Maemo vs. Android

Since I can pro­bably declare my Nokia N810 dead after a rather unde­li­be­rate expo­sure to not really fresh water, I’m on the look­out for a wor­ka­ble repla­ce­ment. See­ing that Apple, des­pite all its glos­si­ness, is quite a pile of crap when it comes to soft­ware deve­l­o­pe­ment and free stan­dards, I thought there was only one choice: Android.

That was, until I found out that the next Maemo device from Nokia, the N900, also dub­bed “Rover”. There’s also real pic­tures avail­able, not mockups.

The N900 would then, of course, be pit­ted against the HTC Hero.

Now, first, hard­ware. A quick comparision:

HTC Hero Nokia Rover
CPU 528 MHz Qual­comm® MSM7200A™ 500/600 MHz OMAP 3430
RAM (phy­si­cal) 288 MB 256 MB
Dimen­si­ons (L⨉W⨉T) 112mm ⨉ 56.2mm ⨉ 14.35mm 59.7mm ⨉ 111mm ⨉ 18.20mm
Weight 135g 180g
Dis­play 3.2″ 320×480 (HVGA) 3.5″ 800×480 (WVGA)
Con­nec­tivity
  • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850,900,1800,1900 MHz, WCDMA 900,2100 MHz
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g, Blue­tooth 2.0
  • Quad-Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: 850,900,1800,1900 MHz, WCDMA 900,1700/2100,2100
  • WiFi: pro­bably, Blue­tooth: pro­bably 2.0
Sto­rage 512 MB inter­nal (~150 avail­able), SDHC slot (16 GB) 32 GB inter­nal, SDHC slot (16 GB)

So in essence, the Rover trumps the Hero in sto­rage capa­city and screen reso­lu­tion, has a slight advan­tage in CPU, suc­cumbs in RAM and weighs more. But of course nobody has yet been able to touch the Rover from a reviewer’s point of per­spec­tive, and if it is anything simi­lar to the N810, the sli­ding key­board will wiggle all the time and annoy you.

The main ques­tion would pro­bably the choice of ope­ra­ting sys­tem: Do you want Google’s shiny Android mobile phone ope­ra­ting sys­tem? Or do you want Nokia’s Maemo 5/Fremantle, a Debian port initi­ally desi­gned for mobile devices wit­hout phone connectivity?

From a nerd or hacker point of view, maemo is very inte­res­ting, since it’s basi­cally an embed­ded Debian, with all its advan­ta­ges and disad­van­ta­ges. But you have to ask your­self: so far, the other Nokia Inter­net Tablets have been good secon­dary devices. You have your mobile phone for your RL con­nec­tivity, and the NIT, pro­bably con­nec­ting to the Inter­net via your phone, hand­les the CPU-churning Inter­net activi­ties. The ques­tion ari­ses whe­ther the new gene­ra­tion of smart­pho­nes actually requi­res this kind of distinction.

On the other hand, you have the Android ope­ra­ting sys­tem, spe­ci­fi­cally desi­gned for smart mobile pho­nes. This alone gives it the advan­tage of being more stream­lined to mobile phone needs, which helps quite a bit in usability.

The great advan­tage of the Maemo sys­tem, as oppo­sed to anything around at its time of incep­tion, was it being almost com­ple­tely open source, and based on Debian. So, with a fair bit of luck, you could just com­pile a Debian package in the right build environ­ment, and it would pro­bably run on your maemo device. And since you had GTK as your win­do­wing basis, well, deve­lo­ping your own apps was easy, too.

But with Fre­mantle, Nokia’s chan­ging to Qt to keep up the splif­fy­ness with iPhone OS and Android, which will make all the old GTK app­li­ca­ti­ons look a bit out of date. While this may be a ‘good’ move to go towards mobile pho­nen­ess, it will pro­bably alie­nate the fan­base to no end to sudd­denly have to do Qt. I’m gues­sing this will end bad.

On the other hand, people claim about Android being from evil evil Google, and thus not trust­wor­sty. What I’m asking mys­elf, espe­cially after wri­t­ing down why I’m more inclined towards the Android OS, and, thus, the Hero: is it worth wait­ing for the Rover, being ‘redu­ced’ to my S60r3 phone until I can decide whe­ther it is bet­ter or not?

towo has been writing stuff on the Internet on and off for years. He also thinks that author blurbs are silly.