All touched up: Nokia unveils first MeeGo smartphone in N9

No removable battery but WebKit and HTML 5 support

Photo browsing with Nokia's N9 MeeGo smartphone

Photo browsing with Nokia's N9 MeeGo smartphone

Nokia has finally got around to releasing a handset capable of competing with the iPhone and Android juggernaut with the announcement of the MeeGo-powered N9 touch screen smartphone set to be available early Q3.

The world’s largest mobile phone company stunned the industry in February when it announced it would retire its flagship Symbian smartphone operating system and adopt Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS. Its MeeGo roadmap however included at least one handset before the end of 2011 and it’s in the form of the N9 which runs MeeGo 1.2.

Read Nokia N9 vs. iPhone 4 at Techworld Australia.

MeeGo is a Linux-based operating system formed from the merger of Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin platforms with the intention of creating an environment that can be customised for different user interfaces – from smartphones to tablets and televisions.

The N9 does not have a keyboard or a removable battery. Its main features include a 3.9-inch AMOLED screen (16:9 widescreen) with scratch-resistant glass; a polycarbonate casing which promises good reception; an eight megapixel Carl Zeiss autofocus camera that can record HD quality video; and Near Field Communication (NFC) wireless technology.

With NFC content can be shared between devices by tapping them together and Bluetooth accessories can be paired the same way.

Nokia is now promoting the new “Swipe” user interface of the N9 and has set up a micro site at: http://swipe.nokia.com/.

The N9 inherits some aspects of is predecessor, the Maemo-powered N900, but the user interface has been mostly redesigned and refined for mass-market consumer appeal.

The N9 will be available in three colours – black, magenta and cyan. Storage capacity is either 16GB or 64GB depending on the model.

Availability and local pricing will be announced closer to sales start, which will be through carriers, according to Kurt Bonnici, product and technology marketing manager at Nokia Australia.

“The N9 has unified messaging and it’s our first device to multiple exchange clients,” Bonnici said.

“Skype is integrated and there is SIP support as well as Facebook chat.”

For Web browsing the N9 (and MeeGo) has Webkit with HTML 5 support, but not Flash. The N9 does not support the AppUp app store for MeeGo, instead Nokia’s app store – formerly Ovi Store – is available for downloadable applications.

Nokia’s head of design, Marko Ahtisaari said: “With the Nokia N9, we re-evaluated the way we thought a smartphone should act. It should be simple and it should blend software, hardware, services and content into a unique user experience.”

With no keypad or home button on the display, the Nokia N9 has three home views for shortcuts, running apps and status updates.

Nokia claims the N9 is the world’s first smartphone to come with Dolby Digital Plus decoding and Dolby headphone technology.

Voice-guided maps is supported with a news dedicated Drive app to start navigating without launching Maps.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU

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