Nokia N9 Review: The Hero That Wasn’t To Be

Nokia N9

We have often seen and heard about people, who stand out of crowd, who are different, who are one in million or in fact in billion. Such, persons curve their own path, achieve their own goals, excel in their own genre and leave their own mark of elegance in this world. They are immortal and so is the thing I am gonna talk about. Neither its the giant nor the pony Hitler who made the whole world stand on its heels in anticipation and fear. It’s a 135 grams with a 3.9″ Amoled Screen N9 in vibrant colours which have drawn a lot of attention since its launch. When the geeks and fanboys were busy debating about the pros and cons of various operating systems like Android, Symbian, iOS or Blackberry OS to decide the best among them, in the domes of  Nokia, the staff was busy in giving birth to a new handset which surely has become a masterpiece in terms of design and built. In the sleek and trendy design, they loaded MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan OS and we have got the first only-touch device. And the moment I opened the device, I was amazed to an extent that I switched off my SGS2 and dropped it in the cupboard for 15 days. Excited? Let’s dive in.

Box Contents

Since, all the manufacturers are going eco-friendly, N9 comes in a blue (just like N8′s) compact pull out box. The box contains following item:-

  1. Nokia N9
  2. Nokia Fast USB Charger AC-16
  3. Nokia Charging and Data cable CA-185CD
  4. Nokia Stereo Headset WH-901
  5. Get started guide
  6. Product information leaflet
  7. Silicon Cover

Since N9 has got a fixed battery (non user-removable), so don’t search for any loose battery in the box as the N9 itself is preloaded with battery.

Nokia N9

Nokia N9

Though almost all the contents of package are good be it the device itself, data/charging cable or the headphones, there is one thing which I didn’t like in particular (looks wise) i.e. Nokia Fast USB Charger AC-16. No doubt it is pretty fast but I still wonder why does it have a white top on a black body. Doesn’t quite fit in, with the N9 looking stellar and all, you see.  I know design and colours always have a different opinion from different set of people, but I would have liked it more if it would have been in full black colour instead of being black and white.

Hardware

Now lets quickly move to the beast itself. So, its 135 grams having volume 76 cc. A 3.9″ Amoled touch screen (16m colours) is embedded beautifully in rectangular bar with slightly curved edges and plain top and bottom with dimensions 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1 mm. It is full touch phone with a Nokia logo on the top and a light sensor and front VGA camera on the both corners of the bottom, leaving no space for any button, key on the front and an earpiece in the top border.  The back with a slightly curved edges have a 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss Tessar Camera with a flash. The camera and the flash are beautifully placed and have a Nokia logo on a metallic strip.

Nokia N9

Nokia N9

The left side of the phone is as clear as a bald head. and on the right side, there is a power/lock button and volume up/down button.

The bottom of the phone has a speaker (which i doubt to have a microphone too). And the top of the phone is the second most happening place of the phone (of course after the screen itself :P). It has got a Nokia AV Connector (3.5mm), Micro USB slot with a cover on it and a micro sim card holder.

Nokia N9

Check out the quick video below to see how it works?

Apart from this it has got a 16/64 GB internal memory along with 1GB RAM. It has a  1 Ghz Cortex A8 processor with  PowerVR SGX530 GPU on a TI OMAP 3630 chipset, which make it lightening fast. It is powered by a 1450mAh battery which make it works for 7-11 hours on 2G/3g network with normal usage. Nokia has dropped the pin charging option and the microUSB v2.0 is used for charging,connecting and TV out options. It supports only micro sim which is still new and not readily available in Indian Market (Though, Sim Cutters work perfectly well). I am letting off the rest of the technical specifications and will move to the next section to see how this fully loaded machine work.

When you switch on the phone, there is no meeting hands and it starts with a white Nokia logo in the middle of screen with the same Nokia tune but a different music. I broadly classified all the working areas in to -

  • Applications
  • Open Applications
  • Feed + Notification
  • Home screen/Desktop
  • Lock-screen/Sleep Screen

Applications

It contains all the applications in grid form and you can open any application from it. Since, there is no back/end button to exit an existing application or to move to some other screen you have to swipe. So, to do the swipe you have to drag your finger into your phone either from the left or right. See the arrows in the screenshot below.

Nokia N9

On the top of the screen there is a drop down status bar which shows battery, signal strength, operator name, wifi, bluetooth to the left and time and availability to the right. Unlike Android or Symbian Belle, dropping it down doesn’t give you much options you can only toggle and open Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and chat availability and  internet connectivity from here. You can not see any notification for messages/mail/chat etc on this drop down menu, though an icon for mail or message or miss call appears on the status bar. You can also change the profile to Silent/Beep/Ringing from here and can increase/decrease the volume either by using volume buttons or dragging your finger. This drop down menu can be opened from any screen and you have to tap on it to open it unlike android, where you have to drag it down.

Nokia N9

Though the applications are not listed alphabetically and neither you get an option to do that, still you can arrange them by long pressing and then moving it to the desired grid.

Open Applications

This is an important screen, since N9 doesn’t possess and hardware key for closing or exiting an applications. This lies to the right of the applications screen and accordingly can be opened by swiping to the right from the application screen. When opened, it will show all the running applications (4 apps per screen), you can tap on any of them to bring that onscreen.

Nokia N9

Nokia N9

If you want to close or kill a running application , just long press any of the app and a red cross will appear on the top right edge of each application from which you can close any existing application. In addition to that on the bottom of the screen you get an option to ‘close all’. Tap on done when you are done with the task.

Feed +Notifications

Nokia N9

This screen lies to the right of ‘Opened Applications’ screen and it shows the Weather, Feed from twitter/Facebook and notifications. Though, if you get a message/mail or chat message there is a tossed up notification on the top of the screen for few seconds (look for “Mera:hi” in the screenshot below, this is a notification for message) and you can open the message or respective screen from there but since it lasts for few seconds after that you have to move to home screen or Feed+Notification screen to open the message/mail/etc.

Home screen/Desktop

Nokia N9

Though it is somewhat like a lock screen on android but since you can apply the desktop background on this page only, this may be referred to as Desktop or home screen. It shows the status bar, Date and time and all the notifications. You can swipe the notification to right or left to open the respective application. You need to swipe on this screen to open the rest of the screens. You can download some beautiful home screen wallpapers made by Mandeep Singh Sandhu from here.

LockScreen/Sleep Screen

Nokia N9

This screen looks somewhat like Nokia Sleeping Screen It shows the clock, battery indicator (if charger is plugged in) and notification sign for missed calls/messages/mail etc. Though you can not open the notification from here. Pressing the lock button moves your to home screen.

Contacts and Calling

Nokia N9

Since, the smartphones has been introduced, people have certainly lost interest in the thing for what the Mobiles were actually invented i.e. calling. Most of us use our smartphones for Social Networking, Chatting, Browsing etc., but somewhere calling is still the basic function of mobile phones. So, let us discuss how the contacts and calling works in N9.

Like any other smart phone, you can add emails, Facebook account, twitter account, birthdays anniversaries, contact numbers in the contacts. You can integrate various accounts, merge them etc.

From the plus sign on the left you can add contacts and from the right side you get various options in main view and in contact view.

Nokia N9

Nokia N9

If you switch between multiple phones that too running different platform, copying contacts is one hell of a task. But N9 has given you various options to do that. You can import contacts from Another device, Online Service and Sim Card. Using ‘Another Device’ you can pair and sync contacts, calendar entries etc from other phone via Bluetooth. Online Services give you an option of adding various accounts to import data from them and similarly you can copy contacts from sim. Similarly you can export contacts to Sim Card.

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The option from ‘Another Device’ worked beautifully with Nokia C2-00, but i could not transfer the contacts from SGS2 to N9. I tried pairing it before hand, but it did not work. Since I am running Cyanogen Mod and not the Native android, so I am not sure whether it would work with other mobiles or not. So, if anyone of you can check please post your results below.

Similarly, I was able to transfer my contacts from google account by adding a Mail for Exchange account with server address m.google.com. But in that case also, it imported only primary/first number in case of multiple entries. And sadly there is no Ovi Sync/Nokia Sync which works perfectly for the Symbian phones.

Dialer is quite simple – it has got a numpad, a call button, an ‘Add to Contact’ button, and log, dialer and contacts at the bottom. It like many other advanced platforms doesn’t support alpha numeric search of contacts. So either you have to dial the full number or pick a contact and call.

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Like the Windows Phone interface, when you get a call on N9, you first have to swipe up and then you can accept, reject or silence the call.

Nokia N9

Clock and Calendar

In the busy world, you need to customize your schedule and these days calendars and alarm clocks on your phone plays an important role in your life. Be it reminders for meetings, anniversaries, important events or alarms to wake you up in the morning, you rely a lot on your phone. N9 has a very simple and sleek Clock and calendar options. In Clock, you get a clock (digital or analogue as selected in settings) and below there is an option to add alarms, and it shows all the inactive/active alarms too. There is a beautiful dialer to set the hours and minutes to set up an alarm. You can title your alarm and set repeat, snooze time and alarm tone from more options.

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Similarly you can add events in calendar, manage it, sync it etc.

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But neither in Clock nor in Calendar there is an option to adjust date/time or an shortcut that takes you to setting. So, to change Time/Date you have to go to Settings–>Time and Language–>Time and Date. There you will get an option to automatic update, set time, Time format, clock type, date or time zone. Here also, you will get a rotatory dialer to set the time somewhat similar to what you get for setting up an alarm.

Browser and Internet

Nokia N9

You can connect to internet via Mobile data or Wi-Fi. N9 provides you dedicating ‘Internet Setting’, You can select whether you want to use the internet or not, which connection you want to use, edit the connection to set automatic connectivity, and data counter with separate counters for in home data usage and roaming data usage. But , I think now the data counters should have different counters for Mobile Network and Wi-Fi network instead of in home and roaming categorisation.

Browser on the N9 is the most simplest browser I have ever seen. Please correct me if I have failed to find more about the browser of N9 as for me it’s too simple and its hard to believe that there are almost no options when it come to browser. Browser is just a single window page, with an option to enter address and another tab at the top right which gives you option to Open New Window, Share this page, Add to Home Screen. Interestingly if you open a new window, you can not switch between two windows from the browser itself, you will have to go to Opened Applications Screen to do that. On the startup page browser has a list of top sites.

Nokia N9

Like many other applications in N9, browser too doesn’t have setting option in the application itself. Though, it doesn’t provide much options but still you can change the setting by going to Settings–> Applications–>Web. Here you get an option to select a search engine, Block Pop-up and clear private data.

Accounts and Mails

N9 has a dedicated settings for social networking accounts and mail accounts. You can add various accounts of different mails, social networking like Facebook, twitter. Image storing services like Flickr, Picasa and services like Nokia Accounts and YouTube. You can add only one Facebook and twitter account and can add multiple Gmail and other mail accounts. Unfortunately Twitter and Facebook at its early stage do not support push notifications.

Email has a simple format and has a decent push mail service. Mail delivery is not real-time but still its too good. The simple interface of the mail box gives you option to write new mail, refresh, open folders, sort the mail, move mail, mark as read and delete messages. You can delete, move, reply, forward,  mark as unread from a single mail option. But surprisingly, I couldn’t find any option to star a mail.

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For settings of mail you will again have to go to Settings ->Applications ->Mail. Here you will get various options for messages and default mailbox as shown in the screenshots below.

Camera

The 8 MP camera of the Nokia N9 clicks some beautiful pictures. The UI of camera is quite good and sleek, on the left there is a small tab which shows Image Quality, Scene Mode, Fish option and face detection, geo tagging. Clicking on this opens setting, the best part is that all the settings are expanded and you can choose your setting by tapping and scrolling up and down, there are no hidden menus.  You can choose scenes, flash, white balance, exposure,  colour filter, light sensitivity, face detection, resolution, GPS, Geo-tagging etc. Though, the phone has got a 8 MP camera yet in resolution the finest image quality is High 7 MP.

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On the right hand side, you have option to select between Picture and video, a button to click the photo and a shortcut to open the gallery. There is no option to select the front VGA camera for photography. Video has almost similar but lesser options. Check out the gallery below to see how beautiful pictures the camera takes.

There are some other options like Nokia Maps, Music and Store which have become a trademark for Nokia and doesn’t need any lengthy explanations or tutorials.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, Nokia N9 is a device which make many heads turn around. It has a good camera and a unique built. The UI, is very impressive and innovative. But, the lesser availability of applications, uncertain future of the OS (dead-end, more or less) are the reasons which drag it from the category of ‘must buy’ to ‘can buy’. So, if you have spare money, don’t care much about applications and OS and want to make a style statement go and get an N9.