Tuesday, November 22, 2011

[N9 MEGA REVIEW] It's not technology, its what you do with it !

Posted on 5:19 AM by SlipKoRnSaad

WARNING ! It’s a huge article to read ! If you're lazy to read this review just read my preview and watch the video below along with conclusion on the bottom, but if you're ready to spend some time to read it, then, let's go for a walk !

For the first time as a blogger and a reviewer, i feel that i couldn't cover all features of a device in a adequate time stamp because in my eyes, this device deserve more attention to details, it's all about details from the body design to the integration of the core OS, ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome the Nokia N9 !

Nokia Charging and Data cable CA-185CD
Nokia Fast USB Charger AC-16

Nokia Stereo Headset WH-901

If you look carefully, Nokia didn't put the model name on the device. There's nothing that says it's an N9 actually !

Light sensor + proximity sensor

Front camera lens

Charging indicator (but not event indicator out of the box)

Camera Flash Camera lens

Just bellow the flash there's secondary microphone for noise canceling and stereo recording

As you may notice, there's nothing that tell us it's an 8MPix either !

Volume/ zoom key used also to change profiles + power lock key

Nokia AV connector (3.5mm) + Micro-USB connector + Micro-SIM card holder

Microphone on the left, Loudspeaker on the right grill !

Viewing angles are stunning !

All in all :

--> Bold all-screen design :

• Body made of one piece with smooth shapes colored itself rather than painted. No peeling paint issues and even a deep scratch won't reveal anything but the same color as the rest of the body

• Vivid 3.9” Pentile AMOLED screen brings brilliant colors and content right to the surface, WVGA (854x480) AMOLED display with curved Gorilla glass, no air gap, anti-glare polarizer.

The screen (In fact, it's more or less the only thing you interact with when using the N9) is traditional AMOLED, but Nokia says it has "no air gap" and a polarizing filter, which delivers some of the brightness and outdoor-visibility rewards found on Samsung's Super AMOLED screens. The screen is very, very sharp, with unusually pure blacks and whites. The phone feels smooth and strange in the hand, like a device made of 1920s-style Bakelite plastic.

--> The N9 is better to use in bright weather than the iPhone 4 or Samsung Galaxy S II ! It's a fact ! I'll even go further and say that in some cases, it's slightly better in indoor situations !

As stated, screen is slightly convex, the curve thus lightly outwards, which is an example of how Nokia customized software and hardware to work well together. The difference from a flat screen is certainly subtle, but it helps. A little things that makes you appreciate how a phone feels and acts, and the curved screen is one such detail, in fact, the finger moves smoothly along the curved glass and curved shape of the device, Hardware and software were jointly designed to ensure that they fit together seamlessly

When the phone went into sleep mode then bring it on again by tapping the screen twice, much like you would shake life into a sleeping person or just call someone's attention. Well parable is perhaps a bit far-fetched but it feels very easy and intuitive It feels more like a natural element than pressing buttons. So it is this that makes me smile, and that feeling persists in every part when using the N9 !

The Nokia N9 comes in two versions - 16 GB and 64 GB - which is the size of its internal storage memory, i.e. space available for user installable applications and data (e.g. documents, music files, videos, etc). 

As the N9 does not have a memory card slot and therefore it is not possible to further expand its storage space should you at some point need more, it is very important to choose the right version.

The advertised 16 or 64 GB is the total size and as such it is true, but (what is not clearly mentioned) it is PARTITIONED (divided) into several separate filesystems (or partitions), serving different purposes and allowing the user to put there different kind of data :

- rootfs (/dev/root/): contains the operating system and it's also where all 3rd party applications get installed. Its size is 4 GB

- home (/home/): used by the operating system to store various kinds of config files, databases (e.g. contacts or messages), etc. Even though many of these files contain user data, users don't have direct access to this file system; it is used by the operating system. Its size is 2 GB.

- MyDocs (/home/user/MyDocs/): that's the partition where you can freely place your files like pictures, music, videos, documents, etc. It's the ONLY filesystem made available to the user and directly accessible for him, where any kind of files can be stored without any restrictions. That's the disk you see when you connect your N9 to your PC via USB. Its size on the N9 16 GB is about 9 GB and on the 64 GB version it is around 57 GB.

Long story short as michal said, on both the 16 GB and 64 GB version you can install up to around 3 GB of 3rd party apps, which means that the 64 GB version does NOT offer any advantages in this regard. It is space for user data (pictures, music, videos, ...) that's considerably larger on the 64 MB version: 57 GB vs. 9 GB, i.e. 48 GB more. And that's the most important thing to take into consideration when choosing the right version of the device. For the additional money you pay for the 64 GB version you get 48 GB more for your data. If you decide to pay less and get the 16 GB version, be aware that for your MP3's and video clips you will get not more than 9 GB. On the other hand, paying considerably more for the 64 GB variant, you will NOT be able to install on it more apps than on the 16 GB model, i.e. up to around 3 GB in both cases. 

OS inboard an UI :

Strictly speaking, the Nokia N9 does not run MeeGo 1.2 as its operating system. It instead runs what Nokia refers to as a "MeeGo instance". During the development of Harmattan (previously marketed as Maemo 6), Nokia and Intel merged their open source projects into one new common project called MeeGo. Not to postpone the development schedule, Nokia decided to keep the "core" of Harmattan, such as middleware components (GStreamer) and packaging managers (the Harmattan system uses Debian packages instead of RPM packages). Nonetheless, Harmattan is designed to be fully API compatibility with MeeGo 1.2 via Qt. As far as end users and application developers are concerned, the distinction between Harmattan and MeeGo 1.2 is minimal Since all marketing effort would have been directed to "MeeGo", Nokia dropped the Maemo branding to adopt MeeGo as to not confuse customers.

The N9 runs like a Omap3 N900 CPU from Texas Instruments. The N900 turned in a Omap3430 However, while the N9 has a Omap3630 : a single core processor clocked at 1GHz with a Cortex A8 core. The soc is an integrated GPU-PowerVR SGX530. The GPU is just like Symbian and Windows Phone used to render the interface. One of the spearheads of the OS is multitasking and therefore Nokia 1GB of RAM installed. Nokia finally seems to realize that much memory is nice if you want to multitask

(If you are interested in advanced technical details, you can find more about it here.)

The N9 doesn't run on the very latest hardware, but features like this make Android feel bloated and messy in comparisant to this kind of smooth, immediate performance --on "dated" hardware. Bravo, Nokia! "It's not technology, its what you do with it" applies here.

MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan OS looks the best among all the phones and platforms in the market now,
MeeGo's home screen sticks with the grid-of-icons  layout that we've seen since early feature phones, but it has several twists.

The icons themselves are halfway between circles and squares, and they're gorgeously designed. As you add new icons, they just get piled on the bottom; you don't have multiple pages here.

That's because swiping left, right, up, and down has special meanings in MeeGo. Swiping right from the home screen brings you to a little gallery of minimized windows of all the apps you're running. This is true multitasking.

N9 resources make them EXCEPTIONALLY good performers. 1 GB of RAM plays the most important role here. You can run LOTS of applications simultaneously, switch between them anytime, they continue normally running in the background like on the N900, and - due to the amount of operating memory - I couldn't see any noticeable impact on performance or UI smoothness even with multiple applications running. So yes, Harmattan devices remain as good (or better) 'multitaskers' as the N900.

(If i reach 30 opened applications it starts to slow down...well 30 baby !)

The multitask screen (called task switcher on the N900, the one where you see thumbnails of all apps running) is always accessible "on the right side" of the current screen. So just swipe the current screen to the left and you get it. Like on the N900, it is enough to just tap on the thumbnail of app you want to switch to. Unlike on the N900, "X" symbols to close tasks aren't shown all the time - you need to tap and hold on an empty area of that screen to make them appear. Then you can close selected apps by tapping on their "X" buttons, or all apps at once using the "Close all" button shown at the bottom of the display.

One nice feature is that the multitask screen supports pinch-to-zoom. With a lot of apps running when their thumbnails don't fit on one screen and have to be scrolled, you can zoom out to reduce the size of the thumbnails and make them all fit. And vice versa - you can zoom in to make the thumbnails larger if e.g. small thumbnails are too tiny to identify which app is which, or if you want to see more details of what an app is currently doing (as I wrote, apps continue to normally run in the background rather than freeze, so contents of their displays may change even when they aren't in the foreground).

Current builds of N9 firmware support a very nice feature to instantly close the current application - just "swipe it down" from the top of the display and it'll go away for good. Very nice and easy to use.

Swipe right again (or left from the home screen) and you get a page of combined Facebook/Twitter updates and email alerts. When you're in an app, swiping up will minimize it; swiping down will close it.

The Events view contains the following:
  • Notifications about, for example, your missed calls, unread messages, and software updates
  • Feeds from different applications and services, such as social networking applications, and web feeds
The Events view items are interactive. Select, for example, the feed you want to view in more detail.

When you set up your social networking accounts, your friends' status updates are automatically displayed in the Events view. Similarly, when you subscribe to web feeds, your feeds are automatically displayed.  

You can refresh feeds manually anytime ! Or, you can Remove a current feed from a certain application or service : Select and hold the feed, and select Clear.

So yeah ! There are no "X" icons hanging about, just swipe, swipe, swipe, Its a perfect example of creating something from scratch that is both familiar and different.

In all applications, and even on the lock screen, you can easily make a call, or access the camera, web, or messages. When holding your phone upright, drag your finger from below the bottom of the screen onto the screen, and hold your finger in place, until the quick launch bar is displayed.

You should note that these apps seem to be "hardcoded" at the moment and there seems to be no way to change them, so hopefully in final builds one will be able to choose the apps to appear there... Of course, without physical buttons for Phone and Camera most people will probably want Phone and Camera icons to remain there or else it'll always take getting to the app launcher (icon grid) to start them, but I guess that some people might like to change the two remaining ones... 

Elegant and original !

Replying to an email or sms or callback a contact etc. has never been easy :

alert of new events - emails, messages, missed calls, software updates...

By simply brushing the notification away from the lockscreen, you will unlock the phone and launch the respective app. Though the implementation is slightly different, this is every bit as impressively efficient as the Samsung TouchWiz lockscreen on Android and Bada and the recent IOS5 from apple :)

Top horizontal bar is the status bar in Nokia N9′s user interface and is available throughout the interface. It’s accessible from any where in the interface whether you are in an application or on Home view. However full screen games won’t allow this status bar to appear.

The behaviour of this status bar is a bit different and not just like the ones in Android, iPhone or Symbian Belle. Only tapping once on the status bar drops down the menu containing short cuts to settings related to indicators shown on the status bar.

Phone experience :

The N9 is the only device that have 4/5 network signal on bathroom! Usually all phones, including the E6 drops more than 50% ! Do i need to say more?

Well except some Call UI elements inconstancies that frustrate me (more space has to be used, buttons are just so small in some areas) and the fact that there's no smart dialing, is killing me !

The call quality is good (excellent) but not as good (amplified?) as on the N8, the legendary N8 !

The loud speaker isn't as loud and amplified as on the N8 (best mono speaker ever produced by Nokia) again :) But it's louder and clearer while using maps/drive applications !

There is swipe down to reject/decline calls. Just put your finger to the bottom part of the bouncybouncy popup and push it down. It will silence the call. Then swipe to left and press the message icon key. I know it's not single gesture, but 3. So, not so nice. Silence by turning device down works in 1.1.

And we have detailed calls log (including duration etc.), a most wanted feature as an N900 owner may wish !

Social networking experience :

The phone has all the usual PIM apps. It comes with Twitter, Facebook, GTalk and Skype built-in (including merging Twitter, Facebook, GTalk, Skype, and phone contacts, and showing your friends' most recent status updates on their contact cards), all in all are well integrated into core OS of Nokia N9 as they aren’t any different or just standalone apps for VOIP calling and instant messaging services you normally look to download and install them additionally on your smartphones. In Nokia N9 all of them are just a tap away from your dialer or from your messaging interface.

With Skype and GTalk integration you can initiate call to a contact right from your phone’s contact list or from the dialler (GSM/Skype only). And you get notifications right on the notification screen.

As on the N900, Conversation application which handles both SMS and Instant Messaging in a threaded way (i.e. shown as conversations), is a really good thing and with no surprise, and MMS is fully implemented by default this time. Instant messaging is as easy as SMS. Between the slick interface and integration with plenty of Instant Messaging accounts you’ll never be offline!

For IM, entering your login details (in accounts "app" on the menu). Once you have this done you can control your IM availability by simply tapping the top status bar and choosing ‘Availability’. The status can change to chat comfortably in the top status bar and as usual if you're coming from maemo5 wonderland, you can even set a personal status with your geographical coordinates so it'll shows your buddies from where do you chat with them !

The chat contacts are in fact stored in the normal phone book. Duplicate entries can use the function "Merge Contacts eradicate" so that only one contact with all the info remains. If you sort the contacts eventually not alphabetically but according to their status, the offline contacts passed down so that you, as is customary in a chat program, a current overview of the current "buddy" has.

While online, when tapping on a contact's thumbnail, this'll bring contact's informations and details, so you can call it, text it visit its Facebook page etc. show its live status straight from the conversation !

Apart from messaging integration of facebook with the core messaging interface, a standalone facebook app is there to explore as you normally do as well as a twitter app is included. Notifications from both of the apps goes directly to the main notification screen

Facebook and Twitter default applications need some fixes and usability improvements and some of that were done on the PR1.1 for example for facebook it’s not fully featured yet. For example one of the most important functions, now a days, is the location sharing that is not yet supported ^^

Interestingly, the location sharing was not supported also in the Twitter application initially. One more most wanted feature that is photo upload via Twitter was not possible in Nokia N9. But PR1.1 has brought the these two features into Twitter application.

Contacts experience :

What I really like about the Contacts app are the following new (compared to N900) features:

- Favorites : just tap the "Star" button in a contact's detailed view to make it favourite and it will always be shown on top of the Contacts list. This way you always get your favourite Contacts first, and then the remaining contacts sorted with the chosen method: alphabetically or by availability, just like on symbian^3 OS ;)

- Automatic creation of thumbnails/avatars. If a contact doesn't have its photo/avatar, the Contacts app automatically shows an avatar for it consisting of that contacts initials (e.g. "AC" for Adam Cooper).

- Quick scrolling. You can either slowly scroll the whole list of contacts, or (if you swipe over the grey bar on the right side showing the current letter) it will let you quickly scroll the initial letters. This way you can very quickly go to contacts starting from the chosen letter, e.g. "S" or "W". The whole alphabet can be scrolled through this way on one display, so it's really a very quick method of reaching ANY contact entry on the device.

- Groups. The Contacts app supports Groups and lets you freely create as many of them as you wish. You can give groups custom names and avatars/images.

- Individual ringtones. Finally, without having to use 3rd party apps for that, contacts can be given individual ringtones.

“Import Contact” feature is compatible with Nokia, Android & Apple iOS devices and contacts can be imported easily via Bluetooth.

Email experience :

Email client is now more "mobile like" than "desktop like". it's more like the one on Android or iPhone. Nice looking, optimized for one hand/finger control, etc. It does support HTML, attachments, folders, favourite folders can be shown in the main view for easy access, as well as several most recent emails.

Mail client in Nokia N9 offers connectivity via Google Mail and Mail for Exchange only for Push or ActiveSync. Other Mail services also work but with manually fetch with at least 10 minutes of interval. However Mail for Exchange can work with Gmail, Windows Live Mail accounts with its “always on” ActiveSync feature. You will use MfE for your corporate/company email accounts, The good thing is that you can add more than one Mail for Exchange accounts in Nokia N9, unlike before only one Mail for Exchange account was supported in earlier devices.

Actually, the only view options are the number of message preview lines (1,2 or none), whether to show messages as HTML or plain text, and whether to download images automatically or not. Messages can be sorted by date, sender, size, status or priority. Overall the email client is very intuitive and simple (in a good way, easy to use) and quite fast.

Exchange, Google, and POP/IMAP mail are supported, along with Exchange and CalDAV for calendar.

But how does it compare to n900? Functionally, it's actually the same, plus better synchronization options. (When editing account settings for the mail, you can set poll-intervalls. You can even set different poll-intervalls for Peak- and Off-Peak-Times. You can set schedules for email download. This allows to e.g. keep the phone silent in the night. (You can do this for MfE accounts on N900) This is very nice!)

Mail client supports also Meeting invites :

On the Nokia N9, once you receive a meeting request via email, you can initially view the meeting details in the original email. By clicking the invite.ics attachment at the top of the email you’ll be able to perform the usual options, such as respond to the invite using the Accept, Tentative, Decline buttons and add it to your calendar. It’s these features that mean you never need miss an appointment again.

Calendar experience :

The Calendar app supports multiple calendars and color coding. One calendar can be set as "default", each calendar can be quickly activated or disabled (there is a switch to either show or hide its entries and reminders) and it does have a nice layout and design with few hidden swipe gestures. The current view (Month/day) can be navigated to next or previous by swiping left or right respectively.

Also, If you have an address in "location" field, you can navigate to it by clicking the address in calendar meeting and it is integrated with Maps. This works both ways: you can add a location by selecting it on the Map (there is a small button for this), and you can see on the map an already existing location.

I didn't check if the phone numbers and emails hi-lighted in calendar meetings so can I make a call in one click...

Sadly, when you enter a birthday in contacts, it does not show in calendar automatically, it has to be added separately...a step down from the N900.

The N9 can synchronize multiple CalDAV, MfE, Google Account calendars and in general, functionality seems to be the same as N900's Calendar app.

Typing experience :

Ah ! The virtual keyboard is a pleasure to type on, with both audio and physical feedback.

The virtual keyboard on the N9 is, ironically, in my view one of the most aesthetically pleasing aspects about the device!

Powered by Maliit which provides a flexible and cross-platform input method framework, including a virtual keyboard. It runs on most GNU/Linux distributions and is integrated in all the mobile MeeGo user experiences.

First of all it is a :

- Multitouch virtual keyboard !

- Context sensitive and dynamic action key : e.g. replacing enter icon with search icon and highlighting the key in search fields - and respective search key inactive when search field empty

- Context sensitive layouts : e.g. replacing ',' key with '@' in e-mail address fields

- Simple interactions (as defined in MeeGo Basics) :

--> Swipe sideways to easily switch between different active keyboard layouts and other input methods

--> Swipe down to close virtual keyboard or alternatively tap outiside the active input area to close keyboard

--> Low-latency haptics typing feedback (with feedback framework backend); sound,tactile

The virtual keyboard is invoked automatically when an input field is in focus (that is when the user taps an input field). The title bar and status disappear to optimize screen real estate. It has a portrait and landscape layout, opening according to the orientation it is being called from. If the user rotates the device, the layout is smoothly changed according to the new orientation.

You can close the virtual keyboard by either tapping outside the text field or by dragging down the virtual keyboard. Note that the virtual keyboard does not act as a drawer in the sense that the user cannot pull it up. It will come up again once the text field is actioned again.

In a one liner text field, the enter key works as a natural confirmation key (similar to websites and other operating systems). This works when entering a password, for example. But not in messages for eg

Well, quit logical you'll say...

Although selecting text, copying and pasting is also similar to that as in iOS and Android devices with a popped up magnifier feature. But actually still there is a room for improvement in selecting text. I’ll still prefer the ones in Android and iOS which really help providing starting and ending nodes to modify selection points.

My favorite feature is the Error correction / word prediction for virtual keyboard (with error correction / prediction engine) but there's room for improvements ^^

What you should know is in an open environment :

- Input Methods can be implemented as plugins !
- Error correction/prediction engines can be implemented as plugins
- Framework is licensed LGPL
- Keyboard has theming abilities via CSS file
- The Keyboard has customizable layout files
- Meego Feedback framework has swappable backends (for haptics et.c.)

In short, you can personalize the keyboard with application like this !

There is also a "special" version of the virtual keyboard, used e.g. in the X-Terminal, which contains an additional row with function keys. And this special keyboard also has two versions (called Arrows and Shell) between which the user can switch via the menu. The "Arrows" version has Tab, Ctrl, Esc, PgUp, PgDn, and arrow keys. The "Shell" version offers Tab, Ctrl, Alt, Esc, |, &, <, >, $, *, ~, -, =.

So yes, the function keys are available and can be used in applications requiring them. The X-Terminal and all terminal based apps have it enabled by default, and in case of other apps I guess it is up to the developer to enable this special keyboard for his application. 

Swype is one of the major additions in PR1.1 software update that actually adds most popular keyboard type into Nokia N9 in addition to its already finished on-screen stock keyboard.

Music experience :

Due to the N9’s 64GB internal memory (Only 8GB available on the 16GB variant), the question is : Is the N9 a viable alternative to a dedicated MP3 player? Well, it depends on what's a viable MP3 player for you...for me, it depends not only on available memory space but mainly on the quality delivered by the audio chipset...and as such it is important that the built in media player doesn't hit all the right notes, details after the break !

The UI music player itself is gorgeous, one of the best and the most intuitive i've seen on any platform, presenting tiles of album art along with clear, alphabetized lists of your music. 

You can flip over to a list of recommendations of similar songs to the one you're playing from Nokia's Ovi Music. 

Music sounded excellent over my BH-503 and BH-905 Bluetooth headphones despite the lack of the equalizer.

--> Supported codecs are : mp3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, FLAC

Also "pause playback on headphone removal" is integrated

I must say that this is by far the best music experience till date (well i must admit that i'm curious about the lumia800 performance here)

Video experience :

Videos application on the other side is just single scrolling pane with big thumbnails of the videos where you can play them instantly. Player control is nice and user friendly.

But the related videos feature impressed. It directly fetches the related videos from YouTube when you go for the details of a video currently playing, but sometimes it just gives less precise results...

If you pull the "playlist" down, a search field appear (like on emails, contacts, messages etc) ;)

Video playback performance was deeply disappointing. The N9 couldn't handle many of my high-definition videos, and even dropped some frames when presented with VGA, H.264 video files (i've played 1280x720p H264 base profile video in mkv/mp4 etc container without any issues. Same for 720p xvid with 6-channel AC3 audio in an AVI container), and that's because the N9 currently supports H.264 Baseline profile. It doesn't support Main and High profile yet...we have to wait for the PR1.2, unfortunately (??) most "warez scene" x264 mkv releases on the web use minimum "main" profile which the N9's DSP cannot handle

In fact the N9 supports codec such : H.263, MPEG4-SP & ASP, H.264 BP/MP, WMV9 / VC-1 and Mkv (Matroska) with MPEG-4 SP, H.264 BP HD playback support and MPEG4-SP HD capture support

Another downside, N9 is only able to watch 480i youtube video at the moment, there are bugs in dsp bridge, i don't know if this was fixed on PR1.1.

Camera experience :

The N9 packs a decent 8-megapixel camera with good low-light performance. photos occasionally had a slight blue or red cast to them. The f/2.2 lens promise good photos in low light, and I saw minimal low-light shutter speed blur—but it was there, anyway, it's a :

• 8MP autofocus camera with high performance Carl Zeiss optics
• Touch to focus, shoot quickly and move smoothly between stills, video and gallery
• Capture more with wide-angle lens and true 16:9 imaging
• Great low light performance with large lens aperture (f/2.2) and dual LED flash

While the volume rocker also doubles as a zoom control, there's no dedicated two-stage camera button. Instead, it's possible to hold the on-screen shutter key to lock focus and exposure, then release it to take the shot

About the user interface, there could have been more controls over the view finder to quickly adjust with the commonly used options e.g. resolution switcher, flash switcher and macro controls...

You can view the MEGA N9 and N8 Head to Head to judge yourself what you should get ;)

Photo experience :

The N9 is the first phone ever to feature something called non-destructive photo editing

Which means that you can take a photo, crop it, resize it, change the contrast or any other function – all with the option of being to reverse these edits at any time.

Sharing and connectivity experience :

One more fascinating part in the Nokia N9 I found is the single sharing interface. Any thing that can be shared will have an option to share it. Picture, Video, or a Link from the web browser, will be pushed to the sharing interface (or app, whatever) and you will see supported mediums or targets to share at. Which include Facebook, Twitter, Picasa, Flickr, Youtube, NFC, Bluetooth, Multimedia Message, Text Message or Mail. But these options will be available depending on the object or link you are going to share.

Photos can be shared or sent via following Social Networks or Mediums
  • Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, MMS, Mail, Bluetooth, NFC
Videos can be shared or sent via following Social Networks or Mediums
  • Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, MMS, Mail, Bluetooth, NFC
Links or Web Pages be shared or sent via following Social Networks or Mediums
  • Facebook, Twitter, Text Message, Mail
Unfortunately we missed the photo sharing via Twitter directly from the photo gallery, which even wasn’t added in PR1.1.

Near Field Communication (NFC) (to activate from settings menu) makes connecting and sharing easy and fun. Nokia phones and accessories that support NFC are connected wirelessly when you touch them together.
With NFC, you can:
  • Share your own content between two Nokia phones that support NFC
  • Connect to compatible Bluetooth accessories that support NFC, such as a headset or a wireless loudspeaker
The N9 lacks support for either an embedded secure element or the Single Wire Protocol (SWP). According to NFC World, these elements are needed for use in secure NFC applications such as mobile wallet, ticketing and payments. Instead, Nokia is concentrating on the ‘connectivity’ aspect of NFC for file sharing, device pairing and tag reading. In fact the mobile wallet is 12 to 18 months away from being widely used. In the meantime, Nokia’s upcoming NFC applications seem cool and simple. For example, you’ll be able to stream music wirelessly by tapping your Nokia N9 on Nokia Play 360° speakers, or share photos, videos, contacts and more by tapping another NFC-enabled device.

The NFC area is on the back of your phone, above the camera. Touch other phones or accessories with the NFC area.

Video demonstrating NFC in action  :

1) GPS antenna
2) Bluetooth and WLAN antenna
3) Cellular antenna

If you don’t know then let me tell you that the most appreciated device of the year from Nokia doesn’t have HDMI out feature (it should have been in N9 though) but anyway it does have the feature called TV-Out at least.

If I surf to a web page in the phone's web browser can I share my content with using Facebook, Twitter, text message or e-mail and then used, of course they Account Information given to post the address.

supports the 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n WLAN protocols. You can create an 802.11n connection using either the 2.4 or 5 GHz frequency band.

Wi-Fi hotspot is also built-into the OS for sharing internet to other Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Web Browser experience :

Nokia Browser 8.5 is the first Nokia browser available for the Linux-based MeeGo platform. It represents a major update and significant departure from prior Nokia browsers. Based on an updated WebKit2-based rendering engine, Browser 8.5 achieves a high level of support for HTML5, CSS3, and other important web standards such as geolocation and browser-based storage. Browser 8.5 features a clean, uncluttered interface that facilitates deployment of cross-browser web-based applications alongside native applications within the Nokia N9's home screen like on the IOS.

The top of each browser window features a narrow control bar that features a hybrid URL and search field :

Touching the bar allows users to edit the URL or search term (including cut, copy and paste), or to select from a list of recently viewed popular pages, with results narrowing to match user input as it is entered. The browser does not support a comprehensive view listing each history item. The control bar displays contextual buttons allowing navigation back and forward in session history, along with a popup menu featuring a small set of options:
  • Open new window: Prompts to enter a new URL or navigate to recent popular pages.
  • Share this page: Allows users to share pages via email, text message, or via user-configurable social aggregation services such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • Add to apps: Saves a web page so that it is accessible as an icon on the Nokia N9 home screen, and allows users to rename it. (See the following section for details.)
  • Subscribe to feed: Allows users to subscribe to any RSS/Atom feed declared as a tag within the page's region. Feed subscriptions are managed by a separate application available via the Nokia N9 home screen.
- Touching and holding a link also provides the option to share it, copy it, or open the page in a new window.

- Touching and holding an image provides the option to share it, save it within the gallery on the N9, or open it in a new browser window.

Web content renders in portrait or landscape mode based on 90-degree shifts in device orientation, by default scaling it to keep its width constant.

Back to Web Applications (web apps) that are web pages designed to be deployed as self-contained applications. They are typically accessed from outside the browser application and rely on their own dedicated set of navigation controls. While there are few categorical differences between web apps and conventional web pages, Browser 8.5 supports several features essential to their deployment.
The browser's Add to apps feature allows web apps to be installed directly on the Nokia N9 home screen, and replaces a browser-only bookmark filing system. Tapping a home screen icon is the same as traversing a link, and does not open a new browser window by default.
Unlike prior Nokia browsers, Browser 8.5 does not display any buttons at the bottom of the screen that overlay web content. This allows developers to assume greater control over an application's interface and avoid conflicts between web apps and overall browser functionality. Web apps still display a non-overlaying control bar at the top of the screen.
Also, browser 8.5 fully supports HTML5 features that enable client-cached applications, network-independent offline operation mode, and client-based data storage

So in another way, Nokia Browser 8.5 is very similar in its capabilities to iPhone Safari.

And just a small precision about that HTML5 hype, various emerging cross-platform web standards that are generally referred to as HTML5. Browser 8.5 offers powerful support for browser-based multimedia, location tracking, cached offline web apps and data, form validation and other text-input enhancements, web messaging, web workers, Canvas and SVG graphics, and detailed access to orientation sensor readings.

So, many of the web standards discussed in this section (such as geolocation, web-based storage, device orientation, and cross-document messaging) are not part of the formal HTML5 specification. However, in general usage the term HTML5 has taken on a more expansive meaning, referring to major standards that increase the capabilities of browser-based applications.

Browser 8.5 supports the browser-based Geolocation API. For each domain and session requesting coordinates, users are prompted for consent to share their location!

Browser 8.5 supports most new HTML5 form input types and browser-based validation features. When selecting text fields for editing, Browser 8.5 presents a half-screen virtual keyboard, featuring a control to guide users to subsequent fields. To accomodate the resulting limited screen area, visual form validation feedback should appear as close to each field as possible.

Browser 8.5 supports major new Level 3 CSS features that offer web designers a vibrant set of visual effects and Webkit implementations of CSS custom scrollbar classes, reflections, masks, and gradients. Gradients may be specified as background images

Not without forgetting JavaScript 1.8.1 support ;)  

Multitouch in browser is actually supported: https://secure.0x90.dk/~laknudse/multi_touch_test.html and multiple drag and drop http://quirksmode.org/m/tests/drag2.html in theory !

So it seems that the browser promises clear HTML5, but what most of us are interested in is probably how it can handle Flash. The answer is that it is unable to display Flash in the current situation and it is unclear if it will. Nokia has said that the priority a fast browser that can handle HTML5 and I think they succeeded !

When you click an embedded flash video on a website, a video player will pop up to play the video as recent Android and iOS devices.

The browser could be faster; it didn't score as well on the BrowserMark benchmark ( measures the performance of the browser in several areas, such as displaying animations and running JavaScript.) as competing top-of-the-line Android phones, iOS phones, or even the latest BlackBerrys. Omap3 the processor is giving a reason, but it is possible that the software manufacturer to tweak the browser to score higher

he stands between all devices with powerful processors, a sign that Nokia has paid much attention to the speed of the browser. But he stands right behind the Galaxy Nexus, S II and HTC Titan and the browser of the iPhone 4S

Multiple websites can be conveniently viewed in Open Applications view (multitasking view) as on Maemo 5 N900

My thoughts? Great browser, fast, but not offering the same great and flexible experience as on my N900, even the Anna browser on Symbian can handle some websites that Browser 8.5 doesn't ! Uploading or downloading files work randomly and there's no file associating application (rar, zip etc) integrated onto the browser which is frustrating ! So in its actual state, it doesn't offer the best for my use cases !

Most of the pages in the stock browser open up as mobile websites by default (if someone knows how to tweak this, let me know!) and pages won't let you change to the full site, probably because of the lack of support for Flash. In worst cases sites offer you to change from "Simplified mobile" to "Text based version". Hrrr, 600€ for a text version of Facebook? Thanks god HTML5 version of facebook works great (touch.facebook.com)

The browser is also suffering from some text-entry box related oddness I remember first spotting in the earliest MeeGo Developer Edition releases. When tapping on a text box, the view zooms too close to it, the virtual keyboard blocks a huge part of the text box plus the text box isn't completely visible. The end result is that you have to type blind. Pinch-zooming will only confuse the browser more. Site where I saw this happen were Maemo.org and comments section on blogspot powered sites.

Official support and build of Firefox Mobile (Fennec) is coming soon, you can meanwhile try some beta release already and it just works ^^

Another interesting read about the browser here ;)

Maps experience :

The N9 also comes with Nokia’s own Maps navigation solution. I’ve always said and will quite possibly say it for time to come that Nokia Maps is the best mapping solution available on any mobile device. It supports offline maps, POI information, live turn-by-turn navigation and the GPS performance on the N9 is pretty spot on. It managed to keep up with me at both 30 miles per hour and 70 miles per hour which is a great feat for a mobile device

Nokia Maps are separated into 2 parts :

1. Maps is optimized for walk & normal map navigation.

You can search for a place or venue, or use the very useful ‘Nearby’ button at the bottom of the screen, to see what’s nearby.

Venues are shown with a nice little blue marker, that you can tap on to view more info (location, phone number or contact information, reviews of the place, pictures etc.)

Of course, you can choose to download an entire country’s maps for offline usage, Right from the phone itself.

- The dedicated Drive app is optimized for in-car use 

If you've assigned an address to one of your contact, tapping on drive icon open drive application and you're ready to visit him/her ;)

Also, you can share any location (Point of Interest – POI) via the Maps interface over the social networks as well as via text message or mail. I guess sharing POIs is also available in Symbian^3 or Anna but only via SMS and Email

Battery experience :

The 1450 mAh battery helped the N9 to stay 17h easily with heavy-moderate use [Internet 3.5G browsing for about 1h30, twitter on background, couples of calls (20min), push mail on (about 30 emails received) some sms, 15min of 3D maps use (drive), couples of photos (10), online chat for about 35min]

You can reach more than 29h with moderate use, so all in all, battery isn't that bad, on par with what i can do with my N8 with bonus couple of hours !

Applications :

The Store itself, has gotten a huge facelift, now looking way more slicker, and better organised than before.

It seems that first apps in the Nokia Store have really caught on to the design style of Nokia's MeeGo-Harmattan, and together with the phone UI they make up a wonderful experience.

The Nokia Store on the N9 has a very decent amount of apps, games

Note that :

* Developer mode is OFF by default. User needs to enable this option in order to download and install the developer tools.  See  Settings->Security->Developer mode.

* Allow installations from non-Store sources is OFF by default. User needs to enable this option in order to allow installation of applications from other sources.  See Settings->Installations.

Documents experience :

Among the applications that are bundled with the smartphone you will find the office application Harmattan Office.

Harmattan Office is a document viewer based on the Calligra Office Engine which is part of the open-source Calligra Suite. This application provides an advanced viewer for documents in the OpenDocument Format, binary Microsoft Office documents, and Microsoft OOXML documents, as well as PDF.

Nokia has developed the Harmattan Office application together with the Calligra community and companies like KO GmbH. The result is the best mobile office document viewer available anywhere, outperforming all comparable proprietary applications on smartphone platforms. Nokia N9 is yet not supporting to edit documents and only a viewer application is pre-built into N9 that supports viewing documents in Word, Excel, Power point, PDF and Open Document Formats.

So, support Excel spreadsheets out-of-the-box is here. If you beam an .xls file to the N9/N950 or open an attachment, it automatically opens in the spreadsheet app. (not edit them) Office 2010 files are supported

In note application, you can even interact with that text. Pressing on the text itself will open up a small menu where you can use features such as underline, bold or italic. If you want to copy and paste, you can do that, too. Run your finger over the chosen words, and they will highlight to blue. A small pop up bubble will appear with the words cut and copy. Select your preferred option.

Once you’ve typed out your note, you can interact with that text. Pressing on the text itself will open up a small menu where you can use features such as underline, bold or italic. If you want to copy and paste, you can do that, too. Run your finger over the chosen words, and they will highlight to blue. A small pop up bubble will appear with the words cut and copy. Select your preferred option.

One other icon in that pop-up bubble is the options icon. This is where you can change the font, the font size and even the font colour.

Other areas :

- The Nokia N9 comes with a selection of security features
- The N9 includes Lower Power Consumption feature on screensaver
- Power Save mode activation threshold (percentage of battery power left) can be configured in Settings.
-  Nokia "solved" repair/restore "isssue" as on N900 (only solvable with flash or a more userfriendly way), Now on Settings -> Reset, we have : Restore settings and Clear device, this should solve the worst cases of the average users. If someone is digging further and gets in trouble, flashing is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
- Foursquare application is pre-installed into Nokia N9 but it’s the official Foursquare application from its original developers unlike above Facebook, Twitter or Skype which were developed by Nokia developers in-house.
- Wi-Fi hotspot application is pre-built in Nokia N9 which gives you the option to share your data connection over the Wi-Fi network. 
- Accuweather: A healthy application (even though not with great detail) for weather reports, as also an important service or application, is pre-built into the Nokia N9. 
- Swype: The most appreciated keyboard type in new smartphones that has been provided for Android and Symbian, is also has been the native support within Nokia N9 in PR1.1
- USB Transfer speed is among the best !

So all in all, if you have an N9, you get :


  1. User Interface till date (with no offence to other devices i'm looking at you Windows Phone!).
  2. Social integration I’ve ever experienced along with Messaging and Chatting.
  3. Calling and Chatting integration of GSM calling with Google Talk and Skype.
  4. Integration of sharing content via a good generic interface.
  5. Typing on an On-Screen Keyboard or on Swype keyboard. (Only typing. Not covering user friendly features)
  6. Single interface for handling Accounts and Synchronisation.
  7. Out of the box applications pre-built as a part of the core OS as well as added applications.
  8. Designed device of the year and upcoming year at least !
  9. Screen interaction to date.
  10. Quick camera operation, switching from video to still and vice versa is unmatched !


  1. Low volume in Voice Calling but clear, the same for the loud speaker (higher volume was causing some bad resonance on the device and that's why it is like it is in n9...)
  2. Typing, being my one of the best experiences in N9, supports lesser on-screen features to make it a good user friendly keyboard like the competitive keyboards were already providing.
  3. Browser itself is however good in rendering and presenting the web pages, in fact at the 2nd place gaining the most html5test score, is having a less interactive user interface with less options of selecting texts on the page and even in the text fields.
  4. Power Consumption of Nokia N9 with average daily use is good. I believe a battery lesser than 1450mAh capacity would have dropped Nokia N9 from this “Good” list. It does the job for your whole day with one full charge if you use it as primary device. What you will do with it the whole day? Calling, Text Messaging, Browsing, Facebook and Twitter chatting, May be Google Talk and Skype etc? Well that’s fine with it but it doesn’t mean you keep doing all that for 24 hours in the day. I did mention the normal/regular use as a primary device with all the other things you do in your real life apart from getting into your phone :)
  5. Mapping experience  
  6. Software stability
  7. Antenna performance
  8. Music quality, i mean, the sound is cristal clear, but the lack of bass (and equalizer) don't make it the best in class...
  9. Full support of sync of (at least) other Nokia (symbian, maemo5 etc) including SMS, MMS etc.


  1. Not much but a good set of application range is available over Nokia Store to serve Nokia N9′s users.
  2. I’ll add N9′s Browser also in my most lesser impressive list as well as in above “Good” list due to lacking the support for Flash and my mostly used function which is to upload files via the browser.
  3. Connectivity options, lack of infrared (yes i'm still using my N900 as a universal remote control for my home cinema), FM transmitter (on the car), HDMI port and USB OTG drop it from "best" and "average" list.  


  1. No Office Documents Editing Support.
  2. No Infrared transmitter, No HDMI Port, No USB OTG, No FM Transmitter (not possible at all it seems, not like FM receiver which is possible) 
  3. A single speaker and on the bottom of the phone is a bit tinny 
  4. Can not switch USB connection mode once established
  5.  Sometimes it's hard bringing up the keyboard in the sms/messages view, you have to press exactly inside the input field and that can be quite challenging. The same problem is in many other places (less annoying) especially many buttons can be hard to click (they need larger "invisible" hit area) and for links in other applications than the web browser - twitter comes to mind.
  6. The phone slows down a lot whenever feeds are being pulled or when it just connected to Skype, Google talk and Facebook chat (updating and fetching contact status I assume).
  7. Im also curious about whether or not the browser will have an ability to choose Desktop User Agent in the future? Mobile sites offer a Desktop View link generally, but its a real hassle to have to load first the mobile version, then find the link and then load the full version.
  8. No gyroscope 
  9. cursorkeys on vkb, and make the magnification glass work in qt-components and better than current its seems very buggy at the moment
  10. No equalizer is coming to the official music application
  11. Email client is among the best but as the N900's one, it can't recognize or handle phone numbers in the core of the email...symbian Anna has this...
  12. No Intelligent speed dialing, i don't like really like to do it from universal search application as there's no filter, i'd like to have a intelligent search for contact from speead dialing menu, i was very upset to see that my N8 has it and not my N9
  13. No panorama, burst and HDR modes, no automatic macro 
  14. The N9 / N950 (just like N900) does NOT synchronize contacts with the car kit, and does not show caller ID on car's display. The only thing I can do with it while driving, using controls on the dashboard or on the steering wheel, is accept (and then end) an incoming call, without being able to even just see who's calling. No access to phone book to dial anyone, no voice dialling, no caller ID. So the only hope is that someone rebuilds the Bluetooth PBAP / IrMC for N900 project for Harmattan.  
  15. no normal bookmarks, no normal history, doesn't remember passwords, no Flash.. 
  16. Starting maps application up takes a couple seconds, so in a hurry situation, it feels slow, but once loaded, it's good to go ;)
  17. Emails are not deleted from sever ! (fixed i guess on the PR1.1)
  18. Support for many Instant messaging protocols is missing (Jabber, MSN, etc.)

Dark Side !

  1. One strange/mild annoyance i noticed, was that captured videos are shown in the image gallery, but not in the N9′s Video App
  2. Slide to event feature is cool but when using the device with one hand it becomes tricky to do the gesture, any chance to slide vertically the event instead of slide it horizontally or let the choice to the user via an option menu on settings.
  3. Is zooming on video coming? Led flash on video coming? I hope so !
  4. How about a bigger picture when someone is calling? we have to use this outstanding screen for something useful right? everything is swipe away ok, but it should be everything is a eyesight away too :) Wait for PR1.2 for that ;)
  5. Answering call is becoming tricky nowadays ! I like the idea to slide up then click to answer, it protects us from accidental answering, but why not making it one step task? Like slide up to answer, as simple as that :)
  6. Use more screen space to show action on call, actual size of icons/buttons don't much with the screen resolution/size, it's relatively small.
  7. annoying feature in Contacts app: Browse contacts -> notice that two contacts somewhere in the middle of the list need merging -> open Menu -> "Merge contacts" -> the merge view opens but the list position gets reset and list is scrolled to top -> now find the relevant contacts again...
  8. In agenda, why not add 'tap to create an event" as on symbian^3' having to click on "+" to add an event IMHO don't stick with the "one touch" paradigm of Maemo5 and Harmattan...
  9. In some menu like Wifi connection or bluetooth menu, when choosing a network or device to pair with, i have to select this device and then click on "connect", why just make it a one step as on maemo5?
  10. How about show calendar events on lock screen when double tap, it enables to have a sneak preview of your upcoming event with just touching your device.
  11. On maps application, if i choose to walk or drive to a location, i can't choose from "contact" or from "my favorite" saved landmarks, for the first i have to do it from the contact application, for the second i have to do it from favorite sub-menu on the maps application...this is not the best implementation i've ever seen, even symbian did this "partially" better :)
  12. when I go to Settings>Applications>Manage Applications>Updates, I would expect that hitting the refresh button would pull all the relevant updates in to the screen. However, that did not happen as it tells me that the device is up to date where I find so many of the apps I installed on Nokia Store already pushed for new updates.
  13. I can't edit the attached message when replying, a huge functionality downgrade compared to the N900... I'm used to reply to a message quoting the old message part/question directly in my message and then replying to it
  14. folding shutter is covering the micro USB port which executes very well if I talk about it’s mechanism. But I don’t think it should have been that way. USB port is the only way to connect Nokia N9 for PC Sync/Transfer and to charge it. But this unfolding behaviour of the shutter is not a good idea as it now has to be opened all the time when you use USB port. So there are more chances for it to be harmed or wasted. You have to be careful with it.

Bottom line :

It is simultaneously the last big hurrah for the Nokia of old and the first showing of what the new Nokia, but let's look at the N9 entirely as a physical object and a harbinger of Windows Phones to come. Nokia has built standout hardware here, at least from a visual perspective. The wraparound case and pure black screen will jump out of a lineup of repetitive, similar, dull black and gray designs. This harkens back to Nokia's history of cutting-edge, weird-looking phones, of course, and I hope Nokia keeps veering away from the mainstream.

The experience on the N9 is very good  and the "3 views" style UI works brilliantly. There are no stutters, and even devices running with almost full memory continue to function smoothly (for the most part) 

The keyboard click sound, combined with the haptic feedback and beautiful screen makes for a wonderful experience. It is the most pleasurable virtual keyboard out there and is perhaps the crucial feature about this device that gives it its premium feel. Expect this to be imitated in competitors' devices.

using the N9 is aesthetically an incredibly pleasant experience. The way it feels in your hand, the sounds and graphics add up to a very pristine and classy experience. Not to mention the effect of the VKB

You buy this device initially because it is quite simply the sexiest phone ever created. Then you use the Swype UI, then you are hooked, it is just so intuitive and well, sexy! You will find yourself swyping  every device you have.
Whatever phone you will have whether it’s iPhone, Android, Symbian or any other Nokia Device, or whatever it is but not MeeGo Harmattan, you will be swiping all the way and double tapping on the lock screen. Then you will suddenly know that it’s not N9.

If you have doubts if it will have future support for the updates. You might need to re-consider that for how long you usually keep a device and then move on with new ones? Anyway Nokia has planned a support-full future for this and only MeeGo device but it’s difficult to ignore Windows Phone and the apparent splintering of MeeGo, It does seem unfair but there's nothing anyone can do. Some users will quickly figure out that their money would be safer with a phone that will actually be supported by two giants such as Nokia and Microsoft and yes the "enemy" will be the Nokia Lumia 800, even featureless but with fluid UI and UX, larger quality applications catalog and "people centric" OS :)

So this review turned out to be a lot longer than I expected but I can safely say that the N9 deserves the length. Despite its flaws, as expected with any device, it is one of the best devices I’ve ever used and definitely an example of what a perfect hardware and software combination can produce. It really is a slick device with a nice OS, but it is also sad that so few people will ever be able to experience it.

Final note : I've got the black 64GB variant :) 

4 Response to "[N9 MEGA REVIEW] It's not technology, its what you do with it !"

Anonymous Says....

Fantastic articular, and as a proud owner of a N9 its by far the best phone out there, the OS is amazing combined with the amazing design its hard to beat.. If you have the money buy this phone, you wont regret it i can assure you, and worst case is you bought a peace of history. Nokia may have sold there soul to the devil, but this phone is a great iconic statement, before jumping ship.

Anonymous Says....

Best review for a mobile phone I've ever seen.
between how to send you a mail?

Anonymous Says....

Just bought a brand new 64g n9 because of this article. Fantastic piece of hardware and what an OS!

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