a sophisticated and intuitive phone with plenty of potential.......
Since the mobile phone boom of the 1990s Nokia has led the way in the field, building a reputation for smartly designed phones with an accessible user interface. 2011 sees the release of its newest offering, the Nokia N9, the very first smartphone to be powered by the "MeeGo" operating system, available with a storage capacity of either 16GB or 64GB. So is this the future of smartphones?
Aesthetically, the Nokia N9 goes some distance in distinguishing itself in a market that is crowded with iPhone look-alikes. It is disarmingly slight, heavier than the Galaxy S2 but lighter than most HTC smartphones. It comprises an extremely narrow, angular polycarbon unibody and a generous, curved Amoled touch-screen of 480 by 854 pixels. Its surprising shape is nevertheless quite appealing. The phone has no buttons at all on its front panel – all of its functionality is accessed through the touchscreen. Nokia claim that the phone sets a new standard for 'how natural technology can feel', and the N9 fulfils this: with its anti-glare ClearBlack coating, brighter display and richer depth of color, the device handles well even in bright light and provides a powerful visual that outstrips even the display of the Samsung Galaxy S2. The swipe motion is natural and responsive, making moving between functions easy and effortless.
So how well does the phone perform? The phone is built on a single-core processor, supported by a GPU, which provides smooth and quick performance; but the use of any phone that offers dual-core processing (such as the S2) emphasises how much better graphical performance could be.
The N9 runs Nokia's own MeeGo operating system, which is Linux-based and open-source – a huge improvement on previous models. The user experience is made up of 3 "Home" panes, plus the "Locked" screen, and you move between the panes by sliding horizontally. The first displays 'Events' from social media and calendars; the second displays 'Applications', and the third displays 'Open Apps', allowing you to move swiftly between them. Menus are smart and well organised, and the whole interface looks elegant yet simple.
It is one of the few phones on which multi-tasking feels efficient; however, many users have been critical of its reliance on gestures, which can prove restrictive than more traditional touchscreen interfaces. The phone comes with applications and games pre-loaded, and further apps are quick and easy to download from the Ovi store, which is a bonus for any new purchase. However, having abandoned the MeeGo operating system so soon after implementing it, Nokia has buried the chance of developers building further content for the phone, which puts it at an incredible disadvantage next to the content-rich iPhone and competitors.
The N9 includes plenty in the way of multimedia and features. Its 8-megapixel camera captures video in 720p high-definition, and the point-and-shoot results are very pleasing. It supports video phoning and enhancements including face-detection software, slide-focus and geo-tagging, which puts it on a level with the Motorola RAZR. The speaker and microphone provide clear, excellent sound.
Smart, sharp and daring to be different, the Nokia N9 nevertheless suffers slightly because of the limitations within its OS. Without the expectation of new content and frequent updates, few customers will be willing to make the investment – which is a shame, because this sophisticated and intuitive phone with plenty of potential.