Nokia recently shed its devices and services group in a multi-billion dollar deal that saw its entire Windows Phone business offloaded to Microsoft, which will continue to push Windows Phones under the Lumia brand. While many thought the deal could mean the end of Nokia’s consumer business, the company surprised us all this past summer when it launched its first Android app, the shockingly innovative Z Launcher app that will finally public beta on Tuesday.
Where Nokia’s efforts with Android are concerned, however, that app was just the beginning.
During the Slush 2014 conference in Finland on Tuesday, Nokia announced its return to the consumer devices business with the brand new Nokia N1 tablet. While Nokia’s deal with Microsoft prevents it from releasing any new smartphones for a period of time, tablets are apparently a different story entirely.
The N1 is a complete departure from anything Nokia has released in the past. In fact, it’s the polar opposite of Nokia’s most recent phones and tablets.
First and perhaps most importantly, the N1 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Z Launcher was a good indication that the new Nokia is moving away from Windows Phone, and now we can see exactly where Nokia’s consumer business is headed.
Designed and built by the Nokia Technologies division of Nokia, the N1 tablet’s housing is one piece of machined, anodized aluminum. The device features a 7.9-inch display and an overall size that rivals Apple’s iPad mini lineup, but at 6.9mm, the N1 is even thinner than Apple’s iPad mini 3, which is 7.5mm thick.
Also of note, the device is powered by a 64-bit quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor clocked at 2.4GHz. It also features 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, a universal insertion 2.0 USB C-type port and a 5,300 mAh battery that Nokia says will provide up to 9 hours of usage time per charge.
Nokia’s Android 5.0 Lollipop installation on the Nokia N1 is basically stock, but it ships with a special tablet version of the Z Launcher app that is exclusive to the N1. Buyers can disable it or install other launcher apps if they choose, but Z Launcher is great to have on a tablet, where users tend to install even more apps than they do on smartphones.
I was able to spend a short amount of time with a pre-release version of the tablet recently, and I can confirm that Nokia’s hardware design team hasn’t missed a beat in its brief hiatus following the sale of Nokia’s devices business. The device feels even more premium than Nokia’s recent high-end Lumia phones thanks to the N1’s unibody aluminum housing, and the size and weight are very comfortable.
Now, for the bad news.
The Nokia N1 tablet will launch this coming February after Chinese New Year, and it will initially be available only in China. Nokia will then launch the tablet in Russia and several European markets in the months that follow, but the company currently has no plans to release the N1 in the United States.
Additional images of the Nokia N1 tablet follow below.