Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×
Cellphones Handhelds Open Source Hardware Linux

Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone 134

New submitter JoSch1337 writes: After a year and a half of development, the Neo900 project now opened its web shop for the down payments of binding pre-orders for either a full Neo900 phone or the bare circuit board to upgrade an existing Nokia N900. The up-front down payment is necessary to now secure expensive "risk parts" like the modem, 1GB RAM and N900 cases. Thus, without pre-ordering now, there might not be enough parts left after the first batch.

The Neo900 is the spritual successor of the Nokia N900. The new circuit board can be placed into an existing N900 for better specs (faster CPU, more RAM, LTE modem) than the original device while still maintaining fremantle (maemo 5) backwards compatibility. Alternatively, a fully assembled phone can be purchased as well. The Neo900 will be fully operational without any binary blob running on the main CPU. While the modem still requires a non-free firmware, it is completely decoupled from the rest of the device (think of a LTE usb stick you put in your laptop) and can reliably be monitored or switched off by the operating system.

You can follow the development of the project in the maemo forum, read about the specs of the device or consult the FAQ
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The love child of Openmoko and N900. I think if they deliver on the promise, this will change the way people view their mobile devices. Motherboard replacements and case replacements will gain traction just like in the assemble your own PC era.

    • Re:Great News (Score:5, Insightful)

      by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Thursday May 21, 2015 @11:09AM (#49743789)
      I would actually be willing to spend money on a phone I actually OWN as opposed to one owned by Verizon and Google that they just let me hold.
    • Motherboard replacements and case replacements will gain traction just like in the assemble your own PC era.

      Well not very likely.

      That did work for the openmoko because the neo 1973 and neo freerunner (i have one!) have been designed from the gound up with an open hardware approach.
      They have been designed to be easy to open, easy to hack, easy to replace parts.
      Thus upgrade kits like gta04 were likely.

      That does work now for the N900, because they are a little bit older generation, back at a time when case were a bit bulkier, battery was replaceable, etc.
      There are also a lot of them out in the wild. (Basically, for

  • The love child of Openmoko and N900. I think if they deliver on the promise, this will change the way people view their mobile devices. Motherboard replacements and case replacements will gain traction just like in the assemble your own PC era.
    • I think if they deliver on the promise, this will change the way people view their mobile devices. Motherboard replacements and case replacements will gain traction just like in the assemble your own PC era.

      It will have quite a hard doing what you claim when only a fraction of a fraction of 1% of phone buyers will ever hear of its existence.

      • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        I think if they deliver on the promise, this will change the way people view their mobile devices. Motherboard replacements and case replacements will gain traction just like in the assemble your own PC era.

        It will have quite a hard doing what you claim when only a fraction of a fraction of 1% of phone buyers will ever hear of its existence.

        It looks too big and clunky to take significant market share -- replaceable components mean larger size and less integrated "fit and finish". There may be a niche market for something like this, but it seems unlikely to reach the mainstream -- I'd rather pay $400 every few years for a brand new phone that's (relatively) small and compact and works reliably with a warranty than spend $200 every year or two to upgrade components and then am on my own with making sure those components work well together. "If I

        • by Foresto ( 127767 )

          It looks too big and clunky to take significant market share

          It's probably smaller than you think. It's shorter and narrower than all of the current "mini" and "compact" phones, and just slightly thicker than the tiniest qwerty smartphone I have ever seen. Here's a size comparison. [phonearena.com]

        • They are only making a couple hundred. So it would be impossible for it to take any significant market share regardless of the fit and finish.

    • Forgot to log in, did ya? ;)
  • It never even had a chance... :) Anyone know the price, and timeline? No way to get it from the source.
  • That is the only feasible explanation for it being down right now. We know this site doesn't direct enough traffic to take down any website that is more robust than that.
    • by dos1 ( 2950945 )
      We weren't ready to make the shop public yet - it was just sent to ~400 previous donors so far (hence no mentions about shop anywhere on main website). Plus the /. traffic came when I was away from the PC - reconfiguring server via SSH session on the phone is pretty tough :)
  • Site's not coming up now...

    Definitely gotta order me one of these, once I save up all that money.

  • Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday May 21, 2015 @11:11AM (#49743809) Homepage

    "According to current calculations, the cost of the motherboard should be somewhere around 990 EUR. The complete device will cost about 150 EUR more, depending on prices and availability of N900 spare parts."

    Holy cow, freedom (at least partial freedom) comes at a seriously hefty price. That's five times the cost of a half-decent Samsung Galaxy (S4 or S4 Mini, not network-locked), where I'm from.

    And for 1GHz, 1Gb RAM, 0.5Gb storage. That's not even close to the spec of the above Samsung.

    Pay five times the cost, get less back, and the possibility of component shortage making repair/replacement impossible.

    How do this stack up against the $9 CHIP project, etc. with its processor? I can build a GSM "phone" with Wifi, SD, touchscreen etc. from Arduino shields for way, way, way less than this costs on top of that.

    I mean, for God's sake, they've bothered to put IrDA and FM radio on it!

    Niche doesn't even begin to cover it. When you're more expensive than Apple, and can't do anywhere near as much, you know that you're onto a loser.

    • Yes the cost is expensive but I like the concept. Still have my free runner and N900. Now I can upgrade still have a form factor, keyboard and screen I like. On a larger 2nd run costs can drop and others can pick up the same idea. BTW I have known web servers to running on the free runner ( only as demo concepts)
    • Compare to the Specs on the OnePlus One. And that makes it three times the price of a phone with much better specs, even if it isn't 100% open. The Neo900 is a phone for Tin Foil Hat wearers and unwashed grey beards living in mom's basement. And if you are that paranoid, you probably aren't going to have any phone.

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        But... the main communications chip still has a closed source firmware. So, actually.. what's changed? Sure, you can turn the radio off but that kinda defeats the point of having a phone.

        • The point is that the modem chip, even when on, has no access to the phone's memory. It's an external device.

          • by ledow ( 319597 )

            Much like any GSM development board, then.

            So what's "free" about it besides an output pin to push the GSM chip into reset mode?

        • If it's sufficiently isolated from the rest of the hardware (so that it can't snoop on RAM or anything like that, so it can't override any firewall, and so that when the OS says it's off it's off), that's good enough for me. If the modem can't access any data I don't want it to have in the first place, then I don't have to worry about what it's doing with it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Where did you get that price from? In the online shops it says the full phone is 480 EUR: https://my.neo900.org/index.ph... [neo900.org]
    • the pre-order is for 350 EURO which is under $400 USD at current exchange rates.
    • Re:Cost (Score:4, Informative)

      by wick3t ( 787074 ) on Thursday May 21, 2015 @01:20PM (#49744807)

      "According to current calculations, the cost of the motherboard should be somewhere around 990 EUR. The cost should go down as more people place pre-orders. The complete device will cost about 150 EUR more, depending on prices and availability of N900 spare parts."

      Holy cow, freedom (at least partial freedom) comes at a seriously hefty price. That's five times the cost of a half-decent Samsung Galaxy (S4 or S4 Mini, not network-locked), where I'm from.

      That's what it costs when you are unable to mass produce. The cost estimate is based on the production of 500 devices only which in turn was based on the number of donations over 100 EUR. The Neo900 is as close to freedom and privacy as you're going to get at this moment in time. If you're comparing this to a Samsung Galaxy then it looks like you don't understand the reasons for why the Neo900 is being built.

      And for 1GHz, 1Gb RAM, 0.5Gb storage. That's not even close to the spec of the above Samsung.

      You are incorrect on the 0.5GB storage. The Neo900 will be at least as feature complete as the N900. This means that it will have at least 32GB eMMC storage plus mircoSD expansion. Otherwise it will have 64GB if they are able to source the part. The 512MB refers to the SoC's NAND (double that of the original N900).

      Pay five times the cost, get less back, and the possibility of component shortage making repair/replacement impossible.

      The cost estimation page (which you appear to have read) indicates that they have considered failure rate and will be sourcing additional components to account for repair/replacement. This contributes to the overall cost of the device.

      How do this stack up against the $9 CHIP project, etc. with its processor? I can build a GSM "phone" with Wifi, SD, touchscreen etc. from Arduino shields for way, way, way less than this costs on top of that.

      I'd love to see you do that. I'll be the first in line to purchase one.

      I mean, for God's sake, they've bothered to put IrDA and FM radio on it!

      These are available on the original N900 and I still find them incredibly useful. To remove these would be a regression.

      Niche doesn't even begin to cover it. When you're more expensive than Apple, and can't do anywhere near as much, you know that you're onto a loser.

      Can't do nearly as much? Are you serious? I'm still using my N900 from 2009 because they is no other mobile phone available that what the N900 can do. Basically it's a full Linux computer in your pocket with a hardware keyboard and stylus for precision. I even have it dual booting with Debian.

      Go and buy an Apple if you feel it's appropriate to compare it to one but please stop spreading misinformation on stuff that you are not interested in.

      It's no wonder I rarely visit Slashdot these days posts such as yours get modded +5 Insightful.

    • by dos1 ( 2950945 )

      0.5Gb storage? It's rather 64.5 Gb - read more carefully.

      Of course you can build a "phone" from Arduino shields or other stuff like that. That will be great learning experience and really fun thing to do - I guarantee! But it won't be more than a toy - the aspect of power management alone is a hard topic and you can't expect your phone toy to behave reasonably well there.

      This project is not for you, I get it. However, from other point of view, Apple devices can't do anywhere near as much as devices like Neo

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        0.5Gb internal storage. The Galaxy phone I point at can put a microSD in too - it's not quite the same as saying that it's got that as primary internal storage. And that Galaxy has 1Gb internal storage. My point is that YOU pay for the microSD. The device INCLUDE the internal storage in the price. And you get less with this device, for more cost.

        And again, my point is cost. If you can get off-the-shelf components to do something similar for VASTLY reduced prices, then you have to wonder what you're pa

        • by dos1 ( 2950945 )

          No, read carefully and don't spread false info! There's 64GB of *internal* eMMC, plus 0.5GB of internal NAND (mostly for N900 compatibility), AND additional external microSD memory.

          If you say that Neo900 "doesn't do anything special" compared to any Android phone, you surely just don't understand what this fuzz is all about. Almost any Android phone out there is hardly comparable to a openness level of devices like Neo Freerunner, GTA04 or Neo900. The best you can get from Android devices is Replicant or so

  • Seems the site was slashdotted, the price is around $1000 EU though from what I've read on http://talk.maemo.org/ [maemo.org]
    • by asylumx ( 881307 )
      Some of the sites came up for me, looks like the fully assembled down payment is 480€. I'm not sure what that means for the full price, though.
      • Even 480 Euros ($533 US) is an insane price to ask for a phone. Especially one that currently has zero apps. I just got a Windows Phone (Blu Win HD LTE) which is currently priced at $200 US and I find it to be an amazing phone. Windows Phone is quite a good OS, and it's due for an update to Windows 10 when it comes out. Open source may be a nice idea, but I don't think a lot of people are going to want to pay that kind of premuim just to get it. I think the days of $500+ phones are numbered. I still don'

        • I don't think that anyone willing to have a windows phone is part of the target demographic for this device.
        • by asylumx ( 881307 )
          I personally have a Windows phone and I agree about that being a decent phone OS but i'm not sure what that has to do with anything here. $533 US is quite reasonable compared to many smartphones in the US and remember that electronics in Europe cost significantly more than they do in the US for whatever reason -- so if it sells for 480€ it will probably sell for closer to $400 US, assuming it even comes here. Maybe you and I wouldn't spend that much on a phone, but it's been proven time and time agai
  • by gQuigs ( 913879 ) on Thursday May 21, 2015 @11:12AM (#49743817) Homepage

    https://web.archive.org/web/20... [archive.org]

    Might be slightly out of date..

    • Re:FAQ (Score:4, Informative)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday May 21, 2015 @11:48AM (#49744075) Homepage Journal

      It has a resistive touchscreen. What's more they're saying they're going for resistive because it's "more accurate" than capacitive and capacitive would be a "step back."

      I had a Nokia N800 so am familiar with the history of this platform, but it always felt like a prototype to me, and it seems like the Neo900 is still a prototype of something that would have been released ten years ago. What a shame.

      • It has a resistive touchscreen. What's more they're saying they're going for resistive because it's "more accurate" than capacitive and capacitive would be a "step back."

        Seems like you never used the N900 touchscreen - it not like the cheap resistive screens on low end phones, but a high quality one. It is just as usable as a capacitive screen for touch and can be used for *very precise* pointing. That's one of the reasons people have been using their N900s for drawing pictures [maemo.org] and maps [maemo.org]. Try to do that with a normal capacitive screen - it's like trying to draw in boxing gloves.

        • Try to do that with a normal capacitive screen - it's like trying to draw in boxing gloves.

          Never heard of this thing called a "Surface Pro". It has a capacitive screen and people draw stuff on it all the time.

        • 1. Does touch work, or is a stylus in practice mandatory?
          2. Does multi-touch work?

          • The screen is going to work just like the N900 did. So, yes, there is touch but not multitouch.

            • by dos1 ( 2950945 )

              There will be a limited multitouch (dualtouch gestures) support in Neo900 thanks to CRTOUCH chip: https://www.freescale.com/weba... [freescale.com]

            • I'm going to be honest, the more I read this discussion, the move I'm thrown back to old "debates" between advocates of rear projection and plasma TVs, and LCDs, all bemoaning the rise of the latter against such superior technologies as a TV that can only be viewed from one angle (and then not all at the same time), or a TV that requires all 4:3 content be shown in stretch-o-vision to avoid temporary burn-in issues. "But LCDs have a tiny bit of light visible when they're supposed to be black!" screams the

              • Nobody in their right mind uses their cellphone to "paint" pictures. But everyone uses it to dial numbers, browse websites, and other activities that require a finger, or two, rather than a stylus.

                Fingers work perfectly well on the n900 resistive screen.

                The neo900 should be better (dual-touch).

                • From what people are writing here, there are multiple definitions of "perfectly well". Someone in an above thread complains that capacitive screens require only the lightest touch, ensuring that they make mistakes when trying to use their fingernail to accurately press a specific pixel.

                  That, to me, says that the N900 and Neo900 do not have "touch" sensitive displays, they require pressure. I'm finding it improbable (and I'm willing to be proven wrong, but I'm increasingly sceptical as this videophilesque

                  • If I'm wrong and a light tap will always work, and a swipe will never be broken up into multiple gestures or ignored altogether, and so on, then I'd be delighted, albeit surprised the technology isn't being used anywhere else.

                    The N900 does have a stylus, but, personally, I only used it for non-mobile versions of some websites or running X programs that weren't written for touch screens.

                    Probably the reason the technology is not used elsewhere is that the screen is pretty fragile -- it's plastic, not glass, and soft plastic at that. Scratches do build up, and screen protectors do reduce sensitivity.

                    Also the N900 is single touch -- the dual touch "magic" didn't exist when the N900 was made.

  • by koan ( 80826 )

    The truly open smartphone
    that cares about your privacy

    Pretty sure inanimate objects don't have "cares", but is it odd I like the fact it has real buttons?

    • Real buttons is why I am using a Nokia E90 communicator instead of something newer.

  • Get the latest horse and buggy whip! Now with graphene and gold nano-particles!

    • by virens ( 1964322 )
      Actually, it is worse: it is just a crappy board with shitty screen and stock Debian on top. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is going to cost you at lest 500 Euro!
      • by xvan ( 2935999 )
        900 Euro... And you are right, it's a crappy board with shitty screen and stock Debian on top. BUT, there is no better offer in the market for that niche... The closest one is Jolla, I think.
    • And how many open source smartphones did *you* build ? :P
  • I'm waiting on that one.
  • The best suggestion is to become enlightened on the topic .. all around too. Not just on the specs. Not just on the open qualities. Not just on it's security. Nor the potential to run whatever platform can be crammed into it. Nor it's longevity (which should be a decade+) for arguments sake.. for the moment let's look at the price. If half of you here "actually" read past the 1st sentence. the price is not fixed. it is the extreme estimate with minimal customer orders. expect the price to drop when orders
  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday May 21, 2015 @05:39PM (#49746765)

    People who say "this is crap because I can buy a Nexus or Galaxy or android-device-of-the-month for far less money" don't have a clue about what the Neo900 is or why its nothing like the Nexus or Galaxy or other Android devices.

    Things the Neo900 has that NONE of the current high-end Android devices (the things most people are going to be comparing the Neo900 to) have:
    Physical hardware keyboard (there are still people like me who love physical keyboards and wont buy a phone without one)

    Hardware enforced separation between the modem and the main CPU (this means that the rumors that the NSA can listen to you via your cellphone microphone are definatly NOT going to happen on a Neo900)

    No closed blobs for the cellular radio on the main CPU side (pretty much all "open" android ROMs still require a closed-source radio library specific to the radio in your particular Android device. The Neo900 will have a 100% open source library to talk to the cellular radio module)

    No closed blobs on the main CPU side for WiFi, bluetooth, NFC, audio, touch screen, camera, GPS or sensors (unlike even the Google Nexus phones which require closed blobs for many pieces of hardware)

    Full schematics and hardware documentation available (show me a high-end phone where you can get THAT)

    The Neo900 isn't meant to be a competitor to the Samsung Galaxy or Apple iPhone or Google Nexus. Its meant to be a phone for people who care about their privacy and want a device where they control all the software running on the main CPU and can be sure none of the other CPUs in the device have access to the main CPU/RAM/storage or to hardware like the microphone. And a phone for hardware geeks who want a hackable device and one THEY control and not some carrier or OEM (there are phones where the bootloader started out unlocked and was then locked by an OTA update)

    Its got LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi and bluetooth 4.0 low energy for fast speeds and the ability to talk to other devices.

    The 3 modem options available mean its compatible with many carriers all over the world.

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )
      For most people those points simply don't matter. For them, this phone is crap, as it costs a lot and isn't as capable in various aspects as cheaper, more popular phones. I appreciate that some users will find this phone appealing, but we shouldn't assume they represent anything more than statistical noise when it comes to phone users.
      • by dos1 ( 2950945 )

        This project isn't for most people. It's specifically for people who think those points matter.

  • I loved my N900, and still have it despite the flaky USB port and the amount of battery it chugs, the fact that Maemo wasn't as free as you'd hoped and that it was supported by Nokia about as well as Nokia supported anything. Because of that, I've been watching the Neo900 project for quite some time, although I'll admit it wasn't until today that I payed closer attention to the frequency options (since they were always subject to change anyway).

    There isn't a good world phone option. Given the chips they're

    • by alantus ( 882150 )

      I was also watching the Neo900 project for a while, but they made some bad decisions.
      It's too expensive because they didn't want to compromise on anything, and they decided to add a separator will make a thick phone even thicker.
      I would have bought it if the price was around 400 euro and it didn't need a separator.
      Now I'm placing my bets on the Pyra [pyra-handheld.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If you think this is comparable to a Rolls Royce in your analogy, you're out of your mind. This is more like expecting someone to pay twice as much for a 1977 Chevy Caprice than a brand new BMW M5 because "at least you can work on the Chevy yourself without none of them computer doodads." Sure, there's some value in being able to wrench on your own car, but at what point does paying extra for that beat out something that outperforms what you're buying by every other conceivable metric?

      • by cnj ( 87028 )

        > but at what point does paying extra for that beat out something that outperforms what you're buying by every other conceivable metric?

        It's a tough but personal call, I guess. Given the earlier metaphor, I'd much rather have the Maybach which is priced similarly to the sports cars, but since there's no Maybach option for the Neo900 that's where we're at. I think I paid about $700 for the first N900, later getting them for $300 for my father and sister (who are both still using them); so ~$1000 for the

"In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -- Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Working...