After they sold their mobile division to Microsoft last year, there wasn’t much expected from Nokia in the form of hardware. But late last year, Nokia surprised everyone by releasing a brand new smaller form-factor tablet, the Nokia N1. Manufactured by Foxconn in China, the tablet has limited availability, but as it’s here at MWC let’s have a look.
The team demonstrating the Nokia N1 are passionate about the tablet. They’re excited about it as a product and happily tell you the design story behind the inception and creation of the product. According to Nokia, they looked at the tablet market and decided there were no ‘good’ Android tablets available in terms of design of hardware or software, so they created the N1.
The story goes that Nokia has created a pleasing tablet, to look at and use. Small details have been thought of such as the curvature of the bezels, the 4:3 aspect ratio screen and the fact that there’s no protrusions from the body. The look of the tablet is clean and designed to not distract you from using it – with Nokia even going so far as to make sure the camera is positioned correctly so as not to annoy.
Premium construction has gone into building the tablet, with choices made to go with a zero-gap display to give an excellent quality screen that even at a low angle you can still see what’s on the screen. The screen is indeed responsive and easy to see, but that’s inside in fairly good non-direct light.
The N1 uses an Intel processor under the hood and it’s paired with 2GB of DDR3 RAM. It’s a fairly standard sort of spec except for the Atom processor, which is still making headway in Android tablets. But the the tablet feels responsive, and even though there was essentially nothing installed on it, it felt good.
The tablet is comfortable to hold, though a little wide in the 8″ 4:3 aspect ratio, and even though it’s made of aluminium, it has a semi-soft feel to it, thanks to Nokia sandblasting the back to achieve a satin finish. You can watch videos in landscape mode, but because of the AR, you’ll see black bars, but it’s a decent enough experience and the video looks great on the 2048×1536 resolution display.
The bottom of the N1 is quite interesting for two reasons, the first is that USB-C type connector – the N1 is the first tablet to market which supports the new reversible USB form factor. It’s easy to plug that cable in no matter which way you have it.
The second interesting part are the stereo speakers tucked behind the machined grilles at the base. The only downfall of this is of course it’s stereo in portrait – but I guess you can’t have everything.
Nokia built the N1 on Android 5.0.1 and it’s stock as a rock. The tablet has one thing installed on it which isn’t stock and that’s Nokia’s Z Launcher. It’s a contextual launcher which attempts to surface the right app based on the time of day or the location you’re currently in. It also has a neat trick for finding an app by simply drawing the letters of the app name on the screen.
Overall, the N1 is a GREAT tablet. It’s light, it’s fast and it looks really, really nice. The lines are clean and when you’re using it, Nokia’s vision for nothing to distract you actually does work. This is a tablet I could get behind for a Nexus 8 if Google ever wanted to work with a partner for an 8″ tablet then Nokia and Foxconn would be a great partner – but even as a tablet, it’s REALLY nice.
Availability wise the tablet is only available in China for US$249 but the staff at the booth are fairly sure that the tablet will expand to more markets soon. If you want any more information you can check the Nokia N1 website.