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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  • KZ0 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    That is quite simply the most sexy handset I have ever seen.
  • mcquade181 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    I notice that the N9 seems to have the same design earpiece as the N8. If it's the same, and they have reused most of the N8 hardware, then it's crap. I have an N8 and the maximum earpiece volume is woefully bad, so bad that the phone is unusable in noisy environments.
    The photos don't show the back of the units, but if that also like the N8 then there's another problem. The loudspeaker design on the N8 is also seriously flawed - lay the phone faceup on a soft surface and it's completely inaudible.
    Don't know what's going on with Nokia (their older phones' volume was great), but they need to put their finger out when it comes to hardware design and usability with newer models!
  • Prosthetic Head - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    I am aware that I'm a far from typical phone user and don't buy apps so I'm not a good market target either, BUT I will spend a lot of money on good and fairly open hardware. I have an N900 and it is by far the best phone / pocket computer I've ever had or seen. I primarily use it to run Mappero with maps and UK OS maps and the GPS. Another favorate is Aarddict (a dictionary application I use to search and read wikipedia from a database dump without needing an internet connection). I also run some python apps of my own writing and use it as a media player.

    The only thing I'd like improving in a next gen device is 1) Longer battery life. 2) Faster GPS position fix. 3) transflective screen. It is easily fast enough for everything I want.

    My apologies if the above seems irrelevant, but its an example of an atypical user case which open devices can be made to fit. It makes me very sad to think that there probably wont be a device as good for my needs made in the near future.
  • Wizzdo - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    Pretty look but I wonder if it will be a scratch magnet.
  • liveonc - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    It's a damn sweet design. Maybe if the trillion+apps & dual-quad-hexa 3G/4G lets get a new phone because my old one sucks, trend stops, Nokia could sell this. But...
  • theinvisibleduck - Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - link

    Doesn't WebOS run on pure Linux? (I have heard android does not).
  • nitink - Monday, August 1, 2011 - link

    this phone have a great potential unleach its power get full hd games with sd card
  • MEGATRON92 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

  • MEGATRON92 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    HELP ME!!

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