Introducing Neo900

Finally the first true successor to the N900.
Following the FOSS spirit of Openmoko.

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Who's working on the Neo900?

The project is run jointly by Jörg H.-G. Reisenweber (Openmoko Veteran) and Nikolaus Schaller (OpenPhoenux / GTA04). The device will be produced by Golden Delicious Computers GmbH & Co. KG in Bavaria, Germany for Neo900 UG (haftungsbeschraenkt). The website is operated by Sebastian Krzyszkowiak (FSO / SHR).

Why are you reusing N900 case?

Neo900 is a small project targeted at enthusiasts. Our goal is to produce 200 devices. With such small production runs, designing and producing new case can easily eat most of the resources. Reusing the case of already existing device makes this project economically feasible and gives us the benefit of spare parts being widely available.

The assembled device will differ from standard N900 only by being around 2.5mm thicker to fit the modem inside.

Is it just a motherboard or a complete device?

Both! You will be able to order either the motherboard alone (with all extra parts needed to put it into N900 case), or complete device in refurbished N900 case. You can see what we plan to put inside in our specification proposal and feasibility study.

The complete device will be ready-to-use at arrival, but please take into account that initially your operating system of choice might be in beta state or even not ready at all.

How much will it cost?

According to current estimations, the cost of motherboard should be somewhere between 500 and 700 EUR. Complete device will cost 100-150 EUR more, depending on prices and availability of N900 spare parts. Those prices are just early estimations, are subject to change and depend heavily on number of orders.

When and where can I buy it?

Slow down! :) It's not available yet, we're right at the beginning of this journey. What you can do now is to make a donation for kickstarting the project, which will also serve as a discount for the device when it finally arrives. Our goal is to collect 25 000 EUR (reached!) to start the project and then produce at least 200 units (in progress). We're using the number of donations starting from 100 EUR as an approximation for the number of orders. Our first estimations assume that we'll be able to ship the devices somewhere around Q2 or Q3 of 2014.

How does this "donation rebate" work?

Every donation starting from 100 EUR entitle to a rebate when finally ordering the device. The rebate consists of 100% donated amount and will raise by 2% for each month between donation and start of shipment. E.g. 200 EUR entitle for 204 EUR rebate after 1 full month. This is a bonus for supporting the project upfront.

Which networks will be supported by Neo900?

We're going to provide a few modem variants. Consult your network operator to check which option will be the most suitable for you.

Subject to change without prior notice during design evaluation.

PLS8-EPLS8-USPXS8
LTE800/900/1800/2600 MHz700/850/AWS(1700/2100)/1900 MHz-
UMTS900/1800/2100 MHz850/AWS(1700/2100)/1900 MHz800/850/900/1900/2100 MHz
GSM/GPRS/EDGE900/1800 MHz850/900/1800/1900 MHz850/900/1800/1900 MHz
CDMA2000--800/1900 MHz
more detailsmore details

Please note that some CDMA carriers may require special procedure in order to activate the device or may even not allow it at all. Consult your network operator for more details.

Why does the specification slightly differ in some places?

The specification is not set in stone yet and is subject to change. As a rule of thumb you can consider specs from this page as our goals, and specs listed on Golden Delicious pages as a minimum we for sure should be able to reach.

Will there be free GFX drivers available?

Unfortunately, no. Neo900 CPU chip will come with built-in PowerVR graphic processor, just like N900, for which closed drivers are available and bundled with Maemo, but free ones don't exist yet. Fortunatelly, Neo900 will still support running 100% free operating system, as 3D acceleration is not necessary for device to function. Distributions like SHR or QtMoko already run very smoothly on GTA04 without any non-free blobs.

What exactly are you going to do with raised money?

As soon as we get 5 000 EUR we'll start creating schematics, component identification and initial mechanical PCB design. After reaching 15 000 EUR we expect that we can build ~5 working prototypes with basic functionality. After reaching our goal, 25 000 EUR, we expect that we can build another 10 prototypes to fix and test bugs detected with first ones and make the design production ready. Those prototypes will be also handed to software developers from community.

Update: We have already raised more than 25 000 EUR and reached 200 pre-orders, thank you! The work on initial design and sourcing has started, but reaching 1 000 devices will significantly reduce the final price of the device and make component sourcing (like 1GB RAM) much easier.

What happens with the funds if you fail?

If the project can't continue for whatever reasons, remaining funds are paid back fairly and equally. Funds already used won't be returned. However, we promise to do everything (including very open communication) to finish the project.

What do you mean by "100% Free Software stack"?

Not a single line of closed code will have to run on main CPU to be able to use the Neo900. With an exception to 3D acceleration, which is not necessary to operate the device, FLOSS Linux drivers will be available for every single component. Using free telephony stacks like freesmartphone.org or one from QtMoko shouldn't be any problem.

What about peripherals?

The WiFi chipset is not set in stone yet, so we're not able to say right now if it's going to require some firmware file to be loaded into it. The FLOSS drivers on the Linux side will be available.

We unfortunately cannot provide free baseband modem firmware, as there's no option available on the market which would be able to fulfil this requirement. Even if it existed, it would bring very little value to the users, as operating a radio device with modified firmware on public networks without recertification is prohibited in most jurisdictions on the world.

Isn't a non-free baseband firmware a privacy issue?

We're going to address privacy concerns of non-free modem firmware by ensuring that modem has access to no other data than absolutely necessary, so it won't be able to spy on anything that's not already available on carrier side. On Neo900 one can be sure that the modem is actually turned off when requested, not just pretending to be.

Unlike some other smartphones do, Neo900 won't share system RAM with the modem and system CPU will always have full control over the microphone signal sent to the modem. You can think of it as a USB dongle connected to the PC, with you in full control over the drivers, with a virtual LED to show any modem activity.

Which operating system will be preinstalled?

It's not set in stone yet, but most probably it's going to be basic Debian GNU/Linux image. We won't develop any operating system by ourselves, but we're going to strongly support several community based software projects like Fremantle Porting Task Force, SHR, FSO, etc.

Can't the screen be made bigger?

No. The main goal of this project is to reuse N900 case, and it's not possible to make screen bigger without changing the case. See also one of the previous answers.

Why resistive touchscreen?

For the same reasons as above. However, we trully consider resistive touch screen from N900 as superior to capacitive screens, thanks to increased precision and exceptionally good sensitiveness, unlike many other resistive screens. This touchscreen enables users to come up with lots of impressive use cases which wouldn't be possible on capacitive screens. We believe that choosing capacitive one would be considered a regression by current Maemo and Openmoko power users.

Why won't you use that new shiny 16-core CPU with 32 GB RAM?

Our main intention is to use as much as possible from existing hardware and software project. We're going to base Neo900 on already working GTA04 board (which in fact is a similar upgrade for Neo Freerunner as Neo900 is for N900) and that allows us to cut costs and reduce project risks. With the usage of similar components to those present in N900 we're also gaining additional advantage, which is software compatibility with both N900 and GTA04.

Will Neo900 rock?

Absolutely!