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MWC15: Nokia N1 tablet Hands-On

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If you like the iPad mini, you’ll probably like Nokia‘s N1 tablet.

Spotted on display at MWC 2015, the tablet borrows heavily from Apple’s designs; albeit sporting Android instead of iOS. Under the hood you’ll find am Intel 64-bit Atom processor, 2GB RAM, an 7.9 inch IPS display at 2048 x 1536 resolution as well as 32GB internal storage and a huge 5,300mAh battery in an aluminium unibody frame. It will also feature a 8 megapixel rear camera as well as a 5 megapixel front camera with 1080p recording.

More after the break.

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Of course, all that hardware would come feeling very familiar to an iPad mini as it is, but has a slightly more simplified design while looking very sturdy and light.

The N1 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop but with tweaks to accommodate Nokia’s “Z launcher” that’s basically an interface with two rather distinct features. For starters it has an adaptive four-by-three grid of apps on your home screen that’s populated based on the apps you use and when you use them. So if you’re one to hit Spotify in the morning while you get ready for work, it’ll push that app to grid for easy access.

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There also isn’t a standard app drawer on the N1, but you’ll find all your other apps on the next page of the home launcher screen. The other feature of the Z launcher is the “scribble search’ feature that you can draw letters on the home screen to use to search for apps. Drawing a letter or a name will bring up a grid of options with apps and contacts, and though the muted colours and lack of customisation might be bane or boon depending on the user. Having the Z Launcher on the Nokia N1 is a fresh approach for an Android Tablet. While the launcher is easy and intelligent to use, the N1 feels competent but there’s a little sense of drag when browsing around.

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In the hands, the Nokia N1 feels quite solid and it looks very linear with smooth rounded edges, and a minimalist design. At the bottom, it resembles closely with an iPad mini and the centre mounted micro USB port is a type C version which allows you to plug your cable in any direction, just like Apple’s lightning connector. Speaking of colours, the Nokia N1 will only be getting a rather bare looking Natural Aluminium and Lava Grey options.

The N1 was a surprised device from Nokia, considering they had “exited” the hardware business when Microsoft Devices took over its smart phone division. According to a Nokia rep, they are experimenting a new way of doing devices which includes working with a partner such as Foxconn and with more involvement in terms of design and software, rather than simply sticking a logo onto a ready made product. This is just their first step and they would be experimenting with more products in future.

The tablet is currently only available in China but it will be retailing at around $249 (RM 902) which is pretty attractive pricing. If the similar sized Xiaomi Mi Pad at RM799 feels too and plasticky, the Nokia N1 is a worthy alternative if you’re looking for something more upmarket. We can only hope that it will make it’s way here soon.