It isn’t too far a stretch to say everyone has a soft spot for Nokia. The brand that grew synonymous for a generation of youths is now no longer making phones – though not for long. In the meantime, it’s found a legal loophole to release the N1 tablet, which is prominently on display here at Nokia’s booth in MWC 2015. We had to take a look.
When it was first announced, it isn’t some outlandish claim that the N1 looks startlingly similar to the iPad mini. Up close, the Nokia Android tablet looks even more so – just remove the home button in front, and replace the Apple logo with a Nokia one at the back. At first glance, you probably wouldn’t be able to note any differences between the two tablets.
The hardware, though similar in some aspects, is what totally separates these two tablets. While both tablets sport a 7.9-inch 2048 x 1536 IPS display and feature a sexy metal unibody, the N1 is powered by an Intel Atom Z3580 processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. It’s also perhaps the first device in the world to deploy a USB Type-C connector, which is a reversible USB connector that’s slimmer and has significantly faster data transfer rates.
More importantly, the Nokia N1 runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop, with Nokia’s own Z Launcher on top. If you haven’t tried it before, you can download the launcher for your Android phone here. Basically, it’s a complete rethinking of how the Android interface should be, with an emphasis on decluttering your home screen and optimising which apps to display at the right times. The home screen houses just 12 apps, which dynamically changes the longer you use the device – it’ll only display your most-used apps. This home screen is also a scribble board – just draw any letter (regardless of its size) and the launcher will display all apps that contain that letter, again sorted by which are the most used.
An edge-swipe from the right will display the app drawer, sorted alphabetically. In addition, long-pressing an app on the home screen will display two options: Uninstall (for installed apps) or App Info (for core apps) and Hide, which will remove the app from the 12 apps on display.
Overall, the software feels delightfully different, light and has a minimalism that perfectly reflects the tablet’s external design.
Remember, this is a tablet that costs just $249 (about RM910), making this one of the best Android tablets you can find. Unfortunately, this tablet is still only available in China, employing the low-risk business model of selling a low amount of units in batches. Needless to say, it’s been selling out in minutes.
The Nokia N1 tablet is on display here at MWC despite its China-only availability as the Finnish company is using the industry’s largest trade show to announce that it is planning to make the device available in Europe – though the timeline is still not confirmed. It may also be a subtle hint, reminding everyone that this company is still one of the best in the business when it comes to industrial design.