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Topic # 115138 14-Mar-2013 22:04 2 people support this post Send private message

While the N9 is probably now considered an “old’ phone I decided to post my thoughts on this phone on here as few people seem to have written much about the N9 in any depth. My experience with the N9 shows it has some hidden features and some  Geekzoners may benefit from what I have learned and likewise I may learn something from them.

At the time the N9 was released most “technology” writers dismissed it pretty quickly since it was to be the only Meego device.  In my opinion, as a result it never received the reviews it deserved, though a few technophiles have written very favourably about the N9 and the Meego OS.

When I bought my Nokia E7 I seriously considered the N9, the deciding factor was the flip out keyboard on the E7. While I'm very happy with the E7 I've still had a hankering to try out the N9 with its Meego OS.  Especially knowing that there are developments of Meego derivatives taking place.

Recently I decided if I could get an N9 for a reasonable price I would buy one. Considering I was buying it more to have a 'look see' than as my full time phone I set a budget of no more than $400 for brand new or no more than $250 second hand, $250 being about 60% of the going price brand new.

I started looking on Trade Me to see what was out there. One thing I quickly learned was most people selling second hand had a grossly inflated opinion on what a second hand phone was worth. Many were expecting more than the current brand new price. Who is going to pay that when they can get a brand spanking new one out of the box along with a warranty? In the end patience paid off and I picked up a brand new one as a run out model for a very very good price.

I've had the phone a well over a month now and have had a good chance to form impressions about the phone. Like any device there's the good and the bad. Mostly it's good, very good in fact.

I'll get the bad out of the way first. As I have already mentioned the main reason I bought the E7 was the fold out physical keyboard. Coupled with this was the ability to created and edit documents. The N9 does not have a physical keyboard this is a major drawback for me. Does anyone know of a Nokia 950 that needs a good home? The 950 is the Meego version of the E7.

While the N9 does have a very good document viewer there is currently no document editor/creator for the N9, this is also a big drawback for me.

The other minor issue is some apps (I'm thinking Maps and Drive, Sportstracker here ) need a bit more polish, though to be fair there's not much imcentive for development in this regard since Stephen Elop killed off Meego's future with Nokia. Having said that there is a good selection of slick apps with plenty of individuals supporting the Meego OS. There's even a New Zealand earthquake app in the Nokia Store.

After reading what I've written so far you might be wondering was the N9 worth the money. In my mind it certainly is. I started off using the N9 thinking I'd put the sim card in for a week or so then just use it from time to time. That was over 6 weeks ago and the sim has been in the N9 the whole time.

The Meego OS is nice to use and very smooth with some very nice touchs. Like any OS there are differences that mean some things don't happen the way you are used to but overall I think Meego is very good, especially for an OS that was brand new and has only had one update. What other OS has been as bug free and well featured from day one. No doubt some of the features I’ll mention here are not unique to the N9 or Meego, I mention them to as much show what Meego and/or the N9 can do.

Out of the box it's well featured, a fully featured SMS with a good cut and paste function (which also allows cutting and pasting from webpages, notes and documents), a very good document reader, the usual good music and video players as we’ve come to expect from Nokia, plus a photo editor, WiFi hotspot, Skype, Facebook and Twitter apps for example, pius the obligatory games like Need for Speed and Angry Birds.

I mentioned the nice touches earlier. For example the calendar icon on the apps screen shows the current date not just any number, the open apps not currently in use show on a separate screen, they are live in this state, e.g. the clock shows the current time. The open apps screen can have a large number of apps open, these can be arranged to show 4 or 9 apps at one time and then scrolling up or down to see other open apps. The change between 4 or 9 being achieved by pinching or zooming with two fingers on the  screen.

There's been a bit of thought gone into how things work and are displayed.  The alarm setting procedure is quite clever. There is two concentric circles representing the face of a clock, one for hours one for minutes, each circle has a 'bubble' which shows the selected hour or minute. To set the alarm you drag the 'bubble' to the desired time. Very nifty.  Once an alarm has been set it is kept in  a list for future use, this is very handy for as I have a variety of wake up times with my job.

There's some other nice touches. When you scroll by touching on the right of the screen in contacts or email a small 'window' appears and shows the letter of the alphabet for the first letter of the contacts name or the date of the emails allowing a fast scroll to quickly locate the name or item. Theres also another clever oprion, by 'pulling' down at the top of the screen in email or messages a search box appears. In the case of the email search typing in anything associated with the content of the email will return a list of emails with that content.

There is also the very good Nokia search function that will search the phone for anything you may be looking for plus also use Google as well

Meego has some similarities to WebOS, and I guess there's no surprise there since one of the WebOS team worked on the Meego project at Nokia. The swipe across the screen action to change screens is very similar to Nokia Belle and some other OS's. The swipe down to close an app works very well and is very easy to become used too, this is very much like the the swipe up to close on WebOS along with the "wooshing" sound that accompanies the closing action.

There's only three buttons soft or physical, and they are located on the right hand side of the phone. There's the Lock/Unlock button and the Vol Up/Down buttons. Unfortunately there's no dedicated camera button. As well as using the Lock/Unlock button a double tap on the screen also unlocks the phone

Also included out of the box is the Swype keyboard. This has taken a bit of getting used to and it is slowly growing on me. It's a bit like adapting to predictive text. If you wish to change back to the traditonal input keyboard all you do is swipe from left or right in the keyboard area of the screen and the other keyboard moves into view. No need to go into a menu to make the change. The ability to change inputs like this was discovered by accident

The more I use the phone the more hidden features I find. In the first few days of use I was trying to increase the text and ring tone volumes. I couldn't find a menu option, there was a speaker volume which did help somewhat but didn't do the job properly. A google search showed other N9 owners were having the same issue. There were a few suggestion and possible work arounds but no real solutions.

It seemed that there was no way to properly control the tone volumes then pretty much by accident I found the solution. Unlike other Nokias there isn't the choice of profiles like Silent, Meeting, Normal etc. However there are three settings or profiles, Silent, Beep and Ringing which are accessed by tapping at the top of the screen to open a "status" screen. To activate the desired profile you tap the appropriate "button", I eventually discovered by accident that the Ringing profile "button" is also a slider bar where you set the desired ringing volume. Problem solved!!!

The phone it self is a well designed, well made and great looking device, it feels great to hold, being a good size and weight and not particularly thick. Also included with the phone was a cover, which is about the best fitting cover I have seen for any phone, it's almost impossible to tell there's a cover on the phone. I wasn't going to bother with a case either except one came with the phone and I decided to make us of it. The polycarbonate body seems to be up to job of taking the knocks and bangs of everyday use and still look great without the need for a case.

I've decided not to bother withn a screen protector especially due to the curved screen and the fact that you swipe from the screen edges and I feel a protector would detract from the user experience.

As I continue to use the phone I’ll put more comments on here about my impressions but for now I’ve decide to post what I’ve written so far.  Also I’d be interested to read what other N9 owners think of this rather unique smartphone.


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Biddle Corp

  Reply # 782034 15-Mar-2013 00:08 Send private message

I still use mine a lot as a 2nd phone and love it, it always comes to Aussie with me to use for my NZ SIM while I use my Aussie SIM in my S3.

I tend to swap the SIM and use it as my primary phone once every few weeks. There are lots of limitations that make it unusable for me as my primary phone, but it's a device that does grow on you very quickly and has no many cool qwirky Nokia centric features so it that are missing from Android, iOS or WP.

I reckon everybody should buy one of these to play with. It's a bit like having a one off vintage car!

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  Reply # 782055 15-Mar-2013 08:09 Send private message

It is a beautiful phone (as the Nokia Lumia are) and the UI is very polished. It could have been a nice phone series if Nokia didn't go with Windows Phone.

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  Reply # 782380 15-Mar-2013 16:22 Send private message

sbiddle: I still use mine a lot as a 2nd phone and love it, it always comes to Aussie with me to use for my NZ SIM while I use my Aussie SIM in my S3.

I tend to swap the SIM and use it as my primary phone once every few weeks. There are lots of limitations that make it unusable for me as my primary phone, but it's a device that does grow on you very quickly and has no many cool qwirky Nokia centric features so it that are missing from Android, iOS or WP.

I reckon everybody should buy one of these to play with. It's a bit like having a one off vintage car!

What are the limitations from you point of view?

I never thought about the vintage car analogy. Smile The N9 is much more reliable though.

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  Reply # 782381 15-Mar-2013 16:29 Send private message

freitasm: It is a beautiful phone (as the Nokia Lumia are) and the UI is very polished. It could have been a nice phone series if Nokia didn't go with Windows Phone.

The UI is certainly very polished.  You do have to ask the question why it was dropped in indecent haste especially when it was as polished as it was and from what I've been able to glean equipped with better functionality than Windows Phone.  

I must admit I've only played with WP7 and WP8 but I've seen nothing that makes it a must have. One argument that get trotted out is the eco system.  So far Windows Phone hasn't set the world on fire there. Many of the good apps are from Nokia anyway, e.g. Maps.

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Master Geek

  Reply # 787037 26-Mar-2013 09:36 Send private message

As soon as it was announced I started saving and when it was released in NZ I bought one and I'm so glad I did. It's a great phone and there are some drawbacks, but it's the sacrifice you make for having something so pretty and functional. The OS is brilliant and could have been so much more with further development and effort on Nokia's part. I think they really messed up sending it to an early grave.

If any of you are interested, I found this petition to Nokia asking for bug fixes and support until 2015 like they promised. It's worth just putting your name down and we'll see what happens!

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Master Geek

  Reply # 787040 26-Mar-2013 09:39 Send private message

Oh and thanks for a good read!

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  Reply # 787614 26-Mar-2013 22:56 Send private message

I agree re Nokia sending Meego to an early grave, they really let an opportunity slip out of their hands.

I've been and signed the petition.  It will interesting to see what happens.

Thanks for the comments on what I wrote.  I'll post some more shortly.

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  Reply # 797492 10-Apr-2013 22:53 Send private message

It's now well over 2 months since I got my N9 and for a phone that I was only going to experiment with from time to time the sim card has been in the phone all the time. Every time I think of going back to my E7 I quickly decide to keep the sim in the N9 for a few more days. That's not to say I don't use the E7 because I still use it on WiFi and I've typed up this review using the E7, as it's perfect to use on the tray tables in an aircraft. Since I spend a bit of time "down the back" it's a good use of time doing this.

The day is coming when I'll put the sim back into the E7. I'm wondering how it's going to be, going back to Nokia Belle. Even now I find myself doing the "double tap" to unlock the E7 or attempting to Swipe to close an app. These actions become so natural very quickly.

I have long held the view that you really only find out how good or bad something is, is to actually live with and use it day to day in all situations. A short time frame of a few days doesn't expose you to the full range of events where the good and bad can come to light or give you time to fully explore functions or indeed discover how some functions work. Hence I find some reviews don't do justice to the device being reviewed..

As I mentioned last time there were some apps that could do with some more polish. One of these was Sportstracker. Perhaps polish isn't quite the correct word. The app is quite polished but lacks some features of the Belle version and therefore gives the impression the development was a bit rushed. There are no screens for speed V time, heart rate V time, or altitude. Also each time the app is opened some settings need to be reset unlike with the Belle version which remembers what activity you mormally do. However you can sync your diary with the Sportstracker website which the Belle version does not do, so swings and round a bouts.

One really neat feature of the N9 is the "Quick Laumch" bar. There are 4 common apps that can be quickly accessed whenever another app is open. This is done using another "swipe" action. No wonder Nokia made a big deal about using the term “swipe” in their N9 literature. A partial swipe up and hold action from the base of the screen in portrait mode reveals 4 common apps, phone, messaging, camera, web. The apps you may wish to access quickly while using another app. Unfortunately the choice of these apps is fixed however Nic Rolls who used to frequent these forums has made an app that allows you to choose which apps appear on the Quick Launch bar.

The camera is good and one thing I appreciate is the auto focus which is missing from the E7. A nice feature is being able to choose the focus point by touching that point on the screen. How ever it's also swings and round a bouts as in contrast to Belle where the camera starts up in auto mode the N9 camera stays at the setting used last time, so if you had selected macro for a special photo the last time you used the camera that's the mode usd next time. I guess it's just a matter of getting used to the default settings.

One thing I really miss on the N9 on screen keyboard is the forward and back arrows that the  Belle phones have. It can be a pain at times to reposition the cursor using your finger in the text box when texting. Also, for me at least, it is nice to use the old T9 pad keyboard at times, since it gives a larger key for texting, this is missing from the N9. While I'm mentioning little niggles of the N9, the font used for SMS is on the small side for me anyway and there's no way to make it bigger.

For an OS that was considered Dead On Arrival, the N9 comes well equipped with some standard apps plus a good deal more apps in the Nokia store, and the ability to load third part apps as well.

The email setup is very easy adding new accounts is breeze using the accounts app, which is used to set up all sorts of accounts other than email, i.e Dropbox, You Tube, Flickr, Twitter, Skype, Facebook etc. There's 13 different accounts to choose from.

The Maps and Drive apps are up to the high standards we've come to expect but I prefer the Belle version as they seem a bit more polished though to be fair it may also be that I'm more famliar with the Belle version. Some of the Belle features are missing, like time to destination. One thing I do like is the turn by turn navigation instructions are played over  Bluetooth to the car audio system. This function was removed from Belle. It would be nice to be able to choose either Bluetooth audio or phone loudspeaker.

Overall the Maps and Drive functions are well integrated with other functions on the phone. For example being able to call a location i.e motel etc, from within maps. Maps also integrates with Trip Advisor and as a result you can check out reviews of the motels and cafes etc shown in Maps.

RSS feed, Facebook and Twitter apps are included but I don't use any of these so cannot comment on them. The Skype app is a cutdown version of the Belle one having less functionality but seems to do the basics quite well, and it integrates well with the phones address book.

The calculator has only very basic functions but has good size numerals on both the buttons and the screen. Just like on the phone calling screen, the numbers on the display start off large and scale down in size to fit in long numbers, another nice touch especially for those of us that are starting to need reading glasses.

The document reader handles Word, Excel, Power Point, and PDF files very well with buttery smooth zooming and scrolling. It's a real pity that to date there is no document editor. Like other Nokias there's a Notes app that syncs with Notes in MS Outlook. So it is possible to create a text document this way.

The standard weather app is AccuWeather and this works very well and shows the forecast for 10 days ahead. There are various pages showing temperature trends etc. However unlike the Nokia weather app for Belle it doesn't retain the weather to view at a later time, once the app is closed you need to go back on line to see any data.

A WiFi hotspot app is included however due to the way Win7 plays with ad hoc connections it' not easy to set up and I have so far only tethered using the USB connection.

There's 4 games included free, Angry Birds, Need for Speed Shift, Real Golf 2011, Galaxy on Fire 2. My two favourites are Angry Birds and NFS Shift. The version of Angry Birds requires "unlocking" after the first few levels by using the NFC function with another N9 unfortunately I haven't found another N9 owner to do this with. I've only briefly tried Galaxy on Fire and Real Golf both look quite interesting but I'm not a golfer and Need for Speed interests me more than Galaxy on Fire.

I've added 24 apps so far. The ones I use the most are Opera, Sports Tracker, Battery Usage, MeeScan and Foursquare.

I've used Opera as my mobile device browser from the Palm Pilot days and find it to be an excellent browser. While the standard Nokia browser is quite OK I'm more comfortable using Opera, it works well with most sites and the pinch and zoom works very well with the paragraphs resizing nicely with no need scroll left and right to read a column. There's also a Firefox browser which I have tried too. One thing the N9 does, is allow you to choose a default browser and this option actually works, unlike Bellle which gives that option but always defaults to the  Nokia browser despite what you have set as the default. Just like with Belle you can create a website shortcut on a home screen or apps screen, this is quite handy for sites you use regularly. In the N9's case tapping the shortcut opens the page in the default browser unlike Belle which will launch the Nokia browser.

Sportstracker has been my weapon of choice for tracking my sporting activites since my 5800 XM days. So I've stuck with what I know, plus it has bluetooth heart rate connectivity which I find very handy.

The battery usage app gives very detailed information about how much power each app consumes, the length of time left and als alerts you to to high idle comsumption which probably means an app that has been left open inadvertently. Unlike the same app for Belle you don't have to choose which apps you monitor the consumption on, the N9 app adds the apps to the list as they are used.

Meescan is a QR reader for Meego. It's nothing flash to look at but does its job very well and would be one of the more reliable QR code readers I've used. It can read dense codes other readers struggle with.

Foursquare app isn't used with the shops of the same name but instead is an interactive app for sharing your location with friends and also providing tips and feedback about cafes, restaraunts, motels etc. Many of you will have heard of it. My wife and I use it when out and about particularly when out of town. It's particularly useful for finding and choosing a place to eat. Foursquare  works well and integrates well with Nokia Maps.

There are some standard apps missing when compared to Belle, e.g. Internet Radio, FM Radio, Voice Recorder etc. However these apps are available in the Nokia store so it is possible to to equip the N9 to pretty much the same level as other Nokias. Just like the Belle Nokias it is possible to install third party app directly to the phone. The N9 also can be run in developer mode, though I've not ventured down that track yet. Developer mode allows even more flexibility with software and app changes.

Any day now I'm going to put the sim back into the E7. It's then I'm guessing I'll find out how much I've become used to the N9. Two things I know I'll miss are the faster processor and the swipe actions particularly the swipe to close as it's such a fast way to close an app. No need find the exit button, just swipe down the screen. If only the N9 came with a keyboard and a document editor. Anyone got a N950 they wish to sell? That solves the keyboard problem.

My next post will be about my experience going back to using the E7. Who knows I may end up with the N9 as my phone and the E7 as my PDA.

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Master Geek

  Reply # 800873 17-Apr-2013 12:18 Send private message

I've had my N9 a few months now - I still love my N8, but it's taken a back seat since I got this one.  It's just an incredible phone in so many ways.  A joy to use and look at and hold.  A friend of mine also has one and we exchange notes (and files by NFC) - we keep learning new stuff about it.

The complaint used to be that there weren't many apps, but I haven't found that to be the case at all now.  Unless you want like 100 or more, there are enough good apps around to suit most people.

One of my favourites is cuteTube - you can download videos on all sorts of subjects to your phone.  It's quick and easy to use and I think you can also upload your own videos, although I haven't done that myself. CuteWiki is another good one.

One I also use a lot is Toggle BT (bluetooth) and if you want to use a bluetooth keyboard, btinput lets you do that.

Games I have and recommend are Sudoku (a very good version), Unravel, Kanagram. plus a couple of others, with nice graphics.

Oh and not forgetting the incomparable Billboard to add stuff to your standby screen, Pocketeego (which syncs with any other devices you have, that have saved web pages), Situations and Notekeeper, which syncs with Evernote.  There are others too, but these are the best ones for me.  I suppose I have about 30 in total.

Apps I don't use very often I've put into a separate folder (Seldom Used), so my apps screen doesn't look too cluttered.

It's such a shame that Nokia abandonned this platform, but the millions of people who own this phone are testament to how unbelievably good it is.  It really has the "wow" factor.

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  Reply # 801748 18-Apr-2013 16:10 Send private message

chrissie: we keep learning new stuff about it.

Yes, I discovered by accident that instead of having to tap the forward and back arrows at the top of the calendar screen to go ahead or back several months if you tap the "month year" area between the arrows a screen opens up allowing you to choose the desired month.

chrissie:The complaint used to be that there weren't many apps, but I haven't found that to be the case at all now.
 Same here, the only one missing for me as I have already mentioned is a document app that allows editing.

chrissie:It's such a shame that Nokia abandonned this platform, but the millions of people who own this phone are testament to how unbelievably good it is.  It really has the "wow" factor.

Yes it is a shame. I do really wonder why. I have a theory but it could be called a conspiracy theory by others.

I haven't had a chance to play with the NFC function yet but have ordered some NFC tags to have a play.

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