Two years ago Collabora gifted Nokia N900s to employees and the microphone in mine had just ceased to function so the new N9 was a very welcome replacement.
A number of us at Collabora have been working on MeeGo and Maemo before it though I myself am a relative newcomer having worked on the camera software since February 2011. I’m certainly proud to have worked on the N9 as it is a solid and well-performing phone despite still being a single core ARM Cortex-A8.
The user interface follows an interaction method Nokia have dubbed ‘swipe’. The name tells all - most interaction methods for moving between screens and applications involve swipes from an edge of the screen. It’s very simple and works well to traverse the environment.
There are three screens on a virtual carousel - an application grid common to most mobile phones, an open tasks grid with thumbnail tiles and a feed of updates from various sources (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). You can read more in reviews or have a look at some videos if you wish.
With the N900, honestly I didn’t feel comfortable using it too much as it was quite slow to do lots of things, especially web browsing. Browsing on the N9 is smooth and fast. As such, I now have some mobile internet allowance on a contract so I’m sure I’ll be playing around with connected programs much more on the N9.
One very nice feature on the phone when moving from the N900 was that I could transfer all my contacts and calendar and some other things via bluetooth. It would have been super nice if I could have also transferred photos, music, old conversations and more, but just the simplicity and capability to transfer contacts is awesome.
Scrolling is silky smooth, the camera is fast and high quality for both still images and video, call quality seems pretty good but I haven’t spoken to anyone with a newer phone yet to be able to tell properly, the interface is shiny and simple, the hardware is spot on in terms of size and the screen is beautiful. Battery life is very good, though will obviously diminish more quickly if you’re playing 3D games or so. Integration with web services seems pretty good though I want to see if I can make it automatically upload photos to Google Picasa, Flickr or so. It can act as a wifi hotspot. The maps app is slow to start but locks onto my location quickly and allows one to download maps for offline/minimal mobile bandwidth use which is a huge plus when travelling. There’s even a digital compass built in, though I would be interested to test its accuracy.
The only weakness I see so far is the limited number of interesting apps available. It has Angry Birds, Need for Speed: Shift, Solitaire, sudoku and some other games I haven’t yet tried.
My personal verdict, with the current PR1.1 release of the software is that it is a beautiful, solid and well-connected phone that I will certainly enjoy using and as a consequence will see far more use. Also, if the N900 is anything to go by and if any more updates make it out of the door, the phone will improve further with time. :)