Nokia surprised us all in November with the Nokia N1 tablet, an Android-based slate. Nokia recently left the smart phone business, selling its handset division to Microsoft, and tablets may be one of main areas to which it’s now diverting its attention. This is the first tablet from Nokia and is now only available in China for just $250 but can be picked up from Amazon for $459. But since it is not the international version, Google Play Services and various Google applications aren’t available on this version of the device that is intended for the Chinese market. On the software side of things, the Nokia N1 tablet is running on Android 5.0.1 Lollipop with Nokia’s Z Launcher manufactured by Foxconn.
The Z Launcher is a minimalistic launcher that consists of primarily two screens, with the first featuring the most recent applications you have accessed, while the other is essentially the app drawer, featuring a long, alphabetized menu of all your installed applications. What makes this launcher unique is the built-in gesture controls, called Scribble, that lets you draw a letter or word on the screen to easily open a particular app.
Nokia is using a clever algorithm that learns the more you use the Z Launcher to hone in what you regularly look for. Throughout the day, Z Launcher is learning how you use your phone and promoting your favourite apps so you can get to them faster. The more you use it, the better it gets. Apart from that there isn’t a lot to the software experience, with only a few more settings available, including Compass and Gyro sensor calibration, and Intel Smart Video. Neat and cleverly Powered by a 64-bit Intel quad-core processor, Nokia N1 is smart and fast. While Intel processors aren’t particularly common when it comes to powering Android smartphones and tablets, that is what we get under the hood of the Nokia N1 Tablet, with Atom Z3580 processor, clocked at 2.3 GHz, and backed by the PowerVR G6430 GPU and 2 GB of RAM.
Everything about it seems to borrow design cues from Apple, from the shape of the buttons to the drilled speaker holes on the bottom. It is made up of anodized aluminium, and is delightfully slim at 6.9mm, which is slimmer than the iPad mini’s 7.5mm. It is also light, at 318g, slightly less than the 331g of the iPad mini 3. The Nokia N1 houses a whopping 32GB of internal storage. Initially it sounds impressive, until you realise there’s no expansion slot. The N1 is a glimpse of what could have been if the company had laid its bets on Android instead of Windows Phone. When it comes to the design and build quality, the Nokia N1 tablet can comfortably compete with the finest of the lot. Design-wise, the rounded edges bulge out more than the mini’s, and in place of a Lightning port there’s a shiny new USB Type-C reversible connector. It is one of the first tablets to sport a USB Type-C socket. The back is smooth, and can best be described as providing the feel of a sheet of metal. On top are the headphone jack, mic, and the power button, with the volume rocker placed on the right, along with the dual mono speakers found at the bottom.
The Nokia N1 Tablet features a 7.9-inch IPS LCD display, with 2048 x 1536 of resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 324 ppi, and a 4:3 aspect ratio. On the battery front, the Nokia N1 tablet packs a 5,300 mAh unit, that does give an impressive battery life, and even more impressive standby time, with the device lasting for as long as 4 days with low to moderate usage.
While the Nokia N1 packs an 8 MP rear shooter, the image quality is just about average. It’s made with Gorilla Glass 3, and uses zero air-gap technology to cut reflectiveness and increase contrast. Connectivity includes 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. There’s no 4G LTE version yet, though. It comes in two colours: Natural Aluminium or Lava Grey. Poor Camera Quality and the always running in the background nature of some the apps resulting in a faster battery drain are the major drawbacks of Nokia’s first Tablet.