Nokia N9 - A Swan Song for Meego

Launch SRP: S$799

Performance and Conclusion

No Go for MeeGo

When we tinkered further with the N9, we experienced a very noticeable lag across its interface. Closing off apps didn’t manage to resolve the issue, and we soon realized that the problem lies with the Events page. While Events is great in displaying your Twitter, Facebook, incoming messages, emails and calls in one single listing, we noticed how the N9 grinds to a halt whenever we refresh the notifications. Remember, the N9 utilizes a single-core 1GHz processor, and with 1GB of RAM loaded within, it’s puzzling to see this happening with the MeeGo OS. This got us wondering if more can be done to optimize the MeeGo interface.

Perhaps the best thing going for the N9 is the splendid multimedia performance aided by its 3.9-inch AMOLED display and 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics. The former is evident in the videos we played back on the N9, which returned sharp details and rich colors. Following in the footsteps of its earlier N-series predecessors, the N9’s imaging capabilities did not disappoint. With an aperture value of F2.2 and its Carl Zeiss optics working in tandem, we were pleased with how the images came with minimal artifacts and had a strong color reproduction with the right white balance mixed in.

But what really surprised us is the N9’s mileage. Our final performance benchmark is our regular battery test. This consists of comparing the smartphone to a select group of devices chosen based on their similarities across battery capacities, display sizes, resolutions and processing power. Our testing methodology involves testing a video with a 480 x 800 pixels resolution looping under the following conditions:

  • Screen brightness and volume at 100%
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections active
     
  • Constant data stream via email and Twitter

The N9 is pitted against similar devices based on two factors: processing power and screen size. The Samsung Galaxy S II, with its similar Super AMOLED Plus 4.27-inch display and dual-core processor, is included to see how the N9 stands against the top-end devices. We've also included devices running on single-core processors such as the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray and Apple iPhone 4. The former's smaller 3.3-inch display and the iPhone 4's higher screen resolution should show some interesting results against the N9's 3.9-inch WVGA screen.

Specifications/Device Nokia N9 Samsung Galaxy S II Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray Apple iPhone 4
Processor
  • Single-core 1GHz
  • Dual-core 1.2GHz
  • Single-core 1GHz
  • Single-core 1GHz
Display Size
  • 3.9-inch
  • 4.27-inch
  • 3.3-inch
  • 3.5-inch
Display Type
  • AMOLED
  • Super AMOLED Plus
  • TFT-LCD
  • LED-backlit IPS TFT
Display Resolution
  • 480 x 800 pixels
  • 480 x 800 pixels
  • 480 x 854 pixels
  • 640 x 960 pixels
Dimensions
  • 116.5 x 61.2 x 12.1mm
  • 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 mm
  • 111 x 53 x 9.4mm
  • 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm
Weight
  • 135g
  • 116g
  • 100g
  • 137g
Battery
  • 1450mAh
  • 1650mAh
  • 1500mAh
  • 1420mAh

The results out of its 1450mAh battery is an impressive 7 hours and 15 minutes timing. Side-by-side against two of the longest lasting devices, namely the Apple iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S II, the N9 held its ground quite firmly with its long battery mileage. This is mostly attributed to the power efficient AMOLED display, and a manageable single-core processor. If you need further affirmation, compare the N9 against the Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray, which uses a much smaller 3.3-inches LCD display and a similar single-core processor.

The portability index, calculated as the ratio of the device's battery time against the weight multiplied by the volume, tells another story. Due to the thicker profile and comparatively heavier weight against the rest, the N9 faltered in this aspect. For all the good that came from its higher battery mileage, it wasn't able to match up to the thin profile of the Galaxy S II and the iPhone 4. For that matter, even the Xperia Ray came out stronger in the portability index thanks to its light 100g weight and compact form factor. But that's a given as the Ray competes with a different set of phones altogether. If you consider the facts that the N9 lasts as long as the iPhone 4, is almost as power efficient and weighs about the same too, then the N9's only undoing in this strict portability index measure is the phone's slightly thicker 12mm profile versus 9mm on average for the compared phones in this article. From that aspect, the N9 is still a pretty decent phone.

Under general use such as the occasional calls, texting and mobile data usage, the N9 stretches beyond a full day’s worth of usage before it decides to quit on us. Putting the Apple iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S II aside, this is probably one of the more lasting smartphones you can get on the market.

 

Fare Thee Well, MeeGo

Barring all concerns with regards to its lackluster apps ecosystem and questionable performance from its multi-tasking, the Nokia N9 looks great on the exterior. Moreover, it comes with strong imaging capabilities and an AMOLED display that works wonders for your viewing experience. The question is: can the pros outweigh the cons of a sluggish OS that’s now playing second fiddle in lieu of Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft? With the Nokia device pegged at S$799 for the 16GB version (or S$899 with a much larger storage capacity of 64GB), this is a gadget more suited for the tech enthusiast who has the spare cash to spend on a phone that will be supported until at least 2015. From another point of view, it could also be an ideal large-screen smartphone for those who have simple mobile needs and don't want to mess around with too many options, features and apps, and yet have a premium phone.

7.5
Design
8.5
Features
7.5
User-Friendliness
8
Performance
7.5
Value
7
The Good
Wonderful unibody design
Intuitive MeeGo user interface
Impressive screen clarity
Long battery mileage
The Bad
Sluggish user interface
Lack of apps
Support for MeeGo until 2015