Nokia N9’s review part 2: Reality test

I know it has been more than 2 weeks after my first impression of the N9, but I believe that using the device for a week doesn’t simply do justice to give you the actual impression of living with the device. So after a couple of weeks fiddling (and casually dropping) it, this is my actual report of the device. Note: I usually use my device for messaging, twitter, camera, maps and document viewing. So this review will have a normal smartphone consumer point of view instead of a geek.

The OS
A phone’s OS really determine how do you interact with a device. I’ve been using early Androids (1.5 on a HTC Hero), iPhones, Symbian based Nokias and BlackBerry, and each of them has their own strength. On BlackBerry, I love the messaging feature. Despite not fully supporting HTML emails, it’s simply the most reliable messaging-centric phone I’ve ever used. iPhone, well, it’s an iPhone. Simple, smooth, tons of apps, fun, and it just works. Android was never my cup of tea. It’s smart, but presented me with too much options that I don’t really need. I was also never the tinkering type that custom their androids with multiple ROMs. So, how’s the N9 stands along?



The overall experience using the N9 is closer to the iPhone. It’s simple, beautiful, well thought of, even though it has no home buttons (I actually hate the iPhone’s home button that will get mechanically tired over time). You’re presented with 3 main screens. Your apps, the feed, and the running apps. To unlock the phone you simply have to double-tap the screen & slide from the edge of the phone’s screen. That’s also how exit a running app. Slide from the side of the screen to exit while leaving it running in the background, or slide it from the top side (logo/earpiece side) to exit it completely. You can also tap & hold on the running app and there will be an option to kill it one by one or all of them. Personally, I find N9’s take on this is very elegant. It takes some time to get used to, but I guarantee it won’t be more than 15 minutes, even if you’re as intellectually challenged as any DPR member.

There’s also a built in social media plug in, so you could almost share anything through Facebook & Twitter. I find the Facebook app to be quite good, but the twitter app could use some bug fix. There’s no way to adjust the refresh interval on the app, so if you let it run on the background, it will sip your battery in no time. It also could use more options such as multiple account support, tweet quoting and copy/paste functions.

Speaking of the copy/paste function, I like to claim it as brilliantly executed, but it’s not. You could execute it flawlessly during message composing. All you have to do is swipe the words and adjust the pointer. But I can’t seem to think why it doesn’t work on web pages or apps such as Facebook or twitter. Perhaps Nokia could call this as a feature to “be original” instead of admitting To forget that there are actual people copying something from web pages for quoting purposes. On the plus side, it provides me with ample of choices of fonts and styling for italic or bold type. Something that the iOS releases on their 5th edition.


The virtual keyboard itself is brilliant. The precision & the tactile buzzing feedback will leave you with a nice typing sensation. The touch sensitivity & the smoothness is… How do I say this, iPhone like, and that’s the best praise for a touch screen phone I could ever give. The OS’s stability is great especially knowing that this is only 1.2 version. Really puts any android devices to shame. The other little things that makes me praise this phone is its UI design. It’s purely Scandinavian design. Clean, great typeface and intuitive. Oh, and the alarm clock even comes on when I powered the device off. Something I didn’t get in the iPhone.

I won’t bore you with the selection of apps available for the N9. It’s not as complete as iOS or Android, but I easily find what I needed. It also came with apps such as Twitter, Facebook, Nokia maps, Drive (Nokia maps optimized for driving), Documents for reading Office stuff, wifi hotspot, Skype, Gtalk, 3D games like Need for Speed or Real Golf, RSS feed, Ovi music and music & video player. Again, I have to praise the beautiful look on the music & video player. The layout is clean and the sound quality is iPod like, tested using a quality headphone. Overall, the apps that came within leaves me satisfied.


I also find some apps that I usually used on the other platform, such as Foursquare, File Manager, screen capturer, world clock, translator and some music apps like piano & drums. But wait, where’s the Yahoo messenger? Where’s Whatsapp? I couldn’t found them, even among the vast selection of apps within the Ovi store. I hope there will be a whatsapp for the N9, cause its one of the main chat apps I’m using frequently.

The camera on the N9 is a bit of a mixed bag. The lens is actually brilliant. It’s a f2.2 Carl Zeiss lens but unfortunately it doesn’t ship with the brightest image processing unit. Noises could be found during low light shots and the focus time could be a bit faster, but overall it provides a great detail and neutral colors, unlike some camera that puts the contrast level to be unnatural. The video also HD capable, providing a 16:9 resolution that captures movement in good frame rate, but sometimes you could see it struggling with panning mode. Might be happening due to the constant auto focusing. All in all, it’s a more than adequate camera for a phone. Here’s the pictures taken with the N9 below.




Battery Life
Now this is where I think the N9 shines. The battery life for me is great, considering I always put it on 3.5G mode and it’s equipped with a 1ghz processor & 1ghz of RAM. My usage is including my morning reading session through the RSS feed, playing with the camera, tweeting, browsing and more RSS reading. It provides me with around 10 hours of battery life, which is mo than what I got with my iPhone 3GS on 3G mode, even more than my current Bold 9790 that has lower RAM number. But usage time will be varied according on how you use it. If you spend your time playing the 3D games or Maps, the N9 could be as consumptive as a rich man’s mistress. I also found a power saving mode that deactivate the background connection activity, only activating when you’re needing them or opening some apps.


Despite all of its shortcomings, I really love the N9. This phone is nothing like other phones available. It’s beautifully crafted, great UI design, good keyboard, the curved glass is wonderful and making me feel downgraded using devices with “just another flat glassed gadget” and provides me with what I needed. It’s Nokia’s statement of what they can do among other phone manufacturers that seems to be drowning them, and it’s a great statement. Sure the apps selection is not as varied as Android or iPhone, but I’m sure in time there will be more apps to come.
Will I buy it with my own money? Well, let’s just say that when you’re in love, you’ll do things beyond logic, and I’m definitely in love with this one.



Nokia N9’s review part 1: First impression – spoiler alert: it’s impressive

Luck is relatively different for individuals. For some, luck might means successfully scoring a hot chick you met at some dodgy bar in Blok M, or ran into Deddy Corbuzier in the mall (although I prefer to call it “alien encounter”). For me, luck is being given the chance to review the product that interests me most, and this time, it’s the Nokia N9.

In short, the N9 is a different breed of smartphone. It runs Nokia’s Meego OS. An OS that, how do I say this without sounding to geeky, was developed based on Linux by Intel. What’s that meaning for me? Nothing. But the fact that it comes with no button and uses finger gestures is what interests me.

The packaging




The N9’s packaging is up to today’s standard. It’s small, that means more products can be loaded during the shipping, and it’s made from non-laminated recycled material to please the tree huggers. It has a slider mechanism, making it easier to open, and it comes with clean design that pleases the eyes. There’s even small details that made me smiled (below). Good job Nokia.


What’s inside is the usual deal. You get the warranty card, charger, USB cable, stereo earphone, and to my surprise: a silicon case. The color is black just like the handset, and the material is very stiff & thick. Great for durability, but takes extra strength in putting it on. (imagine an Arab putting on a Chinese condom)


The device

What can I say about the device? Ever since I saw the photos & demos from the Internet, this device has been the most interesting smartphone for me. It’s crafted from a single polycarbonate block (same material from a hockey puck) with a curved gorilla glass & no buttons. Yes, no buttons, aside from the volume & lock ones. The weight & feel is solid, and I think it could withstand a drop or two (actually, I dropped it inside an elevator while trying to put on the case. Made a dramatic noise, but no harm done)


It has 8 megapixel camera with Zeiss lens that promises photos beyond other phone cameras. I’ll post some of the camera result in my next photos.

As for the settings, it’s quite easy. Just enter your Nokia account (you could made one on the settings page) and then choose how to import your contacts. I had mine imported from my BlackBerry Bold 9900 via Bluetooth without any drama. The OS itself is – how do I say this without making me sounds cheesy – Buttery smooth. It uses swipes to switch from app to home screen, and for closing the apps. This could take some time to get used to, and it won’t take more than 5 minutes. It reminds me of the swiping system used in the BlackBerry PlayBook, only in a more compact form.


So yeah, overall, I’m very impressed. This is the device that wows me ever since the first iPhone came out. But how does it feel as a device to live with, and how does it stacks against its competitors? I guess I’m just gonna have to use it for a week to see how it goes, and I have a feeling I’m gonna be having a good time doing that. See you on part 2!