Video: WebGL on the Nokia N900

Last week, a firmware release made WebGL available by default in the built-in browser on the Nokia N900 smartphone. I’ve put together a video of some of the N900-compatible demos that I listed yesterday. Apologies for the terrible camerawork!

It’s worth saying again that, as far as I can tell, WebGL being live in the N900’s Gecko-based browser is not a statement from the Mozilla team that it’s ready for production applications — rather, it’s a choice on Nokia’s side to make an early-access development release of a technology available to all N900 users. Perhaps they feel that anyone who buys a Linux-based smartphone will be techie enough to be able to handle a bit of beta HTML5 goodness ;-)

[UPDATE] At Mr. doob’s suggestion, I tried IQ’s Shader Toy WebGL demo. It worked pretty well, although the Quaternion demo did cause a few responsiveness problems… here’s a video:

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7 Responses to “Video: WebGL on the Nokia N900”

  1. steve says:

    Considering the demos were not written for mobiles, some of them ran remarkably well – like the marble teapot with directional lighting. It is exciting to see WebGL progressing to the real world, and I can see that it will do the job of 3d graphics very well.

    What’s particularly good about this is the combination of easy to program Javascript, and compiled hardware speed in the GPU. All these years, we’ve been arguing which language is better but it turns out to be more about which languages work best together.

  2. giles says:

    Agreed! I was particularly pleased with how well the teapot looked; it’s using per-fragment lighting, too. The shader performance, while obviously not up to desktop standards, definitely seems solid enough for reasonably complex graphics.

    The demos that ran most slowly seemed to me to be the ones that loaded hi-vertex-count models, in particular the two spore demos. I don’t know if this slowness is caused by the cost of parsing the COLLADA models or by the cost of getting the vertices up to the graphics hardware, though.

  3. Tito says:

    That’s pretty neat that a cell phone can display WebGL content, but I have a question: Since it can handle WebGL, can it also display X3DOM pages? I’m just wondering, since X3DOM is powered by WebGL. And if this turns out to be the case that the Nokia N900 can indeed render X3DOM pages, it could very well mean that once the X3D format specifications are fully implemented in the X3DOM framework, the Nokia N900 phone could be able to display full blown X3D virtual worlds (or at least in theory)!

  4. giles says:

    Good question, Tito. To a first approximation, it looks like the answer is “yes” — I just checked out the demo page at, and it worked fine.

  5. Tito says:

    @ giles: Ah, excellent, good to hear that.

    I knew it had to work. I just can’t wait for X3DOM to be complete and all the major PC web browsers be supporting WebGL by default! And I’m sure by then, the Nokia N900 won’t be the only cell phone on the market that can display WebGL and X3DOM too. Yes, I know….all this won’t most likely happen until 2 or 3 more years or so, but at least it will give me more time to master my X3D modeling/code skills and be better prepared.

  6. giles says:

    @Tito — absolutely — though I reckon we’ll see WebGL in Android and on the iPhone/iPad pretty quickly once it’s standardised. Google and Apple are both keen sponsors of the standard — and anyway, Steve Jobs needs something to push in place of Flash :-)

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