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With The N9, Nokia Shows The World Its Still Got It

By - On 21 June 2011 13 Comments

The N9 release is a monumental step for Nokia, it is the culmination of the years Nokia has spent creating a premium high end smartphone that not only excels in hardware, but also shows that when it comes to software, Nokia’s still got it. Feb. 11 changed everything inside of Nokia, yet Nokia’s MeeGo Harmattan project was not killed completely. Perhaps Stephen Elop felt that it would be a good way to demonstrate to the world what Nokia is capable of, or perhaps it was the internal resistance that forced him to release this one last MeeGo Harmattan device, the end result of the sweat and blood of hundreds of Nokians who had devoted themselves to create what in their mind was the pinnacle of modern smartphones.

With The N9, Nokia Shows The World Its Still Got It

What happened inside of Nokia, we’ll never know, but the N9 is now real, being demoed in Singapore as I write this and it looks delicious. A beautiful monoblock design, a 3.9″ AMOLED display with curved gorilla glass, an 8 MP Carl Zeiss auto focus 16:9 camera with f2.2 for great low light photography, Dolby Headphone and Dolby Digital Plus support, NFC, a 1 Ghz processor with 1 GB of RAM, and most importantly runs Nokia’s MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan.

Nokia for long has said that its MeeGo/Harmattan vision was about a new UI, a UI that would make one handed use a breeze and at the same time make getting to our favourites apps faster, and with the all new Swipe UI Nokia is doing just that. The N9 doesn’t have even a single physical button on the homescreen, it is even unlocked by tapping the screen twice. Once unlocked, you have three basic views, the app view, the events view which pulls in things from Facebook etc and the multitasking view where all your recently used apps reside. In order to get to these, all you need to do is flick from one side of the phone to another depending on which view you would like to go to. The UI is best experienced yourself, and I recommend going through this detailed demo that Nokia has primary created for developers, but it also gives you a great look at the device. Then there is Nokia’s brand new swipe.nokia.com that has everything that you’ll need to know about the N9, pictures, demos, features and videos.

Nokia N9-00

You will also be pleased to know that the N9′s super wide 28mm 8MP Carl Zeiss camera is also the fastest smartphone camera there is in the market, and it lets you shoot in true wide screen, not the cropped wide screen modes that all smartphones have these days. Thankfully no EDoF and HD video at 720p with 30 frames a second with continuous auto focus. And if you every drop it, feel safe in knowing that the unibody design is all polycarbonate material solid colour right till the inside, so dropping the device will not chip the paint off it. This material, according to Nokia also means that the N9 will have superior antenna performance over most other competitors’ smartphones.

But lets come back to software, as that’s where Nokia’s been taking a hit recently. You look at one video, and everyone will agree that the UI looks great, but what about core apps and functionality? First, Maps and navigation is a go, then there is the Web Browser that is built using the latest Webkit 2 technology and support for HTML5 which translated to access to rich web applications and fast video playback. Then not only does the N9 support Qt, but a lot of its core apps are written in Qt. But what really wows you is the integration of the third party services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Vimeo, Skype all of which support a single sign on and work out of the box. For example you can sign in once with Facebook and you will have access to Facebook events and notifications in the N9′s events screen, have integration with your address book in contacts, have Facebook chat and so on.

Infact, Nokia has a special page to show the preloaded apps, which include Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, AP Mobile, AccuWeather, Angry Birds, Skype, Vimeo and so on. There is also support for WIFI Hotspot functionality out of the box, which is great. They have really done a good job in getting the basics covered, all of the above is pretty much everything you use on a daily basis. The real challenge is to get developers to build for the N9, knowing its the last MeeGo product to come out of Nokia. Because there is Qt, some apps that work on the N900 and Symbian^3 should also be easily ported onto the N9, but you will have to reign in the optimism when it comes to quality third party apps that Nokia isn’t involved with. That being said, there is still hope, Nokia is making available N950 devices to developers to get their apps ready for the N9.

Nokia N9 Cyan

At the end of the day there will be people who will buy one right now if Nokia made it available, there would also be people who would have bought it with their eyes closed had Feb 11 not happened, there will also be those who are torn, torn because they would love to have what is one of the finest phones to come out of Nokia, but are worried about future updates and support specially when Nokia itself has clearly said the N9 will be the last of its kind. Finally there will be those to diss the N9 completely, because from their perspective MeeGo/Harmattan is dead. Where you stand depends on what do you want from the device, Nokia has the basics covered with great support for the popular services, knowing Nokia, it’ll also have a great camera and judging by the N900, a great browser. If that satisfies your priorities, then the N9 will be great. The community has made the N900 much better with time, and because the N9 will be as open you can expect all sorts of hacks and apps from the devs. But if you want a phone which will have all the latest apps the day they come out for iOS, then this phone isn’t for you.

For Nokia, the N9 is their statement to the world that look, we can still innovate and create class leading products. We can not only do great hardware, but kick ass when it comes to software too. It is also about pride for a lot of people and for the rest, a look at what could have been.

Nokia, you’ve still got it!

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13 Comments »

  • Ray H. said:

    Nice post, I’ve been a Nokia fan for a long time and its good to see such devices from them. But when will we get them?

  • Vaibhav Sharma (author) said:

    Nokia’s mum on pricing and availability, but I suspect we will see the device by the end of Q3, priced upwards of the 600$ bracket for the 16 GB model. The release date will also aim to give the developers time to get their apps ready.

  • Khertan said:

    The main problem is no keyboard … :)

  • Vaibhav Sharma (author) said:

    Not so much, the N9 has support for multiple virtual keyboard to be installed at the same time and you can swipe to choose between them. There is also Swype preinstalled, so we should be okay, considering its almost a 4″ display we are talking about.

  • Paul said:

    also it doesn’t have the keyboard like E7, right?
    for you is possible to install manahattan on the E7?
    thx

  • Saush said:

    Nice blog Vaibhav…its really heartening to see that NOKIA can still kick butt…I’m currently using the N900(won that MAEMO Master contect u ran)..all beefed up by community support. And despite it being an “old” device it still amazes me with what it can do…i can only expect the N9 to carry on from there…i personally would have loved the keyboard…but i guess that will on be available with the N950 which only goes to the DEVS…but besides that this phone is a rocker and i hope that NOKia brings it to India on its launch unlike the N900 which took ages…Once again great post…

  • Archie_ said:

    Good on them!!

  • anuraj said:

    really said…and a very nice article..being a owner f n900..i wanted to tell everyone tht its far far better thn android…only ting missiing is apps….nokai u shuld hav promoted n900 as ur flagship instead of n97…biggest mistake

  • Yabadoo said:

    You are mistaken. It’s not Nokias last MeeGo device. They will release other ones in the years to come but the release-cycle is longer than in their mainstream products. MeeGo development was never stopped, it was only downgraded to a ‘concept-phone technology and research project’ but Meego is sitting firmly in Nokias future projections. You will very likely still see 10+ Symbian^3 phones and 10+ WP7 phones in the coming years but at most one N9-type concept-phone per year (with MeeGo).

    And btw.. Intel is developing MeeGo full on and there are some other manufacturers who are planning meego-devices too.

  • Erzhik said:

    Great read. Nokia still has it, and they always did. I really don’t understand why WP7 was favored over MeeGo. It is clear that with Nokia, MeeGo could’ve become one of best, IF not the best. It’s innovative, it’s fast, it’s pretty, and actually useful. This is a true slap in the face of all competitors. I mean take the iphone 4, new HTC phone, samsung and compare it to N9. Nobody stands a chance in terms of hardware, quality and design.

    Will I buy it? Hell yes (if it comes to US).
    Will I buy it again when it goes on sale after a year? YES

  • vikram said:

    great! i just hope nokia promotes this one. eagerly waiting for its launch in india. MeeGo is the way forward for Nokia, not WP7, not at all!!! Elop, u listening???

  • 1 Snap Music! said:

    Love the phone, or at least, what I’ve seen of it so far.

    Some people are dismissing for this or that reason. (i.e. no dual core CPU, last generation CPU/GPU, no HDMI, no FM transmitter, no Xenon flash, no hardware keyboard, etc., etc.) However, it’s not a device for tech-heads; it’s consumer oriented. And, as that, I think it’s just fine.

    I wouldn’t mind having one, in addition to the N900 I’m using at the moment.

    Symbian has had it’s day. Hell! Even I was getting sick of it’s unnecessary complexity. And, MeeGo is definitely future oriented. I just wish Nokia would put some real muscle behind it. However, since they’re not the only company involved in it, there appear to be many that are interested, hopefully others will really focus on it and bring it forward to the mass market properly.

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