The Nokia N9 – for those who value beauty & class over brains & brawn

Finally, the grand-daddy of mobiles phones for Indians, Nokia, has come out with a phone that will have even the staunchest Galaxy or iPhone fan skip a heart-beat.

The N9 is undoubtedly Nokia’s best phone to-date and suddenly catapults it into the league of big-screen phone makers like Samsung, HTC and Apple that ‘have it.’

The phone — released after nearly a gap of nearly one year since its last high-end, youth-oriented phone — the N8 — was released, will also help the ageing phone brand to to beat the perception that it is ageing and old-fashioned.

True to style, the N9 also brings many of the details that makes Nokia a by-word for reliability and quality. The attention to detail, especially in the syling, shows that the Finnish brand is not ready to sit back and let the new kids of the block take away the high-end market.

The most noticeable thing about the N9 has to be its looks, especially in black.

While the new kids of the block — Samsung, HTC and LG — may deliver phones with faster processors and higher memory, the N9’s design reminds us why experience and class matter. Rivaling the iPhone in style, the N9 has a beautiful curved design that makes it no less than a beautiful piece of modern sculpture, albeit with practical applications (see picture below.)

We find ourselves attracted to N9 for the same reason why we loved the original iPod or the iPhone — the design and the elegance. There are no flaps, no screws, no seams, no edges.. just continuous, smooth form.

The N9 is actually made from a single piece of polycarbonate and the only joint — if you can call it that — is where it meets display.

The display glass too is like no other — it is hardened and curved, like the rest of the body and fullfill the sculpted look.

Another important innovation is that the Amoled display is actually laminated to the under-side of the display glass. Since there is no air or gap between the glass and the display, the display feels wonderfully immersive and immediate, the blacks are superbly deep. It is slightly (20%?) smaller than the 4.3 inch displays on the Galaxy S2, coming in at 3.9 inch, with a resolution of 0.41 megapixels (higher than Galaxy S2.)

The overall monolithic design is helped by the absence of any sort of button or protrusion on the front side of the phone, not even a ‘home’ button that apple so grudgingly accepts.

While some may question the decision to go with polycarbonate — a sort of high-end plastic with metal-like strength — the choice helps in keeping the weight down and improving the signal reception.

One downside of the N9 is that it uses the MeeGo operating system — the result of a bleak and brief union of Intel and Nokia to build an operating system. The MeeGo, while good, may not have a lot of application development happening on it in the future.

Intel, of course, has big plans for the operating system, but whether it succeeds in carrying them out is yet to be seen.

Another downside is the processor — a single-core Texas Instruments unit running at 1 GHz, unlike the dual core chips that are found in competitors like the Galaxy S2, the HTC Sensation, the LG Optimus 2X etc.. This, of course, need not be seen as a drawback entirely, considering how many of the dual-core phones suffer from poor battery life.

Nokia claims the 8 megapixel Carl Zeiss autofocus camera is one of the best it has produced and it takes HD (not full HD, like the S2 and Sensation) video. It claims that the lens supports close-range shots (is wide-angled) and has a large opening (aperture) to give nice shots in low light.

In many ways, the N9 is in the class of the iPhone — not the greatest in terms of specs, but definitely for those who value style, elegance and beauty. Perhaps for geeks who want the prettiest, not the most intelligent or the tallest, girl in the class.

The phone is expected to be available in around four months from now.


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