Nokia's N9, MeeGo and all that: A Nokia N9 review of sorts

Rohan Pearce

Rohan Pearce is the editor of Techworld Australia.

I recently had the chance to spend some quality time with the Nokia N9: The glittering debut and sad curtain close for the Finnish phone company's MeeGo efforts. As you would expect from a flagship Nokia handset, it's extremely well-built, with a lovely 'all-screen design' (there are no buttons on the front of the device, just a power button and volume controls on the right-hand side).

After the design, the next most noteworthy thing about the N9 is its screen: It looks good enough to eat. It looks significantly better than the Samsung Galaxy S II's display, and that's saying something.

But really, the most interesting feature of the Nokia N9 was always going to be MeeGo. And it's here things just feel a little, well, flat. I wanted to like MeeGo — I was a big fan of the Intel-sponsored netbook MeeGo UX — but to be frank I was underwhelmed by MeeGo on the N9.

It made me question whether I'm feeling a little jaded by this tech writing thing; I mean, normally I'm the kind of sad person who likes to play with new operating systems. And MeeGo is definitely not without its positives. It's extremely simple to use (one you adjust to there being no physical controls to aid navigation). And then there's that multitasking: One of the home screens is dedicated to displaying windows of running apps, and you can easily switch to or close them. It's a great system. And, yes, multitasking on smartphones is a great thing, despite what Apple devotees might argue.

But overall I was just… unexcited. And that goes for the N9 experience as a whole: It's a nice phone, but it's not spectacular. The hardware is decent, although it often feels just the slightest bit sluggish, perhaps due to the single core CPU.

The on-screen keyboard is decent enough (though I prefer the one on my HTC Desire HD), and, despite — let's face it — this being a niche platform, there are most of the usual suspects available when it comes to apps.

Of course, none of this will matter to the Nokia fanboys whatsoever. Maybe somewhat surprisingly given Nokia is one of the least sexy tech brands I know, they a) exist and b) are quite rabid. Here is a sample of some of the user comments left on the N9 review by my colleague Ross Catanzariti (I should point out, his is a somewhat more serious and comprehensive write-up of the phone):

I didn't like the review too much and is not consistent e.g. with my experience of battery time etc. Review didn't seem very objective or thorough.


Coolest phone atm! Wonderful. No need for 4S now for me.

Nokia N9 is just the best phone Nokia has in his history, it was developed with the consumer in mind and not just as a consumer gadget.

Well I can confirm that the N9 is indeed the best phone Nokia has made in its history. But let's face it: Recent years have hardly been jam-packed with great Nokia phones. As Ross said to me the other day (and repeats in his review) — the N9 would have been one of the best phones ever, and maybe a game-changer. If it came out a couple of years ago.

Still it's sad to see that this appears to be the end of the road for MeeGo; particularly given that if I had to choose between MeeGo and Windows Phone I would definitely go with the former. It's a decent interface and platform, and it definitely had potential. For myself, however, I'm happy enough with Android for now and — like I said — there just isn't a lot to get excited about. So suck it, fanboys.

Addendum: I have to admit, the simplicity of MeeGo's interface is pretty appealing. Maybe I'm just too much of a geek to appreciate it properly.

Comments (15)



Wow what a hateful blog you have. you call this a review? so unprofessional.



If you think Android is tops, then you truly know nothing about tech. MeeGo over Windows Phone? Now that's just silly.



So you are just disappointed because the innovative software is not 1000 times better than the concurrent phones? Strange review, very unprofessional...

Rohan Pearce


@Alan It's a blog entry. It describes my experience with the N9.

@Justin I freely admit that I like Android. And I'm a fan of Linux-based operating systems.

@Domino No, the software is just not especially exciting. I would rather have a phone running Android. That's just my view. For a more comprehensive review, check out Ross' review that I linked to. This is not supposed to be comprehensive. On the other hand, check out the user reviews I linked to: It shows you the totally absurd levels of fanboyism when it comes to the N9.




You go on to quote user comments from another site to mock them, call them rabid fans, nokia fanboys. I just don't understand how any of this is qualified to be fit for online publishing.

As for your absurd level of 'fanboyism' - are you the anti fan boy police? and so what if there is a fan base for the N9? is it unique to N9? would you say the N9 has reached such level of 'fanboyism' that you had to report it to the www? perhaps it exceeded that of Apple. And who knows maybe even Android?



Well Well,

We have made the mistake as consumers and done the bloody merry dance right into the the hands of the big copra.

By not supporting different devices you take away choice and when you are stuck with the chosen few.

Meego Linux was more powerful than Ios and Android just find the reviews on HTML5 scores on these devices and their OS.

I will buy the N9 because it's a refreshing change from the other choices while I still have a choice.



Nokia has most definitely NOT abandoned the Meego/Harmattan OS of the N9 (which is really Maemo 6 with Meego API compatibility...version 5 being the version that came with the N900 smartphone/internet tablet released two years ago). All they have said is that at the present time their strategy will be to use WP7 as their primary smartphone OS, which to me translates to: "the OS we think we can sell more phones with at this time". When this shift in strategy was announced back in February, the N9 was described by Nokia as the one Meego device they were still committed to releasing this year. This doesn't mean they wouldn't consider releasing an updated N9 next year perhaps (maybe with an even more powerful cpu), especially now that it's received an enormous amount of critical acclaim around the world. Why would Nokia go through all of the effort they have in terms of providing considerable resources for developers for the platform, as evidenced by, if they had completely given up on the OS? The Nokia N9 sells itself. I haven't even held one in my hand yet, but based on what I've read about it and seen in numerous videos of the device, I'm certain the N9 will be my next phone, no doubt in my mind. And it wouldn't surprise me if hundreds of thousands or even millions of others make it their next phone too.



The correct link to the developer resources I mentioned above is



It's quite funny how upset all you people get over anyone saying anything negative about your beloved Nokia N9. I used this phone a couple of weeks back and i agree almost completely with the blogger. The look of the hardware and the screen in particular is the best part about this phone. And the software may not even be that bad, but considering a phone like the Nexus is just around the corner, with Ice Cream Sandwich, the N9 really is too little too late from Nokia. I have to laugh at the guy in comment 7: he wrote almost as much as the blogger and he hasn't even touched the phone yet. LOL.



'but considering a phone like the Nexus is just around the corner, with Ice Cream Sandwich, the N9 really is too little too late from Nokia. I have to laugh at the guy in comment 7: he wrote almost as much as the blogger and he hasn't even touched the phone yet. LOL.'

Ha ha, do you realize you are so stupid that you just put down a guy for saying he was getting an N9 without holding one. Then you go on to talk about the greatness of Nexus and Ice cream sandwich. Both of which aren't even OUT YET!!!!!!!!!!! You should not be using blogs when you have serious brain surgery to complete.



I did not mention 'greatness' and i know it is not out yet, hence 'just around the corner'. I was merely giving an example of how behind the curve Nokia is at the moment. I actually like the N9, but obviously not as much as some of you lot, who seem very upset at people saying anything negative about the phone, yet haven't even used it!

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I love reading through a post that can make people think.
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Cemal Erbay


I bought my Nokia N9 more than a year ago, notwithstanding all kinds of snide and sarcastic remarks and reviews. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. People say: "Nokia N9 ? Poor applications, dead operation system, blah, blah..."

All this evaporates once you begin playing with the toy. It is the simplest, sexiest and most user friendly phone. Period...

All my friends have iPhones and Samsung Galaxys. They paid a fortune to buy them. Nonsense !

I am not interested in billions of "fart-apps" or silly games !

What I need is a ligtning fast, stable, reliable, sturdy, user-friendly smartphone with all the high quality applications and social networks built in.

Moreover, Nokia N9 has a lovely "swipe" action. No other smartphone has it.

It is a pure joy to use this phone. You can easily customise it too.

All in all, I'm a satisfied customer and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Don't be distracted by what others say. Follow your heart

You won't regret it at all...

Dr.Noor Elahi


I flash my nokia n9 whin open the terminal and write devel-su and write password then they answer like bellow
busybox v1.20.0.git (meego 3:1.20-0.2+0m8) built-in shell(ash)
what can so;ve that please help us

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