1- The Cover
I hate plastic. I also hate aluminum. It seems I love ploycarbonate plastic though, which the N9 unibody is machined from. The beautiful matter plastic comes in black, cyan and magenta. It’s not painted, the matte feel is actually how the ploycarbonate is. This mean scratching it won’t mean the end of its sexiness, because the scratch will reveal the same color as the surface, making it basically scratch-proof. It’s also pretty sturdy, and I have yet to meet someone which doesn’t gently caress the backside of this phone, enjoying the texture.
2- The Curved Gorilla Glass
Gorilla glass is just as it name implies, really cool. It’s scratch-proof and very tough, and is seen in Samsung Galaxy SIIs, which don’t shatter into a million pieces when you drop them, namely like the iPhone 4. The screen is also glare-proof, which means even if it’s in direct sunlight, you won’t be blinded by the sun’s reflection and will still be able to read what’s on the screen with ease.
The N9′s screen is also curved on all four edges, giving the impression the screen is hugging the unibody tightly, forming the flagship phone Nokia can be proud of. It also makes swiping all the more fluid and enjoyable.
3- The Screen
The screen is the equivalent of Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus, which means it will make you drool with its crisp graphics and vivid colors. The beauty of swiping is portrayed in the seamless transitions and animations with every gesture. Videos, photos and pretty much everything else, is eye-candy and you’ll find the need to toggle between the 3 home screens too great to ignore, creating a perpetual loop of sexy graphics.
4- No Buttons
The N9 has only 3 buttons. 2 for volume and zoom control, and one for lock and power control. The other 5 sides of the 6-sided ploycarbonate body are devoid of any physical interactive surface. It’s just on 3.9″ screen which you can program to obey commands usually assigned to buttons and switches, with mere swipe gestures.
5- 3 Homescreens
One thing Nokia challenged with this phone, is the conventional notion of navigation in an OS. In iOS, the clumsy multitasking often has us click the central button and return to the rigid app-grid and clumsy folders, THEN choose the app we want to use. Android OS is more flexible, but still as good as the custom launcher you’ve illegally downloaded. In the N9′s MeeGo, 3 homescreens come built-in.
The main one is the app grid homescreen, to the left of it is a homescreen where all your notifications and feeds are displayed and the third one is where multitasking has been solved. I’ll explain the multi-tasking bit in the next point, but basically what this means is that the conventional idea of a homescreen is being challenged and far more convenient one is offered by the N9′s MeeGo Harmattan OS.
6- Multitasking Perfection
The third homescreen which I absolutely adore, is THE best solution to multitasking on a mobile device I have ever seen. This homescreen is an adjustable grid of live screenshots of open apps which you can monitor and switch through, or kill right on the spot. For example, if I’m downloading a file, but also decided to watch a video, I can partially swipe the video aside while holding it. This keeps the video playing, but also reveals the part of the homescreen I wanna check to make sure my download is still running. In other words, wow. It is a far cry from the clumsier mechanisms seen on iOS and Android systems.
To be honest, I was turned off by the camera in the N9. That’s because compared to the N8, I doubt any phone camera will seem impressive. But, what really upset me was the noisiness of photos, where they appeared grainy at some times. A few photo sets later, I discovered the very powerful photo editor that comes included in the phone. It takes one click to “auto-fix” your photos and the graininess is solved! So, for the simple point-and-shoot use like myself, the auto-focus and face recognition saves me tons of time. I’m just sad there’s no burst or panoramic shoot option =( Other than that, the 720p HD video and multiple still-photo settings should have you photography-types satisfied.
8- Universal Contacts
In the contacts app on the Nokia N9, the full range of information you might have for a specific person are all grouped into one. Social networks, skype, phone and email are all integrated into one. This might not seem impressive to some, but it goes the extra step and shows you their statuses on the different chat platforms. I love that integration when it comes to contacts. The only thing I’d add, is the ability to sync contacts, and not just mail, chat and calendar entries, with your Google Account.
9- Super-Easy Text Editing
Another clumsy procedure on most touch phones is text selection, copying and pasting. On the N9, all you have to do is swipe over the text you wanna select. No long-press, no double-tap, no nothing, just a simple fluid gesture. The keyboard is a virtual QWERTY keyboard, but would’ve loved to see Swype typing and keypad keyboard integration like in the E7. Other than that, loved the typing with haptic feedback and unobtrusive auto-correct.
10- It’s a Collector’s Item
As you all know, MeeGo has been abandoned by Nokia. The linux-based, very promising OS will be replaced by Windows Mango OS on the new N9-inspired flagship Lumia 800 device. So, owning this phone is like owning a collector’s item. It’s literally, one-of-a-kind and is the best independently developed Nokia device ever built. This doesn’t mean that MeeGo won’t be viable or supported. Nokia promised two years of support for the MeeGo ecosystem and it looks like other mobile giants like Samsung have their eyes set on the beautifully designed OS. If I had to choose between Mango and MeeGo, I’d definitely go with MeeGo.
Where it Fails
I have to warn you guys, Whatsapp doesn’t run on the Nokia N9. That’s not really a big deal for me, I hate that chat client and I have a BBM as a second phone. However, I do know some of you rely on it heavily and that’s a sacrifice you’re gonna have to make if you wanna own the sleek, sexy Nokia N9.
NFC, which you can use to interact with other hardware, like speakers for example. Near Field Communication is when a simple tap is enough to perform an action with your device. Another cool NFC perk is that you download Angry Birds for free, but only have 5 levels unlocked. To unlock another 5, you need to bump your phone with another N9 and both of your phones will unlock 5 extra levels.