This project isn't for most people. It's specifically for people who think those points matter.
>it would be much harder work
Yes, of course, you can fight your own device to just make it behave in the way you want it to.
However, you can also get a device that's *made* to behave in the way you want it to.
I've had my share of working on various OS ports for mobile devices. It's never ending cat-and-mouse play. I've had enough.
No, read carefully and don't spread false info! There's 64GB of *internal* eMMC, plus 0.5GB of internal NAND (mostly for N900 compatibility), AND additional external microSD memory.
If you say that Neo900 "doesn't do anything special" compared to any Android phone, you surely just don't understand what this fuzz is all about. Almost any Android phone out there is hardly comparable to a openness level of devices like Neo Freerunner, GTA04 or Neo900. The best you can get from Android devices is Replicant or some libhybris abominations, and after using Freerunner and N900 for a long time I'm not exactly interested in either.
The price is simply how development of such things divided by low production yield costs. It's as simple as that. When you're comparing something developed with external funds for a order of magnitude more people, then prices drop *very quick*.
Also, obviously you cannot "take Samsung and replace GPS to more open one". Those devices both lack basic info about what's really inside and how it's connected, reworking is *very* error prone (and producing it means REing it from scratch, which would be even more expensive than Neo900 which already used GTA04 design for some of its parts), they're not FLOSS friendly, the architecture of GSM communication often isn't even privacy friendly... heck, today even finding a device with physical keyboard would be a trouble. Your ideas are simply disconnected from reality. That's not how you make devices, especially not for such a niche as this one.
That's the level of openness and transparency that is the basic requirement of this project that differentiates it from other ones: http://neo900.org/stuff/block-...
Also, the project's take on user privacy and how a modem module will be handled is very unique: http://neo900.org/stuff/ohsw20...
And that's just early stuff. Good luck finding any other suiting phone for someone for whom this stuff is important.
"The execution" of Neo900 is a result of years of experience with real open devices like those from Openmoko and OpenPhoenux community, both as their users and makers. There's hardly any comparable hardware on the market - and virtually none that is "much cheaper", as you postulate. The closest one right now is Jolla, which is still a few steps backwards compared to what Openmoko already did years ago.
Capacitive screens are still annoying to use and Wacom layer requires additional stylus to make your input more accurate. On my N900, I can pretty accurately select 8px text just with side of my fingernail, plus it doesn't register accidental presses as soon as I make a skin contact with the screen - and those are killer features for me.
There will be a limited multitouch (dualtouch gestures) support in Neo900 thanks to CRTOUCH chip: https://www.freescale.com/weba...
I'm still using my Openmoko Neo Freerunner and my Nokia N900.
I love the form factor of N900.
I love complete freedom over the software of Neo Freerunner.
I love the resistive screen of N900.
I love the fact that I run full GNU/Linux on my phones - came handy in lots of cases already.
I love tinkering with these phones. I got Freerunner as a late teenager - it was worth the investment. I gained a lot of knowledge just by playing with that phone.
So in future I will use Neo900, as any other device would be a downgrade for me. You won't - and it's fine. It's not for people like you. It's for people like me.
Your mention of "0.5GB storage" is a FUD BTW. Neo900 has 64GB + 512MB of NAND.
See also: http://neo900.org/stuff/ohsw20...
0.5Gb storage? It's rather 64.5 Gb - read more carefully.
Of course you can build a "phone" from Arduino shields or other stuff like that. That will be great learning experience and really fun thing to do - I guarantee! But it won't be more than a toy - the aspect of power management alone is a hard topic and you can't expect your phone toy to behave reasonably well there.
This project is not for you, I get it. However, from other point of view, Apple devices can't do anywhere near as much as devices like Neo Freerunner, GTA04 or Neo900 - or heck, even plain N900. I'm not interested in iPhone at all, Android or FirefoxOS devices aren't attractive to me either. For me, the choice is limited - it's either Jolla, or Neo900 - and Neo900 wins for me on both openness and form factor.
And the price? It's just how much things like that cost. If you build a device for a few hundreds of hobbyists, FOSS believers and generally other people similar to you, you cannot benefit from economy of scale. But that's fine. As long as there's someone working on it, and not just a bunch of people wishing that someone would, it's heading in the right direction
the <script> tag*
Mistakenly turned on the HTML formatting. Hopefully it's still readable without the new lines