Tag Archive | "Nokia"

Nokia 808 PureView has a 41MP Camera, Announced After 5 Years of Development [video]

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At MWC, Nokia has announced the 808 PureView, a Symbian powered phone with a massive 41MP camera. It’s been said in the past, ‘never judge a camera by its megapixels’, but here we might have to make an exception.

With 41MP and classic Carl Zeiss optics, you can do some awesome stuff that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise with a smartphone camera. You probably won’t want to simply snap 41MP photos (though I hope that’s an option), which would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 7728×5368 resolution, however, such a huge sensor allows you to have a useful digital zoom that doesn’t deteriorate the quality of the photo or video. Nokia says that they’ve tried to work costly and complicated analog zoom mechanisms into smartphones and found that it simply wasn’t practical. In addition to high quality digital zoom, oversampling is used in which all of the extra pixels better inform individual pixels of what color and luminosity they should be; this increases sharpness and reduces noise, and the result is a standard 5MP photo. If you’re a camera buff and want to get into the technical details, Nokia has a whitepaper for the PureView technology which gets down to the specifics.

All Things Digital has a nice concise piece about PureView in which Nokia says they’ve been working on the technology in secret for 5 years.

While the 808 PureView is a Symbian powered phone, Nokia says that the technology will eventually find its way into the Windows Phone 7 platform. Nokia has an 808 PureView micro-site available here which gives a good high-level rundown of the advantages of the technology. You can see sample shots taken with the 808 PureView here as well.

I’ve seen no indication of a Nokia 808 PureView release date or price at this point, and it’s doubtful that you’ll ever be able to get your hands on it in the states — until the technology hits Windows Phone 7, that is.

 

Nokia: More Relevant in the US Than Ever (Maybe)

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Nokia has only been relevant for me once in my smartphone life, and that was when I was overseas. Since returning stateside, I have not given Nokia news more than a miniscule glance as I pore over the day’s tech reports. In fact, I have not honestly cared about a Nokia phone release since the mid-90s, when they were one of the top name brands in the US. Until this year that is. Nokia has become relevant again, although not quite in the way that you might think. And while their partnership with Microsoft may be doing a little-bit to correct their sky-diving financial position, I question whether Redmond is doing the best thing overall for increased adoption of Windows Phone.

Before we continue on with the editorial, let’s hit some of the facts of the last week’s announcements. At Nokia World 2011, Nokia introduced two phones that are expected to eventually make their way to US carriers. They are the Nokia Lumia 800 and 710. The latter has a 3.7” display with a resolution of 480×800, a 5MP camera that can shoot 720p video, weighs in at 4.4 ounces, has 8GB of flash storage, 512MB of RAM, runs on the Qualcomm MSM8255 chip, which is a 1.4GHz single-core CPU, and communicates on GSM bands.

The Lumia 800 also has a 3.7” display, a high resolution 8MP camera, weighs in at 5 ounces, has the same 480×800 resolution on an AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass, 16GB of storage and 512MB of RAM, and an identical processor…in fact, much between the two phones is identical.

Back to the editorial. There are a few things I see as positive about Nokia-Soft’s announcements. Kudos to them for getting the product out on time. We did not need another smartphone-delay storyline to track across months of PR apologies. And the big thing? People are talking about Nokia again, and not only in negative terms. At least not entirely.

Nokia needed to hit one of the park last week at Nokia World, but there are a few areas where these announcements fall well short of that. The announcement of these two phones, to me, is more like a “we’re still hanging in there” level of effort. It feels very analogous to the Palm Pre release, which offered some compelling potential. But from the announcement of the Pre through the first several months up to release, I felt like I was watching a once great boxer taking jabs in the ring, wobbling, unable to put his hands up and protect himself, but still able to remain standing and even dodging a jab from time to time. But I knew that the other guy was eventually going to land a haymaker that the former champ would just not be able to take.

I get the same sense from the Nokia announcements last week. Maybe the better analogy would be watching a once great boxer through the last few bouts of their career. They keep losing, but in each bout there is a round or a few moments when you think they are on the road back, before they finally succumb each time. While the Lumia product line shows promise, and seems to offer a steady, work-horse level device, neither of the two devices are game-changers. Nokia is in the same position that Android tablet-makers are. They cannot afford to bring a device or devices that are within arm’s reach of the current benchmark products, and offer them at the same price. While there is no pricing information on either of the Lumia devices, I cannot see them being offered at less than $199 and $149 price points for the 800 and the 710 respectively. I believe this based on the pricing of Nokia’s handsets in the past within North America, and the fact that, for some reason, they have struggled to land on carriers with subsidized prices. The Nokia Astound debuted back in April on T-Mobile at one of the most affordable release prices for a Nokia smartphone in North America ever — $79.99. But I do not see Nokia being able to match that pricing for either one of these phones. If they come out at or near the same $199 price point as many premium Android handsets or the $199 iPhone 4S model, when the Nokia phones do not have front-facing cameras or equally high resolution screens, their ability to compete will be sorely lacking.

If Nokia can get the Lumia 710 down to a $99 price point, and slug it out against low-end Android phones, then maybe this maneuver has a chance of gaining traction. As for the Lumia 800, I expect it to come out at $199, and likely on T-Mobile as I do not see AT&T having a lot of interest in this device. So it will go to the smallest of the big four US carriers. But it will also be on the one carrier that does not have the iPhone, so for its current customers who enter the market for a new phone, it could very well be a viable choice. I was on an HTC HD7 on T-Mobile at the beginning of the year and was very happy with that selection. But right now, the only thing Microsoft seems to be touting as the differentiating, breakout feature of Windows Phone is Xbox Live integration [ed. note: that integration is majorly lacking and painfully bolted-on]. This was a nice hook at the beginning of the year, but the Xbox is six years old now, and even as a gaming platform, its pre-eminence as being a new place to go is not as shiny as it once was. As for hardware, Nokia phones have always been appealing to photo buffs for their excellent cameras. But great photos and Xbox Live are not enough to bring Nokia back to relevance in the US.

Overall, this does not feel like the mass offensive that it needed to be. Nothing out of this announcement was anything that was not entirely predictable. At the end of the day, it feels like less than what Nokia needed to do to right its burning platform. These are not devices that will save Nokia’s bacon. Nor is it indicative of a strategy that shows a glimmer of things to come that will make sweeping changes in Nokia’s business position within the market. Nokia seems to have generated much more buzz about their one-off Meego phone, the Nokia N9, than their just-announced Lumina series (though it may still be too early to call).

While falling short of what is needed, I also felt like Microsoft and Nokia weakened Microsoft’s position with its other hardware partners. If I were HTC or Samsung, I would have had sharp words the following day over the use of statements that proclaimed the Lumia line as the “first real Windows Phone(s)”. The hardware manufacturers that stepped out with Microsoft for the launch of Windows Phone, at very high risk to their own earnings, should not have suffered the suggestion that their efforts and their hardware designs were of little value. While not all CEO’s make decisions out of spite, I think the Microsoft and Nokia statements would have at least caused me to ask my CFO for the most recent accounting statements on my Windows Phone product line to evaluate how much value-adding it was really providing.

Microsoft took a risk when it migrated its smartphone strategy away from an Enterprise-focus to a consumer-centric one. Without the old corporate in-roads to lean on, they now have to compete in the same arena with the same rule-set as the iPhone and Android products. I do not see the Lumia has being a huge crowbar in that battle. I like Windows Phone, and would not have a problem selecting it as one my next devices. But I still do not see the operating system, the ecosystem, or the new Nokia devices as converging recommendations that I would give to non-techy customers looking for advice on their next smartphone, or first-time smartphone buyers. It is not clear to me where Microsoft and Nokia are heading in terms of starting an offensive that will lead to all of this increased market-share that so many analysts are claiming Windows Phone will achieve in 2014/2015.

The Lumia devices appear to be beautiful hardware, and I thoroughly enjoy Windows Phone 7 when I use it. But this is about what Microsoft and Nokia are doing to convince the consumer population that is not already on their side that the Nokia devices are viable and competitive alternatives to the iPhone and premium Android devices. Based on last week’s event, I am having a hard time convincing myself that the two companies have done enough. This smells very much like the Palm Pre launch (except for fact that Nokia’s phones appear to be arriving on time as promised). Microsoft and Nokia will need to come in at lower price points than the competition, and quickly get to offering compelling, differentiated features and offer unique service partnerships to compete against Apple and Google. Seeing as how it appears that they have missed those targets within this window of opportunity, I am not sure when they can pull this trifecta off before suffering that aforementioned haymaker that could be in the works. An iPhone 5 announcement in the spring, or arrival en masse of Ice Cream Sandwich phones could quickly push Nokia off the stage of relevance if they and Microsoft cannot push some major offensive in the interim. Oh, yeah, and after scoffing at everyone else’s Windows Phone devices, I would not expect help to arrive from the camps of HTC and Samsung anytime soon.

The Anticipated Nokia N9 Not Launching in the US… Perhaps Ever

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All I can say right now is “wow”. The Nokia N9 is the only high-end phone from Nokia that has drummed up significant interest and anticipation for some time now. Recent information indicates that it may not even launch in the US.

The US certainly isn’t the only country in the world, contrary to the belief of some, but I’ve personally seen lots of people here who are more than excited by the Nokia N9, even if it is at severe risk of poor after-sale support.

Now Nokia says that the N9, which is expected to launch on the 23rd, isn’t currently planned for for the US, and may never find its way to US shores:

“After the very positive reception to the launch of the Nokia N9, the product is now being rolled out in countries around the world. At this time we will not be making it available in the US. Nokia takes a market by market approach to product rollout, and each country makes its own decisions about which products to introduce from those available. Decisions are based on an assessment of existing and upcoming products that make up Nokia’s extensive product portfolio and the best way in which to address local market opportunities.”

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this is upsetting as someone living in the US, but this has implications outside of the country as well.

The fact that the N9 will only be launching in a limited number of countries means less people with their hands on the device which means a smaller demographic for developers. This is bad news for the platform as a whole. If developers don’t’ have a large demographic for which to develop and sell, it’s unlikely that the device will ever reach a critical-mass of applications that, in this day and age, are key to the success of mobile devices.

Whatever Nokia has up their sleeves for a new high-end device, it had better be pretty awesome, otherwise people will be mighty disappointed.

Engadget is the source of this information, and they’ve got a few links for additional reading that might want to check out. Go have a look!

Microsoft + Nokia Event Planned for the 17th, What Should We Expect?

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Nokia Sea Ray (alleged; photos courtesy of product-reviews.net)

It seems like we cannot go a full calendar month without one of the tech companies holding some event to make a major announcement. Not that I am complaining one bit. This month we have not one, but two giants partnering to bring us some new juicy gadget promises. At least that is what we assume Microsoft and Nokia’s intentions are for the press conference they have just called for the 17th of this month.

The event is to take place in Cologne, Germany, just as the Gamescom convention kicks off. The truth is, we have no idea what M&N intend to announce at this event. But it is a safe bet that it will have something to do with the Nokia Sea Ray and Windows Phone 7. The announcement Flyer, at least, indicates that they will be giving away 3 vouchers for a Nokia handset running Windows Phone “as soon as available”.  If the announcement is profound enough, it might just pull Windows Phone and Nokia out of the funk they have been for the last several months.

That is the optimistic view. Now for a little pessimism. What concerns me is that this announcement does not have the feel of a planned reveal. It feels rushed and reactionary. So it makes me wonder if this press event is being held in response to pressure. The pressure of Samsung and Apple’s quarterly earnings statements. The pressure of increasing rumors of an impending fall launch of potentially two new iPhone models. The pressure of Nokia continuing to hemorrhage money.

This is not to say that doing something to staunch the flow is not the right move. It is more a recommendation to temper expectations of what may come out of this announcement with a good dollop of skepticism. It is likely that this is just another announcement confirming M&N’s previously advertised timeline for the release of the first Nokia phone running Windows 7. Nothing new.

It will be great if I am wrong. Nokia’s handset arriving early would be an awesome way to bring in the final quarter of the year. I spent the better part of the first half of this year on a Windows Phone 7 handset, the HTC HD7. I am a big fan of the OS and rank it second on my personal ranking of mobile OS’ for phones, behind Android, but ahead of iOS. Still, it is hard to envision M&N pulling off a major reveal at this juncture given what we have seen of the pair in the mobile space so far this year. A big event that does not really reveal anything new or unexpected could be just as harmful to the Windows Phone movement as a delay in the Sea Ray. Let’s hope that whatever M&N have planned, they do it right. The launch of the Fujitsu Toshiba IS12T may be reason to hold on to hopes for something great.

Either way, you can rest assured that we will cover the story here on Carrypad. See you on the 17th (and hopefully every day in between).

Source: Engadget

Can Nokia Earnestly Sell the N9 When They’ve Publicly Abandoned the OS?

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nokia n9By now you’ve certainly caught wind of Nokia’s N9, their first, and only, Meego handset.

I want to be excited as everyone else is about the phone, after all, it looks great and Nokia has never disappointed me in the hardware department. However, the phone is running Meego, an OS that Nokia has publicly dropped in favor of Windows Phone 7 a few months back.

If this was happening prior to the app store movement, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Today, however, phones and their operating systems live and die not only by continuous first-party support, but by third-party developer backing as well.

Without a critical mass of applications, a new smartphone OS is destined to fail in the face of contemporary operating systems. What message is Nokia sending if it has already abandoned the OS in favor of another?

As a consumer, the message it sends to me is “don’t buy this phone!”. No matter how well crafted the hardware is, and even how well the software works from a technical standpoint, I wouldn’t invest my money and time (moving all of my music/contacts/life/etc.) into a platform that I know won’t be seeing long-term support from the company that is responsible for it.

Interestingly though, and the only reason I believe that Nokia is going ahead with a Meego N9, is that Nokia isn’t entirely responsible for it. Meego is a merger of Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo efforts. Meego exists as its own entity, and will live on through Intel and the open-source community even if Nokia has dropped it.

This means that it’s possible that the Meego-running N9 will still see decent application development, and perhaps even long term support for the OS from the Meego community, though I doubt that it’ll be at a level necessary to reach critical app-mass; just take a look at Maemo, a predecessor of Meego, and you’ll find that the OS never even came close to taking off (into the mainstream realm, that is).

Sadder still is the fact that Nokia’s CEO, Stephen Elop, says that Nokia is dropping Meego regardless of how well the N9 sells, according to an interview with a Finnish newspaper (via Engadget).

If I was in the market for a new phone, I would stay away from the N9 thanks to Nokia’s resolute desire to abandon Meego.

Engadget’s Vlad Savov has an interesting piece on the N9 and Nokia’s decision to abandon Meego, and one sentence in particularl nicely sums up my feelings:

If Nokia isn’t fully invested in MeeGo and Qt, why should you be?

What say you, dear readers? Is there anything that could convince you to buy a phone with an OS that you know won’t see long-term first-party support, and likely won’t hit that ever important critical mass of apps and third-party developer traction?

Nokia’s N950 Developer Phone is More Appealing To Me Than the Recently Announced N9, Too Bad Consumers Will Never See It

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n950Over 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” 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
  • GPS
  • 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 – 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 does…. 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.

MeeGo, Qt and Nokia – Feb 11th 2011

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Today’s announcements by Nokia (there are many to sort through) have shocked a lot of people. The major focus here is that Nokia will now use Microsoft (Windows Phone 7) as their primary platform for smartphones. I want to emphasise that this is a revenue generating strategy. It doesn’t include disruptive computing devices which indicates the removal of risk elements within Nokias strategy.  Symbian gets turned into a ‘franchise’ platform (cheap, stable and, probably, with less focus on corporate support.) Important for the financials is that R&D spend drops. Symbian –related spend drops away completely. MeeGo will get hit very hard here too. Whatever way you look at it, near-term investment in MeeGo from Nokia will drop.

This slide says it all.meegorandd

The message is clear. MeeGo isn’t ready to be used for a smartphone platform in Nokias portfolio. Perhaps if Nokia had continued with Maemo, it would be ready now? Other potential partners in the MeeGo ecosystem will take note of the money spent on R&D by Nokia during this partnership and will look to see what Nokia develop over the next 12 months. Adding to the financial hit, this knocks confidence levels in MeeGo.

MeeGo remains in Nokias strategy but the message we see is that it will be used to experiment with the next generation of disruptive products. Open-source is gone from Nokia’s revenue-generating strategy. We’ve heard nothing about an expansion into tablets, smart-books or other non-phone devices so clearly, this indicates that either Nokia don’t want the financial markets to speculate about this or that they really don’t have a strategy at all here. Nokia have re-affirmed their commitment to delivering a Meego ‘Device’ this year and we suspect that this is an Intel-related commitment for a tablet in the 5-7” range to match focus on mobility, clear separation from WP7 devices and to match Intel’s Moorestown platform design limitations. Other MeeGo development work including chipset and industrial design (wait for it, this bit will hurt MeeGo fans) will be ‘repurposed’ in Windows phones.

Where does that leave MeeGo?

The Linux Foundation own the MeeGo brand, take care of the contributions and offer it out as an open-source solution. That hasn’t changed. Linaro, the ARM-focused organisation that can assist ARM product designers to match MeeGo to specific ARM-based platforms is still there. Nokia are still contributing. Intel are still contributing. Intel are still building platforms and services for MeeGo. MeeGo remains one of the best cross-product solutions based on Linux and is the only solution that includes dedicated hardware, development environment and (if AppUp for MeeGo launches at MWC as we expect) applications store. It is still the ‘complete stack’ solution I mentioned last week. What does happen is that Nokia now can’t be relied on as someone that will put a strong brand on a range of MeeGo products. Intel lost a launch partner.

Where does that leave Qt?

Qt will not be used on Windows Phone 7 devices. Without a doubt it waters down the proposition of developing for Qt and as a result, for MeeGo. Todays announcements reduces the potential of Qt to attract developers. On the plus-side, it probably removes OVI as a competing application store leaving Intel to focus on AppUp as the primary application store for MeeGo. A lack of direction for Qt is probably the most significant issue for MeeGo now.

Intel “remain committed “

We asked Intel for a statement and we got this.

While we are disappointed with Nokia’s decision, Intel is not blinking on MeeGo. We remain committed and welcome Nokia’s continued contribution to MeeGo open source.

Our strategy has always been to provide choice when it comes to operating systems. MeeGo is one of those choices. We support a port of choice strategy that includes Windows, Android, and MeeGo. This is not changing.

MeeGo stability.

Right now, Intel need to secure some significant product partners for MeeGo, Moorestown and Medfield and to shore-up the development ecosystem by pulling together partners that will also use Qt. Qt is now the burning platform which means AppUp on MeeGo is at risk too.

MWC starts in just a few days and we expect this to be a huge software event for Intel. MeeGo, Appup, IADP, AppLabs and other activities are being showcased. Intel, more than ever, need to use MWC to announce partners.

Stay tuned to Carrypad and we continue to follow this important story over the next week.

Nokia / Intel / Meego Phone at MWC – Highly Unlikely

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I’ve been seeing a lot of talk and getting a lot of questions about a possible Nokia / Intel / MeeGo phone that could be launched at MWC. Rumors center around the Nokia N9 which is a slider phone said to be running MeeGo and to be launched at MWC. While it might be launching, I doubt very much it’s got Intel inside.

Intel MeeGo Phone

I’ve already predicted 2012 for Intel/MeeGo smartphones because Moorestown’s 2-chip solution isn’t quite perfect for a high-end smartphone. Especially one with limited space for battery as in the slider design you see. I’ve also had private hands-on with MeeGo on Moorestown and seen the work that needs to be done on the MeeGo core before it’s ready. I doubt Nokia want to release another developer-focused ‘demonstrator’ phone in the way they did with the N900

Report: Timeline for MeeGo Devices

With Moorestown not quite right and MeeGo not quite ready, can you imagine the risk of Nokia would have to take showing a beta product or prototype based on MeeGo? No. Nokia and Intel will have agreed to make a splash with the first smartphone and I expect them to wait until later in the year.

Could the N9 be a MeeGo phone on a Ti platform? Yes. Ti were a Gold sponsor of the MeeGo conference in November.

Could we see it launched soon? I’m guessing May based on the fast that Nokia could be working with MeeGo 1.2 beta releases.

Will Nokia pre-announced the N9 at MWC? Assuming it’s a MeeGo product, I doubt it. Nokia have stated that they don’t want to ‘leak’ or preview devices any more.

And here’s another data point:

I spoke to Intel at the end of November about Moorestown and Medfield progress. Here’s what they said:

  • Is Moorestown in full production now?
    Yes, Moorestown has been in production since we rolled it out in May 2010. Our tablet and smartphone customers are using the platform to build their own devices and this is the current focus on Moorestown.
  • Target was 2010 for products, Why the delay?
    You can expect Moorestown based tablets in 1H’11 and smartphones later in the year.
  • What operating systems options are you planning to offer for Moorestown?
    Moorestown supports both Android and MeeGo.
  • Are you accelerating Medfield?
    Medfield is on track and scheduled to launch in 2011

There’s a hint of of a Moorestown smartphone in the answer to the first question but look at the timescales in question 2. ‘Later’ than 1H 11 sounds like 2H 2011 to me. If a Moorestown smartphone is going to happen, it’s not happening until the second half of the year. Medfield isn’t being accelerated as far as I can see based on the answer to the last question.

Finally, my native Finnish-speaking co-podcaster JKK of JKKMobile doesn’t read any solid fact in the Finnish article that started this rumor.

MWC is going to be big for Nokia and big for Intel. Look at the floor space that Intel have this year. Two booths, a Meego hospitality suite, the Wind-River subsidiary and a keynote with Paul Otellini. Rene James , head of the Software and Services Division says this:

There are things we’ll announce at Mobile World Congress that will shed a lot more light on why the value proposition [of MeeGo] makes a lot of sense for consumers and device manufacturers. [ref]

MWC will be all about software for Intel. AppUp on MeeGo. Tablet UI. Major ISV partners. MeeGo V1.2 beta announcement. Major brand joining the MeeGo partnership. All these things are more likely than the Nokia/Intel phone.

As for Intel hardware, expect to see tablets based on Moorestown running MeeGo 1.2 beta and Android. If that’s done right, it could be big enough news to keep the momentum going until later in the year.

Video Recorded Entirely with Nokia N8 Shows Off Its Camera Capabilities

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n8 macroNokia has a long history of building quality cameras into it’s phones. Chippy swears by his trusty N82 as a pocket camera, and I was very impressed with the N900’s camera. Nokia’s latest phone, the N8 is certainly living up to the family name.

We’ve seen the N8 used to shoot the cover of a magazine, and now it’s been used to shoot a short but entertaining video with impressive quality. Using a macro lens and a telescope, the entire following video was recorded with the N8, check it out:

N8 dreams ["Night" dreams] from keirux on Vimeo.

This makes me want a pocketable steady cam rig!

WebOS Tablets in Sept = Time for Partnership on ‘Cute’ Devices

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hp topazFalling leaves, an Indian Summer and a brand new HP WebOS tablet. That’s the scene we could be seeing if the information coming via Engadget is correct. HP will have two WebOS tablets available in 7 and 9-inch variants called Opal and Topaz.

While we expected the HP WebOS Tablet project to hit in 2011, September seems a long way away and falls behind the early Honeycomb Android, further iOS and possible MeeGo tablets. The timing will give HP a chance to ramp up the developer community so we’re expecting SDKs to be out before summer. In order to attract those developers though, something special needs to be announced. WebOS and product renders just won’t be enough.

On that topic, I have a theory that I first mentioned in Dec 2010. [For the record - You know if it happens I'm going to be Mr Told-You-So! ] It’s based purely on the need to battle against Android and iOS that HP, Intel and Nokia could get together on this.

Qt has already been ported to WebOS, it made it to the WebOS 2.0 build and it makes the perfect layer for Symbian, MeeGo and WebOS to join forces in attracting critical development interested. Without that developer interest, what chance do these products have? Partnerships could be taken one step further too with Intel providing early Medfield samples and with Nokia providing Qt skills for the WebOS SDKs. Take it one step further and WebOS could actually be built on top of MeeGo. There’s nothing stopping HP doing this, even outside a partnership.

How about Intel and Nokia helping to combine Ares, the WebOS SDK, and QT as a multi-product SDK? I think developers would be very happy indeed. It will be just another SDK like the .net, AIR and JAVA environments that already exist. Intels AppUp back-end could be unified with the other applications stores too and combined (especially with tricks like Intel Insider that I hope make the jump to Atom) there’s a better chance of negotiating major video, tv, book, game and music deals. Wi-Di technology could also be a USP.

I’m not a professional software developer and I know that a lot of these thoughts are idealistic and totally ignore the difficult tasks of cutting deals but I can see that Qt could be one very important pivot-point and with three major brands behind a single core OS, MebOS?, there’s a better chance that the dev community could be ramped up quickly. I also love the idea of a Cute-Devices brand. Without a partnership of some sort, will Symbian, MeeGo and WebOS survive?

What’s The Nokia N8 Good For? (Hands-On Thoughts, Video, Sample Pics)

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N8 Photographing N82 I don’t usually cover standard smartphones on Carrypad but seeing as Nokia were kind enough to spend 2 hours demonstrating the N8 to me in Düsseldorf last month, I’ll be kind enough to comment on it and provide you readers with some thoughts.

[Photos, video and brief N82 photo comparison below.]

As someone who’s heavily into mobile and connected photography, (N82, X10i owner) the N8 interests me. As someone who’s also into a full, fast internet experiences, the N8 doesn’t interest me. ‘Step away from ARM11’ is my advice for anyone looking for a fast and full web experience and a few minutes with the iPhone 3, a well-optimised ARM11 web experience, will prove that even an optimised webkit browser isn’t up to the quality and speed of current high-end smartphones. Yes, Nokia will call the N8 a mainstream smartphone but at 450-Euros it comes in above the HTC Desire which is my benchmark for a 2010 smartphone.

My hands-on with the N8 left me with the feeling that it should be approached as a 3G media-camera rather than a smartphone. It’s more exciting if you think of it like that too – a gadget. HDMI-out, 720p playback (I experienced a reasonable, but not stunning, playback), Dolby surround support with digital output is also exciting although I’m not sure who’s going to be selling content for that! Add in a quick and high-quality camera for static and video image work, a built-in editor, high quality 3G support, fast user interface and, something that I really value, a fast, scalable and high-quality MP3 manager and playback utility. There are a few other things too:

  • Ovi maps – Free offline maps and turn-by-turn is invaluable for anyone that travels borders (try using Google Navigation when roaming on an Android phone!)
  • Quick access to SIM and MicroSD
  • Unique styling
  • AMOLED Screen (Great colour. Should save battery life in many cases over an LCD screen. Basic clock standby screen is always-on. Not that good in sunlight though)
  • On screen keyboard seemed good in portrait mode
  • USB On-the-go (USB hard drive access)
  • Potentially good gaming graphics

Question marks

  • High quality YouTube playback? (In my opinion more valuable than Nokia TV)
  • Battery Life
  • Application store
  • The browser (quality and speed)

Photos:

N82 and Xperia X10i.JPG N8 Photographing N82.JPG N82 and N8.JPG

N82 Standby Screen.JPG
More photos in the gallery

Hands-on Video:

About the camera.

12MP is impressive but does it perform. In my brief tests I was able to do a few N82 comparison photos and judging by the results (looking at ISO, shutter, F-stop settings used) the N8 is on the same level as an iPhone 4 when it comes to light sensitivity. I’d guess that it’s 2x more sensitive which sounds a lot but isn’t that significant when it comes to low light work. With the high quality optics, fast camera UI, video recording capability and high-power Xenon flash though, it definitely takes the lead as far as cameraphones go.

Sample Photos (8MP)

24082010023 24082010022

N82 Comparison – Low Light Flash – 8MP photo (More N8 images and sample photos at Flickr)

Nokia N82 Sample Photo (1) Nokia N8 Sample Photo (2)

N82 (Left, 4:3 format, Original at Flickr) and N8 (Right, Original at Flickr) If you check the EXIF data on Flickr, you’ll see that there isn’t much of a difference in light sensitivity between the N82 and N8 although the N82 is probably using some heavy processing and of course, it has firmware that has been matured over 2.5 years! A crop of the two photos shows good quality on both cameras although this is only at 8MP. A 12MP N8 pic would obviously provide sharper images at larger sizes. N82 crop image on left.

Nokia N82 Sample Photo - Crop Nokia N8 Sample Photo - Crop (2)

Overall, the N8 gives much better camera experience with quicker response, faster preview, better ‘viewfinder’, better features and overall better results. It’s clear that it’s a worthy upgrade to the N82

Summary

The N8 is not a do-it-all smartphone or a no-brainer consumer smartphone like the HTC Desire or iPhone because it’s aimed at a market of mobile media users and creators who like to share with quality; People wanting a productive web experience with a choice of tens of thousands of apps need to look elsewhere.  Having owned the N82 for over 2 years I know that the N8 can replace a compact camera and because it’s in the pocket, you’ll end up with more of those ‘real-world’ shots that are so satisfying. In family and friend situations, it’s a real advantage.

The N8 is a flexible, connected media partner and in a few months when the price drops by 10-15%, should be good value too. I certainly can’t think of a better connected camera in the market right now and it’s tempting to swap out my Xperia X10i for it although I know there’s a lot I’d miss.

[Sidenote: If anyone reading this in Europe buys an N8 and fancies swapping with an X10i, either temporarily or permanently, let me know because i’m prepared to give it a try.]

Super Phone Cameras – My Choices and Tips

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X10 takes N82 Sony, Samsung and Nokia have been leading the market for high quality cameraphones for years now and if you’ve been following my N82 story, you’ll know that even after 2.5 years I’m still finding it hard to find a replacement for the amazing optics, sensor, flash and mechanics of the N82 camera.

It’s not just about mega-pixels. It’s never about the megapixels. 12MP might bring you some digital zoom le-way and a better large-format print but that’s about it. I wrote a semi-private article about assessing smartphone cameras [reproduced below] a few months ago and you’ll see how complex the situation can become if you’re really looking to replace that compact camera; And many people are.

It’s not just about image quality either. It’s about ease-of use, sharing, longevity, geotagging, communities and having a camera and video cam with you at every opportunity. I have literally thousands of pictures that I’ve taken with the N82 that I would never have had the chance to take with a compact camera. There are thousands of people out there that have used smartphone cameras in difficult situations too. Car accidents, citizen journalism, wars and then there’s the possibility to go live to thousands of people with applications like Qik and Ustream. Compact cameras generally have better quality optics and the very important mechanical zoom but there are still good reasons to have a cameraphone.

The new player on the block is the Apple iPhone 4 and I have to confess that I’m interested. It comes at a time when I’m deep in the middle of looking for a new cameraphone solution before my N82 dies. I’ve done some analysis on the iPhone4 pictures and although I can’t comment on the new software yet, I can comment on the sensor. It doesn’t seem to be a huge leap forward in quality. In sensitivity terms it appears to have a 1-stop advantage over the 3GS and of course, with the high resolution, is likely to product better prints but that’s not significant for most people. In fact, it’s rather disappointing given the hype that came from Apple on the backlit sensor. [Update: I estimate that the iPhone 4 is only giving users 1 f-stop advantage. That’s double the sensitivity but not a huge difference in the real world] We’re talking ‘good’ and ‘top quartile’ here but not top 5. I’ve seen better results from the N82, N86, Satio, N8, XT720, Omnia Pro, N900 and I suspect there are a few other Samsung and Sony phones out there that will beat it.  For me, the iPhone 4 brings software rather than quality and that’s a valid reason to choose it if the image quality is acceptable to you. Ignore this report though. It compares the iPhone 4 to some superphones for sure but if you’re interested in quality cameraphones, that’s not the list you need to be looking at.

The Samsung Omnia Pro had an excellent camera but fell short in a few important areas. Windows 6.5 is not exactly the best OS for photographers, it only comes with LED flash and, as with many smartphones, the open lens proved a grease-magnet and long-term quality issue. The Xperia X10 is a similar story too. Then there’s the Sony Ericsson Satio which had a good camera and flash but turned out to be a terrible phone. Currently it looks like the Nokia N8 is going to set new standards but for me, that Symbian operating system isn’t something I’m getting too excited about now that I’ve had some good time with Android. Again, the lens is open on that N8.

Given that I’ve settled on Android as the best mobile OS for me (I’m a Google user, I’d be stupid to choose anything else!) there’s one phone coming up that might take the title for me. I don’t expect it to have the quality of the Nokia N8, a phone likely to raise the bar significantly, but it looks to be a nice all-round solution. You can check out some Flickr galleries taken by Asian owners of the XT720. I’m a little worried about what could be a plastic lens (this image looks either smudged with finger grease or the result of a plastic lens) but as far as Android phones go, it looks to be good enough that it could replace the N82 although I have promised myself that I will test the N8 too.

Here’s my list of things to think about when choosing a cameraphone:

  • General image quality (lens quality and sensor quality more important than megapixels)
  • Low-light photography (without flash) A sensitive sensor means not having to use flash. A natural lighting wash is often better than a pinpoint flash. It also means that the camera can choose higher shutter speeds and therefore produce sharper images.
  • Flash. For very low light images, flash is required. Xenon flash make a great choice not just for its power but for it’s short duration that can ‘freeze’ images. A long duration LED flash can result in blurry images if the subject is moving. LED lamps are the only choice for low-light video work.
  • Preview screen (both indoor and outdoor) I make a lot of mistakes on my N82 purely because I can’t see what is in focus and what isn’t. A big, high-brightness screen is a superb way to secure a better ‘hit’ rate.
  • Access to controls. Touchscreen devices can make accessing camera options easy. Check out how many presses you need to make to turn the flash from ‘auto’ to ‘red eye.’ for example.
  • Type of controls.  If you want to get creative you’ll need access to focus controls, ISO, aperture, shutter speed and white balance but there are some other features that are good. How about automatically taking 6 shots at a time? Or being able to detect movement. Some of these features are gimmicks, some are useful.
  • Pre-focus. Make sure that the camera is able to pre-focus by pushing the shutter release button down half-way. If you’re able to prepare for a shot like this, the duration between pressing the shutter release button and the camera taking the image can drop dramatically. A near instantaneous press/capture is obviously ideal.
  • Touch capture. With touch-capture, you can tap on an area of the (touch) screen to influence the focal point. It can also be less ‘shaky’ than using a mechanical shutter release button. Be aware that touch-capture will not give you the ability to preview the focus.
  • Speed to remove device from pocket and start camera. THere’s nothing worse than waiting for a device to come out of standby and waiting for the camera application to start. Having a shutter cover rather than a case saves time. Having a quick unlock feature saves time. Fast software saves time.
  • Quick review. Being able to see the photo you’ve taken is critical. Often the shutter sound does not correspond exactly to the time the image was taken. If the preview takes 2 or 3 seconds to appear it’s annoying for both you and your subject.
  • Transfer of photos (online, usb bluetooth, tv) Think about where you need to send your photos. Do you use Flickr. If so, think about a phone that uses 3G with a fast upload speed (HSUPA or HSPA for example.) Make sure the transfer process can be run in the background. Also think about USB transfer speed. For Facebook, make sure you can install an application that supports image uploading or that the Facebook website allows you to upload from the phone.
  • Lens cover.  The value of a lens cover can not be overstated. A greasy, scratched, dusty lens is the last thing you want.
  • Geotagging. Geotagging isnt just for fun, it helps you to organise your photos based on places. A fast GPS lock or use of network location services can help.
  • Overall size of device. If it’s too big you might have to put it in your bag.
  • Price. Clearly price is a major consideration.
  • Apps. Think about third party software. The iPhone has a number of good camera applications that can be used for different scenarios. On-cam video editing is becoming a theme too as processing power increases.
  • Future. Phones can often get better over time. Firmware gets improved and a phone that may have been slow on first release might get upgraded. A phone older than 18 months is not likely to get regular firmware updates.
  • Build quality. A cameraphone WILL take a beating. Think about moving parts and exposed ports.

Choosing a mobile phone based on camera capabilities is not how most people will go about the process of choosing their next mobile phone but I know that there are many of you out there that put the camera capabilities high on the list. I hope the tips help you and if you’ve got any other Super CameraPhone tips or thoughts (how’s that Evo, DroidX doing?) please let me know in the comments section below.

If you are interested in cameraphones, check out these two bloggers. They’re as mad about mobile phone camera’s as I am!

Steve Litchfield – All About Symbian, Twitter

Tnkgrl – Tnkgrl Mobile, Twitter

Morgan Stanley Report: Moorestown Launches. Intel/Nokia Smartphone expected in Mid-Late 2011

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In a report from Morgan Stanley we find out that Intel have launched the Moorestown platform today.

Update: Information is obviously under embargo at this stage but there are a string of tweets that have just gone through that mention Moorestown and a Z6xx processor. e.g. this one. “Intel Z6xx smart-phone processor prototypes: Moorestown massacre: Intel says that fantasy phone is on its way, wit…” They all link to a Cnet UK article that has obviously been removed. The current Menlow platform uses Z5xx processors. This makes sense.

Update 2: Everything is official now. The Z6xx has been launched. Interesting news on Android too.

Morgan Stanley have studied Moorestown and believe that Intel is ‘well positioned with MeeGo’ and that video performance will compare with the latest smartphone platforms, including Tegra 2. They also think that Moorestown will ‘meet or exceed’ current smartphone performance. It’s a bright report that will definitely give the ARM ecosystem partners something to think about.

At its Moorestown launch on May 4, we expect
Intel to introduce and advocate multiple benchmarks to
measure and compare highly debated performance and
power consumption attributes of Smartphone
application processors. In this report, we present
several comparison frameworks, which we plan to
update after actual Moorestown data become available.
Our view is that with Moorestown, Intel will finally start to
meet the power budget for Smartphones, but will show
more favorably on processing power benchmarks.

See also: UMPCPortal Moorestown analysis here.

The financial report also states:

Our checks indicate that Intel and Nokia are also collaborating on a
Smartphone device, which we think is likely to become available in the market in
mid-to-late 2011.

Considering that this report is focusing purely on Intel’s smartphone processor and this statement appears in a section on MeeGo, the report implies that the Nokia phone will be based on Intel’s Moorestown platform and running MeeGo.

The Morgan Stanley report was published on May 3rd and has been promoted by Intel in its ‘Chip Shot’ blog. The full PDF, an interesting read if you’re comparing smartphone platforms, is available as a download here. (or via the Chip Shot blog linked above.)

Stand-by for official Moorestown launch info!

http://twitter.com/selvan_tengy/statuses/13380154280

Praise to the Pads of the Past (UPDATED)

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Updated (18 Jan 2010) with the Intel iPad that I had never heard of until I read about it today. Shame on me!

I’ve been writing about ‘pads’ , tablets and other consumer and mobile internet devices for over 4 years now. Carrypad started through a desire for a new category of devices and under various names it focused on a sector that most people simply dismissed. ‘There’s no room for a device between a smartphone and a laptop’ they said; conveniently forgetting their digital camera, navigation device, book, gaming device and the growing need to surf while on the crapper.

Today, the iPad landed and has turned the tech-media world from nay-sayers to yay-sayers. Everyone loves the iPad and the coverage has sky-rocketed. Unfortunately, it’s not really happening here because I’m in Europe and sales haven’t started here yet. Can you imagine how frustrating it is for me?

Being English though I’m biting my lip and trying to positive and focusing on the iPad coverage that starts here on Monday when Ben, our Senior Editor, gets his iPad out in Honolulu. It’s a shame that there’s no Saturday delivery service but we’ll let the Engadgets of this world deal with the Day 1 craziness and take some time to read the first reports over the weekend.

pepperpad1 Another slightly frustrating  element of iPad day one is thinking back on all the iPad-like devices that tried so hard to get it right before so while we’re waiting for the iPad, I think we should raise a few of the Pads of the Past up onto the pedestal and say ‘thank you.’

My first hat-tip goes out to Pepperpad who in 2005 produced a 9” touchscreen device running on an ARM core and running a heavily tailored finger-friendly user-interface. The specifications list and focal point of the device sounds like a true winner but Pepper Computer were simply too early.  The initial price was high, the performance was terrible and the battery life wasn’t that thrilling. Personally I loved the device (I bought a PepperPad 3, the 7” version) although it wasn’t exactly pretty! Unfortunately Pepper went under before they could realize their ideas with better technology.

My second shout-out in the consumer internet device category goes to Nokia who took a big risk and released the 770 Internet tablet in late 2005. It was aimed at people wanting media, a good web browser and was the first in a range of four devices that used a community-supported Linux build called Maemo. Maemo is now an important part of a long-term strategy for Intel and Nokia in their MeeGo product and is for me the most interesting ecosystems for building consumer internet devices.

The third and final shout goes to Archos who for many years have been combining media playback with Internet connectivity in an easy-to-use consumer-focused package. I still have (and use) my 605Wifi and it taught me that while the 605 was very slow to access web pages, I had more patience for slow websites when I was sitting in a comfy chair. Archos are now at the stage where they have a family of consumer internet devices from 5” to 9” and are planning to launch even more this summer.

Update: All the devices above date back to 2005 when I was starting to get very interested in the idea of a companion device but there are plenty of devices that pre-date these. The Intel IPAD, for example, is the most amazing story. Intel used ARM CPUs (they has an ARM license and Xscale, ARM architecture CPUs) in a product that, internally, was called the IPAD. It allowed you to surf ‘up to 150 feet’ from your PC. It almost reached the market but got stopped by another initiative in Intel. Read the story of the Intel IPAD here.

So to everyone that was part of Origami, the UMPC world, all the Tablet PC fans and bloggers and the thousands and thousand of people that have discussed the idea of mobile and handheld computing with me over the years – I raise my glass.

Nokia N900 Review

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IMG_2512 The Nokia N900 ups the ante for the N-series of internet tablets by being not only a MID and a phone, but also introducing the latest version of the Maemo operating system. In an age of increasing smartphone innovation, can the N900 stand up to the competition, or will be knocked over by soon to be released devices?

We’d like to thank Dynamism.com for kindly lending this N900 for review.

Getting to know the N900

It is important to understand exactly what the N900 is, and a bit about where it came from, before one can see exactly where it is heading. The N900 is the latest “internet tablet” from Nokia. Chronologically, the previous version are the N770, N800, N810, and for a brief period of time, there was a special edition N810 with WiMax. Now Nokia’s latest iteration, the N900, includes a phone, 3G data access, and a serious camera.

Maemo is the OS of choice for the N-series internet tablets. I believe from its inception, it has been an open-source project which has been run by Nokia and developed with help from the Maemo community. Maemo is essentially a full fledged Linux OS, which makes these devices particularly appealing to Linux gurus. When reading this review, be sure to keep in mind that I am not even remotely a Linux guru, so we’ll be looking at this device from a consumer perspective. If you’d like to read more in-depth about Maemo, check out the Wikipedia article.

I purchased an N810 back when it was released in 2007, and while I praised the beautiful hardware design, the software (Maemo 4) had some serious hurdles to get over if it wanted to be a mainstream gadget. Devices like the (then new) iPod Touch eclipsed the N810 as a consumer internet device, and I eventually sold my N810 and opted for a first-gen iPod Touch.

I’ve been hoping that Nokia would learn some important lessons from all of the smartphone innovation that’s been happening in the last few years (in terms of software design) and would have a strong offering with the Maemo 5 equipped N900. Despite bringing a more finger friendly interface to the N900 (as opposed to a stylus oriented one), I feel as though the N900 will run into some of the same problems as the N810.

Hardware

Let’s take a brief tour around the device:
IMG_2514
Back: Camera with sliding cover and stand.

IMG_2518

Left side: Speaker, micro-USB charger/transfer port, wrist strap eyelet.

IMG_2519

Bottom: Nothing but the stylus silo.

IMG_2522

Right side: Microphone, headphone and A/V out port, hold switch, speaker.

IMG_2523 Top: Infrared port, camera button, power button, volume/zoom rocker.

IMG_2507

Front: Light sensor (h), front facing camera (h), proximity sensor (h), earpiece, indicator light. [h = hidden in bezel]

The N900 has a 3.5” resistive touchscreen which has a resolution of 800×480. The CPU driving the unit is an ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 600Mhz. Included in the unit is 32GB of flash storage as well as a MicroSD slot for additional storage. The N900 also has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and of course cellular connectivity and 3G (HSPA) data (oh, and a neat little FM radio tuner).

N900 and iPhone 3GS camera comparison shots

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photo (2) One of the coolest features on the Nokia N900 is the pretty awesome camera. The N900 has an auto-focus 5.0MP camera with a dual-LED flash (with a sliding cover). The optics are by Carl Zeiss which are regarded as being high quality in the world of cameras. I’ve got several shots taken by the iPhone 3GS’s 3.0MP auto-focus camera and put them up against images taken with the N900. You’ll see the iPhone’s photos on the left and the N900 shots on the right. Be sure to click on the images to get the full-sized photos.

iphone n900

iphone (2) n900 (2)

iphone (3) n900 (3)

iphone (4) n900 (4)

iphone (5) n900 (5)

iphone (6)

n900 (6)

iphone (7) n900 (7)

IMG_2505 20100117_003

After looking through these images, it is pretty clear to see that the N900’s 5.0MP camera takes sharper images than the iPhone’s 3.0MP camera, which makes sense of course. Looking very closely though, it would appear as though the N900 also has a better dynamic range than the iPhone. What this means is that the N900 can capture a wider range of dark and light in the same scene than the iPhone can. You may have also heard of this term referred to as contrast ratio. This is apparent in most of these images if you look closely, but it’s particularly visible in the photo of the underside of the tree. Much more detail can be seen in the dark regions of the N900’s shot than can be seen in the iPhone’s. Colors appear to be more accurately represented as well. In the second to last shot of the flowers, the iPhone image seems to have oversaturated colors, whereas the N900 more accurately shows the range of pinks.

The macro mode on the N900 is probably the thing that most impresses me. The N900 has the benefit of having a dedicated hardware camera button which, when pressed down half-way, focuses the camera (with the iPhone you tap on the screen to focus). Turning on the macro-mode on let’s you get up-close and personal to objects and let’s you capture an impressive level of detail and texture.

A full N900 review is in the works, stay tuned!

Nokia N900 unboxing

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photo

A quick holiday unboxing of the Nokia N900, happy holidays! Look forward to more coverage and a full review of this sweet gadget.