Nokia’s N9: The full release (you need to read it)

Screen shot 2011 06 21 at 07 00 51

Now then, this release is critical reading for anyone following the mobile industry.

This is the launch released regarding the Nokia N9 — in full.

First of all, read it.

Don’t read it critically. Don’t think about platforms, don’t think about brands, just try and ‘take it in’ without making the usual judgements we all do about Nokia at the moment.

Then I’ve got some comments below for your perusal.

Singapore – Nokia today announced the Nokia N9, built for people who appreciate a stunning blend of design and the latest smartphone technology. To learn more about the design of the Nokia N9 visit:

One swipe and you’re home
The Nokia N9 introduces an innovative new design where the home key is replaced by a simple gesture: a swipe. Whenever you’re in an application, swiping from the edge of the display takes you home.

The three home views of the user interface are designed to give fast access to the most important things people do with a phone: using apps, staying up to date with notifications and social networks, and switching between activities.

The industrial design of the Nokia N9 is an example of extreme product making and craft. The body is precision-machined from a single piece of polycarbonate and flows seamlessly into beautiful curved glass. The laminated deep black display means that the user interface just floats on the surface of the product.

The Nokia N9 also packs the latest in camera, navigation and audio technology for a great all-round experience.

“With the Nokia N9, we wanted to design a better way to use a phone. To do this we innovated in the design of the hardware and software together. We reinvented the home key with a simple gesture: a swipe from the edge of the screen. The experience sets a new bar for how natural technology can feel,” said Marko Ahtisaari, Nokia’s head of Design. “And this is just the beginning. The details that make the Nokia N9 unique – the industrial design, the all-screen user experience, and the expressive Qt framework for developers – will evolve in future Nokia products.”

Innovative all-screen design
With no need for a home key, the all-screen Nokia N9 makes more room for apps to shine. The 3.9-inch AMOLED screen is made from scratch-resistant curved glass. The polycarbonate body enables superior antenna performance. This means better reception, better voice quality and fewer dropped calls.

Camera, maps and multimedia
The 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss autofocus sensor, wide-angle lens, HD-quality video capture and large lens aperture enable great camera performance even in lowlighting conditions. This makes the Nokia N9 one of the best camera-phones ever produced.

The Nokia N9 features free turn-by-turn drive and walk navigation with voice guidance in Maps. With the new dedicated Drive app, you can get in your car and start navigating to your destination right away.

You can watch videos in true 16:9 widescreen format. And because the Nokia N9 is also the world’s first smartphone with Dolby® Digital Plus decoding and Dolby Headphone post-processing technology, you get a surround sound experience with any set of headphones.

Touch just got better
Fitted with the latest in wireless technology, Near Field Communication (NFC), the Nokia N9 allows you to easily share images and videos between devices by touching them together. Pair it with Bluetooth accessories like the new NFC-enabled Nokia Play 360° wireless music speaker only once, and you get a great surround sound music experience with just a tap.

Colors and Memory
The Nokia N9 will be available in three colors – black, cyan, and magenta with storage options to accommodate plenty of content: 16GB and 64GB. The Nokia N9 is scheduled to be in stores later this year, with availability and local pricing to be announced closer to the sales start.

More information about the Nokia N9 can be found at:


Ok. If you read this release properly, chances are your attention was piqued.

The new ‘swipe’ concept is — at first glance — flipping hot. Or hawt, as people far cooler than me say. No home key? Finally. Love it.

A completely new user interface? Very cool.

Nokia’s famed — and I do mean, famed — robust industrial design team allowed to get stuck into their expertise? Anything with the words ‘polycarbonate’ and ‘curved glass screen’ deserves further investigation. Interesting.

A proper 8 megapixel camera? Yes — this is a reminder that whatever handset you’re currently using, unless it’s got a Carl Zeiss lens, it’s camera is shit. Especially if you’re using one of those top of the range Android or Windows Phone devices with ‘amazing cameras’ that seem to capture everything as though the lens is made out of dough. Yes, there’s one thing Nokia do really, really well: Imaging.

True 16:9 widescreen? Interesting. You know it does get rather annoying watching movies and TV shows back on my iPhone 4 and finding black bars all over the shop unless I ‘tap-tap’ to zoom in. In which case I feel like I’m missing out a bit.

Oh and it’s a Nokia, so the telephone gubbins actually works and I won’t sound like a muffled arse (hello iPhone!) speaking to folk? Well, that’s getting compelling.

But what’s missing from this press release?

If you’re anything like me, you were scanning ahead of each paragraph, hunting for the mention of the operating system, weren’t you?


I was.

I had to re-read the whole piece twice. Then — I kid you not — I actually did a ‘Ctrl-F’ (or, well, ‘Apple-F’) to find the word ‘MeeGo’.

Wasn’t there.

I also did ‘Symbian’, just to be sure. There were lots of can’t-tell-you-anything smiles at the Nokia UK Press Event last week. This device is probably what they were smiling about.

So it’s MeeGo.

Yes, it’s running on MeeGo. Or, as far as we’re concerned from a public perspective, it’s ‘MeeGo’.

It’s rather fascinating that all those executives in Nokia Central sent this release out to the marketplace without any mention whatsoever of the operating system. Are we getting to the point where the OS is becoming irrelevant and it’s all about the user interface? Maybe. Not quite — but that time is approaching, especially when the OS can properly retreat behind a veil, disassociated — finally — from the user interface. Indeed, I look forward to a time when the user can decide and dictate their own UI layer. Fancy the app-silo approach from Apple? You have it. Want to use a map-based next-generation UI from Nokia? Just click. Or do you like the HTC Sense concept with the nice clouds in the background? Just tap and it’s there.

I think it’s a smart exercise from Nokia, dropping or not mentioning the UI. The more cynical out there will assume or presume this is because the company is aiming to avoid OS attention. No. That conversation cannot be avoided.

The strategy forced a look at the other features first. You know what, when you’re down — as Nokia most certainly is — you can do this kind of thing. You can innovate. Indeed, things get highly exciting when you’re a down-and-out multi-billion dollar company filled with oodles of talented, passionate and super-engaged geniuses. You can start playing by your own rules. This is what I think we’re seeing.

The new UI looks rather swish. I am particular impressed at what I *think* I saw in the video — NFC-enabled touch-to-swap imagery. I think that’s what I saw. I’ll need to enquire.

Why release the N9?

Well, there’s a segment of the market that loves Nokia. That same segment will look fondly on the 16GB version but will obsess over the 64GB version. I don’t necessarily expect Nokia to start selling a-million-a-day but I think there’s sufficient fans out there who can seriously live without Angry Birds. Sorry, I mean ‘apps’. Oh you’ll still get apps on MeeGo. In fact given the inclusion and full support of Qt, it is a literal piece of simplicity to click-click-click and knock out an application for the N9. That will (more or less) also work on a billion other devices.

(‘Billion’ is a bit of dramatic license. But when you look at the possibilities with S40 and S60-Qt enabled devices, there are actually quite a lot of users out there.)

The company needs to keep it’s MeeGo muscles flexing. I’m expecting big things from them over the next few years.

Now watch this video of the N9 and ‘swipe’:


Did you see that NFC-image-swap thing? 45 seconds in? I’ll need to speak to The Blandford about it.

After watching the video — yes — I’d like an N9.

No word on costs as far as I’m aware yet. I’d expect — what — 600 pounds? Something like that.

Good work Nokia.

I’ll have more on this over the coming weeks.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

33 replies on “Nokia’s N9: The full release (you need to read it)”

i’m pretty sure i know why they don’t mention the operating system. They don’t want to confuse people!

This is because technically, this phone doesn’t run Meego. It runs the next version of Maemo (code named Harmattan) the OS from the n900. But it is compatible with meego. So, it’s a confusing story to try and tell consumers. 

Great article, Ewan. For me it isn’t so much about the device any more but all about the apps. Unless any new OS is wire-compatible with iOS or Android I just don’t think developers will invest effort in porting to an OS that may well not be around in 12 months. Shame.

Well, it definitely has my interest. While I wasn’t looking for OS information (I think we’re too the point where the non-geek crowds are getting these types of touch phones, and when 80% of people can’t tell you what a web browser is, I seriously doubt they care what the OS is), being a web developer, I was looking for the browser information. Unfortunately, not much info on the site either, but since they’ve had a history of using WebKit, I’ll assume that.

Interesting to see if this takes off. I am strongly of the belief that Nokia could have stuck with MeeGo as this phone shows. The lack of a mention of MeeGo in the PR could be due to CEO Elop’s believe in “Ecosystems”. I reckon that with Qt it will have a bigger Ecosystem than the paltry WP7 one.

Also missing from this list are France, Germany, Spain, Italy, India, Turkey to name but a few. These are all major markets for Nokia. I doubt none of these these territories will get zero distribution of N9. Perhaps they haven’t got the sales/distribution deals finalised in these territories yet

Ecosystems are about more than just developers IMHO. They are also about things like diversity in chipsets, diversity in manufacturer and increasingly about services – especially cloud services. 
How many silicon vendors are investing in pre-integrating MeeGo on to mobile device reference designs currently compared to Android or Windows Phone 7?
How many device manufacturers are actively building MeeGo mobile devices?
What level of mobile network operator support is there for MeeGo? 
MSFT is very credible in cloud services, has Xbox as a gaming brand and will, in due course, unveil full-on cloud-based music and video services too.
I think one needs to view MSFT’s evolving ecosystem beyond the narrow confines of what WP7 in it its current incarnation. 
Just saying.

 True, they did not mention the OS. But while MeeGo may excite developers and few others, the ter may scare most consumer users. In this way they focused on the features, so that even non techies may buy it! And if the UI is really well done, they won’t notice the difference with a Symbian phone.

Hey Ewan, the Nokia N9 has also incredibly fast Maps and a new Drive application specifically designed for the N9’s MeeGo OS. Screenshots and more info here:

Just in terms of pre-integration, then sure it’s not a big target but it is based on Linux and so far as I know you could even replace the Android userland with Meego userland and use the pre-integrated kernel and drivers. I think it’s probably got better chances than WP7 in that regard since WP7 is only on one or two QC platforms.

 MeeGo is supported by Intel so it will appear on Medfield and all future low power Intel platforms. They are really pushing it. On ARM it has more diversity than MS WP7 and Win8 which only applies to particular Qualcomm SoC now and for the foreseeable future. Because it is Linux it has all the backing of Linaro for low level stuff as well.

Nokia has an excellent product in Nokia Maps and this along with UX, NFC and the excellent camera can make a success of this product.

Alien Dalvik should allow many Android apps to be available for this platform. There will also be the Symbian ones that are Qt based which should port without too much trouble.

It will be around in 12 months as the N900 is despite being starved of support by Nokia. It is a very attractive phone for lots of reasons – the camera means I’ll be getting it as it is fantastic with a touch area to focus feature.

It is also attractive to those of us who value our privacy and do not wish to be tracked and treated as a cash cow by Google, Android and MS.

I think you’re missing something here. It’s Qt. The same Qt that is on 100 million Symbian devices today, another 150 million Symbian devices to come in the next few years, and “the core” (Nokia’s words) of the next BILLION S40 devices.

I think the question is more a case of “what developers will NOT develop for Qt”? You’d be mad not to.

The MeeGo should be able to run android apps, which is something

Nokia didn’t stress on the OS because their involvement with Microsoft as Windows Phone to be their main OS for smart mobiles.

Nokia already confirmed earlier this year that they will release on MeeGo handset before the end of the year.

I’m getting this mobile

When will the nokia n9 be released in the uk?
Hopefully i shall be able to purchase this on pay as you go no contract.

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