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Cellphones Handhelds Linux Technology

Nokia N9: the World's Most Underrated Smartphone? 176

Posted by timothy
from the single-minded dept.
jrepin writes "Eighteen months ago, Nokia announced a smartphone unlike any other it has produced before. It was a proper smartphone, one that looked miles away from previous Nokia phones: it was sleek, modern and simple at the same time. The hardware was pretty modern, too; no underpowered processors with severely limited RAM issues to be seen here. And, it runs on an operating system that Nokia had announced dead months before the phone's announcement. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Nokia N9."
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Nokia N9: the World's Most Underrated Smartphone?

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  • by TWX (665546) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:33AM (#42461503)
    ... you can do anything at Zombo com, the only limitation is yourself...

    Welcome to Zombo Com!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TWX (665546)
      Interesting... Modded down when the point was to satirize the very writeup itself with the reference to the website that satirized the claims and promotions of the dotcom era...
  • Damn Microsoft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:37AM (#42461543)

    They've ruined Nokia. I loved my N900 and was planning on buying the N9 for both my wife and I, but then they shot Meego in the head. I'm OK with Android, but really loved having full GNU/Linux/X access on my phone.

    While Ubuntu has made some mis-steps, I still am greatly looking forward to running Ubuntu Phone on my Galaxy Nexus.

    • by Dishevel (1105119)

      Android + Root + BusyBox Pro + BotBrew give a really decent experience that you might like.

    • Re:Damn Microsoft (Score:4, Insightful)

      by radish (98371) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @01:18PM (#42463757) Homepage

      Nokia killed Nokia, Whilst they may have made products that appealed to you specifically, they were failing spectacularly in the wider smartphone market. Staying on the same path wouldn't have improved anything, they needed a major overhaul. I'm not saying that the MS deal will save them in the long term but clearly something had to change.

      • Re:Damn Microsoft (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dropadrop (1057046) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @02:01PM (#42464391)

        Nokia killed Nokia, Whilst they may have made products that appealed to you specifically, they were failing spectacularly in the wider smartphone market. Staying on the same path wouldn't have improved anything, they needed a major overhaul. I'm not saying that the MS deal will save them in the long term but clearly something had to change.

        Had problems deciding if I should mod you up or respond, but here goes... It's true they had to do something, but they actually already did now and then. The N9 for example was different and people liked it; so they did not sell it to people or make a new model out of it. They where already doing things, but they killed everything that could have saved them.

        What really killed Nokia was the belief that years of good sales where due to them being so damn good. Internal competition combined with that attitude caused them to stagnate. "This is what they want, so we'll just keep doing the same thing over and over again". It's a perfect example of how middle management can kill a company...

        So will MS phone save them? How could it? Phone manufacturing is outsourced, operating system is outsourced... The only thing left is what killed them in the first place. They might get something to work, but it will never be the same as before.

        • by satuon (1822492)

          Phone manufacturing is outsourced, operating system is outsourced...

          Apple also outsources phone manufacturing, and it's not killing them.

          • That's true. However Apple is designing the devices and the operating system, controlling the app ecosystem... They have an iron grip from the devices to the users, even too much so if you ask me (but I'm still locked up there).

            Nokia has always had the capacity to build great hardware. Towards the end of their reign less and less of the devices where that great though. I would go to the Nokia store to pick my phone and they would have 50 models that where pretty much the same, just different covers. Still

    • Re:Damn Microsoft (Score:4, Informative)

      by jonwil (467024) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @01:20PM (#42463797)

      I have a N900 as my daily phone and I have yet to see any phone that comes close. I can (and do) use the touchscreen with a small-tipped stylus for greater accuracy, the hardware keyboard is the best I have ever used and I love the openness and hackability.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        I couldn't agree more Even though I have an N9 too, I never use it. And the reason I have a beaming smile on my face right now is because I was the maintainer of the touchscreen driver for the N900 for the year or so before it hit the market (and after that too, but there were never any after-sales issues with that driver, so that was a no-op). Thank you for reminding me to still feel good about the work I did for Nokia.

        However, after using it for 4 years, it's still far too often clunky, being too slow to
    • by Skal Tura (595728)

      Nokia N900 was AMAZING - Sure it had it's issues to be used as a phone, it simply wasn't polished properly - but that was a real proper geek style smartphone, complete with QWERTY.

      I loved it's debian based. The only phone i've REALLY wanted in the last decade or so until the N950 which turned out to be justa developer phone.
      Then they dropped the production despite demand being high :(
      Auction prices for used N900s were same as new phones when they were last available for sometime.

      N950 if sold to public i'm s

  • Why I didn't care, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paladinsama (1831732) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:45AM (#42461627)

    21 Months ago Nokia announced that my digital purchases were no longer available for me to use. This is why I never cared for the N9.

    • well, thank stephen elop, and his buddies back at the mothercop(microsoft)

      otherwise meego would be running on more nokia devices instead of windows, and you'd still have support.
      • I'm not sure if I can blame Elop about this.
        Nokia announced that they were closing the NGAGE market and replacing it with the OVI market in October 2009, it was mentioned there was going to be a migration process and that by October 2010 the NGAGE website was going to be closed and purchases transferred to the new system. Elop started as the CEO for Nokia in September 2010 and by that date Nokia had enough time to prepare a migration process. The fact that they never worked out a transfer process and all pu

  • by CptPicard (680154) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:46AM (#42461631)

    I own one, and it really is very nice. It's too bad Stephen Elop intentionally refused to have it sold in most major markets; I guess he wanted his precious WinPhones in people's pockets instead.

    Where-ever it was sold however, I hear it did very well among enthusiasts such as myself. The UI has been marveled about by non-geeks when they've got to play with mine.

    • by Dynamoo (527749) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:54AM (#42461727) Homepage
      It's quite often available on eBay for around €270 to €370 depending on model. However, if the N9 is a bit too mainstream for you, then there's the very rare Nokia N950, which is the developer's version with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The cheapest I've seen one of those is €750, with prices going up to over €2000 (!) which isn't bad for a device that was mostly given away for free to select developers.
      • the n950s were LEANT to devs, and not given.

        They are illegal to sell, and ultra rare, with mabey around 400 of them existing in the wild.
    • by jbolden (176878)

      Stephen Elop needed his company to focus on the product line. He wasn't interested in selling a few million extra phones that would divert the transition. Once they decided MeeGo was a dead end, he had to face tremendous resistance from both employees and customers who didn't think it was a dead end. Look at the lead article.

      I love the N9. N9 was really cool. MeeGo was cool. I wish Jolla nothing but the best with Sailfish. All that being said, Elop did the right thing for Nokia.

      • Elop did the right thing for Microsoft.

        For Nokia, not so much. If they were ready to acknowledge that they couldn't go on with their own separate phone OS any more, they should have bitten the bullet, embraced Android, and done what Nokia do best - good hardware with good antennae.

        Instead they were sold the pipe dream of remaining special and recapturing the market, which they were all too eager to buy into. A shame it was a tar baby. Microsoft will pick over the corpse of their corporation for the juicy bi

        • by jbolden (176878)

          . If they were ready to acknowledge that they couldn't go on with their own separate phone OS any more, they should have bitten the bullet, embraced Android, and done what Nokia do best - good hardware with good antennae.

          Elop considered that and approached Google. Google was massive successful with Android, and didn't want a lead horse, like they eventually got with Samsung. They weren't offering Nokia anything outside the norm. Switching to Android would have meant directly competing with Asian manufa

          • by cheesybagel (670288) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @04:57PM (#42466815)
            Android has better licensing costs and allows more customization than Windows Phone. It has more apps. What reason was there to pick Windows Phone anyway? Besides Elop having come from Microsoft that is.
    • Purchased N9 due to excellent reviews despite Nokia's announcement of (Elop) killing Meego. It is easily one of the best phones Nokia has produced and after 7 years of loyal support, it will likely be my last Nokia purchase. While it's not a perfect phone, its marriage of software and hardware was exceptionally well executed. I could only dream what this phone could be like after multiple generations (ala iphone). It is sad that development of this phone and OS has evaporated along with its brilliant te
      • by ladoga (931420)
        I agree with most of above except your claim about lack of app development. While it's true for commercial apps, - not much incentive to develop there and never was due to Elop's decision to kill the platform before N9 was even released - influx of ported and new open source apps seems quite strong.

        I'm just playing with a new Stellarium port http://thelarge.org/stellarium-n9/ [thelarge.org] (which is awesome) and few days ago I installed a new version of Rawcam http://talk.maemo.org/showthread.php?t=85512 [maemo.org] . Many apps t
  • by plover (150551) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:46AM (#42461645) Homepage Journal

    Because if so, it is the world's most overrated server.

  • by Cassini2 (956052) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:51AM (#42461705)

    According to communities dominate brands by Tomi Ahohen [blogs.com], the poor N9 and the outdated Symbian are expected to outsell the great savior, the Lumia Windows Phone 8 at Nokia this quarter. Not too shabby.

    I would keep the N9 on my resume.

    • by saihung (19097)

      And speaking as someone who uses a Symbian Belle device every day, Nokia *finally* got it right. Immediately after they killed the thing and drove all possible developer interest into the dirt, the schmucks.

  • by Tridus (79566) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:56AM (#42461753) Homepage

    The N9 has actually been rated pretty highly by people that managed to get one, and it's done really well in the market for a phone that got absolutely no corporate support at all from Nokia. Elop sent it out to die, and it didn't.... which has only made the Lumia's sales performance look bad in comparison. (Not that the Lumia's sales performance needed any help to look bad.)

    • by julf (323835)

      Agree - love mine, and they sold really well for the short time they were available. Yes, it has bugs - but mainly because they fired the development team before they had a chance to fix the bugs.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As a former n900 owner and a current n9 owner, I still kinda like the previous interface better. And I really miss my physical keyboard. Such a shame the N950 had such a small release. But yes, I've been happy with both, and that's all I've ever heard from owners.

  • As a US N9 User... (Score:5, Informative)

    by scorp1us (235526) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @11:10AM (#42461915) Journal

    I love the phone. It has some rough edges in the UI, but overall emotion = love. I have not felt that way since I got the Apple iPhone 2g. For the record I've used Android 2.3.5, 4.0 and iOS up to 4 as well.

    What it does that your phone does not:
    When not in a pocket or face-down it always shows the time. Always. This does not drain the battery at all.
    Around the time are basic notifications - VM, facebook message, facebook notification, missed call. and there's a app for battery percentage.
    My battery will last two whole days. And it completely charges in ~2 hours. Topping it off in a 1/2 ride to work in the car will keep the battery from going below 50% every day.

    The swipe interface is good. You get 3 columns so swipe from the edge left/right between. Notification Feed (Facebook Twitter, RSS, etc) with weather at the top, a scrolling app icon list, and your running apps screen which shows 4 or 9 apps, which live-updates the screen. Swiping down from the top edge kills the app.
    The top bar (battery indicator, WiFi, connctivity) etc is tap-able and you can change the state of what is on it. 2 taps to change your ring profile. (Android and iPhone are jarring because you have to pop to home and you have no idea if your app will be left running or killed)

    All messaging services use the same messaging UI.

    The phone never resets (my android did it a lot and iPhone did it occasionally)

    What I don't like about it:
    Some of the UI is layout less than optimally. For example in the dialer, if I bring up the number pad in-call I can't change speaker/mute without dismissing the number pad.
    When reading items from my feeds list (in the application - like facebook) sometimes I get reset to the top of the list.
    Lack of awesome apps. For the most part all your major services are supported by the phone and/or are free plugin download.I don't use many apps because the phone already does so much.
    When calling voice mail, it shows you your voicemail number that you have to click on, rather than dialing it immediately.

    What I wish:
    I do wish for a dual core. it only does 720p video, and barely at that. Once in a while I'll get a force-close message but the app recovers by the time you get your finger over the button.
    A better dialer UI. It's not a bad UI. It's just not "optimal".

    I really like this phone and I look forward to trying Ubuntu's phone when this one dies.

    • by scorp1us (235526)

      Unlike an iOS5 user, I have working maps. With traffic.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Are nokia maps still updated for n9?

        I know they're still updated for my symbian phone and I've been eyeballing a used N9 as my next phone when this one eventually dies.

        • From what I understand. It uses the same maps API that is used for WP8. So unless they change the API and break compatability it should stay updated.
        • Yup. The app itself isn't as powerful though. Basic navigation (pedestrian, car and mass transit), maps, and city lens are available.

      • I've had maps with traffic since iOS 3. There are dozens of apps on the AppStore.

  • by BravoZuluM (232200) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @11:13AM (#42461941)

    Years ago, Steve Jobs was ousted by Apple's Board of Directors. He was replaced by, John Sculley, a proper CEO. Sculley had convinced Apple that he would sell a computer like a bottle of soda. He, of course, was wrong as were the following CEOs. It was only when Apple was selling at $12 a share and Apple was dead did the board bring back Jobs, his vision for the long term and the Next OS. The rest is history.

    Nokia is repeating the mistakes of Apple. The Nokia board bought into the Elop burning platform. Never mind that Nokia was on the verge of a great break through in their adoption of a Linux based OS with a world class framework, Qt, to back it. Elop doesn't have the vision or the technical prowess to pull Nokia back from destruction. He is the captain of the Valdez. His oil rig is still burning and spewing oil. Maybe, just maybe, when Nokia is all but dead and irrelevant, a technically savvy CEO with a vision will come in and turn around Nokia. Until then, the N8 was my last Nokia phone.

    Meego is an excellent OS platform. Had Nokia proceeded to stay the course, the N10 would have been a must have product.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Sculley had convinced Apple that he would sell a computer like a bottle of soda.

      No he didn't. Scully had convinced Apple that the right path was high margin gradual shrinkage to a niche product line. He was focused on the Newton and the PowerPC project as the direction forward.

      Never mind that Nokia was on the verge of a great break through in their adoption of a Linux based OS with a world class framework, Qt, to back it

      No they weren't. If they were they board wouldn't have changed horses that radic

      • What Nokia was on the verge of was a series of interlocking conflicting plans which were unachievable with no solid product pipeline to create the revenue to fix the mess.

        1. Sell N9.
        2. Profit.
        3. Make cheaper versions of the N9 and migrate those to the low end market.
        4. Profit.
        5. Keep improving MeeGo or whatever its name is today.
        6. Release new top end phone.
        7. Go back to step 1.

        Yeah really difficult.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          Yes really difficult. They can't sell enough N9 to pay for their fixed expenses they don't profit they bleed. They can't get the N9 in quantity. They don't have a follow up strategy. There are only 4 MeeGo phones through 2014 and they get buried under fixed costs.

          Instead they commit to Microsoft get subsidies that cover the restructuring costs and they get another bite at the apple. The people who run Nokia are not stupid. If your analysis involves them being too stupid to do the obvious perhaps you

    • Maybe they were paid to squash it?

    • by SpzToid (869795)

      [Elop] is the captain of the [Exxon] Valdez.

      No. Elop is more like the captain of the Costa Concordia, as in, 'hey let's take this ship off-roadin' onto those rocks over there, just so the folks on the island can get a really good view.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @11:21AM (#42462033) Homepage Journal

    Physical Keyboard. The screen is superb, the swipe interface is the foundation of so many new mobile user interfaces, and have good memory/cpu/base OS. But the keyboard... thats what i miss from the N900, the one it have is not bad for being a touchscreen one, and you have a pretty translucent one for console in Fingerterm, but still not there. Too bad the N950 was just for (few) devels.

    Anyway, could have a future, Nitdroid [nitdroid.com] enables to dual boot with Android (or run natively a few android games with Apkenv [maemo.org]), and probably will be available for it Firefox OS, Sailfish and Ubuntu mobile.

    • The existence of things like the Nitdroid project and Jolla/Sailfish, plus the fact that N9 matched or possibly outsold the Lumia crud despite the massive disparity in corporate support, shows how good the technology was. The last time I saw this was...ooh it hurts to type this name...the Amiga. Commodore went under, not due to poor demand for the Amiga, which was profitable to the very end, but due to massive losses in PC clones that led them to credit default with their suppliers. They couldn't get par

  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@nOSPAm.ovi.com> on Thursday January 03, 2013 @11:41AM (#42462309) Homepage

    It;s wonderful. The interface is the best that has ever been made. Sad to see innovation die with Nokia.

  • by TimHunter (174406) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @12:55PM (#42463467)

    The N9 would smash an iPhone the way the Hulk smashed Loki. Pick it up by its leg and fling into the floor, left, right, left, right, leaving iPhone-sized dents in the floor, then grunt "Puny phone" and lumber away.

    Of course the iPhone, being a god, would get up, shake itself off, and go on about its business plaguing the earth.

    • It could probably be used as a hammer to break an iPhone. A Gorilla Glass vs. whatever it is that Apple uses match would be interesting...

      • It could probably be used as a hammer to break an iPhone. A Gorilla Glass vs. whatever it is that Apple uses match would be interesting...

        That would be Gorilla Glass vs. Gorilla Glass. Which was resurrected and promoted by Corning because Steve Jobs asked them to. [wired.com]

  • by gral (697468) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <37rracsk>> on Thursday January 03, 2013 @12:58PM (#42463505) Homepage
    I had the N770 and the N810. They could have used them as a base for great phones. I believe the N9 was a start in that direction. All they needed was to CONTINUE. Not scrap everything they had done, and go with MS. Luckily Google came in and showed them what could have been done.
  • Nokia is stupid.

    We are beyond Symbian. When the world left Symbian behind, Nokia just didn't get it. And they were left behind.

    They then tried their own day late, dollar short version of Linux. Enormous mistake. The world left them behind. That and the $800 n-series phones. What a mistake.

    Now, it's either android or ios. Nothing else is relevant. And before you say, windows phone, the dude who uses that still wears camouflage cargo shorts. Irrelevant.

    • by jimbo (1370)

      It's not entirely about operating systems, it's about user interfaces and internal competition.

      When Apple effectually revolutionized the smartphone industry, Nokia and Microsoft said it'd never succeed and they ignored it for the longest time.

      Google, who had Android based on by then suddenly antiquated phone UI concepts (Blackberry like) thought "that's the future" and revamped the UI in less than a year. As a developer I remember anticipating 1.6 with software keyboard to put on the e reader I was making.

      S

    • That and the $800 n-series phones.

      So now we have 800€ Samsung flagships, 1000€+ iPhones...

  • I've got an n9 and it's hands down the best phone I've ever owned. The swipe interface is awesome, and the hardware is beautiful - it won the Red Dot award after all. My only gripe is that it doesn't automatically disconnect an idle 3g connection, but the clever people at http://talk.maemo.org/ [maemo.org] have got a decent enough workaround with profilematic. I only wish I'd be able to buy a new version in 9 months' time. I'll probably buy a Jolla / Ubuntu phone if the hardware is good enough. Given how much of a fai
  • I bought my N9 before the Nokia-Microsoft deal and have been happy with it, though disappointed that it was a product dead-end. I had an N900 before that and was happy with that too.

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