With the myriad of developments in the mobile phone industry in these recent years, it is hard to understand why Nokia, one of the largest and most successful brands in the world, decided to take a leave of absence when it was out in front. While this giant slumbered, many other new players emerged in the field of smartphone development. HTC, Samsung, and Apple are arguably the most prolific players in the market today, while Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Nokia have gradually fallen behind.

After what seems to be a rather rude awakening, Nokia seem to have bounced back from its stupor, and the N9 is the latest contender in the smartphone market. The N9 is Nokia’s latest flagship model, boasting a redesign, new operating system, unibody construction, and minimalistic design characteristics.

First Impressions

The box that contains the N9 (together with the charger/usb connection, Dolby earphones, and miscellaneous manuals) bears an uncanny resemblance to the iPhone’s box. Not reassuring, given that the latest slew of smartphone offerings have been iPhone-inspired. The phone unit itself, however, was a dramatic shift in terms of design from the regular copycats of the digital world.

The N9 has no buttons on the front, which almost looks as though it is trying too hard to NOT look like the iPhone. I wouldn’t blame the designer(s), though, given the similarities between the iPhone 4 and the N9. Both have more or less the same dimensions, weight, and even functionalities.

Nokia N9

Despite appearances, however, I feel that the N9 is a very original product. It’s capacitive-touch curved screen, made from Corning’s Gorilla Glass, has a certain premium look to it, as does its polycarbonate matte unibody casing. The 2.5D Gorilla Glass is used because of its more robust, scratch-resistant nature, enabling Nokia to reduce the thickness of the screen, granting both weight savings and higher brightness to its users. The ClearBlack AMOLED screen is comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S II’s, as I can not see much difference between the two.

The N9 feels good in my hands. I am thankful that Nokia’s designer(s) are able to resist the current weird trend of offering humongous smartphones. The width of 61.2mm is nearly perfect for using the N9 with one hand, particularly for somebody who is always on the go. The cover is also nicely designed and manufactured, as it wraps nicely around the body.

Nokia N9-1


The front of the N9 is simple and elegant, with tapered top and bottom ends, reminiscent of the N8. One can see a small slit on the top of the phone, right above the Nokia logo, with the obvious function of being the earpiece. There is a charging indicator (LED) on the top near the logo and a proximity sensor for dimming the screen during voice calls. A significant majority of the front fascia comprises the Curved Gorilla Glass with ClearBlack polariser and AMOLED multitouch screen, with the video call camera located on the lower right side of the phone. The 3.9 inch screen has a resolution of 854 x 480 pixels, which should be the highest pixel count to date on a Nokia mobile phone.

Nokia N9-4

At the back, a similar tapered design completes the classy, minimalistic look. The only noticeable feature is the logo and camera, and it is located on the upper 3rd quarter of the N9, with a dual-LED flash cluster situated beside it.

Nokia N9-2

The top of the N9 houses three connectivity/docks; the 3.5mm jack, the micro USB2.0 jack (both for charging and data transfer/syncing), and the microSIM slot. The right hand side of the N9 is adorned with chrome-laced volume keys and power/lock button.

Nokia N9-3

Nokia N9-12

Nokia N9-5

Internally, the N9 is run by three processors; 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 central processing unit (CPU), Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX 530 graphics processing unit (GPU), and a 430 MHz TI TMS320C64x image processor for the camera. All these combine to make the N9 a serious contender in the smartphone industry, if a bit late into the game.


The only Nokia phone sporting the MeeGo “Harmattan” operating system, the N9 is unique, and quite simply, groundbreaking for the Finnish telecommunications giant. The user interface is simple, elegant and effective, although, in my honest opinion, the icons are a bit on the cartoony side.

Nokia N9-6

There are three primary pages/panes that a user can view on the N9, the events, applications, and opened applications, in addition to the lock screen. The simplicity in design means that the user will have an easier time navigating through the N9 as compared to other similar phones. The events page shows notifications, like sms messages, reminders, and missed calls, the application page shows the apps that are installed in the phone, and the opened applications page shows the list of apps that are opened or active in the phone.

Nokia N9-9

Nokia N9-11

Nokia N9-10

Due to the lack of any physical buttons on the front of the N9, there are a number of gestures that a user will need to learn to fully utilize the N9. The act of swiping is a very important factor in the user experience of the N9. Swiping will enable the user to switch between panes, get out of a running application, and to switch between tasks. The fact that Nokia made a curved screen for the N9 is indicative of the importance of swiping in the overall user experience of the N9.

Nokia N9-8

Nokia N9-7

The OS is nicely made; it is fast, simple, effective. Swiping between panes is seamless, and opening any application (pre-loaded ones) is lag-free. Closing applications are nicely done as well, with a red “X” on the top right corner of each application (on the opened applications pane), and they respond well to the touch. Tapping on the top of the screen allows the user to switch between profiles (ringing, silent, etc.).

The N9 comes nicely pre-loaded with many cool apps; Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, AP Mobile, AccuWeather, Ovi Music, Angry Birds Magic, Galaxy On Fire 2, Need For Speed Shift, and Real Golf 2011, and one can practically use the N9 off the shelf.


The N9 is equipped with an 8-megapixel CMOS sensor, Carl Zeiss optics with a 28mm equivalent wide angle focal length and a maximum aperture of f2.2. In a nutshell, that means that the camera on the N9 is pretty awesome. The white balance and autofocus is pretty good, and the dual-LED flash works, as nicely as two LED’s can work. Nokia also claims that the camera on the N9 is the fastest in the world, from startup, focus to capture. While that has been true from the moment the N9 was launched, the recent launch of the Galaxy Nexus seem to put this title into contention.

By the way, the camera also takes 720p video (30p), which, honestly, was impressive before the latest slew of smartphones were released.


Although the N9 has come very late into the game, many critics have been rather enthusiastic of what Nokia can churn out given the correct corporate mentality. The Meego Harmattan OS is pretty slick, and works well with the N9. As far as aesthetics are concerned, I am in love. The tactile sensations when using the phone is beyond most, if not all, of the current competitors. Practically, I have not encountered any significant problems (yet) when using the N9, especially with one hand.

The N9 is a winner in my mind, with the sad realisation that this might be the only phone sporting the MeeGo Harmattan OS (Nokia previously announced a partnership with Microsoft, and will utilize the Windows Mobile 7 OS in all future smarphone offerings).

Will anybody willingly buy the N9 now that the future development and support ecosystem is taken off the grid, even with the impressive aesthetic value and user experience? As for myself, I am torn; it is a beautiful, premium and professional-looking phone, but the price versus future-friendliness is not encouraging. If I had the cash to spare, it would have been a no-brainer. However, in today’s market, I would say that Nokia still has a long way to go… a long way to go…

If anything, I feel that Nokia’s propensity to derail itself every time they get in front is frustrating. And for the people who have worked so hard to get the N9 out into the market, even more so.

Final Score:



-Sleek, sophisticated design
-Potent pre-loaded software/apps
-Feels good to the touch, and fits into most people’s hands.


-Discontinued OS/ecosystem
-Lack of a physical home button

All pictures taken with:
Samsung NX11

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. missyblurkit

    this looks interesting and warrants a play with it never mind its OS. I supposed i just love Nokia and its user friendliness a wee too much.

    the Carl Zeiss optics is brilliant for those emergency pictures when the camera is all nicely packed into the bag.

    1. rebeccasaw

      Oh yes, I noticed during Ikea too that you’re using a Nokia. I guess once youre use to it it’s just tough to change huh?
      U dont like Android?’
      I can the pics fr this N9 quite bad though…

      1. missyblurkit

        android oklah…but am still a Nokia at heart for its easy no brainer to use functions.

        contemplating an android for the 2nd line (which currently still on Nokia:D)

      2. rebeccasaw

        Ahh..then you should definitely try an Android fr your 2nd phone!

  2. Isaac Tan

    played with it a while ago, and I was lost on how to navigate. Didn’t know they used the finger gesture system then.

    Oh why do they discontinue an OS for their flagship product. Ya, i know it’s a new partnership and all with Microsoft, but it does render this phone “obsolete” within the year to come.

    1. Kevin Tan

      Yeah. At first it’s indeed confusing. I wouldn’t say it’s using finger gesture to navigate through screens, rather “swipe” gesture. Swiping apps to the background made sense but I guess the internal hardware can’t cope with the multitasking. :bye:

      1. rebeccasaw

        Perhaps its’ confusing cos i’m not used to it?
        But yeah, the swipe gesture is good. Anyhow tis phone is supposed to multitask well..given that during the launch, the Nokia rep was all hyped up about its multi-tasking abilities

  3. Nikel

    Its come with symbian? OMG. previous one very lousy compare to all advance smartphone now.. But i hope is make a change of its before i can try it out.. wakaka.. [windows mobile 7 never try.. i just using windows mobile 6..outdated] :good:

    1. rebeccasaw

      Hahha Win 6? OMG you got to be kidding me weiii

  4. Bryan

    I would put “no home button” into as a pro. Just a swipe will bring your back to the home isn’t it? Besides, you don’t have to repair a faulty home button like a competitor phone. LoL

  5. Sean

    ooo, my first-ever cell phone, in 1999, was a nokia, and i stayed faithful to nokia ALL THE WAY until last year, when i switched to the iPhone, heheh 😀

    1. rebeccasaw

      I know what you mean! Nokia does have its fans, but too bad now Nokia is losing almost all of its supporters by being so slow in catching up in the mobile scene. The problem is compounded by the recent indecisiveness, by changing the OS. Well, hope it works out for Nokia.

  6. Rad Sujanto

    I’ve been always interested in this phone as much as I love Apple. I like the design. The look of it. I very much prefer the cyan/baby blue color. There’s something about the sleek design. It looks thin. A bit square-y. If I was offered between an HTC phone of the same price and this Nokia series, I would go for the Nokia one.

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