Alvin's month with the Nokia N9

Published by Steve Litchfield at 8:36 UTC, January 6th 2013

What a great, detailed and 100% honest write up of the Nokia N9 as it stands today (PR 1.3, etc.) in today's 2013 world - Alvin Wong here writes up how he's got on with trying to use it as his main smartphone for a month. There are plenty of disappointments and successes, detailed with hyperlinks to software workarounds, and I can't recommend this article enough. Most tellingly of all, coming to the same conclusion as me, Alvin confesses that part of him has fallen in love with the device, despite its many flaws....

From Alvin's piece:

At the same time, I’ve never wanted to make a device meet my needs so badly before. As I’m typing this, my SIM is still in the N9; something keeps drawing me back to it. Jolla Mobile stated a while back that they aim to become the Ferrari of the smartphone world, and I cannot help but draw an analogy between the N9 and an Italian supercar. The N9 is the sort of phone that’s unique, exclusive and entices you to use it as it sits on your desk; it isn’t the most practical or reliable device to have on hand and it is perfectly capable of going wonky when you least expect it, but it feels like a dream when it does work.

...Make no mistake about it – the N9 has a slow and pokey web browser, a really bad autocorrect and word completion engine (so bad that I’ve switched it off), a camera that doesn’t do too well in low light and a small app selection. It can freeze up for no apparent reason, the browser can take the entire phone down, apps can take a while to launch if they aren’t running in the background already, the battery runs down surprisingly quickly and CalDAV keeps putting up error messages. Using the N9 is definitely not a painless experience, nor will it perform well in the hands of someone particularly impatient.

...I love using Wazapp because it’s the most beautiful Whatsapp client I’ve come across on any platform. For podcasts, I’ve found gPodder to be a fantastic podcatcher because it syncs with an online service so you can subscribe to podcasts via a website and then add them very easily on your device. 4squick is my preferred Foursquare client by a large margin purely based on its speed; Tweetian is my favourite Twitter app at this point in time, and I’ve found the built-in Facebook client to be good enough.

Flickr uploading is built-in on MeeGo Harmattan, and I also use FlickrUp for browsing. I manage my expenses with Toshl, and access Pocket with the new Pockeego app.gNewsReaderNewsG and MeeDocs take care of Google Reader, Google News and Google Drive respectively; Dropian and FilesPlus are my preferred apps for Dropbox and Dropbox folder syncing and CutePress works well as a WordPress client. I’ve had other apps installed at various points in time but I’ve pretty much settled on this selection.

Despite the flaws and issues, I really like my N9. Heck, I think I’m in love with it – imperfections and quirks be damned. When it comes to smartphones, we often aim for the latest and greatest; we expect big-name apps flooding the app store, we want everything to just work, and there’s a lot of skepticism about whether new platforms and small start-ups even have the slightest shot of success in the highly competitive mobile space. I think the N9 has showed me that it’s possible for a device that’s flawed and lacking in a number of ways to still show the way forward and push the boundaries in other ways and work really well for certain people. I like my N9 a lot more than I thought I would, and I’ve found it to be a lot more useful than I first expected. If anything, it stands out in a sea of iPhones and Android devices by being different and better.

You can read the full article here.

There's also now a video roundup by Alvin:

Note also that the Nokia N9 was (quirkily) named by me as one of the top 5 phones in the world last month in Phones Show 189 - to see why, you'll have to watch!

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