Review: Nokia N9

In a world of metal and plastic smartphones, the polycarbonate unibody of the Nokia N9 is like a fashion model among marathon runners.

NameSmartphone: Nokia N9
At a glance:Beautiful design, robust polycarbonate body and gorilla glass,Shockingly low number of compatible apps,Speedy and responsive
Summary:The best looking and fastest zombie product we’ve ever laid eyes on.
Rating:3/5
RRP:$999
Contact:nokia.co.nz

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In a world of metal and plastic smartphones, the polycarbonate unibody of the Nokia N9 is like a fashion model among marathon runners. Yes, they’re all pretty slim, but only one is going to turn heads based on looks alone.

That’s shallow, but lets be clear, the lush good looks of the Nokia N9 invite shallowness. And covetousness, of the sort that will have you stroking it and exclaiming: “my precious!” We haven’t yet run into anyone who, upon gazing at its 3.9-inch jewel-bright AMOLED screen and crisp MeeGo icons, hasn’t cooed indulgently.

If I sound as though I’m getting stratospheric with the purple prose, never fear, we’ll come crashing to earth soon enough. But not just yet.

As with Nokia’s previous smartphones, the hardware in general is fantastic. The 8MP camera produces images as crisp and bright as those from the iPhone 4 (though we haven’t compared it to the iPhone 4S). It can record 720p video at 27fps, and the lens is excellent in low light.

The processor, while only single core, is a 1GHz A8, with plenty of speed – and 1GB RAM – to run the streamlined MeeGo interface. Our model came with 16GB of onboard storage, and you can opt for up to 64GB, should you have a large music library – lets be honest here, it’s going to be hard to find enough apps to fill that capacity. The screen is covered by Gorilla Glass for extra protection, and altogether it’s a robust device, unlikely to damage easily. Sound quality is good, and reception on Vodafone was very good, although on 2degrees is was less stellar.

You can add a microSIM through a sliding opening at the top of the phone: a nice touch, given that you can’t otherwise access the innards of the N9. Similarly, the pop-out flap for the microUSB power cable is a nice touch.

MeeGo is surprisingly lightweight as an operating system. Moving between screens uses a combination of swipes – there are no buttons here to mar the front of the N9. Double-tap to wake the phone, swipe up to show the apps, or stroke back and forth between screens within an app. It’s simple, straightforward and occasionally utterly befuddling. Try finding an easy way to show all the photos in the gallery once you’re viewing a single photo, for example, and you’ll gain a few frown lines before you figure it out. Having said that, getting used to it, even for someone as button-dependent as my Android-loving self, was rapid. It’s fast, too. Even maps, which took a little while to load, once loaded allow you to zoom in and out or pan incredibly fast. Even compared to my regular HTC sensation, which usually earns ‘ohh’s of praise for its swift mapping, the N9 is zippy.

I fell in love with the haptic response of the keyboard. It may be tiny, but its responsiveness made typing feel fun, as well as accurate.

But the N9 has flaws. A number of them.

Lets start with the obvious one: there are virtually no apps. I normally want to add a fitness app, some games, perhaps well-used productivity tools, such as a Pomodoro app, Evernote, SpringPad and a nice to-do list manager. With MeeGo, I was lucky to be able to get Angry Birds. It’s not that I’m dependent upon a specific set of apps, per se, but the lack of familiar, very useful favourites is exceedingly disappointing. My best advice to anyone considering the N9 as a phone would be to try every app that’s preinstalled, and if that isn’t sufficient for you, head elsewhere for your smartphone. You should assume that you’ll have to rely on that basic selection for some time, if not forever. We’d give the N9 an extra point, if not more, if it had apps and an ecosystem of accessories to go with it.

Beyond that, there’s at least one other flaw which is similarly deal-breaking for a certain subset of users: there’s no Adobe Flash support.

I admit, I want one purely based on its lush, droolworthy design, but for anyone willing to wait two months, you can have its identical twin with a Windows Phone OS and far more functionality. Just don’t expect it to perform so exquisitely.

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Tags nokia n9reviewsmartphoneMicrosoftwindows phone 7Nokiameegomobile

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Zara Baxter

Unknown Publication

5 Comments

Per

1

"I admit, I want one purely based on its lush, droolworthy design, but for anyone willing to wait two months, you can have its identical twin with a Windows Phone OS and far more functionality. Just don#t expect it to perform so exquisitely."

Is this a joke? n9 has far more functionality compared to windows phone

Really?

2

"...reception on Vodafone was very good, although on 2degrees is was less stellar..."

I find this very hard to believe. This hasn't been my experience (or the experience of anybody else I know). 2 Degrees network quality has been far superior to the other two.

Makes me doubt the crediblity of this review and reviewer.

Joey Myers

3

Since the birth of the N9 it has been as some would call it "dead"..... but what you don't know is that there is a HUGE HUGE HUGE!!!!!!!!!!!!! fan base and even though Nokia WILL drop its support of the system FANS will NOT..... the ecosystem WILL grow and I am buying one because of what kinda of beauty both hardware and software!

JWB

4

"but for anyone willing to wait two months, you can have its identical twin with a Windows Phone OS and far more functionality. Just don#t expect it to perform so exquisitely."

I'm interested to know why you think the performance etc will be worse?

Cemal

5

I bought my Nokia N9 three weeks ago, notwithstanding all kinds of snide and sarcastic remarks and reviews. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. People say: "Nokia N9 ? Poor applications, dead operation system, blah, blah..."

All this evaporates once you begin playing with the toy. It is the simplest, sexiest and most user friendly phone. Period...

All my friends have iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S IIs. They paid a fortune to buy them. Nonsense !

I am not interested in billions of "fart-apps" or silly games !

What I need is a ligtning fast, stable, reliable, sturdy, user-friendly smartphone with all the high quality applications and social networks built in.

Moreover, Nokia N9 has a lovely "swipe" action. No other smartphone has it.

It is a pure joy to use this phone. You can easily customise it too.

All in all, I'm a satisfied customer and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Don't be distracted by what others say. Follow your heart :)

You won't regret it at all...

Cemal

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