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Nokia N9 – Two Weeks On

| October 19, 2011 | 71 Replies

So I told you all I’d bring you a review after about two weeks with the device. Here it is. I’ll tell you what I’m enjoying, what needs some work, and just some other ideas I have.

So first we have what I enjoy:

The build quality of the device is better than I expected. The polycarbonate body feels good in your hand and just seems to fit perfectly. It is definitely nowhere near as slippery as my N8. I love how the device has a large enough screen yet, not too large it doesn’t fit in your hand, or your pocket. There’s nothing worse than having a bulky phone in your pocket, and the N9 is definitely slim enough to be comfortable while at the same time being sturdy enough that I’m not scared it’ll snap.

I like Swipe. The easiness of getting out of apps by simply swiping, never ceases to amaze me. In fact, sometimes I’ll open apps just to swipe away. It’s such an addictive experience. Actually, that’s how I find the N9. Addictive. Ever since I got it, I have found it hard to put down. The way your finger just glides over the screen as you swipe or scroll is awesome. The vibrant screen, and the way in which the icons seem fake and like they are floating, are breathtaking. So good in fact, my friends who are all pro iPhone, have been asking how much they are, because they all want one.

Despite being used to Symbian’s level of customisation, I like the N9’s interface, in addition to swipe. The inclusion of the three home screen views is something I found myself using quite a lot on my N8. Although, I don’t use the Events/Feed view on the N9 all that often, it is still handy to have. Even though it requires a third-party app to change the default selection, I like the ability to have your four favourite apps whenever you want by simply swiping up from the bottom and holding it half way, when in an app or on the lock screen.

The lock screen is another thing that has been implemented well. It allows you to have a quick glance of your notifications. Along with the standard display of your texts messages that many of us are familiar with from Symbian, you can see how many emails you have waiting, as well as Software Updates, and any other notifications that an app decides to push to the user. (It would be nice to see Facebook or Twitter notifications pushed to this or the Events view.)

The text input is something I was looking forward to, as it was poorly done in Anna and the leaked Belle. The predictive input is quite accurate, even though with the new layout I find myself not making as many mistakes. Unlike Belle, you can add new words to your custom dictionary straight from the portrait qwerty, by tapping on the underlined word. (Most likely because Belle used the Alphanumeric keypad to add words, a layout missing from the N9.)

The integration across the whole platform is something I admire. Everything from the consistent look and feel of native apps, to the way in which these apps interact with one another. I think Nokia made a massive mistake in letting MeeGo/Harmattan go. The N9 and MeeGo are definitely worthy of the praise it has been getting, at least in my opinion.

What I think needs work:

I think the slight pause/lag between hitting an icon and the app opening is something I’d like to see improved in the next update. Even if like in Belle, a loading icon would pop up as to say “don’t worry, you hit me. I’ll open soon.” I find it frustrated tapping the icon a few times and not knowing whether or not I pushed it correctly. Ideally, the app should just start instantly.

Speaking of start-up delays, Maps is in need of a serious overhaul. The experience of the app, once open, is definitely not bad, not great, but not bad. That load time is very annoying. Okay, it has a splash screen, but the loading icon is stationary and I often find myself getting impatient.

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The apps. I know this isn’t a Nokia issue, but I’d still like to see more apps. Especially since many apps have been built-in QT, as well as those on the N900, and are yet to appear on the N9. I know it’s not that simple, but it would be nice to see more. Mainly since the current market is dominated by phones that have endless numbers of apps. (The new QT Mapping APIs for WP, iOS and Android may help. Just need to wait and see.)

I don’t like that the volume up key is used in camera as zoom out. I think, as an “up” button, it should zoom in, and not out. After having all my previous Nokia phones with a dedicated camera button, it is hard to get used to not having one. It also makes it hard when trying to take a photo when you can’t see the screen that well(eg. holding it above your head in a large crowd). It would be nice if the lock button could become the camera button when the camera app is open.

The volume of the ringing tones, both for calls, texts, and email. It is okay if you’re in a quiet environment, but when there is moderate noise around you, say like that found in a shopping centre, it is often hard to hear your device, even at the loudest setting. With this said, the speaker is not an issue as it plays music and audio from videos well.

The integration with Twitter and your contacts is frustrating. I can’t find a way to manually link contacts and I have found that allowing the phone to automatically link contacts is painful. I have had over 80% of my contacts mislinked, and the process to unlink them is annoying.I think there should be some sort of verification system put in place to ensure your Twitter contacts are linked to their corresponding phone contacts correctly. (Haven’t yet tried with Facebook.)

Occasionally, if I have Messages open behind the lock screen, I won’t get notified of new texts. This has also happened when Messages was swiped away. However, sometimes it’ll notify me when I do have Messages open, so I guess it’s just a little bit temperamental.

Some other ideas:

Like Sergejs said, the USB port cover is quite flimsy, especially seeing how frequently it used. Although it takes away from the design, the silicon case that comes with the N9 is good. It’s sturdy yet still thin that it doesn’t sit too high above the phone and look chunky.

Although it’s an “open” OS, there are still restrictions put in place. This is good as it protects those who don’t know what they are doing from damaging their phone. I like the ability, once you gain root access, to practically do anything, so long as you use the command line. (This is how I made all my icons squircles.)

Along with concerns about certain apps and features missing, it’s nice to see the community developers finding a work around. (Such as FM Radio and File Managers.) Apparently some Nokia Developers are in the process of adding an FM Transmitter function. As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, there is a lot of promise for this next update, mainly based on what I have seen already included in the device. Hopefully this will include correct use of the front facing camera, especially for Skype and even to use for Photos.

It would be nice to see NFC utilised for more than just simple Bluetooth pairing. It’s not a must, but being able to tap your phone to pay, or tap your phone to get into your apartment block or gym, would be handy, and would fit in with the device’s “beautifully simple” design concept.

Be careful when adding repositories, I’ve added one in order to demo VNC, and now, not sure if it’s related but I assume it is, apps will not install, both from the store and community.

If Konttori is right, and PR 1.1 is ready, (supported by Nokia Developer info in which an N9 app is listed as compatible with PR 1.1), we may see it “in the coming weeks”.

Michael

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Category: MeeGo, Nokia, Nseries, Rant, Reviews, Suggestions

About the Author ()

Hi! My name is Michael. Like the others, I'm also a Student, living here in Sydney. I have a real passion for the latest technology and I'm a real Nokia buff! My aim is to keep those of you, like myself, updated with the latest in what's going on in the Nokia World. Currently sporting N9 & Lumia 820, with other Nokia devices in my posession. Get in touch on Twitter via @MFaroTusino, Google Plus or even simply drop me an email at mike.mnb[at]outlook.com or tips[at]mynokiablog.com
  • BellGo

    A great review. Thanks. =)

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      That was fast

      • BellGo

        Indeed. =S Happened to be here when you published it.

  • petejoff

    Thanks a lot for this review! One thing: “It would be nice if the lock button could become the camera button when the camera app is open” -> I wouldn’t change this, because it’s kind of very useful to have the camera app open on the top (for example while hiking) and unlock and lock the screen with the lock button.

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      Good point. Honestly just wish they put in a damn camera button!!!

      • Stound

        +1

      • Stound

        I forgot if sea ray had one, but if it did it would be very convenient

        • Michael Faro-Tusino

          It does, that was shown by Elop in the leak. He said “you may say it’s the N9,but for those with a keen eye, there’s an extra button.”

          • reptile

            Don’t quote me on this, but I *heard* that it was for some other function related to the OS. But I’m really not sure…

            • migo

              It wouldn’t be. Windows Phone requires a dedicated camera button.

  • ZiPA

    “I think the slight pause/lag between hitting an icon and the app opening is something I’d like to see improved in the next update. Even if like in Belle, a loading icon would pop up as to say “don’t worry, you hit me. I’ll open soon.” I find it frustrated tapping the icon a few times and not knowing whether or not I pushed it correctly.”

    If you look very closely, you’ll notice that the text below the icon will change to a darker shade of gray when you click an icon. It’s not the best indicator, but it works once you know it’s there…

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      Yeah I have noticed it, but it happens also when you scroll up and hit the icon so I’m not always sure I pushed it or if it detected a “scroll”

      • ZiPA

        Weird, for me it doesn’t. If I scroll and hit an icon when placing my finger on the screen, it blinks and goes gray, but as soon as I either release my finger or start swiping it goes back to white. When I click an icon, it (the text) goes gray and remains so until the app launches.

  • dfs

    Need FM Radio!!

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      There is a community app, install then run from command line. Works very well :)

  • Abba

    Michael, good job with +putting this review. thanks.
    I would like to see following improvements in next update –
    1. Enable front camera for video chatting and photos
    2. FM radio and Transmitter. N9 does have hardware for this. we need software support.
    3. Text reflow in browser – very handy while browsing
    4. As you said before, yes it is very handy to have dedicated camera button.
    5. Personalised home screens.
    6. And some popular third party apps mapped on Qt.

    These additions will definately relflect in the sales of N9 afterwards.

  • http://myn9.blogspot.com/ Adrian

    Agree with your points. the lock screen I would do away with it. Maps are seriously lacking as I wrote about, compared to the Nokia Maps on Symbian devices. Here they’ve taken 5 steps back after 2 steps forward. Swiping can be a little more consistent, and i’m also watching for my USB flap to snap any time now

  • Nabs

    I wish there was a bigger font in messaging.

  • jim

    Thanks for you review!

    I would like to have a little arrow up on the lock screen, when you press it you have quick access to the menu (dont know how it’s called) with 4 icons (camera, browser…) without sliding the screen up. And the ability to add my own icons to this menu.

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      Install Shortcuts. Allows you to customize this.
      Plus a swipe from bottom up on lock screen brings up the Quick launch bar

      • jim

        thanks. I just got my N9 and your reviews and comments are really helpful to me.

        ps. Oh yeah… it’s a quick launch bar:))) So, I would like to have the little arrow at the bottom on the very lock screen to bring this launch bar instead of swiping from bottom up.

        • Michael Faro-Tusino

          Ahk I get you now. So instead of swiping and holding, simply a tap?

          I’m sure a mod could solve this. I’ve seen people double tapping power to unlock device entirely and bring up app screen so possibly triple tap to bring up Quicklaunch?

          • jim

            yes, simply a tap. that would be faster than swiping and holding.

            • Michael Faro-Tusino

              Post it on forum.meego.com and also on nokia ideas project. You could score yourself another N9. Someone won by suggesting “customised menu wallpapers” :|

  • Nabkawe

    Ok linking contacts can be done manually , here’s what you should do : Once you entered your facebook or gtalk account new contacts will show up in the device those contacts can now be merged into existing contacts if you go to Contacts (the app not the dialler contacts) click on the 3 dashes you’ll find Merged Contacts match the contact you want with its facebook or gtalk profile and you can actually call a gtalk account DIRECTLY !!! from the contacts list (i think you can do this with Skype but i don’t fucking like it …)

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      I know that method, but I’m talking about from the app itself. Should have been more clear, sorry.

      • Nabkawe

        hey i just think its cool that you can actually swipe away incoming phonecalls !!! the status bar will turn green the whole time the phone rings and you can enjoy a world class multitasking ….

        • Michael Faro-Tusino

          I KNOW! Checking twitter and movie session times while texting and calling your mate is so sick!

  • Grazy

    Hi Michael

    Have you had any problems with scratches appearing on the screen.

    Please see my thread here:

    http://talk.maemo.org/showthread.php?p=1110786&posted=1#post1110786

    also i could not get the Firefox app to run, it just came up with lots of text. could you do a short guide to “apps outside of Ovi”

    how to install, get repositories (not sure i really want to be messing about with developers mode. I do recall seeing an option for allowing third party app installation?

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      DON’T MESS WITH REPOS!!! I did to install VNC last night, now I cannot install nor update any app at all.

      Once I’m all good, I’ll defs show it. Did you get firefox off my-meego.com?

      http://my-meego.com/downloads/search.php?name=Firefox%20%28Fennec%29

      As for scratches, I saw your post earlier and have been thoroughly checking my screen. I dont have scratches.

      • Simo

        i have a minor scratch near the top right of the screen, not sure how it got there. its not visible with normal use, but it is with the right sunlight or an all black screen. i think thats more or less inevitable though, and just a matter of time with any phone. just be careful what u put in the same pocket as your device.

        btw, im writing this from my n9 :D

      • Grazy

        I still can’t get firefox to install! do you have to put the file on the phone and open it? or can you do it from the N9 browser? Mine just opens up a text document when you click try me

        • Michael Faro-Tusino

          I had that issue too. Use your computer and transfer the file over

          • Grazy

            where to? does it matter. do you just exe in filemanager?

            • Michael Faro-Tusino

              I just bluetoothed it, and the phone opened itself. Make sure you enable third party apps in settings>applications>installations

  • A-S-D

    Finally got to play with the device :D
    Held up well in terms of user experience against the GS2 and Omnia 7 but to be honest, the iPhone 4s feels like an outdated piece of shit thats a pain to use. TBH, I was never into the iOS UI and didn’t really like it.
    I can really see how some of these features could be put on WP. Unfortunately I need to see someone’s that they actively use and see notifications and lock screen etc before I make a final decision of whether I like the UI or not because it seemed to be similar to the WP UI; too restricted, but easy and fun to use but might become frustrating after a while in day-to-day use when I try to use it like a Symbian (or even Andriod) device.

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      As a symbian (and frequent android user) I’ll never go back, unless the UI mimics the N9. Like I posted, I try and swipe on my N8

      • A-S-D

        I’d probably do the same but you’ve got the homescreen for swiping.
        Its true that after it you just want to swipe everything.
        I swiped through all the homescreens of the GS2 and iPhone 4S over and over (and got pissed at the lack of a carousel in the 4S).
        Its pretty addictive. For some reason, I was more blown away by the Omnia 7 than the N9, probably because I knew what was expected from the N9 but had no expectations for the Omnia 7.
        The N9 videos were fun to watch and I watched a billion of those. The WP7 not so much so this was my first real experience with a WP device.

    • ZiPA

      “I can really see how some of these features could be put on WP.”

      So true. The UI paradigm on WP7 lends itself really well to swiping, so I wouldn’t be too surprised to find some of that, at least in the Nokia phones/apps.

  • Bazil

    I guess that the problem with low volume for ringtones is due to the ringtones themselves. I have downloaded the N9 ringtones from the internet and they are all so soft. Perhaps someone made a mistake when creating them. So hopefully you can solve this problem by using ringtones other than the ones included. ;)

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      I use my own, they still bad. I tested the ios tone as my girlfriend’s iphone 4 is loud, no noticeable difference.

  • Yousaf

    I have it and You are absolutely correct. A honest and wonderful review, covered almost all features and issues in the device. superb.

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      Thanks mate, really appreciate it :)

  • N9-4eva

    “The apps. I know this isn’t a Nokia issue, but I’d still like to see more apps… Mainly since the current market is dominated by phones that have endless numbers of apps.”

    I love the N9 too but anyone buying the phone should know that it doesn’t (and likely won’t ever) have the number of apps that other platforms do. My point is that the fact that the apps ‘need work’ isn’t a revelation.

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      But like I went on to state, looking at the number of QT apps out there, there should be more.

      • migo

        That shows a weakness of the Qt platform. The way they talked about it I got the impression it would be a write once run anywhere type deal. They could push it a bit further by making any app that makes use of Belle APIs only work if it’s done in Qt, it would be some way to encourage more Qt apps and better support for the N9.

        I understand the total # of apps on the N9 at the moment is 30?

        • ZiPA

          “I understand the total # of apps on the N9 at the moment is 30?”

          That’s about the number of preloaded apps. The market has around 1000 apps, maybe? Still, it’s not about quantity, for me at least. The only thing I really miss is Spotify, and that’s coming. And I guess I wouldn’t die if there was a Tapatalk client available, although I am somewhat tempted of doing one myself…

  • Bertie

    Are there any problems with the phone overheating?

    • Simo

      nope. it can get a little warm, but so far nothing resembling “overheating” and nothing too different than any handset i’ve had.

  • http://@hasasimoonTwitter Simo

    About 8 days in, I’m enjoying my N9 and think “addictive” is a good way to describe it.

    My complaints are mostly minor, but the major one I have is with battery life. I’ve read a bunch of reviews claiming herculean battery life on the N9, but this hasn’t been the case. With minimum screen brightness, bluetooth off, a dark wallpaper, barely any camera use (if any at all), GSM network mode (as opposed to dual or 3G), vibration off, no tones except for calls/emails/messages, always making sure to close unused apps, and only a 30-second screen timeout, I’m barely getting a day with a single charge. My most heavy usage is with the notifications view, refreshing the information and scrolling through pretty often. I wouldn’t think that takes much battery.

    Any advice on what else I can do to increase battery life? I’ve already followed the “Prolong battery life” information in the User Guide app.

    Thanks

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      I have a dark wallpaper, brightness on halfway, bluetooth off, majority of the day connected to wifi, else it’s 3G. Close all apps, system volume is off, while ringing is set to full. Vibrations for all profiles. I found when i would wake up the screen regularly and swipe around my battery would die quicker. Now as the novelty slightly wares off i’m getting around 2 days

      • Michael Faro-Tusino

        And I’m making sure I only charge when it’s dead, it shouldn’t really make a difference but yeah.

        • http://@hasasimoonTwitter Simo

          Awesome, thanks for the feedback and all your work on the blog! Do you keep “Power Save” mode on at all? I’m experimenting with that as we speak. I think that’s the only way to stop the device from constantly searching for a WiFi connection.

          My two wishes for the firmware update are that it improves battery life somehow and includes functionality for the front camera.

    • ZiPA

      Install the Battery Usage app, that one will tell you where the juice is going. Keep it running through one recharge cycle (full to almost empty) and look at the stats, especially the “Avg Idle Consumption”. If that one is significantly higher than, say, 10-20 mAh, you might have some HW issues, or have something running in the background that has gone crazy…

      • http://@hasasimoonTwitter Simo

        Thanks for the advice. I’m going to do this and report back.

        • http://@hasasimoonTwitter Simo

          So I took your advice, and here’s the report, battery almost empty (no apps open at the moment, had several open at various points of the day, and closed them when they were no longer needed):

          Top Energy Consumers:

          MeeGo System – 36%
          Phone – 14%
          Web – 9%
          Home Screen – 8%
          Audio Playback – 8%
          Conversations – 7%
          Positioning – 5%
          Device Idle – 5%
          Cellular Network – 4%
          Stand by Screen – 2%
          Battery Usage – 1%
          Settings – 1%

          Power Usage Profile:

          Active – 79%
          Idle – 21%

          Statistics:

          Avg Current Consumption – 49mA
          Avg Active Consumption – 208mA
          Avg Idle Consumption – 12mA

          Battery lasted me the day, just about. Disappointing considering it’s also been in Power Saver Mode.

          Anything stand out? Thanks again for your help.

    • ridney

      i also have battery issues with mine, it only lasts about 6 to 7 hours the most, it was pretty shocking really after reading some positive reviews of the n9 having a pretty decent battery life. my n8 would’ve last the whole day with the same things i’m doing with the n9.

      dual mode but pretty much always on 3g no wifi, sip, facebook chat,skype google talk all online, 3 mails set to sync every hour, nokia sync and backup every hour, facebook and twitter notifications every 30 mins. by lunch time my phone is looking for the charger. hope this will only get better after a couple discharges but i’m not holding my breath

      • http://@hasasimoonTwitter Simo

        So I’m not crazy. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what it is that’s devouring so much of the device’s resources. I did Power Saver Mode all day today and that helped a lot, but it took away from the experience of the phone and still only lasted a day (as opposed to hours).

        • ridney

          today i tried to set the network to 3G only instead of dual mode (2G/3G) and the idle consumption is much better. also power save mode set to automatic, previously i didn’t touch this one.

          yeah i agree with you, i have no problems with the phone, in fact it is really nice to use specially these swiping gestures but the battery is a complete let down, what a shame.

      • Michael Faro-Tusino

        I dont have back-up at all, never leave skype/sip/fb chat/gtalk etc. on when its not in use.

        How did you get the twitter notifications? Is it pushed to your device? (Informs you of mentions on your homescreen/lock screen?)

        • ridney

          i keep sip online all the time as they are only keep-alives and doesn’t drain the battery much, same as with chat and googletalk.

          sorry for the confusion, what i supposed to mean was the ‘events’ homescreen settings

  • name

    It would be nice if the lock button could become the camera button when the camera app is open.

    We need this!

  • dfssdg

    “Unlike Belle, you can add new words to your custom dictionary straight from the portrait qwerty, by tapping on the underlined word.” – I’m using Anna and don’t have to add new word to custom dictionary because system adds it by it self when I write it. Just type a word and if it is not in dictionary it will be added. Simple. Actually, predictive input works excellent with qwerty keyboard. It shows me auto-complete sugestion on the end of the word and, if I made a mistake, proposition for correction over the word. You have to set options properly in input settings. Hope Nokia will not change anything in this manner.

  • Nabkawe

    i hear developers on the N950 got an update maybe that whats holding apps from nokia store i bet once people got around the new update all apps will break loose (hopeful thinking >>>)

  • Marat

    Can I use the N9 as a modem? Or should I prefer ‘tethering’?

    • Michael Faro-Tusino

      Tethering would be easier. ALthough I assume if you have Nokia Pc Suite (Not ovi) you could try the “Connect to internet” function.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Stephanie_Kemp Stephanie Kemp

    Do you happen to know when the N9 is released in the UK? I have seen some reports saying the UK isnt getting this phone, which i hope arent true, because i will flip out if so! lol
    If it isnt coming out in the UK which other phone would you say is the best phone out there right now? :)
    Thank you
    Stephanie x

    • http://@hasasimoonTwitter Simo

      Why don’t you just order it off Ebay? That’s what I did, and I live in the U.S. where we also aren’t getting the N9. It took about 5 days to deliver from Denmark. Just make sure the seller has a good reputation.

  • Pingback: Nokia N9: Testbericht zum MeeGo-Smartphone » mobiFlip.de()

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    HOW DO WE TURN THE FRONT CAMARA ON ON THE NOKIA N9

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