German hackers try to revive a dead Nokia and make it the first ‘open’ phone

german hackers raising funds build open source successor nokia n900 neo900

The Nokia smartphone name is dead, but it may live on as a German zombie. A team of German hackers want to revive the Nokia N900. They want to tear out its motherboard and give it a new, more powerful, and more open-source one instead. They’re calling it Neo900.

The Nokia N900 is a bit of a legend. It was one of Nokia’s open-platform smartphones released back in 2009, and ran Nokia’s self-made OS, Maemo, which it later abandoned. Joerg Reisenweber, a fan of the N900 and smartphone hacker, still thinks the device has some life left in it. Joerg is teaming up with the folks behind Open Source Phone Developer OpenMoko to help raise enough funds to design and prototype a new motherboard upgrade  for the N900 that offers a faster processor, more RAM, but with  all the goodness of the N900.

The new phone, the Neo900, would pretty much be just like a N900 on the outside, but on the inside it’d have a brand new GTA04 motherboard, 1GHZ processor, up to 1GB of  RAM, and up to 64GB of internal storage. This is done by taking the latest OpenMoko motherboard and designing it to integrate with the rest of the N900’s hardware. The original N900 had 256MB of RAM, a 600MHZ processor, and a shockingly large 32GB of storage. It sounds like a sort of crazy smartphone transplant, but it can really work.

The goal is to make a sort of future-proof and open-source device for anyone to hack or tinker around with easily and freely.

The great thing about OpenMoko is that it’s an open source standard that runs Linux. OpenMoko claims there are thousands of developers working with it to port their favorite OSes to the OpenMoko standard: FireFox OS, Maemo – even Android. By giving the N900 a new OpenMoko-based motherboard, it too will be compatible.

To add to all of this, Joerg wants to give the Neo900 a serious upgrade in potential by adding all sorts of adapters and sensors, such as a barometer, gyroscope, temperature sensor, infrared adapter, and even hot-swappable capabilities for the battery. The goal is to make a sort of future-proof and open-source device that can be used by anyone who needs even the most obscure features, as well as to offer the potential for others to build upon what the Neo900 can offer.

Right now, the goal of the Neo900 project is to raise  €25,000 or  about $34,000 to help fund initial prototyping and testing. Joerg promises anyone who donates will receive a rebate on whatever they donate to help cover the cost of getting a Neo900 of their own, whether they buy just the motherboard upgrade or a whole new device. We’re excited to see if the campaign succeeds and, if so, what potential this sort of open-ended, future-proof phone can do.

Any phone developers out there in the DT audience? Cool idea, or no?

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Sprint confirms it will launch a 5G smartphone with Samsung in 2019

Like other carriers, Sprint is working hard on bringing the next generation of cellular connectivity to customers. In fact, the company has even announced that it's working with HTC and Qualcomm on a new 5G smart hub.
Mobile

Want faster internet on the go? These companies will soon have 5G-ready phones

5G is the future of mobile internet, and you probably heard about the huge speed increases the new standard will bring. But not every phone will be capable of accessing 5G speeds. Here's every phone that supports 5G.
Mobile

Google to end support for Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich

Anyone with an old phone that is still running Android 4.0 may want to look into upgrading their phone, as Google has announced that it will be ending support for this older version of Android.
Mobile

Amazon knocks $30 off its Paperwhite ebook reader in limited-time deal

Amazon is running a couple of limited-time deals for its Paperwhite ebook reader. One offers a $30 discount, while the other throws in a pair of headphones and a free, extended Audible trial.
Mobile

New Galaxy S10 leaks showcase display sizes, confirm headphone jack return

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Product Review

The iPad Pro is the best tablet ever. But don't sell your laptop just yet

Apple has unveiled a big redesign for the iPad Pro, slimming down the bezels, adding Face ID, and the ability to attach and charge the Apple Pencil. All of this comes at a high cost however, as the iPad Pro starts at $799.
Mobile

Android 9.0 updates to stretch into 2019 -- will your phone get a slice of Pie?

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

LG G7 owners experiencing dreaded bootloop will have to wait a few days for fix

If you’ve picked up LG’s flagship and it’s not behaving itself, then you might find a solution here. We’ve rounded up the most common LG G7 ThinQ problems and tracked down workarounds and possible fixes.
Mobile

A render video gives us a 360-degree look at the midrange Pixels

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL.
Mobile

Honor to out-megapixel the competition with 48MP camera on upcoming View 20

After its phenomenal success with the View 10 in 2018, it looks like Honor is getting ready up the ante with its forthcoming Honor View 20. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Mobile

Xiaomi is preparing to set records with 48-megapixel phone camera

Bigger doesn't always mean better, but it certainly makes headlines. Chinese mobile giant Xiaomi is set to release a phone camera with a staggeringly large 48 megapixels on a single sensor.
Apple

Patent highlights Apple's sky-high ambitions for AirPower wireless charger

At its September event last year, Apple unveiled the AirPower -- its new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.
Deals

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.