The N900 is an extremely powerful device that feels more targeted towards geeks than the average Smartphone user.
Since the N900 is a mini-computer and almost all computers have a landscape screen format, Nokia assumes that you will want to use the N900 is a landscape format all the time. So almost all the applications are designed to be operated ONLY in landscape mode at the moment which means that you’ll be using both of your hands. The accelerometer doesn’t switch to a vertical/horizontal orientation automatically on the O/S level. Instead, the application specifies whether it wants to work horizontally or vertically and except for the phone application, everything else on the N900 currently only works on a horizontal format. This didn’t work well for me as I would much rather use my phone in a portrait mode for almost everything including reading my text messages or emails or tweets. But the N900 forces me otherwise.
If you can get past that, the way the N900 functions is pretty impressive. Its based on Maemo 5 which is more of a full-on Linux kernel than any other Smartphone device in the market and could potentially allow you to run many many applications with little tweaking. Multiple applications run at the same time on the N900 with the only limiting factor being the amount of RAM available. Switching between applications is very Mac like- just tap the top left side of the touch screen and you get a preview of all open applications- and you simply tap on the one you want to get to. It is somewhat the equivalent of keeping the Blackberry key pressed on your Blackberry but with a much better visual experience as you’re looking at an actual snapshot of the program instead of its icon.
Somewhat like the N97, the N900 has a desktop that supports widgets and shortcuts. The desktop extends to four screens that you can get to by flicking to the left and right. Information such as you calendar, the weather and Facebook updates can be placed on the desktops as widgets along with shortcuts to applications or your favorite contacts. Navigating the N900 is, somewhat restricted by the resistive screen. While Nokia has tried to make the N900 finger friendly, I ended up selecting stuff lots of time when I actually wanted to scroll between a list of things. The best workaround is to use your finger nail when you want to scroll and the finger to select. And although kinetic scrolling is supported, its not as fluid as the iPhone. From what Nokia told me, it was impossible to use a capacitive screen with the current resolution when the phone was being developed. Hopefully the technology will exist when the follow up to the N900 comes along as that will do wonders for this device.
The phone application on the N900 needs work a bit of work. Since there is no hardware key to bring up the application, the easiest way to get to it is to press the power button which shows a list of commonly used tasks and select the phone app from there. Alternatively, you can set the N900 to switch to the phone app whenever you hold the phone in portrait mode. This works sometimes but not every time. Another annoyance is that clicking on an entry in your call log brings all associated numbers for that contact instead of immediately dialing the number on the call log. What I do like is that the phone application allows you to associate VoIP with your contacts and allows you to call them using their mobile or VoIP number. I also like the way how Nokia has placed blocks of alphabets on the right side of the screen instead of the entire list of alphabets as done on the iPhone. The blocks allow you to select letters more easily.