Here’s Part 2 of my Nokia N9 unboxing. This video picks up where Part 1 left off with the phone out of the box but not powered up yet. It shows the boot up animations, initial set up and configuring a Wi-Fi connection.
I was pretty impressed with how easy it was to get the phone up an running without a SIM. The Nokia interaction designers have recognized that some of us, including developers and international travelers, will want to use the N9 without an active SIM. Unlike many smartphones, the N9 didn’t complain about the missing SIM or waste my time with a mandatory account registration that wouldn’t have worked without a connection. I was able to power on, set the time zone and language, setup a Wi-Fi access point and start browsing in just a few minutes without any roadblocks. The N9 even let me go online using Wi-Fi without any of those annoying “Allow Wi-Fi connection in offline mode” dialogs so beloved by Symbian’s designers.
After I shot this video I picked up a T-Mobile prepaid SIM and popped it into the phone. The N9 lets you hot swap SIMs so I didn’t need to turn the phone off and back on to get it to recognize the SIM. Like most recent phones, the N9 identified the SIM and automatically created valid network data and MMS APN connections. Thoughtfully, it did not go online automatically without asking to waste any of my limited PAYGO data allotment. When I launched the browser for the first time out of range of Wi-Fi, there was prompt asking me if I wanted to use the T-Mobile mobile network for just this session or automatically as needed.
The first time you do turn the phone on with an active SIM it will prompt you to log into or create your Nokia account. You can skip this step if you want but you won’t be able to use the Nokia (app) Store until you do.
I’ve been very pleased with the N9 so far. Its distinctive industrial design which wraps a large, bright screen in a slim and light package, is a pleasure to hold. But it’s the “Swipe” user experience and Linux based OS that really make the N9 special. Nokia’s MeeGo/Harmattan team did an amazing job to come up with such a smooth, polished and intuitive interface combining exceptional ease of use with great power. The beautiful interface hides a full PC desktop class Linux stack with X-Server and window manager. A “Developer Mode” menu option enables a highly usable terminal shell and a wealth of command line development tools and utilities, making the N9 as apealling to Linux code wizards as it is to technophobes. Every time I use the N9 I’m both amazed and apalled that Nokia could spend years and millions of euros designing such a beautiful, usable, powerful and open platform only to throw it all away.