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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  • juuvan - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - link

    The prototype batch of GTA4 is sold out but they choose to make a new layout to solve EMI issues. If you mean retail availability of the boards, that might take few months still.

    It has wlan and BT which is good enough for me.

    Less the camera and radio chip part the HW is comparable to N8 or iPhone 3GS. It's not bleeding edge stuff but I doubt no community driven project could ever get access to the latest HW anyway.
  • Trisagion - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    This was a phone I was eagerly waiting for before the whole Nokia make over. The design is fantastic and I'm sure the build will be equally good. I'm even willing to forego the slightly outdated hardware. But who would want to buy a phone running an OS that the manufacturer has already said it will no longer support?

    Nokia should fire it's entire PR and marketing team. A case of them shooting themselves in both feet by:

    1) Announcing that their future is WP7 with no WP7 phone ready any time soon.
    2) Announcing that Meego will no longer be supported and that N9 will be the last Meego phone - Before the phone is even released!

  • Miqunator - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Agree to both your points. Announcing the Windows thing as well as the dropping Meego almost a year before they have a Windows Phone out was just mind-blowing

    I'll just assume there's some conspiracy involved that wanted Nokia to crash, just to save me from the thought that someone over there thought it was a good idea.
  • pailebaker - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    During high inflation in the market, A demand of android and smart phones increased periodically. I have noticed that a prestige of nokia phones goes up. But sadly recommend that i couldn't find this phone in my town.
  • vkthor - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    I have a question... I see no signs of any Flash support for the browser in both N9 & N950. Is it coming with full flash support like N900 or will we have a step backwards in this? HTML5 is fine, but a lot of sites are still running over flash apps.
  • Creamy Goodness - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    That's up to Adobe, the OS is open enough that the flash browser plugin can be made at any time.
  • Akdor 1154 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Goddamnit, if Nokia could promise that this OS would be supported I'd have gotten my mitts on an N950 instead of my Desire Z in a heartbeat.
  • juuvan - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    unfortunately N950 is not planned to be released to resale. It's developer community platform and sort of a reward for their efforts. Most likely all N950 devices are given out for developers for free.
  • R3MF - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    this guy reckons nokia will still be pumping $200 mil plus a year into Meego, looks like he might be right:
  • juuvan - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    there is a slight miss spelling on the charts, and technically the phone OS is not MeeGo, but MeeGo compliant version of Maemo

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