Published by Asri al-Baker, David Gilson at 3:21 UTC, August 6th 2011
In another contribution from Asri Al Baker of i-symbian fame, we have a special un-boxing report of the Nokia N950, the Harmattan developer device. The N950 runs MeeGo Harmattan with SwipeUI like the N9, but has an angled slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It is offered only to developers and is not for sale to the public. In this report, Asri gives us his first impressions of the device, along with photos and video footage of the device in action.
Thanks to shared design language, the N950 looks almost identical to the E7. The most obvious difference is the ends of the E7 keyboard which curve upward, whereas the N950 keyboard is completely flat.
The N950 product information screen
Nokia N950 offers the same user experience (UX) as the Nokia N9. However, the N9 is currently a more complete device because it has a more mature version of the OS and is ready for the public with very cool applications already on-board. The N950 is using a very early version of MeeGo Harmattan and so it might not be suitable to be used as a daily phone.
I cant say much about the OS because it’s unfair to judge it at its current condition. This is a developer device, hence, there are some developer goodies inside it such as Terminal, as well as some QML Widget Examples for developer’s reference.
The N950's Terminal application
On the application front, there are a plenty of standard phone applications which can be used out of the box; such as the Web browser, powered by WebKit2. It doesn’t support Flash but let’s say you want to watch YouTube videos, it will load the mobile HTML5 version of YouTube and the videos will be played outside the Web browser, i.e. in the Video player.
There are also some tools ready for developers embedded inside the mass storage drive. Software development kit (SDK) installation files for Linux, Windows and Mac are provided, as well as MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan API Reference files.
Some installation files provided on the N950's mass storage drive
Below are a series of videos demonstrating the N950. Enjoy!
Nokia N950 phone uses the same hardware components as the Nokia N9 with the following exceptions:
N950 is physically larger and is made out of aluminum, whereas N9 has a polycarbonate unibody.
N950 has a physical slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The N9 is a touchscreen only device.
N950 has a 4” TFT LCD display whereas N9 has 3.9” AMOLED display. Display resolution is same on both devices (854x480). Due to the use of different display technologies, developers should avoid one pixel width fonts and graphical objects with lines one pixel wide. Also avoid the extensive use of bright colors, especially white, when developing for OLED displays as this increases the power consumption (typical for OLED displays).
N950 has a different physical camera module than N9. Both camera modules have very similar image quality (Carl Zeiss branding in N9) and both modules support 8 megapixel image mode.
In the N950, the front facing camera is in top right corner. On N9 it is in the bottom right corner. The actual camera module is same.
N950 does not have support for NFC.
N9 has slightly more sensitive magnetometer and ambient light sensor.
N950 has a 1320mAh battery, the N9 has a 1450mAh battery
Nokia N950 device software Beta notes
The Nokia N950 phone software is in beta stage and does not represent the final quality or feature set which will be available when Nokia N9 is commercially available.
If the device becomes unresponsive you can to perform a hardware reset. Press the power key on top of the device and keep it pressed down for 8 or more seconds.
Certain types of use may drain the battery faster than normal.
Across the UI there are still logical ID’s shown in some languages, icons may not be finalized and animations with opening windows are missing.
Over-the-Air updates may not be available for the next software version.
Gallery application may sometimes display ‘no items’.
Help ('Info button') is disabled from this release.
There are many applications and services which are not available in this beta release.
Performance of all use cases has not been optimized yet.
An echo may be heard during some voice calls. This can be eliminated by turning speakerphone on and off during the call.
Chinese input method is not supported in this beta release.
The device may not always see all available WLAN’s (use manual refresh).
WLAN data transfer may stall off and on with WPA2/AES encryption.
Bluetooth may not work when the device is connected to WLAN Authentication and Privacty Infrastructure (WAPI) access point (AP).
The browser is unstable, and has known rendering issues with sites. The look and feel of the browser is not finalized yet.
Using SB and transferring large amounts of data slows down device and may long before content shows up in e.g. music player or video player.
USB needs to be in SDK (from Settings->Accessories->USB) before connecting to SDK via USB (or use Always ask mode and then selecting SDK mode when connecting with USB).
Asri al-Baker, For AllAboutMeeGo.Com, August 6th 2011.
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