Nokia N9 Smartphone Review

By on October 26, 2011
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An exceptional phone. A sad future.

Good: Beautiful design, fluid interface, excellent screen and amazing camera
Bad: Not much in terms for future applications, battery life could be better
Price: AED 2499
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

If Shakespeare wrote tales on Smartphones, the N9 would be one of his finest tragedies. It’s the device that your heart wants to fall in love with but your brain disagrees. Skipping the drama, lets find out what makes the N9 such a bitter sweet experience.

Packaged unlike most Nokia products, the N9 comes in a compact black box that is very much the same size as the packaging of an iPhone or an HTC device. The device is available is three colors- black, cyan and magenta and inside the packaging, you find a back cover that matches the color of your device. Also included is a pair of basic earphones and a USB cable with a plug for charging the device or connecting it to your computer. The customary warranty and quick-start guide is also included.

The design on the N9 is breathtaking and you can tell that Nokia has put in a lot of effort into making this handset impeccable as far as construction quality is concerned. The front is covered by a huge concave piece of glass with a very thin border- thanks to the lack of buttons. The overall shell is made of polycarbonate which is not only solid but feels wonderful in hand- especially with the rounded sides of the device. I’ve also been told that this makes makes the N9 scratch friendly in a way where you wont see the color peel off with a scratch to reveal an ugly shade below the surface. Although I think the blue version looks the best, I received the black one from Nokia which, is a bit of a smudge-magnet. Within an hour of use, I could see my finger prints on the front and the back.

As I mentioned, the front of the N9 is button free, however, you do have volume buttons and a power button on the side. I found these buttons to be slightly lose- in the sense that they wiggle in their place and are not tightly fit. I also think that placing the power button above the volume buttons would have been a better idea. On the top, you have a 3.5mm jack with a USB connector and the micro-sim tray. Yes, we finally have another handset that takes advantage of the micro-sim card after iPhone 4. The back of the N9 sports an 8MP Carl Ziess lens along with a dual LED flash while the front has an additional camera- surprisingly located at the bottom of the device. Breaking away from tradition seems to be the focus of N9.

Coming to the hardware, the N9 has all the bells and whistles of a modern handset. It has a 1GHz Cortex A8 CPU and PowerVR SGX530 GPU on a TI OMAP 3630 chipset along with 1GB RAM and either 16GB or 64GB Storage (64GB is only available on the black model at the time of writing this). Interestingly, the 16GB unit I received had the storage space divided into three sections- 4.2GB for Apps, 2.1GB for App Data and 9.5GB for user data which can be used for all your media. You’re covered well on the radio side as well with support for HSDPA 14.4Mpbs, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi with hotspot capabilities and BlueTooth 2.1 with EDR. AGPS is also present for maps while NFC technology lets you tap it with other NFC supported devices to pair it up.

The hardware on the Nokia N9 is good enough to keep it running speedily most of the time- although every once in a while the phone stutters. Hopefully software updates will fix this as we move forward. Where the N9 really shines is with it’s 3.9” AMOLED screen which has a resolution of 854×480 pixels and in is gorgeous. While most Smartphones project the display beneath the glass screen, information and icons on the N9 appear as though they are painted on the screen itself and not below it. Not sure what Nokia has done but it certainly looks incredible and even under the UAE sun where most phone screens fade out, the N9’s screen is petty readable. Thankfully, we see the return of the ultra low power always-on Screensaver clock with notifications for mail, messages and missed calls making the notification LED redundant.

Untouched Nokia N9 Picture Sample

Nokia is well known for their camera quality and the N9 certainly does not disappoint. The Carl Ziess lens based camera takes beautiful pictures and takes them reasonably fast as long as flash is not involved. Using the dual LED flash will result in the familiar but minimal lag. The N9 is also capable of taking hi-def videos at 720P which is a tad bit disappointing as most new high-end cameras can take full 1080p videos. Nevertheless, quality always reign supreme over the number of lines and pixels and what you are getting with the N9 is one of the best phone cameras.

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Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

  • Moe

    I hear Nokia will release an N9 clone as a Windows phone so it’s possible at least the hardware can be saved. Tried this phone twice and really liked the new experience but it’s hard to see this phone selling well considering the short lifespan of its OS.

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