WiFi tethering, and browser speed increases among other features.

It’s obvious that despite the recent release of the HTC Incredible, the Moto Droid will continue to hold a place in Verizon’s growing lineup of Android smartphones - and likely at a lower price point than HTC’s new flagship. Currently, Verizon is offering a buy one get one free Motorola Droid promption with purchase and a 2-year contract.

 

The Droid’s chief differentiating factor (other than likely continued lower price point) is the hardware keyboard. For so many, having a hardware keyboard is still a fundamentally important feature, though virtual keyboards aren’t as bad as they used to be - and they’re getting better. As an aside, it’s amazing how quickly ‘Big Red’ Verizon turned its lineup around and became host to so much Android hardware.

Nokia N900 - a ‘mobile computer’

There’s no doubt about it - the Nokia N900 is a unique beast. In fact, it’s that uniqueness which makes it a difficult sell for all but the most hardcore smartphone consumers, but also potentially the most powerful. The N900 is a landscape QWERTY slider with a 3.5” resistive LCD, front and back facing cameras, 3G HSPA for T-Mobile bands, and runs the debian derivative Maemo 5 OS.
 

 

I think it’s a fair argument to make that the N900 hasn’t received as much love state-side as it has abroad, or rightfully deserves. That’s probably due in part to only being sold unlocked with no subsidy, by no specific carrier (though it is targeted at T-Mobile for 3G support, and will work with 2.5G EDGE on AT&T), for $499 at retailers like Amazon. But it isn’t just Nokia grappling with that issue - Google recently learned how hard of a sell unsubsidized, bring your own plan schemes are with its Nexus One. In general, it’s hard to sell people on a $500+ smartphone if they can’t try the device beforehand, or get carrier support.

That aside, the N900 is likely the final evolution in a long chain of internet tablets designed by Nokia - starting with the N770 in 2005. Maemo linux has been as open as open source can be since the very beginning; its application manager started as little more than an APT frontend. If you prefer, it can even still be used that way from the XTerm terminal with an apt-get install. It’s a platform that’s been adorned and worshiped as the ultimate linux smartphone platform by hardcore *nix nerds ever since, and I intend to do it justice.

Similar SoC: Meet the OMAP 3430
POST A COMMENT

68 Comments

View All Comments

  • tarunactivity - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    a notable omission:

    The FM receiver on the N900 requires Bluetooth to be switched on. So if you want FM, you need to plugin your earphones + enable bluetooth.

    Kind of counter productive , if you ask me,and surely a waste of power.
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Ahh, you're totally right. I think I glossed over that because I already had Bluetooth on, but it makes sense now since the FM radio is on that same piece of silicon.

    I wonder how much of a difference it makes on battery - had it disabled for those other tests of course.

    -Brian Klug
    Reply
  • asdasd246246 - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    I'm sure the Nokia has sweet hardware, but it's still all plastic..
    Plastic screen that will scratch the first 10 minutes you own it, and a friend has a similar model without a keyboard, and the plasticness is so horrible I shudder.. -_-
    Reply
  • legoman666 - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    I've had the N900 since last November. No screen protector, no case. Not 1 scratch. So speak for yourself, maybe you ought to put your phone in a separate pocket as your keys. Reply
  • legoman666 - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    back: http://imgur.com/tf6RE.jpg

    front: http://imgur.com/XDsyI.jpg
    Reply
  • akse - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    The case is somewhat plastic yeah.. but it hasn't really bothered me so much. I have only a few tiny tiny scratches on the screen, you can only spot them by mirroring a clean screen against bright light.

    At the back I have a few bigger scratches because the phone fell on concrete..
    Reply
  • Calin - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    I have a 1200-series Nokia phone, which I keep in the same pocket as the keys, and the display is in a serviceable condition after more than two years of abuse Reply
  • arnavvdesai - Thursday, June 10, 2010 - link

    Actually, the Symbian OS- Nokia's No.1 Smartphone OS is more open with entire OS(including the core APIs) being Open Source. Symbian is more open than Android. Reply
  • Talcite - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    That's only true for symbian^3 and newer OSes. Only the Nokia N8 is currently shipping S^3 I believe.

    You should also mention that the Maemo 5 OS has many binary packages to get all the cellular hardware and PowerVR GPU working.

    Anyways, it definitely has more support for the FOSS community than android though as far as I know. You're free to flash your own ROMs without needing to root it and you don't need to do weird stuff with java VMs. Just a simple recompile for ARM and support for Qt I think.
    Reply
  • teohhanhui - Friday, June 11, 2010 - link

    Nokia N8 is still far from "currently shipping"... Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now