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Nokia N9: first look

 Nokia N9 Available now (limited release)
21st June 2011

Nokia's first MeeGo handset, the Nokia N9 is also probably Nokia's last MeeGo handsret. A powerful and beautiful device to look at, the N9 took so long to develop that Nokia shifted strategies in the meantime, leaving the MeeGo-powered N9 dangling as Nokia switched to Windows.

This is the most powerful handset ever produced by Nokia. At its heart is a 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor, on the front is a subtly curved 3.9" 854 x 480 pixel AMOLED display, and on the back is an 8 megapixel camera. Unlike some preproduction MeeGo devices, the N9 lacks a physical keyboard. In fact, the specifications are very similar to a high-end Android devicen and it's probably only a matter of time until someone ports Android to the N9.

The operating system is MeeGo 1.2 "Harmattan", derived in part from Nokia's Maemo platform that we last saw in the N900 almost two years ago. A huge amount of work has gone into the new interface, and although it is very new it shares the Qt development platform with Nokia's S60 devices, so application development should be easier. The catch? Well, S60 is also being discontinued in favour of Windows, so developer enthusiasm is waning.

 Nokia N9 From what we have seen, the user interface looks great. MeeGo's developers have added a lot of swipe controls to it, and cosmetically at least it looks very fresh. The display has been designed for swipe usage, the slightly curved surface and deep black laminated screen looks brilliant in this respect.

Bundled with the N9 is free turn-by-turn navigation plus an enhanced web browser and all the other features that you would expect to find in a modern smartphone. The application library is basically starting from zero through, so don't expect to see the choice that you have with Android or the iPhone.

 Nokia N9 The 8 megapixel camera isn't quite up to the one found in the Nokia N8, but Nokia are generally pretty good with cameras and the 720p video capture should appeal to people wanting to upload to YouTube. We don't know if the N9 has a YouTube client though, but it's going to be a while before it hits the market so it is certainly possible.

Underneath, the N9 is a pentaband 3G device with quad-band GSM supporting download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps on HSDPA, making this very much a true world phone. WiFi connectivity is also good with support for 802.11 a, b, g and n bands. There's 1GB of RAM plus 16GB or 64GB of non-expandable storage, and a there's a large 1450 mAh battery that Nokia says will give the N9 7 hours talktime and 18 days standby time, although how efficient MeeGo is in practice remains to be seen.

We don't know exactly when the N9 will be available, Nokia say vaguely that it will be sometime later this year. There's also no guidance on price, but we expect the N9 will be expensive. It's worth bearing in mind that although the N9 is a powerful handset, it's only a single core device and competitors are pushing ahead with even higher resolution screens than this. By the time it hits the market, rivals will be even more powerful and Nokia's expected launch of Windows powered smartphones may well seriously impact market acceptance.

The N9 does look great though, it is just such a shame that we have had to wait so long.

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Nokia N9 at a glance

Available:

2011

Network:

GSM 800 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 +
UMTS 850 / 900 / 1900 / 1700 / 2100

Data:

GPRS + EDGE + UMTS (3G) + HSPA + WiFi

Screen:

3.9" 480 x 854 pixels

Camera:

8 megapixels

Size:

Tablet smartphone

116 x 61 x 12mm / 135 grams

Bluetooth:

Yes

Memory card:

No (16GB or 64GB internal)

Infra-red:

No

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

Not specified

GPS:

Yes

OS:

MeeGo 1.2

Battery life:

7 hours talk / 18 days standby (3G)

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