Nokia N9 swipes into our hands-on photos

The Nokia N9 feels like a phone dreamt in a designer's fantasy, but made real. We're trying not to get too attached before its MeeGo software dies of neglect...

Flora Graham
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We don't want to get too close to the Nokia N9, because we know its MeeGo operating system is getting the chop from Nokia. Investing in MeeGo apps feels like a waste. But now we've had our hands on the N9, we can't help falling a little bit in love with Nokia's new phone.

Its slim polycarbonate body makes the N9 one of the few phones that lives up to the flattering renders released by its maker. The pink and blue colours are amazingly vibrant, and since the case material is coloured all the way through, Nokia says you won't see scratches as much.

The screen is another treat. It sits right at the top of the glass, accentuating the N9's slim form. Combined with the button-less front, the screen makes the N9 feel even more like a phone dreamt in a designer's fantasy, but made real.

The swipey MeeGo software is as smooth and easy to use as we'd hoped, too. There are buttons around the edge for unlocking and volume, but it's also possible to unlock the phone by double-tapping it. We've tried it, and it's a win.

It's just one aspect of a phone that seems perfectly designed for one-handed use. A big swipe from the left or right of any app reveals a screen of thumbnails so you can swap between open webpages or apps quickly, making multi-tasking easy. Two other home screens show a grid of apps and a stream of your texts, emails and tweets. 

There are so many reasons why shelling out for a phone with no future is a mistake. There will be few apps available compared to its competitors, and little reason for developers to make more. There's the possibility it might be able to use Android apps using the Alien Dalvik software, but based on our interview with its maker, we think it's unlikely Nokia or the networks will expend the effort to make that happen. Some networks may decide there's no point in even selling the N9 in the first place.

But even if this relationship is going nowhere, for now we're enjoying our crush on the N9, and dreaming about what it all means for Nokia's upcoming Windows Phones.

If you're feeling the emo fun of falling for an OS that's headed for an early death, click the gallery above to see our hands-on photos.

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Black, blue and pink phones all looked good in their own way, although the extremely vibrant colours may not be for everyone.
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The central home screen shows a grid of icons for the phone's apps and functions.
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The left-most home screen shows a stream of your texts, emails and social networking updates.
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The right-most home screen shows thumbnails of your open apps and webpages. Pinching to zoom makes the thumbnails bigger or smaller.
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Moving between the three home screens was quick and responsive, even in the early sample we saw.
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When you're playing with an app, swiping from the far left or right of the screen returns you to whatever home screen you were last on. In this case, we're moving from the music app to the central menu screen.
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The N9's 8-megapixel camera also shoots HD videos.
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The unlock button is on the side of the N9, under the volume buttons, but you can also ignore it and double-tap the screen to wake the phone.
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The top of the N9 has stealthy ports that hide the micro-USB port and the SIM-card slot.
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Surprise! It's an iPhone 4-style micro SIM!
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The bottom of the N9.
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Nokia Maps has one big advantage over Google Maps -- it doesn't require a network connection, because maps are stored on the phone.
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The N9's music player.
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The camera on the N9 -- you can tap the screen to tell it where to focus.
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The setting screen on the N9.

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