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Cellphones Hardware Hacking

Neo900 Hacker Phone Reaches Minimum Number of Pre-Orders For Production 109

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the persistence-leads-to-victory dept.
First time accepted submitter wick3t writes "The Neo900 fundraising campaign has already achieved the milestone of 200 pre-orders which means that mass production is now feasible. This follows a successful first prototype that was showcased at the OpenPhoenux-Hard-Software-Workshop 2013. Their next target is 1000 pre-orders as they aspire to reduce the production costs of each device." For those not familiar, the Neo 900 is an offshoot of the OpenMoko GTA04 designed for use in the popular Nokia N900 case (and, yes, they're fixing the weak usb port).

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Neo900 Hacker Phone Reaches Minimum Number of Pre-Orders For Production

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  • but there can't be another smartphone, it's economically impossible!

    • I remember a few years ago I said (on Slashdot) that soon the only open computers would be expensive niche products from tiny companies...it's now true for mobile devices. How long until the rest of computing follows?

  • Ubuntu Edge (Score:4, Interesting)

    by johnsie (1158363) on Monday December 02, 2013 @08:20PM (#45579883)
    Why does this phone get produced but the Ubuntu Edge doesn't?
    • Re:Ubuntu Edge (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 02, 2013 @08:32PM (#45579937)

      Why does this phone get produced but the Ubuntu Edge doesn't?

      Because one (Ubuntu EDGE) is a vaporware consisting of couple PhotoShop images and the other (Neo900) is a in-detail specified open hardware project based on the proven N900 lineage, built by community with long years of building open hardware smartphones (Neo FreeRunner, GTA04) ?

    • by Desler (1608317)

      Because they have more than just a couple of 3d renders and an empty shell?

    • Because Canonical are scrubs.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        That, and the Scrubs want >30 million $ of your money

    • Price. (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday December 02, 2013 @08:50PM (#45580071) Homepage

      Because Ubuntu Edge cost four times as much? $625 was a lot to spend on a product that hadn't even been built, especially from a company that has no previous record when it comes to hardware.

      • There's no final price listed on the web page. It just says that they're counting every 100 Euro as an individual phone. Contributors get a full rebate when the phones are released, plus 2% for every month from the time they contributed to the release, as a reward for early donations. It could very well end up costing more than the Ubuntu phone.

        • by wick3t (787074)
          The price of motherboard without the case expected to be in the 500-700 EUR range [goldelico.com]. Yes it's expensive compared to devices of similar specifications but that's due to the low production volumes. That's the price you must pay if you want a fully featured Linux computer in your pocket.
    • by Fwipp (1473271)

      Because the Ubuntu Edge needed $32M to get funded, and this needed 25 000 €.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      someone gives a shit about it and the aim was _realistic_ and someone _actually_ went ahead and designed the board.

      whereas ubuntu edge didn't get manufactured because they didn't manage to beg enough money to pay other people to design it for them. they had no design and they basically just took the highest specs they could come up with for a phone to be sold next year.

      still, wouldn't buy, but a+ for effort.

  • How exciting! (Score:4, Informative)

    by mr_jrt (676485) on Monday December 02, 2013 @08:23PM (#45579897) Homepage

    I've been following this very, very, closely. I adore my N900...I just wish it was a little closer to my beloved Debian than it is...not to mention with the closed source UI code replaced with open code. I was tempted to do some of that work myself (and/or join some of the people doing similar things), but it was hard to justify the time cost on what is essentially a dead piece of hardware.

    ...with the potential for new devices however....things become a lot more interesting.

    Personally, I never really bought into the Meego changes...I felt too much of Maemo's "Debian" roots were lost thanks to the merge with the more Redhat-based Moblin, and I'd be much more interested in going back the other way, though the developers working on the continuation of Meego (Nemo et al) have done amazing work, cumulating in Jolla's new phone running Sailfish. I concluded (as, it seems, have many others) the best approach for my aims was to take the working Maemo 5 system and slowly rewrite the closed components one by one whilst simultaneously separately rebuilding the foundations on top of a more standard Debian base, essentially so you can have operational testing of things like communications features much quickly. There's been a lot of good work by the Maemo community to this end.

    All in all, very exciting. I'm hoping to order a couple of boards to revitalise a damaged spare N900 I have here, and if it works out well, my main one too :)

  • but will it work with my family's ATT wireless plan?

    • by Unknown Lamer (78415) Works for Slashdot <clinton@@@unknownlamer...org> on Monday December 02, 2013 @08:54PM (#45580095) Homepage Journal

      According to their FAQ [neo900.org], the modem will support the UMTS frequencies used by both AT&T and T-Mobile in the US.

      • by Nutria (679911)

        the modem will support the UMTS frequencies used by both AT&T and T-Mobile in the US.

        That's not actually what I asked.

    • by schnell (163007)

      but will it work with my family's ATT wireless plan?

      Short version: yes. AT&T's GSM network does not automatically boot off devices that it doesnt recognize, although you will get no customer support for a device that hasn't gone through their extensive network certification process.

      So your family plan will work if you swap your current SIMs out of your devices and into this phone. If you go into an AT&T store and say "what plans can I get with my Neo900?" they will stare at you blankly and try to sell you an iPhone... not out of malice but because th

  • I am all for open hardware but I guess I would just root a cheap popular android phone, then load whatever variety of rom I that fit what I wanted. Also, a problem I see if since it's a keyboard phone, why only 3 rows ? Ive always have phones like that myself, and still do, but I always look for 4 rows, full number & letter keys.
  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Monday December 02, 2013 @09:33PM (#45580303) Journal

    Can't buy this for the same reason why I didn't buy the n900, the terrible resistive touchscreen. It was a terrible choice, as all the android and iOS devices of note were capacitive at the time.

    • by dos1 (2950945) on Monday December 02, 2013 @09:35PM (#45580327)

      Have you actually used the N900 touchscreen? I wouldn't replace it with any capacitive crap.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66RBfrBgL2E [youtube.com]

      • Yes I have, its resistive as all get out. Do not want.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by preflex (1840068)
      One of the reasons I bought the n900 rather than one of the others was the wonderful resistive touchscreen. It was an excellent choice, as it was so much more precise than the capacitive screens on all the iOS and Android devices at the time. I could actually use the tiny UI elements in desktop apps running from a debian chroot.
    • by wick3t (787074) on Monday December 02, 2013 @09:55PM (#45580417)
      Have you actually used the N900 touchscreen? There are many bad resistive touchscreens but the N900's is not one of them. The FAQ [neo900.org] explains why the resistive touch screen is the superior choice for the target audience of this device. Remember that this device is not trying to compete with Android or iOS but it's aim is to provide functionality that you would find in a general purpose computer, hence multi-touch in not a priority.
      • I used the N900 for 6 months, hated it - and the screen was one of the main reasons for my hate. The FAQ can preach the good word all it wants (of course its going to back the decision) but it doesn't change my mind about how terrible the N900 was.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          some people love candy, while others love bacon. I think N900 resistive ts is the best r-ts I've ever seen and used. And I have some other resistive ts devices here to compare. It would be more honest if you'd state that you simply don't like r-ts which is quite understandable when you're used to c-ts. To claim that N900 was particularly bad is absurd. I prefer it every day over all the c-ts devices as well as all other r-ts devices (except maybe N810) I have here.

        • by Jmc23 (2353706)
          Ah, you must be one of those fat fingered uncordinated people that can't figure out how to press precisely with their fingers. There are iphones for you people.

          Now an n900, overclocked and with mypaint installed, awesome drawing tablet, no other screen like it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I used a friend's N900 just last night - I thought the screen was quite OK - rather responsive to my touch.

  • they might have a shot with 20k, but 200 is ridiculous.... it's closer to the sample size that one would use for for pre-production testing.

    • by dos1 (2950945)

      It's directed at niche target. I'm actually positively surprised that it reached 200 this fast.

    • by wick3t (787074)
      That's "mass production" as in producing in bulk, i.e. not producing one-off prototypes which is very expensive. 200 devices is the minimum they need to produce the boards in bulk. This is a niche, community project aimed at FOSS and/or open hardware enthusiasts who want the flexibility of a general purpose PC on their mobile phones. There are many of us so these numbers are to be expected.
      • by wick3t (787074)

        There are many of us so these numbers are to be expected.

        Whoops. That should read "There aren't many of us so these numbers are to be expected."

    • by l4m3rx (3416873)
      Okay, when does it count as mass production? After 1024? After 2048? If you look at China , 1M may not be called mass production.. I agree 200 is a low number, but for 100% community founded and driven project to develop the phone.... not that bad.
      • by endoboy (560088)

        It's mass production when the resources required for development and testing are much smaller than the sales.

        For instance, reliability testing for something as complicated as a cell phone should require tens or even hundreds of units. Electrical testing, certifications, developer's units, demos, bench units, betas, it all adds up, and I'd be very surprised if the minimum number isn't in the hundreds. You can always scrimp on testing to save on development cost, but that tends to be a result in (severe) qu

  • Is it going to come with the classic Nokia ringtone?
  • the world moved on. When the N900 came out, it was one of the best phones available, both in package and in software. But it has been over four years now. The world has moved on. It has moved on to slimmer phones, larger screens, not to mention better touch screens (yes, I have used the N900, and the screen is way worse than the touch screen of my Galaxy Nexus). I type faster with Swype than I ever did with the QWERTY-keyboard, the screen is better, it fits better in my pocket, it is lighter, etc.

    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      the world moved on. When the N900 came out, it was one of the best phones available, both in package and in software. But it has been over four years now. The world has moved on. It has moved on to slimmer phones, larger screens,

      I think the N900 is a much nicer form factor to carry around, compared to the slabs that cannot decide whether they want to be tablets or phones.

      not to mention better touch screens (yes, I have used the N900, and the screen is way worse than the touch screen of my Galaxy Nexus). I type faster with Swype than I ever did with the QWERTY-keyboard, the screen is better, it fits better in my pocket, it is lighter, etc.

      I agree the screen is not very good by current standards, but I won't give up a real keyboard. For example, as a theatre sound guy, I need to be able to hold my finger on a key for pressing on time. I can't imagine how to do this with a "touch"screen. While I generally use a laptop for this, I occasionally use the N900 as a remote (ssh over wlan). Of course, the ke

      • I need to be able to hold my finger on a key for pressing on time. I can't imagine how to do this with a "touch"screen. While I generally use a laptop for this, I occasionally use the N900 as a remote (ssh over wlan).

        All of my phones have had very erratic latency, even for wifi over LAN. Have yours been consistent enough for this to provide the split-second timing you need?

        My N4 is about 3 unobstructed meters from the wifi access point. With 10 samples of each, a laptop at the same distance gets pings to t

        • by TeknoHog (164938)

          I need to be able to hold my finger on a key for pressing on time. I can't imagine how to do this with a "touch"screen. While I generally use a laptop for this, I occasionally use the N900 as a remote (ssh over wlan).

          All of my phones have had very erratic latency, even for wifi over LAN. Have yours been consistent enough for this to provide the split-second timing you need?

          It's not really about such precise timing, though I agree that WLAN latency can really suck sometimes. It's more about holding the finger in position while looking somewhere else all the time, and then being sure the keypress was registered. Hovering over a screen does not feel very secure when you're in a tight spot. Besides, capacitive screens often register very close hovering as pressing, especially when your hands are sweating.

          Obviously, I try to use a real laptop keyboard whenever possible, but I h

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