Critically, the Nokia N9 will offer a completely different user experience than Nokia's current smartphones. Its Nokia's first "pure touch" smartphone — the N9 has no keypad or home button on the front, and the only physical controls are on the right side in the form of volume buttons and a lock key. The N9 relies on users swiping or tapping on the screen for the core of its functions. The result is a phone that appears on first glance to be dead easy to use — a core reason the iPhone was so popular when it hit the market in 2007.
Unlike current Nokia devices, the software powering the N9 is focussed on simplicity. Amongst the user interface features include all apps being available in the immediate home screen, a separate screen for notifications and events, notifications on the lock screen, embedded Facebook and Twitter clients, and a unified mail inbox. The simplicity theme runs right through Nokia's press materials — the dedicated N9 Web site focuses on detailing usability, design and basic features, rather than overload consumers with technical specifications, as Nokia has often done in the past. Nokia even admitted the N9 is specifically targeted at the "style conscious consumer" rather than "serious technology buffs".
The Nokia N9 won't have the range of apps that iPhone users enjoy, won't provide the same customisation levels that Google Android phones are capable of, and its e-mail service won't rival that of RIM's BlackBerry smartphones. However, the N9's built-in Facebook and Twitter clients, along with what appears to be a slick Web browser will keep most users happy. As will Angry Birds (yes Angry Birds!), which will come pre-loaded, support for multiple e-mail accounts including Microsoft Exchange, and an intuitive, on-screen keyboard. The Nokia N9 will also provide full turn-by-turn navigation with maps of over 90 countries free to download.
Above all, we think the N9's slick and easy to use interface will appeal to the average consumer, which is much more than we can say for any current Nokia smartphone. Early adopters will no doubt be disappointed with the lack of third-party apps when compared to other platforms. And those with competent knowledge about smartphone software will probably not purchase the N9 given Nokia's decision to focus future efforts on another platform.
The Nokia N9 relies on users swiping or tapping on the screen for the core of its functions, focussing on simplicity and ease of use.
The rest of us? We are just pleased that Nokia finally has a touchscreen smartphone that is pleasing to use. It's probably at least a year late, but the N9 is a nice start.
What do you think about the Nokia N9? Let us know in the comments below!