Nokia has finally unveiled its first (and very possibly only) MeeGo device in the shape of the 3.9in N9.
In the build up to the launch this morning in Singapore, Nokia called the N9 a “market disrupting device” which is a rather strange label to give a phone which has been in the works for almost 18 months and will possibly be the only handset running the MeeGo OS. MeeGo emerged following the merger in February 2010 of Nokia's Linux Maemo software platform with Intel's Moblin. However with Windows Phone handsets on the way, MeeGo has been thrown out with the bath water in Finland and may never see the light of day again.
The phone itself is certainly an attractive looking device with an impressive-sounding 3.9in AMOLED curved Gorilla Glass display which does away for the need for any physical buttons on the front of the phone, replacing them instead with the new “swipe” gesture. OK ,so a swipe gesture isn’t exactly new but the MeeGo software does make good use of it. The MeeGo user interface is divided into three home views – events, applications and open apps – with a swipe returning you to the home screen at all times. The events homescreen will bring together all your social media notifications in one place, similar to Friends Stream on HTC Sense.
An upwards swipe and short hold from the bottom of the screen will reveal a quick access menu to items such as mail, messages and camera. Though the camera shortcut seems unnecessary considering there is a physical camera button the side beneath a volume rocker. The actual version of MeeGo running on the N9 will be MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan with all the apps being compliant with Qt 4.7. Among the apps pre-loaded on the phone will be Angry Birds Magic, Galaxy on Fire 2, Real Golf, Swype and Ovi Maps. So you’ll get voice guided turn-by-turn navigation as well as Ovi Drive for optimized in-car navigation.
Looking at the hardware, the Nokia N9 will be powered by a Texas Instruments’ OMAP3630 1 GHz processor with a PowerVR SGX530 GPU handling the graphical grunt. There will be 1GB of RAM on board and an option for 16GB or 64GB of storage. The N9 has a unibody polycarbonate design with the shell coloured all the way through so scratches won’t show up as badly. The N9 is available in black, cyan and magenta. The battery promises between 7 and 11 hours of talk time, up to 450 hours of standby and 4.5 hours of video recording. Speaking of which the 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens on the rear is capable of recording true 16:9 720p video as well as being capable of aperture F2.2 for low-light shooting. The phone weighs in at 135g and measures 116 x 61 x 7.6-12.1mm. It also includes Bluetooth, WiFi, micro SIM card slot, A-GPS, tethering support, an ambient light sensor, compass, orientation sensor and NFC technology.
Launching the phone this morning, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, said he has “increasing confidence” of shipping a Windows Phone before the end of 2012 so it would seem as if MeeGo on Nokia handsets is dead even before the launch of the N9. The new handset will ship at some point later this year with availability and local pricing to be announced closer to the sales start. We certainly like the look of the N9 and considering Nokia’s ability to make superior hardware, the N9’s success will depend mostly on MeeGo and if the OS works or not.