Nokia N9 release imminent

Nokia N9 smartphone, magenta, front angle

Contrary to what you might have ready elsewhere, the Nokia N9 smartphone IS coming to Australia, and its release is “imminent”. The USA isn’t getting the Nokia N9. The UK isn’t getting it. But Australia? Oh yes, the MeeGo is a go! Kind of. More on that in a minute.

I had a hands-on with the Nokia N9 today, and met with Kurt Bonnici, the Product and Technology Marketing Manager, Nokia Australia. Before I go into what was said, let me say that the Nokia N9 is probably the nicest looking phone I’ve ever seen. The designers have done a terrific job with this phone. As have the coders – MeeGo is an intuitive and snappy operating system.

Speaking of MeeGo, it’s true that this is the first phone to run this operating system, and that it will be the last MeeGo device that Nokia will release. That’s right, after years of development, and with what looks to be a very good first-up effort, MeeGo is the phone operating system equivalent of the coelacanth – a living fossil.

That’s probably being a little harsh. A Nokia representative today said that “learnings from MeeGo will transfer into other Nokia devices.” So it will have something of a life beyond the Nokia N9. Also stated today was that Nokia will support MeeGo for up to 4 years after the release of the Nokia N9. That’s support and upgrades – so don’t go in thinking obsolescence, it’s entirely probable you’ll have moved on to your next phone at least by the time the MeeGo lifeline has been cut.

Why is MeeGo only getting a run on the one device from Nokia? Good question. A very good question. I have a strong suspicion that the deal with Microsoft to put the Windows Phone operating system on Nokia phones next year has had some bearing on the decision. Other than that I cannot make sense of a company that has been losing market share in the smartphone segment of the mobile phone market, putting years into making a very good OS and then dropping it.

There’s also the fact that MeeGo is open source, so it could very well be picked up and used by another device manufacturer. There’s no whisper that this has happened, so let’s put that in the out-of-left-field possibility pile.

Nokia N9 smartphone, closeup view of the home screen

But back to the Nokia N9. It will be sold by Telstra, Optus and VHA (Vodafone and 3). It will be available in three colours, black, blue and pink, with 16GB of storage. The telcos will also have the option of selling a 64GB version, available in black only. Nokia today  confirmed that it will be released in Australia in the third quarter of the year – that is before the end of September. If I was to guess from what was said today, I would say mid-September. A the time of writing no pricing information was given, but Bonnici stated that it would be “priced competitively”.

UPDATE 1 September, 2011: Price and availablity announced

The price and release date of the Nokia N9 was announced this morning announnced – well, not so much a release date, rather a release month.

Firstly, the price. Bought outright, the 16GB version of the Nokia N9 will have an RRP of $779. Telco plans are still to be announced, but to repeat what was said above, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone will sell the N9, as will Allphones, Big W, Crazy John’s, Dick Smith, JB Hi-Fi, Fone Zone, Harvey Norman, Leading Edge Telecoms, Network Communications, TeleChoice and Virgin Mobile.

As for the 64GB black version of the Nokia N9, apparently Harvey Norman has listed it for pre-order at $987.

As for when you can buy one, that will be sometime in October – no specific date has yet been provided.

First impressions

The 3.9 inch capacitive touchscreen is very clear and responsive, and the 8 megapixel camera with Zeiss lens produces excellent images. Australian maps will be pre-loaded, and includes turn-by-turn voice instructions. Maps for 180 countries are available, and they’re all free of charge. As the maps are downloaded right to the phone, that means that there’s no data charges with the use of the maps. An exception to this is use made of of the live traffic information feature – this will incur data charges.

For more information on the phone, specifications and demonstration videos, read Nokia N9 smartphone announced. Available… sometime.

So what do you think? Would the fact that the Nokia N9 will be the first and last Nokia device running MeeGo put you off buying it?

| Nokia Australia |

Nokia N9 release imminent