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Nokia N9 shows off sleek looks and sad, orphaned MeeGo

Nokia's new N9 is a sharp-looking smart phone packing decent processing power and a potentially great camera. But will the obsolete MeeGo operating system put people off?

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Andrew Hoyle
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Nokia's sharp new N9 smart phone looks sleek, has impressive camera specs and a decent amount of processing power to boot. But it's also the first -- and possibly only -- phone to run the abandoned MeeGo operating system. Please folks, no pushing to the front of the queue.

MeeGo was an open-source operating system Nokia made in partnership with Intel. We tried a very early build on a tablet back in February and our initial impressions of the multiple home screen interface were fairly positive, although it seems to have changed quite a bit. The N9 however, is the only phone running MeeGo, and it's difficult to grasp why Nokia hasn't gone with Windows Phone, as it will be doing on devices later this year.

It's a real shame because the N9 itself is a smooth-looking piece of kit. The chassis is machined from a single piece of polycarbonate that curves round and joins seamlessly with the 3.9-inch curved screen making this phone reminiscent of Apple's fifth-gen iPod nanos. There's no buttons cluttering up the front either -- it's all screen. A home button has been replaced by a swipe gesture -- something we heard we might be getting on the iPhone 5.

The screen itself is an AMOLED affair with an 480x854-pixel resolution, which while not groundbreaking, should still make images and videos look crisp and clear. Nokia also claims that the polycarbonate body will provide superior reception and fewer dropped calls -- take that iPhone 4!

The N9 is packing a 1GHz processor, backed up by 1GB of RAM. It's not going to give dual-core monsters like the Samsung Galaxy S 2 or HTC Sensation a run for their money, but it should make general tasks a speedy and pleasant affair.

Around the back you'll find an 8-megapixel camera that has a maximum aperture of f2.2, which should make this a great low-light snapper when paired with the dual LED flash. It can also take 720p video for when you want to preserve the memory of your friend falling down stairs forever. The camera on the Nokia N8 was superb, so we expect great performance from this new iteration.

As a Nokia device, the N9 will have access to Nokia's Ovi app store. But as apps will have to be built specially for MeeGo -- specially for this one phone, really -- we expect the shelves to be barer than a Soviet supermarket. That said, if you couldn't give a monkey's about apps and just want to surf the Web and take photos, this could well be right up your street.

There's no word on pricing or availability yet, but make sure to keep it CNET UK for any updates.

What do you think of Nokia's latest effort? Does MeeGo float your boat or are you too hooked on Android? Let us know in the comments below or over on our official Facebook page.

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The only buttons are found round the side. These are for volume and the camera.
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MeeGo offers three home-screens -- one for events, one for applications and one for open apps.
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Nokia gives you a choice of three colours. Sadly, the pink isn't quite as fluorescent as we normally enjoy.
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If you buy three N9s, you can balance them for a new phone experience.
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Photos should look great on the 3.9-inch AMOLED screen.
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We don't need no home button -- this screen takes up the whole front of the phone.
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This page shows the available apps. With no other MeeGo devices in the pipeline to widen the userbase, this might well be all you'll ever get.
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Can you see the similarities to the fifth-gen iPod nano? We can. Join us.
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Here is the phone in someone's hand. It isn't massive, but that screen makes up for it.

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