Nokia N9: One month and one software update on

You probably know that we fell in love with the N9. If you didn't, you should probably read our review of the phone. Now, one month on, I'm going to take a look at if the device has enough power to hold our attention away from those mouth watering new Android 4.0 devices and the Windows Phone 7.5 hardware.

Earlier this month, Nokia released the first in a series of updates for the Nokia N9 -- PR1.1 -- which is still rolling out to devices around the world. My N9 got the update two weeks ago, and I was surprised not only by the swift release by the Nokia team, but additionally how many improvements they'd made to the platform already, compared to the wait time for updates. Other platforms (Android, Windows Phone) waited a long time for similar small issues that were fixed in this update to be addressed.

What's changed


The home screen remains largely the same

In our review, we highlighted the sheer speed of the platform, but noted that it had strange slow downs and lock ups OS-wide from time to time for no specific reason. The update fixes this, completely. The Facebook and Twitter applications are now very good and arguably are better than some of the official applications out there for other platforms. On Windows Phone and Android, I'd always found myself using the website more than the application itself, but that's not the case anymore.


Seems useful.

Music is getting better too, they've finally added what everyone else has; music controls on the lock screen. It was a bit frustrating having to unlock and navigate to the music app to skip songs, but no longer! I still wish I could get that Zune Pass music on here somehow though.


This is much more readable

Small improvements that many won't even notice seem to be the big thing with this update, with Nokia improving thing such as the font spacing in messaging (pictured above) and allowing the user to select a more specific location level for their chat status'. They've also fixed a strange bug in the messaging application; previously it was extremely hard to hit the right spot in the input box to bring up the keyboard, you had to hit it in just the right spot by the bubble icon. Now, you can click anywhere. Hooray!

There's also Swype onboard now too, however I only used it briefly before turning it off, as I was always a fan of just stabbing at the screen instead of scribbling and hoping it could figure out what I'm saying. However, fans of the software from other platforms might find this an attractive option.

Finally, noise cancelation is an option now, and in the tests I tried it performed excellent. Walking around in noisy areas (such busy city streets) were relatively quiet, and the caller at the other end could hear with ease. The N9 features dual microphones for fantastic noise cancelation.

Thoughts 

It's obvious that I was already in love with the N9, but it wasn't clear if that was enough to keep me from other platforms, considering the rate that they're being released. The fact that Nokia continues to update the N9 is a reassuring thing.

The N9 is a polished OS, and the polish is end-to-end. The update continues this experience. Android is almost the opposite. To quote a excellent review of Ice Cream Sandwich, the problem with Android is that the OS is too complicated and "what people mean when they say they don’t "love" their phones’ OS is that they don’t understand it." The N9 doesn't suffer from this. It's simple, intuitive and universal.

The feeds feature is beautiful (and grew on me over time). It's a great way to keep up with everything in one place when you've got a moment and have been away from the internet for a few hours. The Twitter and Facebook application integration here is fantastic, too, with a quick tap bringing up a reply option to the tweet or Facebook status.

Another issue with the N9 in its original state was the lack of a fully featured browser, and it wasn't clear if Nokia was going to update the browser in the future to pack more punch (it's actually pretty good right now, but could do with some better standard support). With PR1.1, we were able to successfully load on Firefox (which is in beta) and the browser impressed to no end. It's got tabs, sync and is faster than expected. It really is fantastic to see other options coming to the platform.

I fell in love with universal search. The OS indexes everything; emails, contacts, SMS, chats, applications (and their contents), web history and more. Searching for any ​keyword will return a result, and fast. The iPhone obviously has this in the form of Spotlight, however this is the first time a real competitor seems to have come along.

While many news outlets are claiming that the Nokia N9 and it's MeeGo innards are dead, we're not going to tell you that. In fact, it's quite the opposite. MeeGo is still being actively worked on, we saw it with our own eyes last month. There are new features inbound already, in PR1.2 and 1.3 and upwards. We've even received exclusive proof that PR1.2 exists, as seen in the screenshot below. 

Our love for the N9 did not fade over time. It stayed. Sure, it might be frustrating to be missing a decent IMDB application, but the web browser works fine. It might not be a "well supported" ecosystem, but do you really need a ton of applications? For this writer, the answer is no.

​As someone who's a self-confessed Windows Phone fan, I'm still bewildered as to how this device won my attention, let alone managed to keep it.

​Sure, the phone might have flaws. The ecosystem might be dead. It might be different from everything else out there. ​I don't care. ​The N9 is one of the best mobile experiences that just works consistently, across the board. The hardware is beautiful, and it's fun to use. I'll still be in love with the N9 for a long time.

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44 Comments

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You either love the northern way our you don't. They have the freedom to do things their way with Harmattan, which works for those that always loved the Nokia way. Windows mobile will never got the Nokia/Finnish way.

The point is that Mango isn't a Nokia experience. iPhone its the best and Android is the worst of an American Design language. The N9/Lumia its Finnish design, but only Harmattan complements the physical design as a typical Scandinavian way of doing things, Mango isn't...
That's whatis Nokia

I don't see a problem with a bit of choice on Nokia's part, unless of course, some people are desperate to have their preferred platform succeed at any cost.

Denis W said,
I don't see a problem with a bit of choice on Nokia's part, unless of course, some people are desperate to have their preferred platform succeed at any cost.

I'm desperate for Windows Phone to succeed at any cost I just find it an injustice that it isn't currently the most popular platform considering I believe it is much better than every other smartphone platform out there. I hope to see Microsoft as the market leader as soon as is possible.

Callum said,

I'm desperate for Windows Phone to succeed at any cost I just find it an injustice that it isn't currently the most popular platform considering I believe it is much better than every other smartphone platform out there. I hope to see Microsoft as the market leader as soon as is possible.

Well it's all good that you believe it's the best platform out there. But you can't really force the hand of the market to all coalesce around one popular platform.

After all, isn't competition a great thing? Plus, with your logic above, wouldn't you technically deny other users the right to have a MeeGo device, despite any perceived shortcomings versus Windows Phone?

If MeeGo amounts to an abysmal failure, despite marketing attempts, then so be it. But I believe this tactic of strangling a potentially new ecosystem in its infancy without giving it a chance to succeed is wrong.

After all, say if (theoretically) Windows Phone fails to take off even after Nokia stepping in. Then Nokia is done for without a backup strategy.

Callum said,

I believe it is much better than every other smartphone platform out there.

Then use it. Why would you care about what anyone else uses as long as it fills your needs?

Callum said,

I'm desperate for Windows Phone to succeed at any cost I just find it an injustice that it isn't currently the most popular platform considering I believe it is much better than every other smartphone platform out there. I hope to see Microsoft as the market leader as soon as is possible.

The only fault I have is the fact that there isn't a single Windows Phone device out there with 64GB storage being offered (or at the very least 32GB plus sdcard slot) in the country where I live (or anywhere for that matter). Quite frankly, who ever designed the current crop of phones are idiots - 16GB is considered 'big' these days?

Tom said,
Author: Owen Williams.

What a surprise!!!


Tom, grow up! People will stop listening to you if you always rage when people don't talk abotu WP7. I've said multiple times that I really like Windows Phone, but this is also good.

Owen W said,

Tom, grow up! People will stop listening to you if you always rage when people don't talk abotu WP7. I've said multiple times that I really like Windows Phone, but this is also good.

I'm not hatin' on the N9 specifically. Just MeeGo - the dead platform.

Oh, those fugly static grid of icons. I'm done with them for life after using the GORGEOUS Metro UI tiles. Not to mention that ugly font which looks totally crap compared to Segoe WP.

england_fanboy said,
Oh, those fugly static grid of icons. I'm done with them for life after using the GORGEOUS Metro UI tiles. Not to mention that ugly font which looks totally crap compared to Segoe WP.

Actually that Nokia Pure font is a very pretty one. Its not as rounded as Segoe WP. Actually if ever Nokia and MS get together on the phone from big time. For WP8. It would be awesome if they could make a new font that is tad like the Nokia Pure. or Give us 2 options in theme area. For font. Have big hope for WP8 to bring alot of customization options. And it looks like it will be coming out soon.

Zain Adeel said,

Actually that Nokia Pure font is a very pretty one. Its not as rounded as Segoe WP. Actually if ever Nokia and MS get together on the phone from big time. For WP8. It would be awesome if they could make a new font that is tad like the Nokia Pure. or Give us 2 options in theme area. For font. Have big hope for WP8 to bring alot of customization options. And it looks like it will be coming out soon.


Theyre both pretty similar
Doubt most people would be able to tell the difference:
http://thebettertwin.co.uk/wp-...t/uploads/2011/03/fonts.jpg

Zain Adeel said,

Actually that Nokia Pure font is a very pretty one. Its not as rounded as Segoe WP. Actually if ever Nokia and MS get together on the phone from big time. For WP8. It would be awesome if they could make a new font that is tad like the Nokia Pure. or Give us 2 options in theme area. For font. Have big hope for WP8 to bring alot of customization options. And it looks like it will be coming out soon.

Completely disagree on that one. Before Lumia 800 was officially announced, a few screenshots were leaked where Nokia Pure font was used instead of Segoe WP. It looked horribly out of place. In the end it turned out that was a photoshop job.

Segoe WP remains the most beautiful font I have ever seen. It is the heart of the Metro UI. Without Segoe WP Metro wouldn't be half as gorgeous as it is.

england_fanboy said,
Oh, those fugly static grid of icons. I'm done with them for life after using the GORGEOUS Metro UI tiles. Not to mention that ugly font which looks totally crap compared to Segoe WP.

Agreed... I do miss the style. But the Lumia actually killed the N9 hardware. It's a pity.

After reading the article, it is important to remember that this is just one person's opinion (the article's use of "our" and other similar words makes it sound as if this is the opinion of more than one person).

Unfortunately, even after the update, the N9 doesn't provide a user experience that is as wonderful as Windows Phone's, and Windows Phone's live tile concept is much more superior to that boring screen with rows of icons.

Overall, I find Windows Phone to be much better. Certain elements of the MeeGo design are somewhat ugly in comparison, although some elements are quite nice; Windows Phone is exceptionally beautiful all round.

Nokia, you're doing the right thing! Kill off MeeGo and stick with the best smartphone platform currently around (Windows Phone).

Indeed, Windows Phone is better than MeeGo, in every single aspect, if you will.
Windows Phone will always be my first choice, the second one goes to MeeGo because I don't like the small 3.5'' screen of iOS.
If iPhone gets a bigger screen, then it'll certainly be second on the list but Windows Phone is just amazing, It's like there is no freakin' parallel.

Callum said,

...Overall, I find Windows Phone to be much better. Certain elements of the MeeGo design are somewhat ugly in comparison, although some elements are quite nice; Windows Phone is exceptionally beautiful all round.

Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion just like you have yours. I know you & lot of people here love Windows Phone. Just like you think some parts of Harmattan are ugly I think the same about WP especially the home screen and the bland flat icons in the apps list.

Callum said,

Nokia, you're doing the right thing! Kill off MeeGo and stick with the best smartphone platform currently around (Windows Phone).

There are large group of Nokia fans like me who grew up with Symbian, used & continues to use it for its smartphone functionality unlike many who just used it as phones. For people like us WP, as it stands today, is not a favourable alternative. Once WP gets all the functionality of Symbian we may find it interesting. Until then they have to appease us with updates to Symbian and Harmattan. You WP lovers get your Nokia WPs and we Nokia lovers get Symbian and Harmattan love. Looking forward to the N8 successor packing optical zoom.

Funny that you should quote WP to be the best platform when you don't even have the freedom to run whatever software you want on it.

With N9, you have full control. With Windows Phone, you have none.

liju said,

Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion just like you have yours. I know you & lot of people here love Windows Phone. Just like you think some parts of Harmattan are ugly I think the same about WP especially the home screen and the bland flat icons in the apps list.

There are large group of Nokia fans like me who grew up with Symbian, used & continues to use it for its smartphone functionality unlike many who just used it as phones. For people like us WP, as it stands today, is not a favourable alternative. Once WP gets all the functionality of Symbian we may find it interesting. Until then they have to appease us with updates to Symbian and Harmattan. You WP lovers get your Nokia WPs and we Nokia lovers get Symbian and Harmattan love. Looking forward to the N8 successor packing optical zoom.


As you say, everyone has their own opinion, which is why I voiced mine I don't expect everyone to love Windows Phone as much as I do. I understand why you feel the way you do, but we just have different opinions

daPhoenix said,
Funny that you should quote WP to be the best platform when you don't even have the freedom to run whatever software you want on it.

With N9, you have full control. With Windows Phone, you have none.


Your comment doesn't make any sense because I am able to run whatever software I wish on Windows Phone There isn't a single app I wish I could run that I'm not able to. Having said that, that capability wouldn't make MeeGo a better platform, in my opinion. The design of the operating system and all of the features overall are the two factors that are important to me, and Windows Phone is much better than MeeGo in those respects.

Owen, as a Windows Phone fan, you should know that on Windows Phone Twitter and Facebook functionality is baked in at the OS level, negating the need for separate apps or the use of a website.

neo158 said,
Owen, as a Windows Phone fan, you should know that on Windows Phone Twitter and Facebook functionality is baked in at the OS level, negating the need for separate apps or the use of a website.

Indeed, however it doesn't work as well as this. You often can't perform actions on the OS so have to resort to the web. The Facebook integration's pretty damn good on WP7 though, I do miss it.

Owen W said,

Indeed, however it doesn't work as well as this. You often can't perform actions on the OS so have to resort to the web. The Facebook integration's pretty damn good on WP7 though, I do miss it.

If I get to try a MeeGo device then I will, it seems from your article to be the first decent alternative to Windows Phone. I do agree that the integration on Windows Phone could be better, I use a combination of the integration and the Facebook app.

Given the seemingly unanimous glowing praise the Meego seems to be getting, It seems that it would be quite a dumb move on Nokia's part if they didn't at least partially restart Meego development. If I'd could be assured that Meego is not dead in the water (i.e. someone picks it up continues developing and releases more phones with Meego as the OS), I'd have one in a snap.

Majesticmerc said,
Given the seemingly unanimous glowing praise the Meego seems to be getting, It seems that it would be quite a dumb move on Nokia's part if they didn't at least partially restart Meego development. If I'd could be assured that Meego is not dead in the water (i.e. someone picks it up continues developing and releases more phones with Meego as the OS), I'd have one in a snap.

I disagree. Both Nokia and Microsoft would like Windows Phone to be the most popular platform around. Keeping MeeGo alive could hinder the chance of that happening. Some people go for only Nokia phones because of the hardware; some of these might not even give Windows Phone a chance if they see a MeeGo phone, without realising, even if they could end up preferring Windows Phone.

Muhammad Farrukh said,
Because it is beautiful

But Windows Phone is more beautiful. It doesn't make sense for them to keep an inferior alternative around when the platform they'd rather succeed could have all of the attention.

Callum said,

But Windows Phone is more beautiful. It doesn't make sense for them to keep an inferior alternative around when the platform they'd rather succeed could have all of the attention.

I'd heartily disagree. If I had to choose another platform right now other than Android it would be meego. Their WP offerings left a lot to be desired and the aesthetics of meego really are excellent. Obviously this is my opinion but if I could get this device with android apps it would certainly tempt me away from other devices.

Hollow.Droid said,

if I could get this device with android apps it would certainly tempt me away from other devices.

iOS has far more superior apps than Android.

Muhammad Farrukh said,

iOS has far more superior apps than Android.

Muhammad Farrukh said,
And nothing is wrong with Nokia' WP offerings.

So I guess opinions don't exist these days? iOS may have more apps but I find Androids have a much wider range of functions. Again OPINION! Put your WP pitchfork down.

Muhammad Farrukh said,
Because it is beautiful

Bro, you definitely should get a Windows Phone. Did you see Meego's menu interface? Ugggg...a very bad copy of iOS's icons and everything.

tuneslover said,

Bro, you definitely should get a Windows Phone. Did you see Meego's menu interface? Ugggg...a very bad copy of iOS's icons and everything.


Meego is second on my list. Next to Windows Phone

If i can still get a hold of one next year when the price has dropped a little bit i'll prob buy an N9 just for the heck of it.

You probably would have been quite amazed by WebOS phones too - which is no bad thing as they were pretty awesome, bar the ecosystem. It's also beautiful, and has a great consistent, touch centric experience.

Once used a Pre of a friend and I'll admit, the experience was really, really good.
I still remember that gorgeous hardware of Pre' and WebOS, to me just needs a bit of attention and it'll be there with the competition in no time.