Hands on: Nokia N9 review

Getting down and dirty with the first MeeGo phone

The internet browser was something we were excited to try out, running WebKit2 - which is supposed to offer a faster and more stable browser within a phone.

Nokia n9 review

Sadly in our tests over HSDPA, the Nokia N9 still loaded websites very slowly and didn't feature text reflow, so you're limited in how close you can read the text all on one screen. However, the new fonts and rounded graphics do look rather nice indeed, so it's not all bad for the new browser.

Nokia n9 review

Flash video isn't enabled either - we weren't able to find out whether this was due to the prototype, but it certainly niggles since we've seen it working so speedily on Android phones.

Nokia n9 review

The text messaging system is a sight for sore eyes, with a portrait QWERTY keyboard offered as standard, rather than the T9 input of the Nokia N8.

However, it's not very accurate compared to the competition and word suggestions need to be tapped rather than auto-appended, which slows down typing speed somewhat.

Nokia n9 review

The PowerVR SGX530 graphics chip at the heart the Nokia N9 is certainly working well already, with video in particular looking clean and smooth on the ClearBlack display. There's no HDMI-out port on the N9 though, so we're not expecting a strong push on HD video from Nokia with this model.

Similarly, Nokia Maps ran very quickly (albeit slightly juddery) on the phone, with the 3D buildings popping up quickly, and the navigation kicking in quickly despite us being indoors.

Nokia n9 review

Oh, and Angry Birds looks superb and runs like a dream on the Nokia N9 - plus it's the first to take advantage of the NFC integration on phones to play extra levels, which is pretty cool.

Nokia n9 review

The NFC capabilities of the Nokia N9 are used in an excellent manner thanks to some nifty accessories from the Finns to enable much simpler Bluetooth pairing.

With the Nokia Play 360 range of speakers, a tap from the phone onto the unit will see the Bluetooth connection instantly set up, so no more messing about with pairing and syncing.

It's an incredibly easy system and a solid reminder that Nokia is actually a brilliant innovation and design firm when it tries to be - if these speakers aren't expensive we can see them being big sellers.

Early verdict

Overall, it's hard to work out our opinion of the Nokia N9. The Finnish brand is making very little mention of the fact the phone is running MeeGo, as it seemingly doesn't want to crowd consumers' heads with multiple operating systems.

The new home screen design is innovative and different, although a little simplistic. We can see how Nokia is trying to be different here, but we're not sure if we're fans just yet.

Nokia n9 review

The design is beautiful, despite feeling a little plasticky in the hand, as it rests very nicely in the palm and screen is both clear and not too large.

Our main worry is the support - the Nokia N900 was a cracking and heart-breakingly under-loved device, and given the focus on Symbian and Windows Phone 7 it's hard to see many more MeeGo devices emerging, despite it clearly being a better OS than Symbian ever had been.

Nokia n9 review

The Nokia N9 UK release date has been set for later this year rather vaguely, and if the price comes in at less than £30 per month, the N9 could be an underground favourite. Please Nokia, don't let this be the only one of its breed... with a little bit of love, MeeGo could be a winning operating system.