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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