Nokia Officially Launches the N9 in Singapore

Nokia N9 - The First and Probably The Last MeeGo Device

Torchbearer for MeeGo

Barely four months after its launch in CommunicAsia 2011, the Nokia N9 has finally made its way to Singapore. The Nokia N9 was launched with much fanfare due to the fact that it is going to be the first and probably the last commercially available device to run on the MeeGo platform as the company gradually transitions to the Windows Phone 7 platform. Nevertheless, our first impressions of the Nokia N9 were generally positive and since we already had our hands-on with the device, join us as we check out the MeeGo operating system (OS) in detail:

 Vlasta Berka, General Manager for Nokia Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei, was present at the event to launch the highly anticipated Nokia N9.

 The Nokia N9 will be available in three stunning colors - cyan, black and magenta - to suit the lifestyles of the bold and trendy.

Hands-on with MeeGo OS

The MeeGo OS is a joint development between Nokia and Intel back in 2010. It is basically a Linux platform which is open-sourced and incorporates a gesture-based navigation, making hardware buttons redundant on the Nokia N9. Generally, the MeeGo OS looks somewhat similar to the Symbian^3 interface (Anna and Belle) but makes full use of the swipe gesture to navigate the user interface. The main feature of the MeeGo OS is its three home screen views - Apps, Events and Open Apps (also known as multitasking).

Appearing on the first and only available device in the market is the MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan OS.

In the absence of a home button, a swipe is all you need to switch among the three home screen views. The swipe also replaces the back button. You can swipe from the edge of the screens to return to the main menu (above). Nokia touts the swipe feature as simplicity and a more natural way of navigation.

The App view allows you to see the entire list of apps that you have on the N9. You can easily move them around by pressing and holding them. You can also uninstall them by tapping on the right hand corner of the app.

The second home screen (when you swipe to the left) is the Events view, which contains all your social feeds and notifications. You can add Facebook, Twitter or RSS feeds in this section. You will also get notifications on missed calls or unread messages. 

The third home screen is the Open Apps view, which is also known as the multitasking window. It shows you all the active apps that are running in the background. You can change the view format (above).The most recent app that you accessed will appear on the top left hand corner. Nokia calls this "real-time" multitasking as the apps are running live in the background.

Nokia is one step ahead of Google Android smartphone OS in terms of multitasking as it allows you to quit or close an app from the Open Apps menu. 

The Nokia N9 has preloaded 3D maps ready for use out of the box.

You have the option to choose public transport routing, walking or driving directions on the preloaded maps in the Nokia N9.

Another user-friendly feature of the MeeGo OS is the shortcut buttons on the lock screen. You can jump straight to the four shortcuts ( Calls, Messaging, Browser and Camera ) without going through the inconvenience of unlocking the screen and going through the app list. 

While Nokia believes that the calling, messaging, browser and camera functions are most commonly used by users, we believe the choice should be left to users to decide. Nevertheless, it is a handy feature of the MeeGo user interface. 

Closing thoughts on the Nokia N9, MeeGo and its future

The Nokia N9 is clearly one of the most innovative devices yet from the company in years. We have to admit that the Nokia devices released during the past few years fell short of matching up to its competitors, mainly the Apple iPhones and Google Android smartphones. That is also one of the reasons why Nokia opted for a partnership with Microsoft to equip its future phones with Windows Phone 7 and modernizes the Symbian^3 OS in order to remain relevant in the highly competitive smartphone market.

Truth to be told, MeeGo is a solid platform which Nokia could have possibly leverage on to catch up with its competitors. As Nokia puts it, the MeeGo user interface is truly innovative, easy and simple to use. It does not require any buttons to operate and instead relies on swipe gestures for a full touch screen experience. During our hands-on with the Nokia N9, the interface was fluid and smooth. The touch screen experience was comparable to that of iOS and Android devices. If MeeGo had arrived in the market a year or two earlier, things might have changed for Nokia. 

However, as the first and probably only MeeGo device in the market now, there are many lingering questions over the future of the Nokia N9 and the MeeGo ecosystem. Nokia makes clear its stand that it will continue to support the Nokia N9 by providing software upgrades. The company also plans to attract developers' interests in creating apps for the MeeGo OS by building the platform on the Qt framework. The Qt framework makes it easier for developers to create cross-platform apps.

The Nokia N9 will be available in three colors: cyan, black and magenta. In the following weeks, the MeeGo device will be sold at all three telcos in Singapore, with prices tagged at S$799 and S$899 for the 16GB and 64GB variants respectively.

Nokia N9

  Key highlights of the Nokia N9 

  • MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan
  • 3.9-inch AMOLED display with curved Gorilla glass / 854 x 480 pixels
  • ARM Cortex-A8 OMAP3630 1GHz processor 
  • 1024MB RAM, 16GB/64GB storage 
  • NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n
  • 8-megapixel auto focus rear camera with Carl Zeiss optics / f/2.2 aperture
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Free maps and walk & drive navigation, public transport routing
  • 1450mAh battery
  • 135g
  • 116.45 x 61.2 x 12.1mm
  • Available for S$799 (16GB) and S$899 (64GB)
  • Available at all three telcos from October onwards
  • Available in black, magenta and cyan