The Nokia N1: Another First-World Device

Nokia’s attempt to revive its flailing hardware business has resulted in a basic tablet, the Nokia N1, that can’t connect to GSM networks, and does not offer 3G.

Unless you are privileged enough to access a series of Wi-Fi hotspots like in New York you will probably not be impressed with the basic Nokia N1. It fits into a less-attractive range of tablets that cannot use SIM cards for GPRS, 2G, 3G, or 4G connections.
While one might argue that this is a similar strategy to what all brands like Apple are doing, maybe it’s time we moved away from the connectionless baseline tablet and establish a new norm?

Wi-Fi only tablets certainly do not aid users in developing countries that are experiencing a massive boom in tablet, smartphone and internet penetration, yet there are on offer to consumers in countries like South Africa. I guess these tablets are handy for a great game of Angry Birds if you are not close to viable internet connection?

Tech review sites seem to overlook the device’s flaws and instead focus on the competitive price point that starts at $250 (approx. R2740). I’m not sure about you, but I definitely would not pay $250 dollars for a device that simply isn’t portable and expandable enough. How many more dollars would you need to add on to get a decent internet connection out of it?

Furthermore, despite its quad core processor and 2048 x 1536 resolution, the 32 GB of internal storage cannot be increased because the tablet cannot use memory cards. Why would they do that? To charge more for a high end version of course.

The launch of the Nokia N1 brings up an ugly truth that many companies may be oblivious to: Wi-Fi only tablets are a product for first-world consumers who live in countries that have made great progress when it comes to internet infrastructure and maintenance. Even within first-world countries, the rural and poorly connected don’t really benefit from these tablets.


Product structures that increase the price for internet connection do not aid the growth of internet penetration and digital know-how in the developing world. Until this changes, the limited screens of basic-level pixelated smartphones is all that’s available to poorer populations.