Editorial: It’s been fun, but time to #Switch

| November 1, 2012 | 109 Replies

It is not easy for me to say this, and frankly I can’t believe I am. If you follow me on twitter, you would know that I have become furious at my N9 recently. To me, the N9 is one of, if not the most, innovative devices of the last decade. When Marko Athisaari announced the N9 in June 2011, I knew I had to have one.

Not only is the N9 the first (and most likely only) commercial MeeGo-Harmattan device, it is also the last N-Series device. It also brought an amazing design language, both hardware and software. The “Fabula” design language has since lived on in the Lumia 800, Lumia 900 and evolved in the Lumia 920. I am certain we will see further evolutions in the later generations of the Lumia range.


When Nokia announced the N9, they announced they were going bold, and bringing the device to market in vibrant colours like Cyan and Magenta. We hadn’t seen mobiles be this colourful, and renowned for their colour, since the Nokia 5110. (Albeit, there were some devices, such as the N8, that were colourful, but were still subdued compared to the N9.) They also brought a new type of construction, using a solidly coloured polycarbonate unibody, which would prevent scratches showing, and provide awesome signal.

On the software side, there was some real innovation. Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, the mobile industry centred around seas of icons (later evolving slightly to widgets as well) and a centralised “home” key, to take you back to a main screen. The N9 challenged that. It introduced a new way of interacting with your device, and they simply called it Swipe.

The Swipe UX on the N9 was really something. It removed the need to have any buttons on the screen, and showed us the first all-screen smart phone. Instead of forcing a user to adapt to a certain way of doing something, Nokia attempted to make interacting the N9 something that was natural.

To this day, just over a year since having my N9, and about 9 months with my Lumia 800, I still swipe down to close, or double tap to wake up other devices. Being able to swipe from any app and go back to where you launched that app from is something remarkable. There is no need to start from the very beginning, just the beginning of that app.

Harmattan took a unique approach on a smartphone OS, placing heavy emphasis on Notifications and Social networking, and Multitasking. The “Events” homescreen acts as a centralised notification hub, containing notifications, and also Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds, as well as Weather. No need to have to open an app, as its all a swipe away.

The multitasking screen shows you your open apps in real time. You can load a web page, swipe, and see it loading in the background. It gives the user an entirely new way to look at multitasking on their smartphone, especially as there is no “tomb-stoning” of apps. There is still a sea of icons on the N9, but there is not such a huge emphasis on that.


Swipe UX was designed to provide you with information at a glance. Nothing on the phone does that better than the Standby Screen. You can see the current time, your ringing profile, and any notification you may have. No need to open an app. No need to unlock your phone. No need to even touch it. Just look!

There is no doubt the N9 is targeted at a niche market. This is obvious by Nokia including “Developer Mode” in the settings. There has been a huge community evolve around modding and even just helping other users. This community isn’t a feature that can just be added to a mobile. It is something unique that we have seen with Nokia’s Maemo devices.

We have had some amazing things brought to us by community members, such as MAG, bringing us Unrestricted-System-UI, DrunkDebugger, who brought Nitdroid, thp, who brought apkenv and billboard, itsnotabigtruck, for the single best app, inception, TGalal, Knobtviker and Cepi, for bringing Wazapp, a client better than the official version, and so many more. There have been people like Arie (@everythingN9) and Andy (@AndyHagon) who have done their best to keep N9 users updated with tips and tricks to maximise their N9 experience. Obviously I can’t name everyone, because the community is huge!

It is no secret I have been a keen modder of my N9 from day one. The endless possibilities make me feel like the N9 can’t ever be old. Sure, its hardware may get outdated, but it can always be refreshed and feel brand new, like its had a massive update. If the N9 can’t do it, the community has the attitude that they will find a way to make it happen. Its this kind of passion that has kept me such a strong Harmattan “campaigner”, or as some say “fanboy”.

Sadly the time has come though. I am too busy balancing work, uni, a girlfriend and blogging, to spend time modding my N9 in order to make it work. When it works, it works amazingly well. Sometimes though, it decides to act up, and when it doesn’t, it isn’t a simple reboot that will fix it. I need a phone that I can depend on, and use it every day without worrying if today it will stop working.

For the above reason, the decision has been made to make my Lumia 800 my daily device for the time being. If I can get my hands on a Lumia 920, I will definitely make the switch. However, in no way is Windows Phone 7 my ideal solution, but it just works, for the most part. It has trouble with emails that use custom domains but hosted by gmail, lack of centralised notifications still annoy me, the fact WiFi won’t stay on when locked and the pathetic battery life on my 800 is irritating. I won’t even begin to mention how bad the camera is in comparison.

While it has been a great ride with the N9, all good things must come to an end. I will still be one of the biggest fans of the N9 and MeeGo-Harmattan, and continue to mod and play around, but it just will no longer be my daily device. I am hoping the Lumia 920 and Windows Phone 8 fixes all my annoyances with the Lumia 800.



Category: Editorial, Lumia, Maemo, Mango, MeeGo, Nokia, Nseries, Opinion, Windows Phone

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] or tips[at]
  • Francis

    Anyone switching from N9 to SG Note II ?


      may be some one can’t replace n9 totally if they have used it once……..I am going to get one now also.

    • dss

      How can one go from the most ergonomic device ever made to the opposite of that ?

      • Francis

        The large screen and s-pen. It seem well fit my daily working needs.. All my friend thumb up about it..


      Android is total and utter CRAP!!!!! It’s reason for existence is to spy on its users.

      I would rather poke out my eyes and switch to a Lumia than have to deal with such a laggy piece of CRAP Java VM.

    • Madratz

      A few days after reading this article I just did.. trade my N9 for the Note 2.. Still keeping my 8|0|8 for its superior camera though. Its sad that Nokia lost me there. They have failed to convert me from Symbian/Maemo/Meego to WP just like how they failed miserably to convert millions of others, I guess.. Almost waited for the 920, but the Note 2 won me over eventually what’s with the 920 still absent on Sg shores..
      Not only that, the inept Nokia Care giving poor customer service is one of the factors that push me away too.. Finally Nokia, it seems the 8|0|8 will be my last phone from you guys until of course u decide move on to (God forbid) Android or (fingers crossed) u manage to reel in Jolla’s Sailfish after their successful start in China.. Good bye..

    • David

      Yep, just switched after a year or so with the N9….which I loved. The ease of set up of the Galaxy Note II caught me by surprise….. after the two or three day struggle with the original N9 setup. The ease, speed and terrific applications that go with the Android phone have meade the first week with the Samsung a delight. On the size of the phone, it works really well for me – lots of real estate to view things easily. With a week’s worth of familiarity with the larger phone it makes all other phones look just that little bit dinky and old fashioned.
      The only pity is the shape of the thing the Samsung. The N9 design is glorious (although now seems petite).
      Might just put a frame around the N9 and hang it on the wall.
      Vale N9.

      • Shane

        I always go back to my N9 from my Note II, there’s just so much more fun and charm about it, the community is something very special, always surprises me, time & time again πŸ™‚

  • Helmi

    Double tap to wake up phone and swipe down to close app are the most natural interactions you can ever imagine on a mobile phone. I sometime accidentally do it on my wife’s android phone. Its just that natural.

    Sigh* Nokia.

  • belle beats lumia 920

    i skip nokia n9 and switch back to nokia 808, perhaps jollamobile if their ui/ux and support is superior!

    • dss

      Once you get used to what the 808 offers, everything else feels like a downgrade.. at least for me.

  • Patata

    A Lumia might be ok, if all you are doing is to make some calls, send some SMS / Mails or use Facebook / Twitter and of course visit a few webpages.
    today I just realized that there is no alternate way to sync the time on my L800. I mean… seriously? how can this be? they are kidding, right?

    • Viipottaja

      What do you mean alternate way to sync the time?

      • patata

        An app to sync time over Internet. Symbian has an app for that and Maemo has a status menu widget that can do this job. My provider (t-mobile Germany) doesn’t support to sync over network πŸ˜‰

        • As far as I know, only o2Germany supports it…

          • patata

            I see… I know that O2 supports it, since this was my previous provider. Wouldn’t be an issue if WP had some alternate time sync functionality…

            • Viipottaja

              So when you turn on the phone it does not pull the current time from the network you are connected to? Or if it does, why would you need to synch it through other means? πŸ™‚

              • patata

                it did on o2, but it doesn’t on t-mobile πŸ˜‰
                Yes, I know such a functionality might not be important for the majority of smartphone users, but it shows a huge limitation that WP has: Microsoft limits the APIs / possibilities that much, that WP doesn’t allow such things. WP is more a consuming device and not a smartphone OS as Symbian / Maemo / Meego or even Android users would expect. That’s why the decision to go WP only was a huge mistake. That OS will never fit for every costumer that Nokia has / had. It might be enough for people like Jay, people who want that kind of ecosystem, but everyone else is left out

                • Viipottaja

                  Wow, sounds like the T-Mobile in Germany (I assume) network sucks then if it doesn’t even provide the time of the day!! Or do I get this still wrong?

                  If I do and it does, I still don’t get why you need some other method to keep the clock in the right time.

                  • patata

                    Cause I’m too lazy to always set the time by myself? πŸ˜› t-mobile is great.

                    I’m using congstar prepaid, that’s their discount offering.

                    It has one huge benefit that no other can offer: while data plan is limited to 500MB/mth and costs 9,95€ per month, there is no Speed Limitation after passing those 500MB. Seems to be a bug on their side… Downloaded 25Gb last month. Got an “you’ve reached your limit” and several times,but still had umts speed πŸ˜‰

  • cΒ΄mon michael, you didn’t even gonna wait for jolla to see what they have to unveil? is only matter of days!

  • aleci

    This is one of the powers of being a writer on an influential blog like MNB. You get to talk about how you have cherished your N9 and now is making a switch to a Lumia. How many people after reading this would actually even have the thought of trying a Windows phone?

  • EmmanuelM

    For me also it is time to switch… But at this time I don’t know to what …

    iOS ? Android ? Sailfish ?

    I will think to that in the coming weeks

  • rustyknight17

    Michael , u spend THAT kind of time modding ur N9 ? What exactly r u wanting it to do ? The people I know who have one are very satisfied with it ! Sure there r a few rough edges , but hey , this is the first commercial Meego phone , naturally there r some rough edges ! S3 went through the same thing … So until Jolla Mobile unveils their offerings …

  • rustyknight17

    Oh and WP 7 is better than Meego ? Not from what I hear , and from personal experience !

  • Janne

    Welcome to the dark side, Michael! πŸ™‚

    It is the Happiest Place on Earth now, you know.

  • Grendell

    Still using my N9 as my daily driver as well. Looking to get an L920 but still thinking it through as the 808 also attracts me immensely. But Nokia can so much more effortlessly open my wallet with an N920 using harmattan and the 12mpx module from the N8 and complete the FM transmitter hardware and skype video call. THAT would be my idea of a perfect phone..for my use anyway.

    • Nathan


    • Adriano

      Same boat, except I actually have an 808 and now I’m seriously considering using the 808 for sometime so I can make that my primary phone. The battery life, for one, is immensely better, which is important because after all the swiping and double-tapping-to-wake you still need to make calls. Today, the N9 went from 100%-4% in under 8 hours. That’s just terrible. 3.5G for less than two hours intermittently and music for an hour. The rest was calling, texting and recording using a voice recording app. :(.. But I love my N9 and wazapp is so incredible on it. I’ll have to give the L920 a whirl at the middle East launch and see if it’s better. I really really wish that that Harmattan UX just got ported over to Belle. I would never ever let go of the 808 if that was the case.

      • Nathan

        My N9’s never been that bad, seen folks that have had similar issues who’ve done their homework & immensely improved things.
        IME overall usage (battery-wise) as just as good as my 808PV.

        • Adriano

          Thanks Nathan! I will go through the system usage through battery usage and RCSC and see what the deal is. Average idle is around 25-35mAh and from what I’ve learnt, it should be around 20mAh. Maybe a firmware reset might fix the issue. Also, just curious, how are you juggling between the 808PV and the N9? Personally, I think everything is presented much more fluidly and neatly on the N9, which makes it a joy to use, especially the integrated swype keyboard. I love the whole unified approach with contacts and messages, which is probably why WP8 looks appealing. But the 808 has its moments of sheer brilliance too… Similar sentiments?

  • Tiago Silva

    I use my N9 all day every day and it is almost rock-solid. The difference may be that I have not modded it to hell and back – I have not even Incepted it. I just wish the RSS feeds on the notification screen showed the favicons of the sites.

    • Shaun

      Exactly. I’ve had my N9 over a year now and it’s pretty reliable. The only thing which catches me out is the mail app and twitter app are slow with busy email accounts/twitter accounts.

      The only mods I’ve got are a couple of mods to switch traffic and ETA on in Drive and that’s it.

      Michael, quit modifying your phone with a rats nest of hacks and you might find it’s more reliable.

  • Tiago Silva

    Oh, and someone at work is forcing me to use an Android 2.3 phone with standard UI (Vodafone Smart II) and I cannot believe people did not riot on the streets for having to use such a stupid UI. If the iPhone UI and interaction model is old compared to the N9, the Android UI is *ancient*.

    I hope you enjoy your tombstoned apps on dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragons, Michael!

    • Nathan

      +1 GP

    • Shaun

      Jeez, +1000.

      Android 2.3 is like Symbian Anna kind of hurt.

      I’ve a Nexus 7 with 4.1 and even that is pretty ugly in places but I’d take a Nexus 4 over a Lumia 920 any day of the week.

  • Grendell

    Funny, after reading through all the comments I feel as though Elop really chose to ignore the fact that “ecosystem” does not equal device functionality and that there is a signIficant subset of the market that prefers this convergence over the sheer number of apps. Even funnier is they did have all the ingredients to make a series of home runs but kept swatting foul balls. No doubt the L920 will appeal to some people possibly even the mainstream but that is a fickle crowd to play to especially with apple and android in the mix.

    • rustyknight17

      Right on mate ! Elop , I fear , deliberately sank Meego , Symbian and Me;temi because he , and the Nokia board , based on a skewed assessment , correctly perceived them as major threats to WP`s success!

  • Ruben

    it’s been a year that i’m using my nokia n9. i’ve made some mods too, even have nitdroid installed. NO ISSUES!

    have you gone too far with your modding and bricked it and now you say you need a reliable phone for a daily basis? PLEASE!

    Common Michael, you know pretty well that N9 is a reliable phone.

    Why don’t you just tell the truth and say Windows Phone caught your eye? hell i feel the same, but i’m waiting on 920. Still i’d like to have a Lumia 800 also. But never, never pass on the idea that N9 is not reliable. It is, and very.

    You mentioned in a post on everythingN9 “why i couldn’t switch to Lumia”…and now this? a few days later?

    Just tell the truth and say you started to like WP because you got tired of modding and want something that don’t give you that kind of headache.

    Cheers for all your work and sharing, it’s been great!


    • Ruben

      will we see a post of you “why i came back to my N9” ?

      we’ll see. πŸ˜‰

  • rustyknight17

    let me start by saying it`s all in what u need.
    That said , those of u who want an Android with a good cam , may I suggest the RAZR Maxx or the Sony Xperia S & T ? If u notice , they have very good cameras and I note in passing that the 920 has yet to be compared to them …
    Michael , I`m starting to think Ruben and others who agree with him r right , e.g. that u just wanted to switch to the Lumia and r trying to justify it because either u went too far in modding it or u r just tired .Never had an N9 myself , but I do have several acquaintances who do , and they tell me the issues r minor and don“t affect everyday use .
    Be that as it may , if u insist on switching , why not wait for the 920 ? AIUI , it`s a much better Lumia than the 800 and it`s coming out in the next few weeks . U can`t wait that long ?
    OTOH , switching to the 808 from the N9 I can understand , it`s a great upgrade ! And that`s my plan , but to each his own …

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  • Oswald

    I am planning to buy two new pieces of N9. One for my wife and one for my daughter. They are still available in in Finland. Price is decent. I believe my wife who believes she couldnΒ΄t use a smartphone will surely learn this. And my 11 year princess would have a good reason to “show off”. N9 is something else than iPhones, galaxys and lumias. ItΒ΄s different and reliable and easy.
    Very sorry about the fact that there will be no N9 II or N10 or…. Or MeeGo Tab with sliding keyboard…

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