Nokia N9 review: Colorful Minimalist Smart Phone



When In Manila and you have long waited for the something like the Nokia N9, imagine the excitement when I first held the device on my hand. Truth is that it is not really the phone as a whole that excites me rather it is the OS that comes inside (MeeGo), as an owner of the Nokia N900 it thrills me to see how much improvement has come with 2 years of development. Apart from software improvements, I can’t help but be awed by the genius craftsmanship of Nokia on this device. It certainly is one heck of a smartphone and I have a lot to cover about so lets get started.


Look and Feel


Whenever I hold the N9 on my hands it never fails to astound me. It has a body shaped much like the N8 however it is much slimmer, plus Nokia made it so that every part of the phone is contoured to fit the phone mold perfectly giving it that unified look. Also something that took my interest was the customization of the Gorilla Glass up front, showing Nokia’s extreme attention to detail with this phone.


While the N9 design is undoubtedly cool what really makes a Nokia phone different is their support for a variety of colors, Nokia made something different with the N9 by using a full frame polycarbonate plastic on it which is colored throughout, this is the same material that is used for creating sturdy jet plane cockpits so rest assured that it is durable yet it retains that smooth texture that makes it so irresistible to touch.




Nokia’s eye-catching display deserve a separate section, the ClearBlack display is a type of AMOLED display which lets the user see through the screen’s reflection resulting on better viewing angles and vivid display of dark colors. Whilst staring at this display, blacks make it seem like you are staring at an empty void – thus putting a lot of emphasis on other colors. Text on the main screens just float on the black screen as if floating in space, an officemate of mine even has the impression that the text is part of the phone itself and speaking of texts… the new font from Nokia, the Nokia Pure just complements the entire minimalistic feel to the phone. The ClearBlack does more than just give a vivid display; it also helps a lot when viewing the phone in direct sunlight making the phone more usable outdoors.

Battery life

The battery life on the N9 is excellent usually lasting me up to two days of normal usage. I always keep the internet up during the test period – switching to 3g during travels and WiFi when in the office or at home. When using the phone for gaming and watching videos, I noticed a quick decline of the battery but still it lasted me the entire day without charging. One time, I hooked up the N9 with a Bluetooth headset the entire day while listening to music, after about eight hours the headset died while the Nokia N9 still got a half of its battery bar filled with juice.

Daily Usage and Functionalities


On a day to day basis the MOST important feature on a phone is good call quality and good signal reception, and without fail Nokia delivers on this department. The secret is with the body of the N9, since its body is made out of polycarbonate materials the signal interference is significantly lower than those who use aluminum or metal for their bodies.



There are two functions which are very useful on the N9 that could have been taken a page from Windows Phone 7 (WP7). One is the notifications while on standby mode, so at a glance I immediately know if I have an email, text, or missed call so I don’t need to unlock my phone every time I want to check on those. Another is the quick message after silencing the phone, this works perfectly when you are in a meeting and you forgot to silence your phone… when someone calls press on silent icon, press on the message icon then press send. Within those three presses you were able to silence your phone and send an “I will call you back later” message to the caller.

Browsing on the N9 has its pros and cons, while it rendered pages fairly well… it could not render flash on webpages. Also although bookmarking on the N9 is unique (it turns your bookmarks into app icons and places them in the app drawer), I feel that it adds clutter to the somewhat unorganized app drawer (update: they already managed to fix this in PR 1.2, since they will incorporate a grouping of icons much like the ones in iOS). The browser app also adds some sort of a tag cloud for your most visited sites instead of the website link which might be confusing for some users.


As you know the N9 only has a single core processor on it and yet you will be amazed when you try the games that comes along with it. Among them are Galaxy On Fire 2 and Real Golf 2011 both created by Gameloft. The graphics of the games really complemented the Clear Black display of the N9 especially with GOF2 since the game setting takes place in deep dark space. More importantly these games if purchased on other platforms would cost you an additional 600 pesos, which is a pretty awesome deal if you ask me.


Not much I can say in this area since Nokia makes really good camera phones especially with Carl Zeiss, I really can’t give you much detail about the camera but here are some shots taken with the N9. These features macro shots, low light shots, shots with led flash and shots with sufficient lighting, many of them are actually pretty good. I especially like the one with the ants.

Like most recent smart phones, the N9 could also record 1080p HD video… but what sets it apart is its ability to auto focus, this is one feature that even some point and shoot cameras have yet to implement.

Overview and Recommendation

The Nokia N9 is a really neat smart phone, pursued with minimalistic design in both hardware and software. It is hands down the most eye-catching Nokia phone out in the Philippine market, parring with the iPhone 4 in terms of design but wins out on color selections. Software-wise, Meego is pretty promising with good core functions like texting and calling but other areas needs to be improved to fully optimize user experience with the phone. I would gladly recommend the Nokia N9 for those people who don’t really bother much with apps but wants a very functional, fully integrated user experience and stylish smart phone, especially for those who travels a lot since the N9 has a pentaband antenna that could support most carriers in other countries.

That’s it for my Nokia N9 review, if you do have questions and comments please feel free to post them below and I will try to answer all of them. So next time When In Manila do check out Nokia stores for the Nokia N9.

Nokia N9 review: Colorful Minimalist Smart Phone

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