Tuesday, December 22, 2009

[N900 REVIEW] Part 3 : Contacts and Phone

Posted on 22:06 by SlipKoRnSaad

Welcome to the first installment of N900's software coverage, i have choose to begin this part with the first half of PIM support of the N900, as it's a phone (before and) after all...

Contacts :

Like any other "phone", when launched in landscape mode, Contacts application shows a list of all contacts in an alphabetical order by default, however, contacts can be sorted by :

Availability (VoIP/chat contacts who are online will be shown at first)
Recent contacts which will sort contacts by the time and date of last connection (of any kind, including voice and Internet calls, as well as sent or received messages, chats, etc).

In settings, we can choose whether contacts should be ordered by first, last name or nickname :

Each entry consists of Contact name, Availability status icon and Contact picture thumbnail, and in the Recent contacts view also connection type icon (incoming, outgoing, message, etc) and last connection date (and one line of message text in case of messages) :

Available field types are good but not as good as the Nokia S60 handsets (It won't be as perceivable as that in real life usage) ;)

Infact you can now even pull in contacts from your online accounts without third party software. Simply goto contacts and you will be presented with a plethora of options :

At this state, i should point to Hermes applet which enables you to grab your Facebook or Twitter contacts in the main phonebook, duplicate entries can use the function "Merge Contacts eradicate" so that only one contact with all the info remains.

When launched from phone application (in a portrait orientation), contacts looks better, packing a letter search at the side (alphabetical search) which improve things a lot :

Phone application :

Note that the N900 doesn't have a call log in the classical meaning of the word. There isn't a dedicated application for that but the phone app shows all your recent calls (similar to the one of the Contacts application, but without showing recent messages/chats, etc. just calls).

The options menu available on this screen provides access to Call timers, VoIP/IM accounts settings, lets you clear the recent calls list and configure Turning control, a few words about this feature : when in the landscape mode with the keyboard closed you can simply turn the phone vertical and the phone application will launch. To enable this, tap the Phone menu in the top Status bar and select turning control, also, you can also choose display orientation for the Phone application when launched with the hardware keyboard closed : force it to be always "Portrait" or set it to "Automatic".

As per usual with Nokia phones, the N900 has excellent reception and call quality, but i noticied that the 5800XM for example has a loudest volume during conversation ;)

Of course, like the most recent devices, there is the so-called turn-to-mute functionality on the N900 thanks to the accelerometer. All you need to do in order to mute an incoming call is flip the phone over.

Another point of criticism, is that the N900 lacks advanced call features like voice dialing and last number redial. It does have speed dialing, reliable voicemail notifications (though the number 1 isn't automatically assigned to voicemail, but should be in a future firmware), call history and an impressive selection of well-integrated Internet calling services. From the standard phone dialer you can make calls using Google Talk, Skype, Ovi, Jabber, SIP etc. Simply enter your login credentials in the phone account setup screen and select a contact to call. You'll see options for cellular calling and any VoIP internet calling services you've set up. Very, very nice! No separate application and geeky settings to fight with (we'll talk about this later on).

Last but not least, smart dialing function works directly from the desktop or in contacts / phone applet. Just start typing and the Phone app with matching entries will instantly pop up. Instead of letters, you can also type digits (with the Fn key) and in such case it'll bring up the dialling pad ;)

Finally, the dialing pad works in both portrait and landscape and offers huge, easy to tap buttons, it also contains a large "Call type" button, which switches between "Cellular" and one of the configured VoIP accounts, and the coolest thing is that it also supports the "loudspeaker" mode for calls of both types.

In summary : The N900 shows a very high level of integration and interaction between mobile and VoIP functionality, but it lacks some "basics" features for a nowadays smartphone, mobile computer, mobile phone, or whatever you call it ! Some works are needed in this department Nokia !

What's hot :

- Full integration between mobile and VoIP telephony is really impressive
- Mature support for telephony when comparing to previous tablets.
- Turn-to-mute feature
- Turning control feature
- Merge Contacts feature
- Among strongest native support of contacts synchronization with plethora of options

What's not :

- No option to assign specific ringtones to particular contacts
- No option to text a contact from the phone application (call log) Update : you can make a long press on the contact, a small pop up ask you if you want to delete the log entry or open the business card, if so, you'll have all options to interact with the contact as in the contact app ;)
- No option to scroll contacts with the help of the arrow keys of the QWERTY keybord
- No alphabetical search in contact application (except in portrait mode)
- No option to multi-select different contacts in order to interact with them (like a Symbian device)
- Weak call log
- "Introductory" attempt to implement telephony when comparing to a Symbian device.
- Contacts fields are not renameable like on S60 OS
- No Option to select a standard number for SMS or call !

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