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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.

As you have probably read by now, the Nokia N9 is the first and the last device from Nokia that is based on the Meego operating system. Just to clear out any confusion, Nokia had released the N900 last year running Maemo which is basically a prequel to Meego OS. The N9 is a one-of-a-kind device that is very different from the traditional Nokia phones running Symbian as well as the upcoming Nokia phones that will be powered by Windows Phone 7. Normally, I wouldn’t care much for a one-off device but it saddens me to see the incredibly bright future Meego could have had after playing with it for a few days. It is fantastic.

Nokia has gone with a simple three screen approach that you swipe to switch between. The first screen shows you notifications such as any unread messages, mails or chats as well as updates from your social network. It also displays your time and weather although surprisingly doesn’t list your calender appointments for the day or the days ahead.

The next screen displays all the applications installed on the device and you go through the list vertically. There are quite a few apps and games pre-installed on the N9 but you can download more from the Nokia Marketplace. Sadly, there is no folder structure on the N9 at the moment so you can’t keep different applications inside folders you create. You could, though, sort icons around to your linking by just tapping and holding and then moving them- very much like the iPhone.

The third and final screen is your task switcher showing all your running applications and allowing you to switch between them easily. You can also kill applications from this screen by tapping and holding. This task manager makes it very fast and easy to switch between applications and you can chose to display either four or nine applications at a time. The following video to show you these three screens.

 

Coming to applications, Nokia does a good job by integrating almost all the basic features you would require from your new Smartphones. For example, you can setup your email accounts, your social networking accounts as well as your chat accounts. I use Google as my primary emails, contacts and calender provider and I had no problems setting it up using the Mail for Exchange client to sync all my data. Other than that, I set up my Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Google Talk accounts to keep me connected to all the services I need.

Nokia also bundles a few games such as Angry Birds, Real Football and Need for Speed Shift to keep you entertained with the N9 while the music and video apps let you carry your collection with you. Maps is also built-in using OVI maps by Nokia which is free and allows you to download country maps over WiFi so you don’t pay roaming charges when travelling abroad with your device.

While most of these applications will be plentiful for many users, the power user will always have more requirements. I like Foursquare which I easily found and installed on the N9 but one of my other favorite applications, WhatsApp, was nowhere to be found. This cross platform chat client works on the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and the Symbian platform but I’m not sure if it will ever make it to Meego considering this is the one and only device by Nokia on this platform. I can similarly see other developers shying away from developing for the N9 which is what makes owning the device tragic for a power user.

Wrapping things up, the battery life on N9 proved to be a mixed bag. At times, I would easily get a full day out of it while certain days the phone went down and out by 7PM. Since the battery is not replaceable. this could be an issue for some but my guess is that with a little more conditioning, optimization and software updates, the N9 should be able to last you one full day without any issues.

Conclusion

The N9 is a hard phone to recommend to a tech savvy buyer- the ideal demographic for this phone. Not because the hardware or software is bad- far from it, but I’m just not sure where it will stand in a few months from now when Nokia will be promoting Windows Phone in full swing. That really makes not recommending this device harder, as within two days of using it, I was loving the N9. It is simple and fast to navigate and full of features found on most modern Smartphones. That’s not to say that it is perfect- at times, the phone would get really slow and at times, you would wonder why something wasn’t done in a simpler way. But I can easily see all these problems get sorted over time and they probably will as Nokia has promised to support the device through updates.

It’s just not the N9 will never be as extensible as other Smartphones. Had Nokia come out with the N9 instead of the N900 last year, the mobile landscape might have looked very different today.

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About

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

Comments
  • 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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