Being absent from the previous rounds of CommunicAsia, Nokia finally made its appearance in the annual event with a big splash - the launch of its promised MeeGo device for 2011, the Nokia N9 smartphone. The N9 sports a 3.9-inch AMOLED screen made up of scratch-resistant curved glass. Running under the hood is a 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. It also has a 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss camera. Below is our hands-on experience during our coverage of CommunicAsia Day 1.
Despite having a large screen of 3.9-inch, the N9 feels very handy. This is due to the industrial design of the N9, where the body is precision-machined from a single piece of polycarbonate. According to Nokia, the material used for the N9 is very durable and resistant to wear and tear. The N9 also features an innovative all-screen design where there is no physical buttons.
The N9 is powered by the MeeGo OS, which is a joint development by Nokia and Intel announced during Mobile World Congress 2010. It has been a long wait, seeing how Nokia didn't showcase the MeeGo device at Nokia World 2010 and Mobile World Congress 2011, but we are glad to see Nokia choosing CommunicAsia as the event to showcase the final look of MeeGo on its devices. The MeeGo OS actually resembles the Symbian interface, albeit more polished and touchscreen friendly. Three home screen panels will be the points of interaction, which are categorized into Applications, Events and Open Applications.
With no physical buttons, interaction is mostly reliant on the touch screen interface. For example, double tapping the screen will unlock the N9, while you have to rely on a series of swipes to navigate the user interface. Returning to the home screen from any app only requires you to swipe from the edge of the display, removing the need for a home button.
Similar to the HTC Sense 3.0 user interface, the N9 allows you to jump straight into four shortcuts from the lock screen. The only difference is that the four shortcuts are not customizable. Nokia believes that consumers will need quick access to making calls, messaging, Internet surfing and photo taking, hence they preset these shortcuts on the lock screen.
The Nokia N9 is also among the first to jump on the near field communication (NFC) bandwagon. Using the latest wireless technologies, you can use the N9 to share images and videos easily with other NFC-equipped devices. Shown at CommunicAsia are the different scenarios where the NFC in the N9 comes into play.
Launched together with the N9 is the Nokia Play 360. It features room-filling 360 audio with deep bass and crisp sound quality over Bluetooth and NFC connectivity.
Nokia also unveils two new Bluetooth headsets, which are the Bluetooth Stereo Headset BH-505 and Bluetooth headset BH-219. Both headsets are NFC -ready, allowing you to easily pair with the N9 with just a single tap. Gone are the days where you need to manually pair it with a password.
For now, Nokia hasn't given an exact time frame on the availability of the N9, but you can expect it within this year with no further delays. As for its pricing, Nokia has been tight-lipped over that. However, the Twitter channel has been abuzz with some news of the pricing of the 16GB and 64GB variants. We are in the midst of confirming with Nokia on the pricing, and will provide further updates when we get the official word.
Key highlights of the Nokia N9