I finally put my money where my mouth was when I previously stated that the Nokia N9 was the most interesting smartphone of 2011. When Apple finally announced the iPhone 4S, I honestly was a little let down with their offering. After all, nobody I know was asking for a faster processor, marginally better camera and voice recognition with a slightly modified OS. Instead, I was looking for something completely different from end-to-end and the Nokia N9 does exactly that.
To start, the hardware of the N9 is absolutely first rate. Nokia has been in the hardware “biz” for a long time now and it really shows. The phone is very light, yet it feels like you could drop it without any worries. For those of you that are really concerned, Nokia was nice enough to include a protective silicone case. The great thing about this particular case is that it really becomes part of the phone as it fits very snugly and doesn’t add any unnecessary bulk. Also included with the N9 is a pair of headphones, USB charger and AC adapter.
The LCD screen of the N9 is fantastic. Despite the relatively low resolution (480 x 854 pixels) of the 3.9-inch screen, the colors truly “pop” off the curved Gorilla glass. And the color black really, truly is BLACK. More so than any other touchscreen I’ve ever seen.
The phone does not have any external storage expansion slots which is a disappointment but it does come with either 16 GB or a much larger 64 GB internal flash storage. And typical of high-end Nokia phones, the 8 MP Carl Zeiss camera with dual-LED flash is one of the better cameras I’ve used on a smartphone. It also records some decent 720p video.
The N9 also comes with a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip. NFC chips allow for a simplified point-to-point wireless transmission for a variety of uses including data sharing, electronic business card transfer and electronic wallet functions. There’s not too many uses for this chip yet, but I expect the technology to take off in early 2012 for a variety of functions.
But what really interested me most about this phone is the MeeGo operating system it runs. There has been plenty of talk about the fate of MeeGo now that Nokia is partnering with Microsoft and their Windows Phone 7 software. Quite honestly, MeeGo is probably going to be dead in 4-5 years. But in my opinion, that makes this phone all the more appealing. While everyone is using the same iOS and Android OS phones, you can truly have something different and unique.
But what about apps you ask? Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag in my opinion. First of all, most of the apps that I used with my old iPhone (such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Skype) are pre-installed on the N9. Additionally, the Nokia App store has most of the necessary apps that people are looking for such as Internet radio, Foresquare and plenty of games. The only app that will personally miss is the Amazon Kindle app, which isn’t available for MeeGo at this time.
Overall, I’m really happy with the Nokia N9 hardware paired with the intuitive and snappy MeeGo software. I’d highly recommend it if you are looking for a new smartphone and want something truly cutting-edge and unique. The only problem is that if you are living in the United States, you’ll have to go overseas (like I did) to get one. But it just might be well worth the $600 price to own a smartphone that may very well go down in history as the only phone to run the MeeGo OS.
Article first published as Nokia N9: Own a Piece of Technology History on Technorati.