Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nokia N9 Announced: Packs MeeGo, 8 Megapixel Camera, and Swiping

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything really worthwhile on this blog. Then again, it’s been a long time since there’s been any worthwhile Nokia news. And so, after a four-month hiatus, it’s time again to look at one of Nokia’s latest phones: the oft-rumored N9.

When we last left Nokia, the company had announced that it would be going the way of the Windows Phone, in what was probably one of the biggest deals between two of the largest tech companies out there. Nokia’s two last platforms – Symbian and MeeGo – were going to be jettisoned, in the hope that moving to Windows would give Nokia the flexibility to innovate both software and hardware. Symbian had, more or less, become a dying platform, and MeeGo wasn’t living up to its expectations as a savior for the company:

Months later, Oistämö still struggles to hold back tears. “MeeGo had been the collective hope of the company,” he says, “and we’d come to the conclusion that the emperor had no clothes. It’s not a nice thing.”

But the release of the N9 proves that maybe, just maybe, MeeGo isn’t completely done for.

Let’s start with the specs. Nokia isn’t pulling any punches here with the N9 (which honestly looks like an iPod Nano mixed with an N8), a candy bar that sports a 3.9-inch AMOLED display, 8 megapixel camera (featuring Carl Zeiss optics), HD video recording, Gorilla glass, and NFC support. It runs MeeGo 1.2. It also looks (granted, this is from the promo video) smooth as hell, with an interface that looks, for once, slightly ahead of the curve.

Gone are the Home buttons (hardware or software) of yesteryear. Nokia’s touting the simplicity of the N9 over everything, in that all it takes is just a simple swipe. Swipe to scroll, swipe to move through your home screens, and even swipe to minimize your applications. And speaking of the home screens, you’ve got three of them here: your application launcher, your multitask view (similar to the N900′s), and finally, your notification page which shows missed calls and social media updates.

Everything about the N9 looks impressive – too impressive, maybe. What’s Nokia’s doing here? They’ve cast aside MeeGo for Windows Phone, but put the spotlight back with a hell of a device. I don’t quite get it. But I have to hand it to Nokia: the first release candidate of MeeGo (1.1) looked nothing like this. I’m amazed that it got this far.

Unfortunately, there’s no talk about price or availability (yet), other than the generic “The Nokia N9 is scheduled to be in stores later this year, with availability and local pricing to be announced closer to the sales start.”

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