The Nokia N900 smartphone was the last phone to ship with the open source, Linux-based Maemo operating system. It was released in late 2009, shortly before Maemo was merged with Moblin to become MeeGo… and then Nokia stopped supporting both operating systems and began focusing on Windows Phone software. Nokia’s phone business was later acquired by Microsoft the Nokia N900 was largely forgotten… except by people who loved this little Linux-based phone with a slide-out keyboard.

A few years ago a team decided to resurrect the device by designing a new phone called the Neo900 which is an unofficial successor of the N900. It has the same basic design, but features more memory, a faster processor, and other improvements and support for a variety of open source operating systems.

Now the team has opened a web store to begin accepting down payments for either the phone or a circuit board which can be dropped into a Nokia N900 to upgrade the hardware.

neo900

The hardware isn’t cheap: A Neo900 phone is expected to cost 990 Euros, or about $1100 US. If you just want the NeoN kit to upgrade your existing phone, that’ll cost a little less than half as much.

Why the high price? This is limited-edition hardware and it costs a lot to manufacture and test this sort of product. Sure, it’d be cheaper if it went into mass production, but it’s unlikely that there’s a large enough customer base for this product to warrant large-scale manufacturing. The developers don’t expect to profit from the project, but they’re hoping not to lose money either.

That’s why they’re taking down payments before the final product is ready to go: without collecting some money, it might not be possible to finish producing the Neo900.

The Neo900 has pretty basic specs by 2015 standards (I said almost the same thing when writing about the same hardware in 2013). But it’s still a big step up from the hardware used in the original Nokia N900.

The Neo900 has a 1 GHz TI OMAP 3730 Cortex-A8 single-core processor (up from a 600 MHz OMAP 3430 chip), 1GB of RAM (up from 256MB), and a 3.5 inch TFT 800 x 480 pixel resistive touchsreen display (about the same as the original, but with support for dual-touch input).

Other new features include a 3-axis compass and gyroscrope, a barometer and thermometer, and optional support for 4G LTE. You can see a full list of the differences at the Neo900 website.

via Slashdot

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14 replies on “Neo900 inches closer to reality (project to update the Nokia N900 hardware)”

  1. I would love a reasonably priced Android phone with a keyboard like my late lamented Droid 2.

  2. Too expensive for a slow TI OMAP (single core) chip, 1GB RAM and 800×480 display.

  3. “A Neo900 phone is expected to cost 990 Euros, or about $1100 US.”

    …….you’d have to be 1% short of a hundred platform zealot to want to pay that much for something that’s technically 10x inferior to any current 3rd rate $100 Chinese droids today.

    I don’t get it from the get go really. How hard is it to just hold on to the blueprints, cut a deal w/ a willing Chinese OEM (contrary to popular belief there’s enough out there that can do the job admirably these days) and get some sweeter cost cuts for the 1st limited run?

    It’s called the Neo900 fair enough but ffs man if you expect people to drop a grand enthusiast or not ante it up way better than the og model at least on the damned screen size if not anything else. 4″ capacitive qHD are peanuts.

    1. there is demand for this phone if you go to their forum you will see. it is not for normal people like me but for pro

      1. Yes, and the problem with chinese manufacturers, if you come with a command under 10 000pieces, they will laugh. They do mass production there.

    2. No kidding. When I saw this story, I thought they were referring to a spiritual successor, something with modern hardware and a more current OS. These specs would have been a tough sell in 2012, they’re almost appallingly bad in mid-2015. I loved my N900 (and my N800 before that), and would love something with its feature set paired with a recent Snapdragon and a 5-inch capacitive touchscreen even in a brickier form factor. But anyone who’d pay $1100 for this is a moron, period. The world has moved on. Deal with it, Nokia fans.

    3. Chinese manufacturers don’t deal with orders this small. Parts suppliers generally require minimum orders in the size of 10,000 – 100,000 units. They simple cannot make profits setting up to produce something in small numbers. In addition quality varies considerably between suppliers and there is a no real guarantee that a given supplier will be able to meet quality standards on the first run.

      At a minimum you are looking at several hundred thousand dollars worth of investment just to get a project like this setup on a scale that it could be produced more cheaply. Realistically it would likely cost far more. Therefore it is beyond the means of groups who are trying to produce very niche products that are likely only going to sell in small numbers. You may feel $1000 is too expensive but that’s the real cost of a product that isn’t able to exploit cheap manufacturing and abused underpaid workers.

  4. “1GB of RAM (up from 256GB)” it is a server?

    “Neo900 phone is expected to cost 990 Euros” it’s even more than the pyra Oo

    1. Maemo was dead by then, and the N9 shipped with MeeGo (which was created by the merging of Maemo and Moblin).

      It had more powerful hardware, but lacked a keyboard.

      1. I see his point though – there’s a difference between “they stopped Maemo because of Windows Phone” versus “they stopped Maemo because of Meego” – the latter was a far closer successor.

        1. Alright, alright… I’ve updated the post to include a mention of Maemo becoming MeeGo before Nokia stopped supporting both and switched to Windows Phone.

      2. The biggest betrayal in my life was not inflicted by my girlfriend or an enemy, but Nokia stopping the support of my N900 two months after I bought it (while the feature list was still incomplete; they promised official Meego support, portrait mode, a full Nokia Maps application and many more…).

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