You could be forgiven for not remembering the Nokia N1. I almost didn’t, right up until the guy showing it off thrust it into my hands to take a look. I’m glad he did though, because this might just be the best Android tablet I’ve ever seen.
The 7.9-inch tablet has a frame milled from a single lump of aluminium. Measuring 6.9mm thick it weighs 318g. If you think it looks rather a lot like an iPad Mini, you…you wouldn’t be alone. It’s a beautiful tablet running Android. Win win!
Elsewhere on the outside are 8-megapixel rear and 5-megapixel front cameras, a twin set of speakers, and a reversible USB Type C port. Yup, no micro-USB here — instead, the latest USB connection that doesn’t care which way round your cable gets plugged in. In fact, it’s one of the first devices we’ve seen to sport the connection.
Inside, there’s a 64-bit 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 paired with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The screen offers up a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. It runs Android 5.0, but Nokia has decided to add its Z Launcher over the top.
The comparisons to the iPad Mini are easy to be made as soon as you get your hands onto the N1. The single unibody construction is incredibly similar, right down to the speaker grilles on the bottom and the reversible USB port mounted dead-centre.
Nokia has taken extreme care when designing the N1, even mounting the camera unit in line with the concentric corners of the chassis so as to keep it even, balanced and flush. That’s right: no camera bulge here.
It runs Android 5.0 with what Nokia is calling its proprietary Z Launcher software on top. The first thing you notice is how clean it is. No widgets, just a few apps and a Google Search bar.
The premise behind Z Launcher is scrawling the first letter of the app you want and having it magically appear. The reasoning behind it is that Nokia found everyone creating pages and pages of apps and folders and losing the stuff they wanted most. The pitch behind Z Launcher is to get your favourite apps in 1 second “or less”. Space-time bullshit aside, it’s actually pretty spot on at giving you the apps you want in a handful of ticks.
The Z Launcher can learn what you use most and expose that on the front page automatically, but it’s just as easy to scrawl a big letter anywhere on the screen to find what you’re after. Even if you hate all that, you can just swipe from left to right and get yourself an app list like the old days.]
It’s the equivalent of $US249, but the downside is that it’s only shipping in China with Foxconn as the partner. Boo.
There’s an LTE version coming out in the US real soon, so we’ll just have to hope that Nokia rides again in Australia.
Jamie Condliffe also contributed to this article.