Nokia makes a comeback with the N1 tablet
In a move that signals a return to the consumer hardware business, Nokia recently unveiled a new 7.9-inch tablet called the N1 which runs Google’s Android operating system.
Nokia’s loss-making hardware division (which made its fairly popular Lumia line of smartphones) was sold off to Microsoft earlier in the year for around $7.5 billion. The sell-off came after several years of heavy losses, mainly because the Finnish company failed to make a dent in a market now dominated by Apple and Samsung.
Nokia is restricted from making smartphones until January 2016, under the Microsoft agreement, but of course the N1 is a tablet so that doesn’t apply in this case. And the fact that Nokia has chosen to shun Windows Phone and go with Android is a move that should encourage buyers who want the best range of apps and content.
The first sign that something was afoot broke when a picture of a mysterious dark box was posted on the company’s Twitter page, accompanied with the tagline “we’re up to something”. Nobody quite knew what hardware would be unveiled, but the Nokia N1 announced on the 18th of November at an event in Helsinki.
When is it available?
Nokia have licensed the design of its new tablet to Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn, who coincidentally also makes the iPad and iPhone for Apple. The N1 is expected to be launched in China initially for around $249 in the first few months of 2015, just in time for the Chinese New Year in February which when Chinese consumer spending skyrockets over the holidays.
There’s no word yet just when (or if) it will be launched in other markets such as Thailand, but price-sensitive Asian consumers will surely welcome a high quality tablet that is cheaper than the iPad.
The lowdown on the hardware
What is the Nokia N1 tablet like?
It’s sleek, svelte, made from polished aluminium, and looks and feels like a very premium device (according to those who have seen it demonstrated). If you have read the technical press lately, you’ll be aware of the comparisons to Apple’s iPad Mini. It has to be said, at first glance they look extremely similar, even down to the placement of buttons on the device and speaker grille. Perhaps an Apple representative will shortly be making calls to the legal team at Nokia?
The hardware specs of the Nokia N1 and Apple’s iPad Mini are fairly similar, but the N1 appears to beat the iPad Mini in terms of performance, at least on paper (unfortunately, it’s becoming harder to compare tablets based purely on specs these days).
For the technically-minded, the N1 boasts:
- a 7.9-inch LCD screen with 2,048 x 1,536 pixels
- 64-bit 2.3 GHz Intel Atom CPU
- PowerVR graphics
- 2GB of RAM
- 32 GB storage
Anyone that wants a viable alternative to the iPad will probably be anticipating the N1, because Nokia has stuck to the same high quality design principles to create a tablet that looks great and should have the performance to match too.
Isn’t the N1 just a copy of the iPad?
Well, yes and no. In a sense they may have “borrowed” the styling from Apple to a degree, but to be honest there’s not really much you can do to make a tablet look that different. And in terms of software, it will run Android (with Nokia’s own Z-Launcher interface on top), which should appeal to those people that like to customise and tinker with their devices.
The verdict on the Nokia N1
While it’s a bit too early to really assess the Nokia N1 (at least until we get our hands on one!), it has generated lots of excitement in a market currently dominated by Apple on the high end, and hundreds of cheap Android tablets at the low end.
Even though tablet sales have taken a knock in 2014, Nokia certainly has the potential to make amazing tablets (and smartphones perhaps in 2016), and it’s great to see them making a comeback, no matter how small. We can’t wait to see if the N1 tablet will be available in Thailand, because that’s just the sort of market where it could find some success.
Welcome back Nokia, and let’s hope the N1 tablet really is as good as it looks!
You can find out more about the N1 at Nokia’s official page.
*We’ve corrected the retail price of the N1 from the previously stated $299 to $249.