Truths, Falsehoods, and Grey Areas

I like the times when I talk myself out of the normal settings of offices and home and use my mobiles in places such as coffeeshops. There something about just getting into other streams of life that expose truths and falsehoods about mobile. In this time getting to know my N9, I'm presented with several degrees along this spectrum.

It's been a while since I've felt that I don't need a larger screen to get everything done. Don't get me wrong, I like the iPad and Kindle Fire HD I own. There have been some neat things accomplished with them. But aside from the drawing and some remote teaching, there is nothing that's been done that I also couldn't have done from a laptop. With the N9, I'm free. And frankly, it's been reading to be back in that state of mobile. I use my tablet for longer term reading, writing, and drawing. Everything else is easier on the N9.

The N9 isn't yet good enough though. In writing this on my Kindle Fire HD, and taking pics with my N8. The N9 is a communication manager right now. It's the smaller screen that I'm using to stay plugged in while writing. It's battery couldn't take the constant switching, nor could my patience with some of the lagging. Yes, I now have FasterN9, but that points to where things could have been better done in terms of performance and usability before this device/platform was sent to pasture.

The N9 is a modern, beautiful, and usable device in spring of 2013.

Yes, it's running a processor that was a year old when it came out. Yes, it's on a platform that's abandoned by all but the staunchest of fans. And yes, it's mistaken for Nokia current Lumia model line. All of those perceptions ring as false when you start stacking some of its core usage against other models.

Can you make calls, send messages, share to social networks, view websites and some web apps, remote into servers, share media to other devices, admin networks, and even build apps on the N9? Then how is it not sufficient?

If your mobile usage revolves around many of the app and services that mark some kinds of mobile usage of these times (Instagram, some new/popular games, Google Wallet/Apple Passbook, and Amazon Cloud Player to name a few), then yes, it's false to see this movie as suitable. Then again, something about the apps I've named and the activities I started in the last paragraph do point to fight different perspectives towards mobile ;)

Then there's the side that says it takes a lot of work to keep using a device like this. Perhaps I'm on the side of Monday morning quarterbacking since I got mine so late. But it does seem like the N9 has done just what it was designed to do: galvanize a community of users to care for the platform once the leading company has moved on. The N9 communities I've seen have been excellent, and I've got tweaks that make sense and some are pretty.

The N9 has a limited shelf life for all but the most consumed of open source mobile fans.

Grey Areas
The N9 is weird though. You have this device that anytime I put it into anyone else's hands does this thing that's pretty much only seen with well-crafted car doors and watches: a look of being impressed, amazed, and then slight jealously. There are questions, and smiles of acceptance. And some even ask where they could purchase one (psst. Amazon). Its one of those mobiles in which the owner develops a sense of contentment, or a sense of "ok, that's what mobile was about. Let's go forward."

There aren't too many accessories that I'll have to trumpet the design of my N9. Sure, the included skin cover is a pretty sweet piece of work. I don't like it all the time – home times make me take the cover off. But, its something akin to nice.

I purchased the Luna headset from Arie and its pretty sweet as well. Tap to pair. Yea, NFC is great. Until it doesn't work. Twice now I've tried doing a simple URL swap with an Android user and haven't gotten it to work. I blame the tech, and the platform.

Its like the N9 is just far enough to be useful, and not far enough to be amazing (to all). Yea, I can pull out aspects of using the N9 that just won't be done with anything else (except Symbian given my history). My black 64GB N9 sits in this space where its going to probably have just enough of a impression in my hands that I'll enjoy the ride. And when its done, I'll want a color-code that's a bit different.

A lot about mobile can be summarized in 30 days with the N9. A lot more about mobile can be imagined.

Any comments or questions on this article can be posted below.

Please note: Prior to undertaking any modification detailed above, understand that there are risks involved. Whilst every modification has been tested to work on the author's Nokia N9, there are no guarantees it will work on a different Nokia N9 or other mobile phone. EverythingN9 will not take responsibility for any effects of a mod, including hardware or software damage, telecommunication charges, or legal implications.

About the author


Mobility, Creative Thinking & Experiments, and a Maturing Faith's Passion; @mobileminmag Founder/Primary Voice


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  1. bongo

    I kind of felt/feel the same way then I got my N9 last year. It's a really strange feeling, on one side you think: "oh my gosh, that phone looks and feels so great, I don't want to miss this thing for one second in my life" and on the other hand it is like this: "man, would be great, if I had this cool traffic app like in android…" but at the same time you begin to appreciate the down sides and it feels that you and your phone are something special, quite nostalgic just because you dont have everything… like I said really strange and good at the same time

    I hope you can follow me here :D

    1. Antoine

      I can follow you. And am nodding in agreement.

  2. Akuma

    I couldnt agree more with you :D
    specially the Grey Areas!!!
    I cant remember how many people got: "a look of being impressed, amazed, and then slight jealously. There are questions, and smiles of acceptance. And some even ask where they could purchase one (psst. Amazon)" !!!
    I see i am not the only one!

  3. paul

    I just got a new 16gb N9 (it's still in the box wrapped in its plastic film) but started regretting it just after placing the order with Newegg (it was on sale so I grabbed it). I'm pondering about whether to send it back, try to sell it, or keep it and try to use it. The internal battery makes it almost useless to me as a phone. Forget to charge it and there's no way to make calls? I don't understand how Apple can sell a single Iphone. With other phones I just carry a spare battery or two and swap if I have to.

    As a media storage device the 16gb capacity is too small. I had forgotten when I ordered it that it has no MicroSD slot like the N900 has. I thought I'd just buy a 64gb micro card and have plenty of space.

    I'm not too fussy about apps. I'd like to have a really good phone contact organizer and those don't seem to have existed since the era of the Psion 5 and HP 200LX in the 1990's. Maybe I'll write one–I wonder how hard it would be to put a basic gui around something like Fossil. Other thing (my main reason for buying the phone) is a very customized camera app based on one of the FOSS camera apps. But I was originally planning to do that with the N900 and I still might.

    Overall I just don't have very much hope. All the newer stuff (Jolla, Firefox OS, Ubuntu) seems to be going in the wrong direction. The more recent Android hardware is leaving this stuff behind, but getting more and more locked down and evil. The answer may be something like a Debian Linux tablet communicating with a basic dumbphone by bluetooth. Who knows.

  4. Rob In der Maur

    The N9 experience is just so much of a battle between love and rationale. I do own an iPhone 5 and a Nokia N9 and I so often switch between the two of them as being the main device that Whatsapp almost locked me out for requesting too many tokens.

    In the end the iPhone has the apps that sometimes you cannot live without: e.g. a proper mobile app to do your banking; nothing like that you will see appear on the N9.

    But then the N9 offers you the consistent experience, UI, gestures (instead of buttons), synch of contacts and social, etc. Once again, look at Wazapp; there is no better Whatsapp experience on any other platform and on top of that it is all coming from the community! Nokia married this all with beautiful hardware design that seamlessly melts with the OS and apps. Just to take the next leap where webOS left the game.

    I can almost fall in love with reading the Harmattan UX guidelines over and over again (call me a freak) but that is just how the platform is defined: consistency in experience. How far ahead of all the skeuomorphic, flat design, whatever next fashion thing that is out there on iOS or (even worse) Android.

    I just hope Sailfish will fill the future gap, but I am not yet convinced.

  5. Cicci

    I now have my second n9. First one was 64gb but micro USB stopped working. Can not find anyone with the balls to fix it. Moved to Nokia lumia 820, biggest piece of rubbish ever. Thankfully screen cracked so bought 16 gb N9 cause I am a tight arse. Hoping someone can help me with a suggestion on how to fix my 64 gb N9, I am based in Sydney.
    Sikest phone ever.
    Tried some of that hacking stuff,but freaked out.

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