We have it in our hands, the beautiful hunk of a gadget called the Nokia N9. We spent the last couple of weeks playing with this baby, and we found a great deal about it, both in terms of hardware and the software it's based on - MeeGo. We have a lot to say actually (you have the rest of the review for that) but, based on our time with it, all we can say is this device made us very happy and sad at the same time. For a gadget to elicit those reactions from us means it is special, which the N9 clearly us. Read on...
Looks and feel
We have this to say, the N9 is the most beautiful handset from Espoo we've encountered and we dare say it's also among the best-looking handsets ever made, even at par with the likes of the iPhone 4. The appearance is both simple and sophisticated, thanks to its minimalistic appeal which is executed to perfection. There's no physical buttons up front, the 3.9-inch display takes most of the real-estate on that side. The Nokia N9 is encased in polycarbonate construction, not anodized aluminum which is found on the N8. The edges are rounded which feels good to grasp while the top and bottom sides are tapered fooling you into thinking it's thinner than it really is, which is a good thing.
The back side is slightly curved, which we deem adds to the appeal of the whole package. The right side cradles the volume and power rockers while the opposite side is void of any features or buttons. The top side houses both the microSIM and microUSB slots. For first-timers, opening the former employs a different tactic from what is usually found on handsets. You have to press a spot on the microUSB slot's lid and slide the cover of the microSIM port. This shouldn't be a problem, though, since a simple step-by-step label is slapped on the phone when you first buy it.
The N9's bottom houses the speaker and nothing else. Turning the phone around you'll see the 8-megapixel shooter with flash in an "island" in the middle. The whole look is done in a very simple yet elegant way. However, as with other phones of this type (large touchscreen devices), the N9 is a bit of a smudge-magnet but, again, this really isn't a biggie. At first we had qualms with handling the N9 since it might have that slippery and plasticky feel to it. Turns out our worries weren't warranted. The N9 feels good and very robust to touch. It's not the lightest of smartphones out there but, in this case, we think the few extra grams actually contributed to its solid feel.
Needless to say, the N9 is hell of a looker that will attract several glances from your peers. We actually think it looks like (when turned off and covering the Nokia label above the screen) a solid piece of exquisite dark chocolate (BTW, we got the all-black variant), very delicious and pleasing to the eyes. Yes, it looks that good.
But enough of the tasty exterior, let's dive deeper to the innards. To start things off, the N9 sports a TI OMAP 3630 SoC (system on a chip with single-core 1GHz Cortex A8 CPU with a PowerVR SGX530 GPU). That's coupled with 1GB of RAM making the N9 one of the most pimped-out Nokias in terms of specs so far. Capacity tops out at either 16GB and 64GB (oddly enough, there's no 32GB variant).
Those specs, while certainly nothing to scoff out, are far from the most impressive we've seen. But we think that's more than enough for the N9. Running multiple apps is not a problem with this device. Heck, you could go with as much as 12 apps running at the same time and only then will you encounter slight delays and hitches. However, we did encounter a few minor lags with the Feed/Event Stream (more on that later) when it's refreshing.
Apps open in a jiffy and gaming (at least with the built in games like GOF2, Need For Speed Shift, Angry Birds and Real Golf 2011) is a superb experience. The graphics department seems to be holding up real good and, combined with the responsiveness of the touchscreen, the whole deal is seamless. Another plus point for the N9.
The N9 comes with a 3.9-inch (854×480 pixels) ClearBlack AMOLED display that's really impressive. It's perhaps the best screen we've seen slapped on a Nokia device and could rival the Super AMOLEDS found on Sammy's devices. We have yet to see it together with the iPhone 4's Retina Display but we won't be surprised if it also holds its ground. Colors are bright and crisp, the text is very clear and software and gaming graphics are top-notch. Of course that's one side of the story, how about the responsiveness? As we've said earlier, the N9's touchscreen is fast and recognizes commands in a jiffy. Poking and swiping won't be a problem especially when coupled with the very solid feel of the Gorilla Glass display.
Check out the gallery below for photosClick here to view the Nokia N9 in the Buyer's Guide
Click on next page for the rest of the review