The N900 is the first Nokia smartphone based on the Maemo OS, formerly employed only by the firm's internet tablet devices.
It's a canny move, which makes this the easiest to use of all the Nokia phones in our group test in the May 2010 issue of PC Authority. The OS is well suited to touchscreen use, with a scrolling desktop to which you can add shortcuts and widgets, and a simple grid-style application-launch view.
It's easy to find your way around as a result, and full of neat touches. Importantly, browsing the web is quick and reliable. Maemo's browser is built on the Mozilla codebase, and it shows.
Connected over Wi-Fi, the N900 brought up the SMH desktop homepage in an average of 8.3 seconds - on a par with the iPhone 3GS - and scored a creditable 93 in the Acid3 test. The browser also supports Flash 9.4 and will run embedded YouTube videos. iPlayer video, however, doesn't work as well.
On the hardware side, the screen is good. At 3.5in it's the same size as the iPhone's, but boasts a superior 800 x 480 resolution, which makes text on web pages easier on the eye.
Under the hood there's plenty going on. Data connectivity takes in Wi-Fi, HSDPA and Bluetooth. On the media front there's a 3.5mm headphone socket, plus an FM transmitter for wireless music playback through a radio.
There's 32GB to store all your media on and the camera is good too. Boasting a 5-megapixel resolution and dual-LED flash, it produces excellent pictures. Its video mode lets you shoot 848 x 480 at 25fps too.
Build quality is excellent, and the Qwerty keyboard that slides out from under the screen is usable, with solid-feeling keys and a sensible layout.
It isn't all good, though: at 19.7mm the N900 is too thick; it has a resistive touchscreen rather than a capacitive one; the selection of apps available for Maemo isn't very impressive; and the OS isn't completely glitch-free, with tearing during some animations and poor performance in Ovi Maps. Finally, battery life is below average, with 40% capacity left on the clock after 24 hours.
We like the Nokia N900, but these problems mean it can't match the award-winners in this group test. The iPhone 3GS and RIM's BlackBerry Bold 9700 are both that bit more accomplished.