Nokia N9 Hands-On Preview (Pre-Order up to November 18, 2011 Online with SMART)

Nokia N9 Hands-On Preview (Pre-Order up to November 18, 2011 Online with SMART)

Written by Fritz

Topics: Reviews, Tech

For about two weeks, I’ve been carrying around and using the Nokia N9 running on MeeGo. Being a snooty Nokia N8 user for a year, experiencing the sleek “swipe” driven interface, the look and feel and color palette that’s cool and current to the eyes, the smoothness of the transitions between the screens and shifting between multi-tasked applications, and how everything just appears so simple on the N9 just blew me away. In just two days, I told myself I should have one. At any cost, though “for free” would be better. LOL.

It’s a good thing SMART is offering the unit for free to some already-existing and new post-paid plans. Pre-order started on November 4 and will last until November 18, 2011 online via this link at the SMART website.

Much has been said about MeeGo, how the N9 will be the first and only mobile unit to carry it, and how Nokia should have used this Mobile OS instead of WinMo for future devices if you have been reading about rave reviews of the N9 unit during the past month. The statement has its merits because it’s so easy to fall in love, pardon the term, with this mobile OS. I have not experienced the Nokia Lumia 800 yet as that won’t be available in the Philippines in the near future from what I gathered from friends in Nokia so I can’t really vouch for the idea just yet.

This preview should have with it a video showing you how the transitions and navigations work but I’ll try my best to do that with screenshots, instead. Here’s to hoping it’s just as good as a video presentation. Let’s also leave out the highly technical aspect of a mobile phone unit review, spanning several pages long of ultra nerdiness, and leave that coverage with gsmarena and other similar sites LOL.

The Home Screens

On one are your applications, next are your updates with feeds from either or both facebook and twitter and your email or SMS messages, and the next are all your open and active applications that you can readily launch with a tap. On the N9, we shift between home screens with a swipe. While in an active application, swipe left or right or up to go back to one of these home screens. Please left-click on the images below to enlarge.

Nokia N9 Home Screens

Pinch the default 2×2 grid of the active apps home screen and you get a 3×3 grid to see more of your launched apps running in the background.

Nokia N9 Active Apps 2x2 vs 3x3 Grid

Here’s a change: there currently is no way for a user to close an active app while it is running. There is no “x” or close button. Swipe your way to the home screen containing a preview of your active apps, press and hold anywhere on that screen, and you will have the facility to either close the apps one by one or just close them all at the same time. At first, I found this awkward since I am, and so are most of you, so used to closing apps one by one when we like to exit but not getting a “close/exit app” button on the app itself actually makes things simpler. It’s one less screen press for mankind, one app at a time!

EDIT: Nikka Abes of Nokia tipped that there is a way to close an active app: swipe from top to bottom. To enable this feature, change your N9 settings by going to Settings > Device > Display and turn the “Swipe down to close app” option on. Thanks Nikka! :)

Nokia N9 Closing Active Apps

Another nifty feature with MeeGo is how you move around and arrange the icons of all your apps on the home screen. Tap and hold the icon of the app, drag it to the desired location, release, and hit “Done.” That’s it! You can even delete an app you installed via this view. It was a chore to do such a task on the home screen of the N8 and arranging however which way you want just could not be done on the menu screen, but here we have it folks. The ease of doing things epitomized by this tiny bit of improvement on MeeGo and the N9.

Rearranging the Icons of your Apps on the N9

How Some of the Apps Look or Work

The first screen where we input our Security PIN has an exciting green on black going on but that could not be screen grabbed but here’s a run down of how some other apps look when launched.

Nokia N9 Clock (Alarm)

Nokia N9 Dialer View

Nokia N9 Calendar

Nokia N9 Web Browser

Nokia N9 eMail

Nokia N9 Mail and Account Settings Screen

Nokia N9 Twitter

Nokia N9 Feeds

About the Nokia N9 Unit

It bothered me at first that apps may not come in droves for MeeGo but seeing that there’s a readily available (and free) currency converter, measurement converter, and screen grabber via the Ovi Store for this OS, the need for more suddenly felt trivial. I don’t even miss Pulse (the RSS feed reader on the Android) that much any more.

Conclusion

As of press time, I haven’t tried the “Drive,” “Maps,” and “Skype” applications on the N9 just yet. Having subscribed to an unlimited mobile data plan subscription made me fully utilize the social network and web applications/solutions on the N9. From the look and feel of the apps I shared above, I can with true conviction say that the MeeGo operating system delivers a great user experience that long-time users of other mobile OS, moreso Symbian^3, would not have a problem adapting to. The interface, and I can’t stress this enough, is absolutely fluid. The N9 is a great multi-tasking device, has quite a little but reasonable lag times (that I attribute more to the network signal where I’m at than the N9 itself), a splendid shooter, and has an interesting and eye-catching form factor albeit the unibody being polycarbonate plastic (does not feel and look cheap at all).

People have been comparing the N9 to the Nokia Lumia 800 but I think the N9 has much more oomph based on these three hand-picked differences: Screen Resolution (the N9 has 3.9 inches while the Lumia 800 has 3.7), RAM (the N9 has 1GB while the Lumia 800 has 512Mb), and the N9′s front-facing camera that they took out from the Lumia 800.

Other specs worth noting on the Nokia N9 are the following:

  • Penta-band 3G with 14.4 Mbps HSDPA and 5.7 Mbps HSUPA support
  • Slim and sleek at 116.45 x 61.2 x 7.6-12.1 mm
  • 8 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics with f/2.2, wide angle with 3.77mm / 28mm focal length
  • HTML5, CSS 3, and XHTML markup language support
  • Full web browsing of real web pages from a fast and highly responsive browser based on Webkit2 technology (multi-page browsing enabled, too)
  • Conversational view for SMS
  • 16/64GB Storage (not expandable with a micro SD, unlike the N8)
  • Chat directly on your phone via WiFi or 3G/HSPA using your gmail chat or facebook accounts (which is the reason I always look online these days lol)
  • Easy-to-use email client (HTML supported) with attachment support for images, videos, music and documents .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, .pptx, .odt, .ods, .odp, .pdf
  • Joikuspot Wi-Fi tethering
  • you can view the rest from the Nokia N9 official website.

From a Nokia N8, despite it still being the best camera phone in the world at this time, I would readily shift to MeeGo with the Nokia N9. We have been hoping for that Symbian Belle upgrade for months and it seems, from talks on some forums I’ve visited, the update won’t be coming so soon. Bummer. When the update comes, however, I’d still give it a try hoping it comes close to what MeeGo’s got going. One other thing that’s sure to hold me back from getting the N9, or three, rather, are my 3 Angry Birds games that have all been three-starred to perfection on my N8. If only those can be ported LOL.

I mentioned that the Nokia N9 is available for the Philippines on pre-order from SMART up to the 18th while first shipment will come on the 21st. If this preview made you want the N9 bad, then we’re lucky that owning one is just a click, a few types, and a few days away. When that time comes, be ready to have your SIM cut micro-SIM size.

Lastly… “Unfollow” (China’s Nokia N9 campaign video with Fan BingBing). Uncanny parallelism is uncanny (slow claps).

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