Nokia N9 review: It's incredible

Last week we received a review device of the Nokia N9, a phone that was "dead" before it launched, and was superseded this week at Nokia World when the Finnish phone manufacturer announced it's new Lumia line up. I've held off publishing a review like this until the Windows Phone variants were out, so I could look at them and honestly say how the N9 stacks up.

Specifications

Everyone loves reading these so we thought it'd be a great idea to include them. The table below shows how the N9 stacks up in terms of pure hardware.

GSM Bands 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Bands HSPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
Display 3.9 inch 480 x 564 AMOLED
251 ppi pixel density
5-point capacitive multi-touch
Gorilla Glass
Processor TI OMAP 3630 chipset
1GHz Cortex A8 CPU
Graphics PowerVR SGX530
RAM 1GB
Storage 8 / 16 / 32 / 64 GB
Connectivity

WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
A-GPS
NFC

Camera 8 MP rear camera with autofocus and dual-LED flash
1.3 MP front camera
720p video recording (rear)
Ports MicroUSB (charging)
3.5mm audio jack
Sensors Accelerometer
Light sensor
Proximity sensor
Battery Li-ion 1,450 mAh non-removable
Launch OS Meego 1.2 "Harmattan"
Launch Date September 2011
Size & Weight 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1 mm
135 g

As you can see from the table above, the N9 pretty much comes in any flavor you like, with multiple storage options available, and the device will work on almost any network you can throw at it. You will, however, need a MicroSIM to use the N9.

Hardware

As soon as you open the box, you will fall in love with the N9. This is one of the most gorgeous pieces of smartphone hardware I've ever seen, and it feels excellent in your hand. The device is made out of polycarbonate (which feels like brushed aluminum in your hand) that is slightly curved to sit in your hand, with an edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass display on the front (which is also slightly curved).

It's a big statement to make, but the build quality on this device is on par with the iPhone. There are no seams, no harsh edges; almost no buttons. It's almost impossible to resist touching it.

The screen is actually an edge to edge touchscreen, and the lack of buttons is made up by MeeGo's love for gestures. If you want to wake up the phone, you double tap the screen. To unlock it, just swipe from the black bezel to the top of the screen. Simple, and elegant.

The back of the device is just as stunning. The matte aluminum is fantastic from any angle, and the simple Nokia logo and camera don't detract from its overall looks.

On the very top of the device (pictured below), is the 3.5mm audio jack, a well hidden micro-USB port and the MicroSIM slot. To open it, you have to press lightly on the slight bump, which pops up the door. If you want to get at the SIM, you then pull the edge of the second door towards the audio jack and it will pop up.

It's this attention to detail that makes the N9 so stunning: everything is tidy, and hidden away. There are no exposed ports (other than the audio jack) and even the front facing camera (pictured below) blends in with the screen nicely.

It's worth noting that if black isn't your favorite color, Nokia's got you covered there too. The N9 ships in blue, pink, black and glossy white (by December).

​Software

​This is what it all comes down to at the end of it all. Nokia, a company that has a large Symbian following saw itself floundering, becoming old and irrelevant. Initially, Nokia started working on MeeGo, which ships on the N9, but at some point along their journey, they decided to make an even riskier move to an old friend that they think could save them. Microsoft.

This meant the N9's version of Meego -- Harmattan -- wasn't the spotlight anymore. It's still getting love from Nokia, and the company claims it'll be updated for "years to come," but perhaps not as fast as many would like.

Coming from my point of view, I am a very big fan of Windows Phone. I've been a user since the very first Windows Phone shipped last year, and am still a big fan, so went into this review expecting to be disappointed. What I discovered when using MeeGo was that it's almost everything Windows Phone isn't.

MeeGo is bright, fun and beautiful (for lack of better buzzwords). It's stunning. The home screen isn't exactly the most innovative thing we've seen yet, it could almost be compared to the iPhone on first glance, but there's a lot more going on under the hood.

The N9 is fully gesture oriented. If you love buttons and hate gestures this is not the phone for you. To unlock, double tap the screen, then swipe from the very bottom edge of the bezel (or from the right / left bezels) to the top. To close an app, swipe from the top bezel (or bottom / left / right bezel) down. This approach is something that I almost don't want to live without now. I almost wasn't convinced that Nokia could get me to do away with those hideous capacitive buttons, but... this works.

The OS took the homescreen approach as a "three screens" design. You swipe left of the apps and you get a "feeds" view that shows your latest Facebook feed, Tweets, RSS feeds, News and more. You swipe to the right of the app screen and you get the multitasking drawer, where your apps run in the background. This simplicity really makes the N9 shine. You can get news from the media, as well as your social media friends in one place. It's the ultimate way to read what's happening in the world as it happens.

Any service you add to your N9 will show up here (you can turn them off, though). Some of the default ones include Facebook, Twitter, AP, Picasa, and a few basic RSS feeds (you can customize these to your hearts desire).

Multitasking is performed using cards, slightly similar to the way WebOS rocks them. Press and hold on an application to close, or, just close all. Simple.

The OS itself has a lot baked in by default, and allows OS-wide chat. Not only does it support a range of chat networks, it's probably the best chat implementation I've seen on a phone. Windows Phone's Facebook/Windows Live chat is patchy at best, and leaves me wanting some Google Talk love too.

The N9, however, supports almost anything but Windows Live. I attached two Google Talk accounts, Skype and Facebook, and they all worked seamlessly, never dropping a message, and even offline messaging people if they dropped off suddenly. You can even update anything that isn't Facebook with your current location in your status field, which is a nice touch. 

Messaging is universal, with SMS and Facebook unified in one place for simplicity, which is fantastic.

The experience is consistent across MeeGo too, for example in the music application, where the OS shows off your music in a visually pleasing way. If it hasn't got an album cover for your music, it won't leave it blank. It'll generate its own with a combination of color and large text. 

The music application works as one would expect, and includes Nokia's Ovi Music store (which we didn't try) that attempts to find music that you'll like based on what you're listening to. Having come from Windows Phone's side of the fence and using Zune Pass, it was saddening to not be able to use my DRM-laden music, however MP3's and normal WMA's work just fine here.

One gripe with the music application though. Apparently the first iteration of MeeGo doesn't include fast media controls, so if you want to skip a song or pause it quickly, you need to unlock the phone and navigate to the music application to interact with it again, rather than it being built into the lock screen. The good news is that an incoming update is already pinned to include this, so this won't be a problem for long.

The camera application is one of the better ones out there, and includes a number of features by default. Oh, and you can save the settings too, unlike earlier iterations of Windows Phone. You can change the mode (macro, landscape, etc) enable or disable flash, change white balance, ISO, aspect ratio, quality, face detection, GPS features and more. 

You can also share photos to any account you have attached, from the gallery app. Facebook, Picasa, MMS, Mail, Bluetooth or NFC were the options I was able to use. In the week we used the device though, we found it didn't include uploading to Twitter... even though it claims to, which is frustrating.

Apparently Nokia's well known for mapping overseas (ie: not in the US) and includes turn-by-turn navigation services and mapping applications that are built and maintained by them. I almost expected some sort of half-baked attempt like most of the GPS applications on Android but was pleasantly surprised by how immersive the turn-by-turn service was, and how similar it is to an actual ​GPS. It even got angry when I went the wrong way, and I could choose a man's voice instead of a woman's.

The dialer is almost ​similar to every other dialer out there...

Yes, Skype is built in at the OS level, and it's damn incredible. If you happen to have Skype credit and an awesome unlimited data plan (or WiFi everywhere) you could replace traditional calling with VoIP. The quality's pretty impressive, too. One catch though, even though there's a nice front-facing camera on the device... you can't use it. Skype doesn't support it yet, neither does Google Talk or any other third party applications... which is extremely strange.

However, an application by the name of "Peregrine" claims they'll support it soon, so it's not all bad.

Other cool stuff includes a not-so-traditional clock, full video support and Facebook/Twitter apps loaded by default. Video support was impressive, being able to play almost anything I threw it it; including xVid.

This may be slightly boring, but I have one gripe with the alarm application. I was excited that I could use any song as a alarm tone. So I set Coldplay's Every Teardrop is a Waterfall and went to sleep, and woke up to 10-15 seconds of the song, then it cutting off. Strange. It doesn't repeat, that's it. No more alarm. The built in tones are even worse. Quiet, short and definitely wouldn't wake up someone who's... normal.

Keyboard

​I'm sure some of you are just dying to know what the keyboard is like. I put it in it's very own section because I figured it's important to users these days, and actually is make or break for many.

Now, coming from Windows Phone I'm spoiled by the keyboard. It works fantastically. I can type fast and blindly, and it'll generally figure out my mess of stabbing at the screen. The N9 is so close​ to this, but something isn't quite right. The size is great, and the haptic feedback is to die for. It really feels like it's just underneath your finger.

The problem is, the auto correct isn't very good. I found myself typing "dobt" a lot instead of don't, as I was used to Windows Phone automatically figuring that I suck at hitting the "n" key. MeeGo does offer up suggestions, but it's nowhere near as aggressive. It'll tell you it's found a mistake, but won't fix it for you, whereas other devices tend to just do it without even asking. The MeeGo implementation is slightly out of reach too, others offer their suggestions along the top of the keyboard, but the MeeGo does it right above the mistake.

This said, it's not bad at all. It's by far better than the Android default keyboard, or, you know, something running Windows Mobile, but it could do with a little more TLC.

Update: ​I'm told that "aggresive auto-correct" is disabled by default, and can be enabled via "Settings > Time and Language > Text Input > Insert with space key." It works great, just like every other platform!

​Real world use

If you've made it this far through the review, you probably ​plan on selling your firstborn to pick up one of these devices, but maybe you're still worried about how it stacks up in the real world? I test drove the N9 for around 8 days before writing this review, and I usually tend to hate a device more and more as time passes, but the N9 made me fall more and more in love.

Battery life, for example was outstanding; providing I didn't attempt to spend all day on Facebook chat or browing the internet, I was able to get a solid two days out of it. I've heard of other users saying that theirs have lasted more than 5 days without internet usage, which is impressive for a smartphone. 

The camera did not cease to amaze me, either. I hate phone cameras. In my spare time, I'm a photographer, and am very picky about how photos come out (or even videos), and the N9 wasn't so bad​unless it was really dark. New Zealand was celebrating our Rugby World Cup win earlier this week, and I took a video in 720p to show off the phones capabilities.

Not bad, I must say. Not only is the video quality fantastic, the sound is crisp, despite how loud some of the surroundings are (especially the screaming teen girls; which would make the N9 great for concerts).

One of my favorite things was being able to be signed into my Google Talk accounts all the time, as I use them for work, and being able to flick open a chat quickly and reliably. The Facebook and Twitter integration was great, too, and the multitasking allows quick switching between each of them.

However, this is where things can get a little ugly. The N9 has this thing ​that it does, where occasionally it'll slow down to a snails pace all of a sudden, even though there's nothing really open. Swiping between screens will be slow, and opening an application is a nightmare. This tends to happen for maybe 10-20 seconds at a time, and only tends to pop up extremely rarely... but can be pretty frustrating. 

Some of the inbuilt applications are slow, too. Opening Facebook causes the entire thing to seize up for at least 30 seconds as it downloads data, and the same thing goes for Twitter. I experienced a lot of "Facebook has frozen, do you want to end task?" prompts which I needed to ignore before I could use it, each time. 


​Better get used to this...

​This slowness pushed me to just bookmarking the Facebook Touch website, which works great on the browser, albeit with a few strange bugs (like, you can't comment on some posts and likes show up strangely). The same behavior drove me to Twitter, too. It's worth noting that Windows Phone has the same problem. The Facebook application is rubbish right now, and is slow to launch. Microsoft fixed this by building in tighter OS-level integration, but the application is still required from time to time.

Call quality is fantastic, and volume levels weren't a problem. However, while we're talking about volumes, the thing that irked me the most about the N9 is the sound levels of notifications. On full blast, I could barely hear the text tone if it was in my pocket. Maybe this was a good thing, so I wasn't always on the phone, but it's actually pretty frustrating as I often missed notifications. Despite this, music seems to play extremely loud, and extremely well, so it must be some sort of problem on the OS level.

One last issue is the severe lack of applications. I browsed the store briefly and found a few flashlight apps, and one useful one (Peregrine, as mentioned earlier). This is the sad fate of a company that pushes another OS harder than it's own, however I don't see this as a problem as I don't actually use that many applications outside of Facebook and Twitter anyway.

I love the gesture based use of the phone, and actually would rather not go back to using a phone that uses traditional buttons now.

Final thoughts

​The first thing that crosses my mind is "Nokia is crazy." MeeGo is beautiful. It's everything that every other OS isn't. There's a market for this. Why aren't they pushing it harder? I think the answer to these questions is simple; Nokia was too late to the game (even though the OS has pretty much the same features as everyone else) and didn't want to try and push into an already overcrowded mobile market.

By choosing Microsoft, Nokia was able to get out of doing half of the work on the device, and focus on making services that work, and hardware that's beautiful, however, after the Nokia World announcements this week, I'm not convinced. Nokia's phones were OK at best, and the Lumia 800 (the N9's ugly sister) has been slaughtered to Microsoft's whim. It's less powerful, has ugly buttons, no NFC, and the OS doesn't look nearly as elegant on the hardware. It's saddening.

If the N9 is available in your market, it has the potential to do extremely well. In the week that I was using it, I had a huge response to the device, with everyone from my hairdresser to a car mechanic remarking that "Oh, that's that awesome new Nokia phone" and saying "I want one of those." It's likely the price tag may get in the way of sales, though. The device is retailing at $749 USD for the handset only.

Is it enough to convince people to not buy an iPhone? Perhaps. What I've seen here is a phone that still has a future, despite being "dead" and is impressive, even to non-geeks. It's built just as good as an iPhone, and offers something that is different. It seems a lot of people are beginning to realize that they might end up being an iSheep, and are looking for an alternative, and this seems to be one of the best ones yet.

The Windows Phone Nokia announcements where underwhelming. They slaughtered the N9's elegance, and don't really offer anything over actually just buying the N9, in fact, you'll get less.

Despite it's stuttery moments, I love the N9. When I next upgrade my phone, the N9 will likely be the device for me. Sure, it doesn't have the developer ecosystem like other platforms, but it's got everything built in that I'd tend to use anyway. Before you go out and purchase your next phone, try the N9. See how it feels. You might find you're pleasantly surprised.

Huge thanks to Nokia NZ for the review device! If you live in New Zealand, the N9 is available from Vodafone here.

Update: ​We talked to Nokia shortly after this review and got the low down on what's next for the N9 and MeeGo. Read it here.

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Bought mine in China two days ago. Bricked it flashing a new firmware, and then found a way to restore and flash it with Singapore firmware (the Chinese version doesn't have Skype or Facebook, and has a lot of silly, useless Chinese apps).

I love it. It is the most beautiful, elegant, intuitive phone I've ever used. There is limited app support right now (no Whatsapp for example), but Alien Dalvik is hopefully going to open things up there. Other dedicated apps are slowly appearing too. But either way, I just wanted a beautiful phone that does everything a smart phone should. I don't need a fart app.

Whoever gets one will not be disappointed, trust me.

Thanks for the very insightful and honest review.
You didn't let any bias creep in, which is very refreshing/rare.

Edited by JediT, Nov 4 2011, 8:10am :

Hey, glad you still liked the keyboard after finding the space-to-auto-correct option. As a developer of that keyboard, I am proud to say that most of it is actually open-source: http://wiki.maliit.org (OK, it currently only makes sense outside of the N9 if you happen to use a Linux tablet or such ;-))

Another cool feature that is not easy to find is perhaps the MesInput app from OVI store, which allows you to customize your keyboard layouts and even to create your own: http://store.ovi.com/content/161100

Why so many people hate title Metro? I think it is very different and has information on it. Not just an icon.

WP7 achieve something you wanted for a long time. Simplicity. The goal is to make an dumb person using this phone easily. Just like what Apple iPhone does. Sure, WP7 needs improvement but why all the hate and favor to a dead OS. Look at WebOS, it looks good just as Meego but the end of the day. It died.

Just thought i'd make a quick note - sharing photos on Twitter is on its way (it'll be in the next software update as well, i have an N950 which runs a sort of hybrid of the N9 release software and the next update, and i spent most of Qt Developer Days tweeting pictures from the N950, so... definitely coming ).

The apps are building pretty rapidly too (i've got one myself up on Ovi myself for timing tea, A Nice Cuppa ), people have found out just how easy it is to build apps for the thing so they're starting to roll in on both Ovi and the couple of unofficial stores that've already popped up (like n9-apps.com for example).

And, just because i think so: Really great review, was a good read!

Thanks for the simply amazing review. I'm so excited to buy this phone and you have pretty much sealed the deal for me.

I'm not to much into my apps either mostly just FB for me and the N9 does that.

Super excited YES!

Fucqua said,
Thanks for the simply amazing review. I'm so excited to buy this phone and you have pretty much sealed the deal for me.

I'm not to much into my apps either mostly just FB for me and the N9 does that.

Super excited YES!


It's funny, people usually trash Windows Phone because it doesn't have enough apps. This operating system has barely any apps, and yet suddenly it's not a problem?
I really don't agree with the author that the three touch buttons at the bottom of the phone ruin the design on Lumia, and as far as hardware specs go, if the phone runs smoothly with less, I don't see the problem.
The Meego home screen to me looks very uninspired and dated. However, swipe gestures and the implementation of multitasking seem cool. But I am sure Nokia will have a lot of influence on the Windows Phone operating system in the future, probably incorporating some ideas from Meego.

Since Maemo is still under the ownership of Nokia. Maybe they will share the patented swipe features with WP? Swipe down for notifications, Swipe up for Multitasking Cards or enhance WP to have multple cards showing(with pinch enabled) and then swipe up to close.

Funny how Maemo changes the way the ICONS look and people give it positives yet WP tiles are said to be plain. I really like the WP interface but it could use some of the Maemo's notification features and swipe features. That would make for a great WP experience on top of the very good experience with it now. I have a feeling Apollo might being some of these features to it. I am almost sure they will enchance toast notifications with dropdowns and increased functionality to the lockscreen as well.

I hope to get my N9 64GB BLK on Tuesday or Wednesday. Can't stand DHL and their online tracking status.

I was really thinking Cyan but figured I would play it safe. The White is glossy and I am afraid of it being scratch and the gloss layer would be damaged. Also I didn't want to wait for it's release.

Thinking of picking up the WP7.5 Lumia 800 as well they are out there now to purchase. But the Focus S is around the corner too.

mrmomoman said,
I hope to get my N9 64GB BLK on Tuesday or Wednesday. Can't stand DHL and their online tracking status.

I was really thinking Cyan but figured I would play it safe.

the 64GB is only in black, all others are 16 GB

They are pushing these really hard here in Australia at the moment. Nokia has a lot of billboard space flogging these here in Brisbane anyway.

They actually look like a really nice phone. It's s shame the OS won't have development, this would be a nice Android device.

Nashy said,
They are pushing these really hard here in Australia at the moment. Nokia has a lot of billboard space flogging these here in Brisbane anyway.

They actually look like a really nice phone. It's s shame the OS won't have development, this would be a nice Android device.


As mentioned in the review, the OS will still be worked on by Nokia

Jose_49 said,
Wow. Can't believe this actually got 100+ comments.

Why? It's a great phone and a real shame it won't get released to the amount of people it should do

"The device is made out of polycarbonate (which feels like brushed aluminum in your hand)"

no. PC does not feel ANYTHING like aluminum. of course, if you are a gas bag nokia fanatic, you can say anything you want and stupid people will still like it.

Albert said,
"The device is made out of polycarbonate (which feels like brushed aluminum in your hand)"

no. PC does not feel ANYTHING like aluminum. of course, if you are a gas bag nokia fanatic, you can say anything you want and stupid people will still like it.


Dude, are you serious? "Gas Bag Nokia fanatic"? Have you even TRIED the phone? It feels excellent.

>"if you are a gas bag nokia fanatic, you can say anything you want and stupid people will still like it."

it can also go like this: "if you are a gas bag iPhone fanatic, you can say anything you want and stupid people will still like it."

First of all, thank you for a very good and fairly balanced review. At least one review without raving `but it's dead` mantra and similar FUD, yet uninformed claims. I just realized how long of a post I wrote (I even had to split it) and for that I apologize, but once you know what's behind the N9 you'll know why it's such a tragedy for it to go to waste and you'll be rooting for it yourself as much as I am.

Now, as a person who've been following and to some extent participating in the whole Maemo line of Nokia devices, I feel the need to point out a couple of omissions, factual errors and suggestions in the review as well as within the comments. Regarding the specs:

- The resolution is 854x480 (or 480x854 in portrait) - probably a typo
- It exists only in 16GB and 64GB versions
- It has 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi support (missed the `a` band)
- There is a glaring omission of NFC in the Connectivity list - unlike many other devices that list it but have no use of it, in the N9 it actually works
- Nobody (yet) knows the specs of the FFC, so it's only a speculation that it is 1.3MPix (recording in VGA) until somebody actually tears it open or Nokia doesn't release the details
- Sensors list is missing magnetometer (compass), and it's worth noting that it has 2 mics for noise-cancellation / stereo recording) which is why you were surprised by audio quality in the video.
- MeeGo is written with a capital `G` *hides*

As for the review itself:

- You can unlock it by swiping from any direction, not just from the bottom to the top of the screen
- You missed the second mentioning of aluminum ('The mate aluminum is fantastic...') that people were complaining about in the comments.
- Nokia started working on the Maemo line (what is to become MeeGo later) BEFORE even the iPhone was released (and everybody wanted a touchscreen phone) - in fact, its path started in 2004 and the first device with it, Nokia 770, was released in November 2005. I'll cover it bellow.
- To close an app, you swipe from the top bezel to the bottom if you turned that on in Settings (with PR1.1 update it will be turned on by default), swipes in other directions merely minimize the app.
- When it comes to chat, same as with its predecessor the N900, you can install custom 'connectors' for practically any network that will seamlessly integrate into the system just like the built-in ones (Skype, GTalk, Jabber, etc.) It's based on Telepathy framework and it won't be long until somebody releases packages that will connect to MSN/Windows Live, AIM, Gadu Gadu, GroupWise, ICQ, QQ, Sametime, Yahoo! Messeger, to name but a few. All of those exist and work flawlessly on the N900 and it's just a mater of time until a package is ready for the N9. Technically, it's the same about voice/SIP protocols as well, and even for video calling.
- When it comes to camera, it's noteworthy to mention that the system can tap into its raw hardware, which allows for future awesomeness like the FCamera (precisely, the FCam driver) brought to the N900. They are already working on it.
- And, just like with the chat/voice protocols, share protocols can be added at later time that will seamlessly integrate with others, so even if Nokia doesn't fix twitter upload the community surely will, so don't despair
- Also noteworthy is that the Skype integration (along with others) originates from its predecessor N900, nothing comes even close to this level of integration - you can talk on a regular phone call, and receive a Skype call, then put the regular call on hold, talk with your Skype contact, and then return to the original call, without even knowing you've answered a Skype call (unless you watched on the screen). One has to experience that for the proper WOW effect.
- When it comes to video chat (Skype and GTalk), the Nokia N900 received it in its second update (it also came with FFC that seemingly had no function) and it integrated with the system just as seamlessly as the voice calls were, so I think the N9 will be getting it the same way. An interesting tidbit - Maemo 5 had voice-video GTalk and Skype calls before any other mobile OS on the market, and in the time when it was also declared 'dead'.
- Alarm surely repeats - it has auto-snooze and roses after 10 mins, finally giving up after 3 cycles. That were at least the default values in developer versions, don't know about the retail version.
- You can turn-on aggressive auto-correction on the keyboard.
- Facebook up is due to a massive upgrade that reportedly fix most of the issues with it.
- When it comes to apps, the N9 can use multiple stores out there for software, just yesterday one was launched: http://n9-apps.com/ . Also, given that it's a proper GNU/Linux phone practically any Linux app that the hardware can support can be ported to it (for example you could run GIMP and OpenOffice.org on the N900). And if that's not enough, every app targeted for Symbian^3 devices and developed in Qt can be recompiled in a matter of minutes for the N9, so you should check what apps are there for the latest-gen S^3 devices - chances are that many of those will be available for the N9 as well.
- You really should've mentioned the inherited-from-Symbian always-on clock + notifications. It's one of the best things one can have with an AMOLED-based device and I'm frankly puzzled why others didn't implement that yet.

And just a little comment on the comments themselves. Yeah, I know, this is already way too long but the N9 deserves it!

For all of you who suggest that this will eventually evolve into Tizen - it won't! The N9 runs MeeGo only by name - it's not MeeGo, it has nothing to do with MeeGo except for the API layer, it's a good ol' Maemo. Well, not old, it's Maemo 6, code-name Harmattan, a direct successor to the Maemo 5 (Fremantle) on the Nokia N900 (which successes previous versions of Maemo - OS2008, OS2007, OS2006, and the original OS running on the 770). It's anything but a new OS, it has been brewing for 7 years! In the light of the previously announced, and then abandoned, partnership with Intel, Nokia decided to merge their Maemo platform with Intel's Moblin, and thus the MeeGo project was born.
Nokia was already working on Harmattan so it was too late for them to switch to the streamlined MeeGo (they would need to wait first for it to integrate) - which 'matured' only a couple of months ago - so they remained on their own code base adding only a compatibility layer for the new MeeGo OS. Alas, it was to live short life, given that Nokia abandoned the project after the Elopocalypse, but since they've already promoted their upcoming device as MeeGo-based, the name remained. However, do not be fooled, Nokia N9 does not run MeeGo. In a nutshell - Nokia N9 runs Maemo 6 + MeeGo 1.2 application compatibility layer (Qt and the whole shebang) + their proprietary Swipe UI (closed source!). MeeGo in the meantime is to be merged into the newly announced Tizen project in which Intel and Samsung will play the biggest role, but it has nothing to do with either Nokia, nor the OS on the Nokia N9. By the way, if Nokia didn't play on the MeeGo card and spend resources needlessly, it's a question whether Elop would even get the chance to kill the strategy - they would have a N9-like device in the 2010!

So, if Nokia doesn't continue the line of its Maemo devices, the Tizen project won't be much of a help. And Nokia is probably done with Maemo, at least until Elop steps down (or gets fired... out of a cannon... into the Sun) and their 'set sail for an epic fail' WP7 strategy turns around and bites them in the arse. If by chance they succeed with the WP7 strategy, you can kiss goodbye to any possibility of future N9-like devices. Microsoft does not play that game!

With that being said, even if it's a DOA device, apart from commercial app support, I don't see why anyone wouldn't want to buy it - if it fulfills your needs with what it offers, and you don't mind relying on the community to make your dreams come true (or not), it's a gorgeous device, it has most of the things you'll ever need out of the box, it won't stop working if Nokia never release a similar device in the future, and you'll own a piece of history that was not to be (or might be, who knows) even tho it was clearly superior.

However, be warned, if you're drinking from the kool-aid fountain of `ecosystems, ecosystems, ecosystems` - you'll be sorely disappointed if you grab this one.

And - as Tom Hanks as Forest Gump would say - that's all I have to say about that... Again, I apologize for a rather lengthy post, I hope I haven't bored you to death.

inco said,
First of all, thank you for a very good and fairly balanced review. At least one review without raving `but it's dead` mantra and similar FUD, yet uninformed claims. I just realized how long of a post I wrote (I even had to split it) and for that I apologize, but once you know what's behind the N9 you'll know why it's such a tragedy for it to go to waste and you'll be rooting for it yourself as much as I am.

Now, as a person who've been following and to some extent participating in the whole Maemo line of Nokia devices, I feel the need to point out a couple of omissions, factual errors and suggestions in the review as well as within the comments. Regarding the specs:

- The resolution is 854x480 (or 480x854 in portrait) - probably a typo
- It exists only in 16GB and 64GB versions
- It has 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi support (missed the `a` band)
- There is a glaring omission of NFC in the Connectivity list - unlike many other devices that list it but have no use of it, in the N9 it actually works
- Nobody (yet) knows the specs of the FFC, so it's only a speculation that it is 1.3MPix (recording in VGA) until somebody actually tears it open or Nokia doesn't release the details
- Sensors list is missing magnetometer (compass), and it's worth noting that it has 2 mics for noise-cancellation / stereo recording) which is why you were surprised by audio quality in the video.
- MeeGo is written with a capital `G` *hides*

As for the review itself:

- You can unlock it by swiping from any direction, not just from the bottom to the top of the screen
- You missed the second mentioning of aluminum ('The mate aluminum is fantastic...') that people were complaining about in the comments.
- Nokia started working on the Maemo line (what is to become MeeGo later) BEFORE even the iPhone was released (and everybody wanted a touchscreen phone) - in fact, its path started in 2004 and the first device with it, Nokia 770, was released in November 2005. I'll cover it bellow.
- To close an app, you swipe from the top bezel to the bottom if you turned that on in Settings (with PR1.1 update it will be turned on by default), swipes in other directions merely minimize the app.
- When it comes to chat, same as with its predecessor the N900, you can install custom 'connectors' for practically any network that will seamlessly integrate into the system just like the built-in ones (Skype, GTalk, Jabber, etc.) It's based on Telepathy framework and it won't be long until somebody releases packages that will connect to MSN/Windows Live, AIM, Gadu Gadu, GroupWise, ICQ, QQ, Sametime, Yahoo! Messeger, to name but a few. All of those exist and work flawlessly on the N900 and it's just a mater of time until a package is ready for the N9. Technically, it's the same about voice/SIP protocols as well, and even for video calling.
- When it comes to camera, it's noteworthy to mention that the system can tap into its raw hardware, which allows for future awesomeness like the FCamera (precisely, the FCam driver) brought to the N900. They are already working on it.
- And, just like with the chat/voice protocols, share protocols can be added at later time that will seamlessly integrate with others, so even if Nokia doesn't fix twitter upload the community surely will, so don't despair
- Also noteworthy is that the Skype integration (along with others) originates from its predecessor N900, nothing comes even close to this level of integration - you can talk on a regular phone call, and receive a Skype call, then put the regular call on hold, talk with your Skype contact, and then return to the original call, without even knowing you've answered a Skype call (unless you watched on the screen). One has to experience that for the proper WOW effect.
- When it comes to video chat (Skype and GTalk), the Nokia N900 received it in its second update (it also came with FFC that seemingly had no function) and it integrated with the system just as seamlessly as the voice calls were, so I think the N9 will be getting it the same way. An interesting tidbit - Maemo 5 had voice-video GTalk and Skype calls before any other mobile OS on the market, and in the time when it was also declared 'dead'.
- Alarm surely repeats - it has auto-snooze and roses after 10 mins, finally giving up after 3 cycles. That were at least the default values in developer versions, don't know about the retail version.
- You can turn-on aggressive auto-correction on the keyboard.
- Facebook up is due to a massive upgrade that reportedly fix most of the issues with it.
- When it comes to apps, the N9 can use multiple stores out there for software, just yesterday one was launched: http://n9-apps.com/ . Also, given that it's a proper GNU/Linux phone practically any Linux app that the hardware can support can be ported to it (for example you could run GIMP and OpenOffice.org on the N900). And if that's not enough, every app targeted for Symbian^3 devices and developed in Qt can be recompiled in a matter of minutes for the N9, so you should check what apps are there for the latest-gen S^3 devices - chances are that many of those will be available for the N9 as well.
- You really should've mentioned the inherited-from-Symbian always-on clock + notifications. It's one of the best things one can have with an AMOLED-based device and I'm frankly puzzled why others didn't implement that yet.


Interesting, this device only has 8GB of storage... Thanks for your comment. I couldn't include every little detail in the review or it would become extremely tiresome, but thanks for pointing it out.

Owen W said,
Interesting, this device only has 8GB of storage... Thanks for your comment. I couldn't include every little detail in the review or it would become extremely tiresome, but thanks for pointing it out.

True, but some details do deserve attention.

As for the storage, that's a common misconception partly marketing and partly its Linux core is to be blamed.

Marketing (or rather discrepancy between HW and SW manufacturers) because of the all 1GB == 1,000MB == 1,000,000B math whereas OSes represent that as 1GB = 1,024MB == 1,048,576B. That's a common plague of marketed vs observed capacities of HDDs as well (and with regular 'platters' one has to count the sectors as well). In case of the N9, that means that the marketed 16GB version actually has ~15.26GB (OS 'units'), whereas the 64GB version actually has ~61.03GB. Well, that would at least be true if they really came with rounded numbers as on the package / in the marketing materials, the 16GB version actually has 15.79GB ('marketing' units), so for Windows that would actually be ~15.06GB.

Linux core because, as you probably know, FAT32 is the colloquial file system on USB-flash devices. Pretty much every desktop OS (and even mobile with either USB-OTG or base USB-host modes) expects USB-flash drives/sticks to be formatted in the FAT32 file system, and in order for the N9 to act as such when connected in the mass-storage mode (another cool feature of the N9 - it doesn't require any software whatsoever installed on the 'host' machine in order to transfer music, video or any other files to the N9), the N9 is not an exception.

But Linux relies on the ext3/ext4/btrfs file system, all of them being permission-based file systems, in order to know what's executable (and by who) and what is not, so all the apps, and even libraries have to be installed on it. That means that you have to compromise between the data storage and the app storage on the built-in flash memory, and the N9 (16GB, but the 64GB version is pretty much similar it just has larger amount of data storage) compromises by creating partitions on the built-in flash memory:
- Apps space (the actual executables and libraries): 4.2GB (presented as ~4GB ), ext4
- Apps data space (configs, caches and such): 2.1GB (presented as ~2GB), ext4
- Storage space (music, movies, images, etc.): 9.5GB (presented as ~9GB), FAT32

Only the last one will show as 'storage' when connected to a computer, which might confuse people into thinking that their device has less flash memory than written on the label. It does not - it's just that it's differently allocated due to different file systems. If you're into experimenting, and don't mind giving up the mass-storage mode, you can actually allocate the whole ~16/64GB to a mix-in system where you'll be able to use the whole storage for whatever you want, be it apps, music, movies, images, or even core dumps if you're into it - All you'd have to do is to reformat the /home/user/MyDocs mount point into ext3/ext4/btrfs and remove artificial symlinks.

Cheers

inco said,
The N9 runs MeeGo only by name - it's not MeeGo, it has nothing to do with MeeGo except for the API layer, it's a good ol' Maemo. Well, not old, it's Maemo 6, code-name Harmattan, a direct successor to the Maemo 5 (Fremantle) on the Nokia N900 (which successes previous versions of Maemo - OS2008, OS2007, OS2006, and the original OS running on the 770).

Again someone who has no idea what they are talking about....

MeeGo is not Maemo just like Maemo is not OS200x.

They are related (obviously) but it is like Windows 95 to Winodws XP or Windows XP to Windows 7.

htcz said,

Again someone who has no idea what they are talking about....

MeeGo is not Maemo just like Maemo is not OS200x.

They are related (obviously) but it is like Windows 95 to Winodws XP or Windows XP to Windows 7.

Please continue with your argument.

You are definitely adding to your credibility.

I would get this Super Cool Phone 100 times instead any Android or Window Phone!

Really good hardware, and the OS seems pretty mature.
I wish iOS could integrate facebook, google talk and skype like this one.

the UI looks like a combo of ios, android & wp7 BUT id take it any day over metro. tbh ive never been a fan of nokia but i must say im sorta impressed.

"Even though there's a nice front-facing camera on the device... you can't use it. Skype doesn't support it yet, neither does Google Talk or any other third party applications... which is extremely strange."
This is probably the reason lumia 800 doesn't have f.f camera. sucks for Nokia. they had a year to do that

No, it doesn't make sense at all!
Windows Phone actually *has* Tango and will have Skype video chat (Microsoft owns Skype). Meego doesn't. So the FFC should have been the other way around.

Anyway, on the N9, Peregrine has Google Talk video calls right now. They are suggesting they can do Skype video calls soon.
Also, if you have a SIP account, you can use the SIP video call out-of-the-box.

Sacha said,
No, it doesn't make sense at all!
Windows Phone actually *has* Tango and will have Skype video chat (Microsoft owns Skype). Meego doesn't. So the FFC should have been the other way around.

Anyway, on the N9, Peregrine has Google Talk video calls right now. They are suggesting they can do Skype video calls soon.
Also, if you have a SIP account, you can use the SIP video call out-of-the-box.


Peregrine can't do a video call until 1.1?

To the author:
You seemed unhappy with the keyboard.

You can enable the aggressive automatic autocorrect by enabling: Settings > Time and Language > Text Input > Insert with space key

Also, PR 1.1 (coming out very soon) comes with Swype in-built.

Sacha said,
To the author:
You seemed unhappy with the keyboard.

You can enable the aggressive automatic autocorrect by enabling: Settings > Time and Language > Text Input > Insert with space key

Also, PR 1.1 (coming out very soon) comes with Swype in-built.


Nice, I'll give that a go. As for Swype, I'm not a fan... but It'll be good for others I'm sure

I must say that is a beautiful piece of hardware with a very elegant looking OS, its very set apart and original.

Too bad Nokia isn't going to stick it out with MeeGo, I would definitely be willing to give it a try with a nice package like this.

Great review.

Cash Money Billionaire said,
I must say that is a beautiful piece of hardware with a very elegant looking OS, its very set apart and original.

Too bad Nokia isn't going to stick it out with MeeGo, I would definitely be willing to give it a try with a nice package like this.

Great review.


They are for three years, thats long enough for me

Great article Owen. You clearly show neutrality and an honest appraisal here, along the lines of other reviews of the N9, which have been very favourable.

I kept thinking that Nokia was crazy to abandon Meego too, then I realised that Stephen Elop doesn't want the N9 to succeed. If it does, his whole Windows Phone exclusive strategy is put into question.

Joey S said,
Great article Owen. You clearly show neutrality and an honest appraisal here, along the lines of other reviews of the N9, which have been very favourable.

I kept thinking that Nokia was crazy to abandon Meego too, then I realised that Stephen Elop doesn't want the N9 to succeed. If it does, his whole Windows Phone exclusive strategy is put into question.


Thanks so much Joey! Yeah... there's something fishy going on over at Nokia.

I don't get it, from the review it seems that OS in N9 is half-baked and flawed in tiny details, yet you still praise it and say that it's way better than Lumia 800. I wouldn't give a damn about front camera if it doesn't work to actually make video calls, nor would I give a damn about cpu/gpu power if it isn't able to perform on par with WP7. The list might go on longer, but in short I see N9 as a waste of a money and hardware.

х.iso said,
I don't get it, from the review it seems that OS in N9 is half-baked and flawed in tiny details, yet you still praise it and say that it's way better than Lumia 800. I wouldn't give a damn about front camera if it doesn't work to actually make video calls, nor would I give a damn about cpu/gpu power if it isn't able to perform on par with WP7. The list might go on longer, but in short I see N9 as a waste of a money and hardware.

I just pointed out a few annoyances... ALL phones have them, it doesn't make for an unusable or unenjoyable phone.

Syvere said,
Not related to N9 but album is that with Harley Quinn on the cover?

Ha, weird as actually. It's Lights (Bassnectar Remix) - Ellie Goulding

MeeGo has no future. Nokia should have spent their resources putting Windows Phone 7 on this hardware. Maybe they are and it's coming Q1 2012.

KingCrimson said,
MeeGo has no future. Nokia should have spent their resources putting Windows Phone 7 on this hardware. Maybe they are and it's coming Q1 2012.

Meego/Tizen will always have a future because it's FOSS. What this does do though is put Nokia's Lumia 800 to shame. Meego and the N9 look wonderful. Why Nokia can't implement a multi-os strategy is bizarre. Why not make an Android, Meego, and WP7 lineup?

Would like to see these specs bumped and same design carried over to their next WP7 device, hopefully released in the US one year from now.

I always saw teh N9 as I did the N95. I remember when the 95 came out it was such a buzz as it was (IMO) the first true smartphone and even today is for me one of the best phones even made.

Many kids on iPhones do not even know the N95, but it is IMO one of the granddads where the whole smartphone thing started..

I agree 100% with you on this. The N95 was one of the best phones I ever bought and even after 2 Iphones I'm still using the N95 as a second phone for local sim cards when I'm out of the country.

guru said,
anyone know if meego (maemo with meego compatibility) is still being developed bu open source devs ?

I think they have forked a new project from it called Tizen.

Joey S said,

I think they have forked a new project from it called Tizen.

thanks! If Tizen runs on N9 this phone is still a good buy!

guru said,
(maemo with meego compatibility)

I wont answer your question as you obviously have no clue the difference between MeeGo and Maemo (its much more than a rename)

Draconian Guppy said,
nice... to bad it's on meego...

That's the very reason it's getting rave reviews. Notice how everyone is decidedly unimpressed with the Lumia, which is running Windows?

First, thank you for this nice review of the N9.

I just wanted to ask you: Are you sure it's brushed aluminium? The reviews of the Lumia 800 I've read said it was made of polycarbonate plastic "like the N9".

quentez said,
First, thank you for this nice review of the N9.

I just wanted to ask you: Are you sure it's brushed aluminium? The reviews of the Lumia 800 I've read said it was made of polycarbonate plastic "like the N9".


Yep, slip on my part!

Very nice review indeed. But why would one choose this over Lumia 800? I suppose they are offered in different markets?

Wow that's a really nice phone. I hadn't read/seen much about MeeGo recently and I have to say I'm impressed. Especially for a OS that is seemingly headed to nowhere (that I know of) currently. Looks very nice and polished and makes me wonder why Nokia didn't pick that up earlier as their flagship OS. You have all your social networking tools, even Skype. GPS/Navigation (iPhone still doesn't have that built-in and from what I remember, Nokia Maps were great even on my old N95-8GB). Add to that Calendar, Email, Ovi Marketplace, games, even a Wi-Fi Hotspot and I really don't see how Nokia got themselves into this a few years ago and why they only have 2 (or maybe 3?) phones using MeeGo, all of which really great hardware and software-wise but poorly marketed. Hopefully they'll do better with WP7 but this is still a shame this could be their last MeeGo phone.

I always respected Nokia for their never-ending support of old devices; even my old XpressMusic 5800 has gotten 18 (!!!) OS upgrades over the years, the most recent of which was released three days ago.
Mind you this is a 4 year old phone.
In a world where android phones rarely get even one update, and apple discontinues support after two generations (which means two years, give or take a month), Nokia's legacy support is something to admire, and it's one of the reasons i'll never switch to anything else.

"Nokia's phones were OK at best, and the Lumia 800 (the N9's ugly sister) has been slaughtered to Microsoft's whim. It's less powerful, has ugly buttons, no NFC, and the OS doesn't look nearly as elegant on the hardware. It's saddening."

You seem to already have a vendetta against Windows Phone. This review is biased.

micro said,
"Nokia's phones were OK at best, and the Lumia 800 (the N9's ugly sister) has been slaughtered to Microsoft's whim. It's less powerful, has ugly buttons, no NFC, and the OS doesn't look nearly as elegant on the hardware. It's saddening."

You seem to already have a vendetta against Windows Phone. This review is biased.

he is stating facts how is he biaed

micro said,

You seem to already have a vendetta against Windows Phone. This review is biased.

Every review I've seen of the N9 expressed a similar sentiment. There's been universal praise for Meego on the N9. Nokia might have a hit on their hands. Unfortunately,, Elop's gonna screw it up. Oh well, what might have been..

micro said,

You seem to already have a vendetta against Windows Phone. This review is biased.

I said at the very beginning that I am a Windows Phone fan, actually. I've used a device exclusively for the last year, and I even focus a lot of my writing on it. I love Windows Phone, but when it came to MeeGo... it was just better than it. I was being honest. Would you prefer I lied?

How is that being biased at all?

Owen W said,

I said at the very beginning that I am a Windows Phone fan, actually. I've used a device exclusively for the last year, and I even focus a lot of my writing on it. I love Windows Phone, but when it came to MeeGo... it was just better than it. I was being honest. Would you prefer I lied?

How is that being biased at all?


Nokia should keep going with Meego! Anyway, this shows that Nokia knows how to make some solid hardware. Next year may be year of the WP if they bring it.

This has been known since Nokia released the Nokia N900 in 2009 running Maemo. Everyone was obsessed with iOS and Android (WP7 wasnt even out yet) and totally missed this device and the OS which exceled both iOS and Android. The device WAS great but had some shortcomings. Nonetheless, everyone was looking forward to a (different) N9.

I say a different N9 because the original one (and the one everyone wanted) was more or less this (with MeeGo) but a QWERTY keyboard and even more powerful specs. That was scrapped and now we have this touchscreen POS. It sounds great, dont get me wrong, but I believe the original prototype was alot better and powerful.

On that note, Nokia should have NEVER gone to WP7 and continued with MeeGo as it is a great OS with future in (for example) in car entertainment systems.

Who knows? Maybe Nokia will wake up and produce MeeGo devices along with WP7 devices and **** Symbian.

htcz said,
This has been known since Nokia released the Nokia N900 in 2009 running Maemo. Everyone was obsessed with iOS and Android (WP7 wasnt even out yet) and totally missed this device and the OS which exceled both iOS and Android. The device WAS great but had some shortcomings. Nonetheless, everyone was looking forward to a (different) N9.

I say a different N9 because the original one (and the one everyone wanted) was more or less this (with MeeGo) but a QWERTY keyboard and even more powerful specs. That was scrapped and now we have this touchscreen POS. It sounds great, dont get me wrong, but I believe the original prototype was alot better and powerful.

On that note, Nokia should have NEVER gone to WP7 and continued with MeeGo as it is a great OS with future in (for example) in car entertainment systems.

Who knows? Maybe Nokia will wake up and produce MeeGo devices along with WP7 devices and **** Symbian.

Yeah, I was annoyed when they (apparently) ditched Meego, because I actually liked the idea of having Linux on a proper phone and being able to mess around with it, and I too was looking forward to a device with a QWERTY keyboard.

Now I am left wondering WHAT THE F are they doing still shipping Meego and Symbian devices on such high end phones if they're meant to be going with WP7?!

TL;DR, Raging at lack of Meego+QWERTY keyboard devices (newer than the N900).

Edit: And why the hell are they using Micro SIM, that's a kick in the teeth for those who don't want to bend over and take the phone on contract, and who DON'T want to mutilate their existing SIM cards.

smooth_criminal1990 said,

Yeah, I was annoyed when they (apparently) ditched Meego, because I actually liked the idea of having Linux on a proper phone and being able to mess around with it, and I too was looking forward to a device with a QWERTY keyboard.

Now I am left wondering WHAT THE F are they doing still shipping Meego and Symbian devices on such high end phones if they're meant to be going with WP7?!

TL;DR, Raging at lack of Meego+QWERTY keyboard devices (newer than the N900).

Edit: And why the hell are they using Micro SIM, that's a kick in the teeth for those who don't want to bend over and take the phone on contract, and who DON'T want to mutilate their existing SIM cards.


They should forget about Symbian and move onto MeeGo and WP. These two mobile OSs will be great for what they want. MeeGo can be used on low end and mid end phones and WP on their highend.

Question: what are the supported audio/video/image files?
Question: what is the answer for arcsin(arccos(arctan(tan(cos(sin(9)))))) in the calculator?

tiagosilva29 said,
Question: what are the supported audio/video/image files?
Question: what is the answer for arcsin(arccos(arctan(tan(cos(sin(9)))))) in the calculator?

Don't know about the audio/video/image. Just that it has played everything I have used.

As for the calculator: the default one only has */-+ operations.

I downloaded ATi (Almost Real Ti 85 emulator) calculator from Nokia Store.
Then I tried: arcsin(arccos(arctan(tan(cos(sin(9)))))) and got: 0.424777960769

Here's a screenshot on my N9: http://img810.imageshack.us/img810/2098/20111030083428.png

Windows Calculator gets '9'

Out of the box:

Video containers: .avi, .mp4, .mkv, .wmv, .asf, .flv, .f4v, .3gpp
Audio containers: .mp3, .mp4, .m4a, .aac, .wma, .ogg, .wav
Image containers: .jpg/.jpeg, .png, .gif, .bmp, .tiff, .xmp
Video codecs: H.263, H.264/AVC*, On2 VP6, VC-1, WMV 9, xVid, DivX
Audio codecs: AMR-NB, AMR-WB, VMR-WB**, MP3, AAC, AAC+, AC-3, E-AC-3, HE-AAC v1/v2, WMA, WMA 9, WMA 10 Pro, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis
Image formats***: BMP, EXIF, GIF87a, GIF89a, JPEG, PNG, TIFF

* Up to 720p Base profile, Main is supported but is buggy and the coming update should fix it
** Present in the developer build, not sure about the N9 itself
*** Not all formats are directly supported by the Image Viewer - some of them can be opened in the browser instead

Bear in mind that the underlying media framework is the open-source GStreamer, so codecs can be added (and even the formats to some extent) at later time, provided that somebody recompiles and links them for the ARM architecture and includes hooks for the Media Player API to parse the formats itself. In theory, VLC can be completely ported for it and everything that VLC supports - N9 would, even hardware acceleration can be added to some extent.

As for the images itself, I don't know how extensive the Image Viewer/Gallery is, but if it includes hooks, you could, again in theory, recompile ImageMagick and have support for practically any image format out there.

Some of the beauties of a truly open, upstream, proper GNU/Linux OS...

well i think you should know that Meego's implementation is not a 3 screen and swype - non buttons by default. Its nokia implementation that tweaked the Meego's to their own way. So Nokia on top UI changed the default Meego experience. Nokia will have the ability to do the same on WP7, well not the exactly the same as the buttons, but they will have lots of freedom to push lots of Nokia UI to wp7. I dont agree with you that wp7 UI is not good on Lumia 800. I found it really better on photos then on N9. Of course photos is a different thing that on real, so this is not really a strong point. I agree that the buttons might steal some space, but i dont think them ugly on photos again. Even tought that a button-less is better.

Now a question: Do you think that the all swype thing as good as it might fell isn't as fast and pratical then buttons?

Other thing its the lagginess you described to happen sometimes on the N9. That would never happen on wp7.

WP7 nokia hardware is not really top-of-the-art yet and might disappoint some, because its too early yet. I suppose from 6 months we'll start to see Nokia's wp7 full hardware with all things and more.

The real motif that Nokia went to wp7 is not just because of being late, it was also because of Microsoft money... All of them marketing that Nokia is pushing in UK is Microsoft funded...

So i guess that its to early to say Nokia wp7 full power its fullfiled on lumia 800. It will be much better. And to me wp7 hub's is unbeatable to me at least as Android and IPhone live. Meego's photos dont really appeal to me. But on wednesday i will try a friend's N9 live and see it live and might change opinion.

Cheers...

Sounds like you haven't seen an N9 working. Very intuitive. Has notifications on the screensaver (without you having to unlock phone).

tsi said,
Other thing its the lagginess you described to happen sometimes on the N9. That would never happen on wp7.

He explained this in the article. WP7 laggs in the exact same situation. Opening Facebook/Twitter apps.

The interface looks like it takes elements from Android, iOS, and WP7 and it all works seamlessly together. I'm really impressed with Nokia as of late.

Nokia will have arrived along with MS when they do THIS, into the U.S. market with WPH7. I HAVE to think that this type of impact is exactly what they are aiming for. I think they should aim higher so that they at LEAST surpass expectations. Explaining away missing features should be Apples fortay not NOKIAS.

One crucial error made in your review which I think lowers its credibility (not that I don't like the N9) is claiming the body is made of brushed aluminum. The body is NOT aluminum, it's high-grade plastic or polycarbonate unibody construction as Nokia likes to call it. I can list a wide variety of sources for this information but I'll use the original announcement site straight from Nokia: http://conversations.nokia.com...n9-all-it-takes-is-a-swipe/

fanel89 said,
One crucial error made in your review which I think lowers its credibility (not that I don't like the N9) is claiming the body is made of brushed aluminum. The body is NOT aluminum, it's high-grade plastic or polycarbonate unibody construction as Nokia likes to call it. I can list a wide variety of sources for this information but I'll use the original announcement site straight from Nokia: http://conversations.nokia.com...n9-all-it-takes-is-a-swipe/

Thanks for that, that was a slip on my part. Thought I had fixed it originally, but I've updated it now anyway.

"What I discovered when using MeeGo was that it's almost everything Windows Phone isn't."

That would a dull grid of icons that do nothing. That's so 2009.

TechJunkie81 said,
"What I discovered when using MeeGo was that it's almost everything Windows Phone isn't."

That would a dull grid of icons that do nothing. That's so 2009.

yes exactly. On photos that's my opinion... ugly as hell those icons. I know that the swype experience might be good, but will come on wp7, no doubts on that. On this is my next there's an interview with belfiore and one of Nokia's head's that says just that. Nokia customization on wp7.

TechJunkie81 said,
"What I discovered when using MeeGo was that it's almost everything Windows Phone isn't."

That would a dull grid of icons that do nothing. That's so 2009.

Sorry to burst your bubble but thats what people want, only a small niche want your tiles

yes lots of people are still so 2009. When people try the tiles and hubs they will see how can i use all this time this icons... You have to try it yourself. But i supposed that its not really worthless trying to talk to an MS anti-person with sterotypes.

Tell me does Netscape works just fine yet?

thealexweb said,

Sorry to burst your bubble but thats what people want, only a small niche want your tiles

tsi said,
yes lots of people are still so 2009. When people try the tiles and hubs they will see how can i use all this time this icons... You have to try it yourself. But i supposed that its not really worthless trying to talk to an MS anti-person with sterotypes.

Tell me does Netscape works just fine yet?

I'm not even sure why I still have my Netscape avatar, I don't even use Firefox anymore so I will get round to changing at some point And I tried a Lunmia 800 yesterday in a phones4U yesterday, came across as great hardware but massively let down by its meh software tbh.

tsi said,

yes exactly. On photos that's my opinion... ugly as hell those icons. I know that the swype experience might be good, but will come on wp7, no doubts on that. On this is my next there's an interview with belfiore and one of Nokia's head's that says just that. Nokia customization on wp7.


"Those icons" look a hell a lot better than those monotone icons on wp7 in my opinion.

thealexweb said,

Sorry to burst your bubble but thats what people want, only a small niche want your tiles

Exactly. I don't know anyone who likes Microsoft's dull grid of tiles.

Looks great! Nokia's problem has always been about the software; they've always made brilliant hardware.

It would take a lot for me to buy Nokia again after Symbian.. shame they're not carrying on with Meego as I have no interest in WP7 whatsoever and I'm a month into a two year contract on an Android phone.

Even though Meego looks great, I'm never going to buy into a first generation OS again after the first iPhone. That thing couldn't send messages to multiple people or even forward messages, the only way to send a message to more than one person was to re-type it.

Hardcore Til I Die said,
Looks great! Nokia's problem has always been about the software; they've always made brilliant hardware.

It would take a lot for me to buy Nokia again after Symbian.. shame they're not carrying on with Meego as I have no interest in WP7 whatsoever and I'm a month into a two year contract on an Android phone.

Even though Meego looks great, I'm never going to buy into a first generation OS again after the first iPhone. That thing couldn't send messages to multiple people or even forward messages, the only way to send a message to more than one person was to re-type it.


Breathe a sigh of relief then! The N9 offers forwarding

Meego Harmattan feels like a 3rd gen OS with 1st gen apps.

Although, it has a lot of apps that WP7 doesn't even have such as Swype and emulators for everything (PSX/N64/(S)NES/(V)GBA).

Sacha said,
Meego Harmattan feels like a 3rd gen OS with 1st gen apps.

Although, it has a lot of apps that WP7 doesn't even have such as Swype and emulators for everything (PSX/N64/(S)NES/(V)GBA).

Won't be getting emulators on the official wp7 marketplace I assume...

I really hope MeeGo gets somewhere. It really is a lovely blend of nearly everything that's good about everything else, with a little of its own as well. I like the good use of touch gestures, like the playbook, and the UI has some of WP7's simplicity, while having iOS' nice gradients and transparency. I'm also quite a fan of QT.

This OS would be a sad loss if it died. The phone is also beautiful, if I had the money to buy a smartphone, this would be very high on my list.

somethingelse said,
I really hope MeeGo gets somewhere. It really is a lovely blend of nearly everything that's good about everything else, with a little of its own as well. I like the good use of touch gestures, like the playbook, and the UI has some of WP7's simplicity, while having iOS' nice gradients and transparency. I'm also quite a fan of QT.

This OS would be a sad loss if it died. The phone is also beautiful, if I had the money to buy a smartphone, this would be very high on my list.

Mego it's dead, but it has a successor, Tizen.
https://www.tizen.org/

somethingelse said,
I really hope MeeGo gets somewhere. It really is a lovely blend of nearly everything that's good about everything else, with a little of its own as well. I like the good use of touch gestures, like the playbook, and the UI has some of WP7's simplicity, while having iOS' nice gradients and transparency. I'm also quite a fan of QT.

This OS would be a sad loss if it died. The phone is also beautiful, if I had the money to buy a smartphone, this would be very high on my list.


"WP7's simplicity, while having iOS' nice gradients and transparency"
Very well said. MeeGo is the perfect mobile os for me.

yowan said,
Nokia shouldn't have ditched Meego

If they added Android app compatability to it, it would have replaced Android within a few years. I was absolutely gutted when they announced they were dropping support for Meego (which as effectively killed it now, since I don't think there are any other manufacturers interested in using it).

After seeing that though, I really hope another manufacturer picks it up and carries it on. The N9 really is the most beautiful phone I've ever seen, but I couldn't buy it for lack of support

yowan said,
Nokia shouldn't have ditched Meego

Nokia must be mad to dump this thing. It's the first thing in a long time I've seen from them that really presents a compelling package. If this really is the only Meego phone Nokia releases, then they're finished as a company. No sane company ditches a successful product for one which is clearly inferior (WP7).

Majesticmerc said,

If they added Android app compatability to it, it would have replaced Android within a few years.

Surely that's a paradox? Add android compatibility so you can destroy it and stop production of Android apps

Majesticmerc said,

If they added Android app compatability to it, it would have replaced Android within a few years. I was absolutely gutted when they announced they were dropping support for Meego (which as effectively killed it now, since I don't think there are any other manufacturers interested in using it).

After seeing that though, I really hope another manufacturer picks it up and carries it on. The N9 really is the most beautiful phone I've ever seen, but I couldn't buy it for lack of support

Alien Dalvik There is your Android app support.

yowan said,
Nokia shouldn't have ditched Meego

I was going to to buy this phone long, before they even released it, but when I found out, that it was going be cancelled. I decided to just buy an Android phone. Nokia killed something, before it even had a chance, and I just couldn't deal with that garbage.

To Owen Williams,
Nice review.
I like the pictures and the the fact that the whole review is in one long vertical page.
But you didn't mentioned anything about the battery life.
Didn't spend much time with it?

Muhammad Farrukh said,
To Owen Williams,
Nice review.
I like the pictures and the the fact that the whole review is in one long vertical page.
But you didn't mentioned anything about the battery life.
Didn't spend much time with it?

Hey Muhammad,

Thanks for the feedback. I did, albeit briefly:


Battery life, for example was outstanding; providing I didn't attempt to spend all day on Facebook chat or browing the internet, I was able to get a solid two days out of it. I've heard of other users saying that theirs have lasted more than 5 days without internet usage, which is impressive for a smartphone.

I used it non-stop as my primary phone for just over a week.

Muhammad Farrukh said,
To Owen Williams,Nice review.

Yes, nice writeup. My contract's up in a couple months and was leaning heavily towards a Windows device to replace my old Android, but this gives me something to consider. Not too worried about apps (got a tablet for that, although it's a nice option), just wanted a strong out-of-the-box experience.. looks like a very solid alternative.

Owen W said,

Hey Muhammad,

Thanks for the feedback. I did, albeit briefly:


I used it non-stop as my primary phone for just over a week.


That certainly is impressive.
By the way, I would love some feedback on Wi-Fi and battery thing. How well does it handle Wi-Fi?

Muhammad Farrukh said,


That certainly is impressive.
By the way, I would love some feedback on Wi-Fi and battery thing. How well does it handle Wi-Fi?


WiFi is always on, actually... so it can't be so bad.

Muhammad Farrukh said,
To Owen Williams,
Nice review.
[snip]

Great review indeed!! I don't own a smaryphone (at least nothing modern from 4 to now) but after reading your very detailed review, I think it's time I jump in and be a cool kid.

Quick Shot said,
How do I get my hands on it in the US???!??

Through carriers you can't. Same story here in the Netherlands. You might be able to pick it up through a "grey" reseller.

.Neo said,

Through carriers you can't. Same story here in the Netherlands. You might be able to pick it up through a "grey" reseller.

I'm going to end up selling my iPhone 4 and getting this one off eBay. I really like this phone!!!

Quick Shot said,
How do I get my hands on it in the US???!??

It is available here in Brazil. If you really want it and can take care of any US customs stuff, I wouldn't mind buying it and posting it to the US. Just PM and we can talk more on it.

Even though there is no future of the software and no quality apps, I'll buy it over any other phone in the world, except of course Lumia 800.


If only I had the money.

Muhammad Farrukh said,
Even though there is no future of the software and no quality apps, I'll buy it over any other phone in the world, except of course Lumia 800.


If only I had the money.


The Lumia is a dumb version of the N9

Owen W said,

The Lumia is a dumb version of the N9

Dude, Nokia has always made crap phones. You know what MeeGo is? Crap. I've seen review videos of that phone and all the gestures aren't as smooth as WP7 or iOS, in fact, it reminds me a lot of Android

And nobody would've bought a MeeGo phone because MeeGo was DOA, it would've became the next WebOS because there isn't a big appstore catching up to the competitors. They didn't have the resources to push MeeGo, thus they partnered with Microsoft to help push their platform with their hardware and stand out as the best hardware manufacture.

Yes maybe the Lumia 800 sucks but it runs Windows Phone 7 which is butter smooth and has a lot more apps and content available for it. Personally I like the Lumia 710 design over the 800 and think it was worked on much longer. It comes in several colors, inexpensive, etc.

I think the future Lumia phones will better represent their past N9 bloodline when they are designed for Windows Phone 9 coming in 2012. Nokia mentioned that about Apollo, so I'm taking their word on it.

Muhammad Farrukh said,
Even though there is no future of the software and no quality apps, I'll buy it over any other phone in the world, except of course Lumia 800.


If only I had the money.


Exactly. I think they started this "Meego-High-end-phone" project before the "Windows Phone 7 deal" with Microsoft. Now they released it to recover some of their losses. They are directly cheating with the people.

Muhammad Farrukh said,
Even though there is no future of the software and no quality apps, I'll buy it over any other phone in the world, except of course Lumia 800.


If only I had the money.


Exactly. I think they started this "Meego-High-end-phone" project before the "Windows Phone 7 deal" with Microsoft. Now they released it to recover some of their losses. They are directly cheating with the people.

Muhammad Farrukh said,
Even though there is no future of the software and no quality apps

Because it's open source, it will always have a future, albeit under a different name (Tizen). As far as the apps are concerned, I've heard that OpenMobile's Application Compatibility Layer (ACL) allows Android's 250,000 apps to run on Meego.

Sionic Ion said,

Dude, Nokia has always made crap phones. You know what MeeGo is? Crap. I've seen review videos of that phone and all the gestures aren't as smooth as WP7 or iOS, in fact, it reminds me a lot of Android

And nobody would've bought a MeeGo phone because MeeGo was DOA, it would've became the next WebOS because there isn't a big appstore catching up to the competitors. They didn't have the resources to push MeeGo, thus they partnered with Microsoft to help push their platform with their hardware and stand out as the best hardware manufacture.

Yes maybe the Lumia 800 sucks but it runs Windows Phone 7 which is butter smooth and has a lot more apps and content available for it. Personally I like the Lumia 710 design over the 800 and think it was worked on much longer. It comes in several colors, inexpensive, etc.

I think the future Lumia phones will better represent their past N9 bloodline when they are designed for Windows Phone 9 coming in 2012. Nokia mentioned that about Apollo, so I'm taking their word on it.


Those videos do not do the phone justice. It's definitely more smooth than Android, and ALWAYS responds to touch.

Sionic Ion said,

Dude, Nokia has always made crap phones. You know what MeeGo is? Crap. I've seen review videos of that phone and all the gestures aren't as smooth as WP7 or iOS, in fact, it reminds me a lot of Android

And nobody would've bought a MeeGo phone because MeeGo was DOA, it would've became the next WebOS because there isn't a big appstore catching up to the competitors. They didn't have the resources to push MeeGo, thus they partnered with Microsoft to help push their platform with their hardware and stand out as the best hardware manufacture.

Yes maybe the Lumia 800 sucks but it runs Windows Phone 7 which is butter smooth and has a lot more apps and content available for it. Personally I like the Lumia 710 design over the 800 and think it was worked on much longer. It comes in several colors, inexpensive, etc.

I think the future Lumia phones will better represent their past N9 bloodline when they are designed for Windows Phone 9 coming in 2012. Nokia mentioned that about Apollo, so I'm taking their word on it.

I registered just to reply to this comment. I have spent an hour or more playing around with this phone at the local telco store, and I can confirm it is slippery smooth in all ways. There is no lag. The swipe gesturing is beautifully elegant, and once you have used it for a few minutes everything else feels wrong. I picked up an iPhone 4s after the N9, and it felt clunky and unintuitive in comparison. This really is the first OS to be more useable than iOS. Windows 7 is also no comparison. I have taken a good hard look at that as well, and was pretty disappointed. The N9, however, has delivered what the others didn't.

I am buying one today btw, after swearing off smartphones. It's just that good. The form factor is really beautiful, and on a par with the iPhone (a big call, but it's true). With the release of Alien Dalvik to effectively open up all Android apps to it, the N9 isn't going to be short of app support. It really is the perfect phone right now, and I'm betting Nokia will be forced to support it as sales will be "unexpectedly" strong. Like me, everyone who sees it wants it.

Edited by t0lkien, Oct 30 2011, 8:32am :

Muhammad Farrukh said,
This phone is like God of all phones.

I don't usually like Nokia phones, but the N9 is very appealing. Meego/Tizen could become the third major mobile platform given half a chance. Unfortunately. Stephen Elop wants it to fail, so there's not much hope for it at Nokia. Perhaps a forward thinking phone maker might see the potential of it.

Joey S said,

I don't usually like Nokia phones, but the N9 is very appealing. Meego/Tizen could become the third major mobile platform given half a chance. Unfortunately. Stephen Elop wants it to fail, so there's not much hope for it at Nokia. Perhaps a forward thinking phone maker might see the potential of it.

Nokia want to focus on hardware and it seems like intel don't want to develop it either. Simply there is no driving force behind it and it's late. Better than iOS and Android perhaps but they have Apple and Google fully behind them to develop it and bring developers to it.