Nokia's latest entry into the portable device market comes in the form of the newly announced Nokia N1 tablet. At first glance, it seems to be yet another iPad clone, but the affordable 7.9-inch tablet may surprise you, especially considering the fact that it comes from Nokia.
While Nokia was once the leader of mobile technology, its popularity has dwindled in recent years. But the N1 may just be the boost that brings the tech company back from the ashes.
The N1 features a 7.9-inch multi-touch display running 16 million colors at 2048 x 1536 pixels of resolution. The processor is an impressive 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. The tablet is powered by a 5,300 mAh Li-Po battery and the whole she-bang weighs only 318 grams (0.701 lb).
While the cameras have no flash capabilities, there's still an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel one in the front. Not the best resolution you can find, but Nokia is known for its quality cameras, which sometimes makes more of a difference than the megapixel count.
One interesting thing about the N1 that is sure to boost its popularity is the fact that it's running Android 5.0 straight out of the box. Nokia's last attempt at a run through the tablet market was with the Lumia 2520, which was running Windows RT 8.1. While not a complete flop, the tablet didn't sell as well as Nokia had hoped, which some attribute to the inclusion of the Windows mobile operating system. And even though Microsoft bought Nokia earlier in the year, it's interesting to see that Nokia opted to go with an Android operating system instead of sticking with Windows.
This version of Android 5.0 on the N1, though, does not carry the Lollipop name, thanks to a bit of a restructure to Nokia's own Z Launcher brand. Z Launcher takes customization to a new level by evolving your most frequently used apps to the top of your home screen automatically.
Z Launcher also boasts a helpful use of on-screen gestures for navigation. So if you're looking for someone in your contact list whose name starts with the letter S, just scribble an S on the screen, and you'll be taken straight to that letter in your address book. This works full navigation through your tablet, as well. Other than this feature, the N1's Android 5.0 OS is identical to Lollipop.
The quality of the N1 should come to no surprise to Nokia fans as this tablet enjoys many of the same materials as the iPad with Gorilla Glass 3, fully laminated zero air-gap on the display, and a one-piece aluminum frame construction.
If you're looking for a comparison with similar Android tablets, TechAdvisor recently put the N1 up against Samsung's Tab S tablet. "The Nokia N1 is a worthy challenger to the Tab S 8.4 in the Android tablet world," the tech review site said. "The Samsung Tab is powerful, fully featured, and well priced, offering cellular connectivity and expandable storage. But the Nokia N1 may be a cheaper option."
And it's that cheaper price that will really change the minds of many looking for a quality Android tablet next year. At $250 retail, that's $150 cheaper than the Galaxy Tab S and the similarly specced iPad Air.
The bad news for those of us in the U.S. looking to get our hands on this new product is that there's no definite release date for the N1 in the West. It will begin shipping in February 2015 in China and then go for the Russian market after that. We'll certainly keep our eyes open for news of a U.S. release.