Back when we reviewed the Nokia N900 we really only wanted a few major improvements. A faster SoC, slightly thinner and more compact hardware, and more of Maemo Linux. It's been a long wait since then, and Nokia has changed its lineup, canceled the original N900 successor, taken on a new CEO, and rebooted itself under the Windows Phone 7 umbrella.

Those of us that wanted a smartphone running real bona-fide linux seemed destined to be waiting forever. Today however, Nokia officially announced the Nokia N9 and N950 at its Nokia Connection event in Singapore. 

The N9 runs MeeGo, which as you likely know by now is the combination of Nokia's Maemo and Intel Moblin. MeeGo in smartphone form has something we've been waiting patiently for. The N9's industrial design looks nothing short of stunning, though all of the photos of the device so far appear to be renders and not actually physical hardware.

What's unique about the N9 is that the front of the device is buttonless, virtually everything is accomplished by tapping on the capacitive touchscreen, including unlocking the device. There's still volume, power, and camera buttons however. 

Nokia really seems to have spent a lot of time working on UI for MeeGo as evidenced by an interesting three home screen design, emphasis on using the swipe gesture to change applications, and pinch gestures for getting a multi-window view. The three home screens are purpose-designed for launching applications, viewing open applications and multitasking, and managing events such as news and messages. 

The N9 is polycarbonate plastic and unibody construction, and is sans-keyboard. Its cousin is the similarly-specced N950, which is a non-retail developer device that looks like what remains of the original N9. There are anumber of small differences between the N9 and the N950, chief among which is inclusion of a hardware QWERTY keyboard and aluminum construction, thanks again to Simon for finding these differences and tipping me on them. 

Nokia Device Specifications
  Nokia N9 Nokia N950
Height 116.45 mm (4.58") (?)
Width 61.2 mm (2.41") (?)
Depth 7.6 - 12.1 mm (0.3" - 0.48") (?)
Weight 135 g (4.76 oz) (?)
CPU TI OMAP 3630 @ 1 GHz TI OMAP 3630 @ 1 GHz
GPU PowerVR SGX 530 PowerVR SGX 530
NAND 16GB or 64GB integrated 16GB or 64GB integrated
Camera 8MP Carl Zeiss 16:9 F/2.2 with Dual LED flash and 720P video capture, Front Facing (?MP) 8MP with Dual LED flash and 720P video capture, Front Facing (?MP)
Screen 3.9" FWVGA (854x480) AMOLED with Gorilla Glass 4.0" FWVGA (854x480) LCD-TFT
Battery 1450 mAh Integrated(?) 1320 mAh
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n
NFC Yes No
Sensors Accelerometer, Compass, Proximity, Ambient Light "N9 has a slightly more sensitive magnetometer and ALS"
OS MeeGo 1.2 Hartmattan MeeGo 1.2 Hartmattan

The two devices also have pentaband WCDMA support and quad band GSM/EDGE support, though there's no word on what cellular baseband is at the core of everything. In addition, the N9 includes NFC support, though Nokia hasn't specifically stated whether all three NFC modes are supported. In all likelihood this is assumed now given NFC chipset maturity. 

Though the SoC seems dated for a device that still isn't released yet, it's a definite improvement over the N900's 600 MHz OMAP 3430. 

Nokia N9/N950- Network Support
GSM/EDGE Support 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA Support 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
HSDPA/HSUPA Speeds HSDPA 14.4 / 5.7 Mbps
Baseband Hardware (?)

The device looks solid, though there's no word on a specific release date or pricing, just "later this year." Nokia has provided a quick specifications PDF, and more information on their conversations blog and website

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  • mmrezaie - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    What is the point of releasing something outdated? Don't they see what android or apple already have when they release the phone?
    They don't even have a mature software on it.
  • mmrezaie - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    And its OS has been discontinued from start.
  • mino - Sunday, June 26, 2011 - link

    Meego has not been discontinued, not by a long shot.

    It is Nokia who is being discontinued. Sad as it is.
  • microlithx - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Because they're obligated to finish the development cycle and get it out. Once that's done Elop can kill off the group entirely and commit completely to WP.

    Sadly, this will probably be the last of its kind. No truly good, open OSes, just incompatible, locked down OSes whose primary goal is to sell you $0.99 apps.
  • djgandy - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    Yes, because the definition of a "good OS" is one with a lack of software, poor vendor support and a list of devices with hardware that is 3 years old.
  • mino - Sunday, June 26, 2011 - link

    It is so easy to bash about "poor vendor support" after M$ managed to successfully buy-out the biggest independent player out there.

    So go ahead. I am sure you were salivating about "poor vendor support" when AMD was locked-out from 80% of the market during the Thunderbird and Athlon 64 era.

    So easy it is to piss on the one who gets squeezed out of the market by a monopoly. Without ever thinking how bad this is for pretty much every consumer. Whether Nokia, Google, MS or Apple one's.
  • medi01 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Android has what? OS that didn't even have JIT for a while, had exactly what? Animated menus? Just like apple? Oh that's cool.

    Name me any smartphone on the market, that could last for more than a week on a single charge. Besides those of Nokia please.
  • Exodite - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    That depends entirely upon your usage scenarios, I've gotten almost 10 days from my Xperia arc and still been at over 25% battery left.

    Granted, that's with the phone spending the vast majority of the time just laying there but that's sort of the point. If you use your phone a lot, gaming, watching video, websurfing or whatever then none will last a week.
  • redniels - Monday, June 27, 2011 - link

    that is a flatout lie. I have an experia Arc. with Wifi off, gps: off, dataroaming: off, datatraffic: off, screenbrightness on 50%, max time: 9 hours. 9....hours. that's without even using the phone. it's just laying there.
    so when you say 10 hours, then I commend you on your fantastic powermanagement. when you say 10 DAYS're lying. or you're "using" it in flight mode.

    also coming from an Iphone 3G: the greatest mistake I ever made was choosing android. it looks nice, but that's just a small layer of chrome. scratch the surface and you get .... crashes, hangs, no battery life, poor FM reception, more crashes. granted: most crashes are caused by stupid apps.

    it reminds me of good old win95. the blue screens are replaced with pop up boxes.

    this was a one time deal: never again 'droid. it just blows. and don't get me started on the memory "management" (clearing memory when you need it, not before) that design decision makes sure that every HD video your recording stutters and hangs in the first 5 secs. (unless you use a task killer every time your going to record a movie) or the idiotic decision about the default install location of apps (internal memory, never SD)
    it's just so ..... dumb.
    the OS is full of it: it's just not very mature.
  • RussianSensation - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    What Nokia Phone lasts 1 week?

    I have a Nokia E72 with one of the largest batteries in the Nokia lineup. That phone only lasts 5.5-6 days on STANDBY. If I use it to browse the internet and to make phone calls, I can waste it in 4-6 hours no problem. So your claims of a phone "lasting 1 week" with actual usage on 1 battery charge are wishful thinking.

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