main index WARNING: this page could be a bit outdated (it was written in July 2007). Also, watch out for possible typos or specs errors or missing information (I will update as soon as I find them).

My OpenMoko Neo 1973 pages are listed here!


Neo 1973 - my dreamphone!

Yes, I have been waiting for a true Linux cellphone since ages!

There were a number of Linux-based cellphones, but only Trolltech's Qtopia Greenphone was somewhat interesting.

In late 2003 I bought a Sony Ericsson P900 cellphone which has been with me four years. I spent countless hours to get an SDK working properly in Linux.

Well, let me explain why I chose OpenMoko Neo 1973 and Freerunner...


First: "it's a cellphone"

A cellphone is not a Cray supercomputer. It needs a large bunch of simple features (you won't add it to your raytracing farm, you won't use it for official photos of your sister's wedding). Let's see what I did have on the P900, what I could have had with Greenphone, and what I'll have when I'll get my OpenMoko cellphone...

Sony Ericsson P900Trolltech Qtopia Greenphone (by Yuhua Teltech, China)OpenMoko Neo 1973 (by FIC, Taiwan ROC) OpenMoko Freerunner (FIC)
Symbian 7 + UIQ 2.1 Linux 2.4.19 + Qtopia 4.1.7 Linux 2.6.10 + OpenMoko Linux 2.6.?? + OpenMoko
208×320 touchscreen (132 dpi)
some "video accelerator" hardware
240×320 touchscreen (150 dpi?) 2.8" 480×640 touchscreen (283 dpi)
SMedia 3362 Graphics Accelerator
4.3" 480×272 touchscreen (128 dpi)
SMedia Glamo3662 Graphics Accelerator
16 Mb RAM (6-7 available to user programs) 64 Mb RAM 128 Mb RAM 128Mb RAM
64 Mb ROM and 16 Mb flash (11 available to the user) 128 Mb (?)256 Mb flash256Mb flash
memorystick duo slot (16 to 128Mb)
32 Mb memorystickduo card
mini-SD slot (up to 2 Gb?) micro-SD slot (up to 2Gb?)
512 Mb micro-SD card
SD/MMC slot
156 MHz ARM9-class processor 312 MHz Marvell PXA270 processor 400 MHz Samsung S3C2442 (ARM920T core) 500 MHz Samsung S3C2442 (ARM920T core)

A few notes: iPhone has a 620 MHz Samsung S3C6400 and -it seems- 128 Mb RAM.

P900 has a less-than-QVGA screen; Greenphone has a QVGA screen; Neo1973 has a full VGA screen. Also, Neo1973 has indeed twice the RAM the Greenphone has. Neo 1973 beats them all.

Yep, I won't run a large number-crunching software on the Neo 1973, but surely I won't spend anymore my nights fighting low-memory and low-storage issues...

But, before going on, let me say something about aesthetics and design:

Continuing with "design" and features:

Sony Ericsson P900 Qtopia Greenphone OpenMoko Neo 1973 (GTA02 version) OpenMoko Freerunner
bluetooth 1.1
USB client (proprietary)
infrared port
640×480 camera (43mm fixed zoom), QCIF-format videorecording
mono loudspeaker (on the other side of the earphone)
16-keys phone keyboard
5-way jog-dial and 3 extra keys
stylus (and stylus slot)
strap-lace (and strap slot)
bluetooth (2.0?)
USB client (open)
16-keys phone keyboard
"joystick" key and 5 (?) extra keys
stylus (and stylus slot)
bluetooth (2.0?)
USB client/host (but without 5V for host)
super stylus-pen-laserpointer (without stylus slot on the phone, for obvious reason!)
two 3D-accelerometers
GPS receiver (YAY!)
everything is open source supported by Linux!
like Neo1973, and WiFi.

Symbian and UIQ have the ugliest programming standards I've ever seen after Microsoft Windows ones. That chaotic environment depends on older EPOC operating system standards, which had to deal with non-MMU processors and other weird things. Linux - simply said - is another (and better) world.

Apple iPhone is also "unfriendly" to programmers, because of its closed source environment.

Sony Ericsson P900 was a true winner in 2003, featuring a rather large feature list. One of the most nice features was its 5-way jog-dial (rotate up, rotate down, left-click, right-click, center-click). Alas, this was reduced to 3-way (rotate up, rotate down, click) in the following models (from P990 on), because of... "supporting impaired people" (I think instead it was a matter of production costs).

Anyways, a dial is the most natural thing to quickly set volume (loudspeaker volume, conversation volume, earbuds volume). The P900 made me "dial-addict", I simply can't imagine myself searching the system menus, clicking here and there and again here and there, searching for a "set volume" option...

More keys, yes. Four (five is better) keys will make the Neo 1973 attractive for a large number of action games (to-be-developed or to-be-ported). The Neo 1973 would inherit the "N-Gage feeling", or, better, "Nintendo feeling"... Someone already updated in the wish-list a concept image showing Super Mario and a playstation-like four-button control.

Infrared port: I used P900 infrared only to connect the P900 to some old notebooks that did not have bluetooth.

There was a program capable of using P900 infrared port as a remote control for TV/VCR/DVD/etc sets.

Thus, while nice, it's not a thing you will need that often. Just forget it :-)

Also, I found myself in rare (very rare) use of the featured P900 camera.

Since a camera will be used for only MMS messages and quick "look this!" email messages, one doesn't need more than 1024×768 resolution (even if you have a 1920×1200 monitor at home and a super-quick-fast internet connection, you won't appreciate too much your friends sending stooopid photos in your mail folder getting 300-700-900 kilobytes each!) Let a true digital camera do photos, and a true camcorder do videos; a cellphone needs only minimalistic support for photos/videos, only for "on the field" quick images transmission (people crying out loud for "9.9 megapixel-capable" cellphones make me laugh).

Also, "digital zoom" is near to useless, because of degradation of the zoomed photo. Some hardware-enhanced "low light" modes (not just a flash-light) could be interesting.

I hope that "reasonable quality" camera won't stir up costs of next versions of Neo1973.

WiFi: yep, today it's simply needed everywhere: data transfer, email, and net browsing.

But... since you will always transfer small amounts of data (quite rare you need to pump up a gigabyte of stuff in your cellphone), the throughput of an 802.11b (11Mbps) will be definitely sufficient. Say, you don't actually need 802.11a/g (54Mbps) in a cellphone - or... do you think its processor could sustain 2-3 megabytes per second of read/write without exploding? :-) Also, 11Mbps is sufficient for internet browsing and email and other stuff... An 802.11a/b/g feature is acceptable only if its cost is the same of an 802.11b solution. (Note: this is actually the case! Neo 1973 comes with an open source Atheros AR6000 chip, capable of 802.11 a/b/g).

Screen: it was said the P900 have a "screen coprocessor". Actually, some playable 3D-game got indeed its way, but I still don't know what that "screen coprocessor" actually is.

Neo 1973 will have some multimedia acceleration (yay!)


Final "wish-list" for next version of OpenMoko Neo 1973

What it - the one codenamed "GTA02" - already has and should not be abandoned or changed:

What it already has (in a random order) which I would like to see upgraded:

  1. 400 MHz processor (good)
  2. micro-SD slot (ouch! switch to an SDIO one!)
  3. only one user key, no other user/application keys/joysticks/etc
  4. USB 1.1 client and "unpowered host"
  5. no LEDs
  6. super-stylus (phone doesn't have slot)
  7. no camera
  8. 57×43mm 640×480pixel (2.8") screen (good!)
  9. bash, awk and other nice things are already there
  10. AGPS
  11. no ambient light sensor

What it should have (that is: important features!) in the same order as above:

  1. maybe: a faster processor (while keeping aggressive battery-saving)
  2. important: SDHC/SDIO slot (SD are cheaper and easier to find out)
  3. important: a few user-application keys and a 3-way jog-dial (see above)
  4. important: USB 1.1 "host"-capable (at least as an option...!) USB 2.0 will be required only when the phone will have large storage
  5. urgent: two or three LEDs (bluetooth, GSM/GPRS, new-messages)
  6. maybe: simpler stylus in a stylus slot on the phone
  7. maybe: "reasonable quality" camera (640×480; to me, as said above, is not needed!)
  8. maybe: a slightly larger screen (because 283dpi is way high!)
  9. important: please, please! add in full Ruby support!
  10. in future: switch to a positioning system more reliable than GPS (e.g.: Galileo, expected in 2011, or GLONASS, the Russian one)
  11. maybe: ambient light sensor for screen power-saving and other things.

What it should NOT have (that is: features that I think are not worth their cost):


UPDATE: OpenMoko Freerunner!

Let's see what came out of my wishlist:

  1. faster processor: yes; I expected 600MHz, but peoples at FIC preferred 500MHz (maybe to reduce battery draining);
  2. SD/MMC slot: yes; currently I do not know whether SDIO support is there (but expect to be "yes");
  3. application keys: no (it seems);
  4. USB client/host: yes (dunno whether host can provide 5V);
  5. LEDs: no (it seems);
  6. pen/stylus slot: no;
  7. camera: no;
  8. larger screen: yes! 50% larger, while 60% less pixels (thus having excellent 128dpi and requiring less CPU power to deal with);
  9. Ruby support: no - they added Java, but a fast Ruby 1.9 just came out in December 2007;
  10. positioning system: assisted GPS (AGPS) is already there;
  11. light sensor: no;

But it also has:

Well, almost all important things were added - screen, securedigital, USB host+client. I only miss LEDs and user keys.

Anyways, I'll buy it as soon as I can! :-) Stay tuned!



These are only a few ideas of the first days when I saw OpenMoko Neo 1973 public announce (July 2007).

This page could be largely outdated when you read it.

See then my other OpenMoko Neo 1973 pages.