The Whoa Amazing CellPhone That Runs Linux

About one month ago, WOMWorld sent me a Nokia n900 for a week, so I could test it. For those who are unaware, the N900 is not exactly a smartphone: it’s more like a portable, pocket-sized computer, which also happens to have a cell phone.

The Good

If you’re a geek, in any level, you’ll fall in love at first sight: it’s OMG a cellphone running Linux? I want that thing NOW! The operating system, Maemo, is debian-based, so it makes installing apps a very simple task, and Nokia got it right and the interface is not that confusing thing I got on my old N78 Symbian – yeah I hate Symbian.

You’re usually one or two clicks away from doing what you need and it has a sliding, full-qwerty keyboard. Typing won’t be an issue. It’s REALLY a small computer just the size of your pockets, and worked like a charm on my GSM carrier.

The Bad

Now that you’re in love and you’ve started your relationship, some things will start to annoy you. You’ll need to add extra (“non trusted” in Nokia lingo) repositories, if you want to install really interesting apps – everything in the “default secure trusted” is booooring and old (this is so Debian I should have expected). The adding new repos thing is not that user-friendly if you’re not used to linux.

You’ll also find out that if you want full root access on your command line, there are also some tricks involved. The N900 is now looking like a geek toy but trying to protect you from playing with it.

After solving these issues, I installed ssh, the apps I wanted and tried to set it up for synchronizing with my Google Life. Now comes…

The Incredibly Awful

The N900 doesn’t carry any kind of app that synchronizes with your google calendar, mail or contacts and their Exchange connector doesn’t work with Google. There are some vague solutions on their forum – even suggesting upgrading the firmware! – but, as I only had the N900 for one week, I couldn’t test ALL of them, and the best I could do was to sync my facebook account and contacts and manage my contacts using the awesome app Hermes.

The thing is: even with my old Symbian phone, it was pretty easy to do Google Sync. HOW COME I have a INCREDIBLY ADVANCED TECHNOLOGICAL DEVICE and it does not do Google Sync? Come on, we’re in 2010, these things HAVE TO WORK. So, this is a major turn off on the N900 for me.

The Veredict

It’s a good gadget, it works and it has great battery life (Nokia is the best for battery life, always). I don’t care about camera or embedded music player – I just need them to work, and if they work, it’s ok for me. But if you’re expecting to transfer your Google Life to your pocket, go buy yourself an Android. I’ll have more amazing cell phone stories to share with you. Stay connected.