Thinking about buying an N9 - any North American N9 owners/former owners here?


In the past couple of days I've really taken to the idea of picking up an N9. There are a couple of reason for this.

The first is a general letdown with the Lumia 900. Actually, it's probably more like a series of letdowns.

The first one isn't verified yet, but it seems highly likely that 3G on AWS bands (aka T-Mobile in the US and my carrier, Wind, in Canada) is disabled in firmware. We know that the baseband chip supports it because Android phones using the same Qualcomm 9200 chip released on AT&T were able to work on T-Mobile after having their radio flashed.

Then there's the mediocre-to-poor camera. I know it's the same/similar camera hardware on the N9 but by all accounts it performs far worse in WP7.

The final straw was the recent rumors about the 900 not getting the next major version of the OS (WP8/Apollo/whatever it's going to be called). I realize nothing is confirmed but the phrase "the silence is damning" seems to fit well here. You have big WP7 supporters like Peter Bright on Ars writing articles telling people not to buy the 900 because the update prospects are murky and still MS has no comment. I realize that secrecy is the new black, but when longtime MS supporters on major tech sites are saying stuff like that on the eve of a huge launch and marketing push companies tend to say something to assuage the fear.

I'm writing this as a fan of Lumia 800/900 hardware who is beginning to get let down by WP7. Its deficiencies (which I was somewhat willing to wait out) become more glaring as the possibility of it not getting Apollo become more real.

/end lumia 900 rant

Anyway, my post isn't about why I don't want a Lumia 900, that's just the backdrop for why I want a N9. I feel like the N9 already gets right a lot of the things that I'm expecting Microsoft to fix in the next major version of Windows Phone, namely; multitasking, notifications and background processes. With the N9, the fact that its future is completely unknown (I say unknown where many people say it's dead because Nokia has already pushed 2 big updates with more rumored) is less of an issue because I don't see as many holes in its core functionality as I do with WP7. The N9 has folders, it has a notification area and it has a more robust system for running apps in the background which is one of my biggest annoyances with WP7 right now - the fact that Nokia Drive will stop giving you directions when you simply lock the screen is annoying. With my Android devices, on longer trips I would always run with the screen off to save battery life (the directions are still read out loud and that's all I needed). On WP7 switching apps and even locking the screen will cause the app to completely stop functioning. Same thing when using a VOIP app, pushing it to the background means you killed the app and ended your call. I don't even want to get started on the "surprise, your app was booted from the task switcher because we decided to add a card for each browser tab you opened" multitasking.

I realize that the app situation is poor. For all intents and purposes I'm operating under the assumption that I'll have no apps outside of the built in ones. I realize there are apps available, I'm just preparing myself for their relatively small number by resolving that I'll need to use the web for mostly everything. This isn’t really a big deal for me because I've already adopted this position with WP7 (using mobile websites for banking, paypal, ebay -there's a WP7 ebay app but it's horrible, and more). In terms of gaming, my gaming habits are completely casual give me a bejeweled or zuma clone and I'm fine.

The unknowns are the music situation, general OS smoothness and the keyboard. I love syncing with the Zune client and can begrudgingly accept using iTunes but the situation that exists on Android is unusable to me. It's one of the main reasons I don't consider Android. The core music player is great but if you want to have an iTunes like syncing experience you need to move to a third party solution. Spending $10 on the full DoubleTwist suite and having it not work properly was probably one of the nails in the coffin on my brief 3 week Galaxy Nexus ownership. It wasn't that I blamed Google for DoubleTwist sucking, it was that I considered music syncing an integral part of the phone experience and leaving it to third parties opened them up to having subpar performance in this area that I consider key (even a deal breaker). I understand the N9 allows syncing with iTunes through an app they put out called Nokia Link, but finding reviews on this is hard. Will it sync podcasts downloaded in iTunes or will I need a podcatcher on the phone? Does the music app have its own section for podcasts?

OS smoothness is also another area that repeatedly drove me away from Android (even ICS on a GNex) towards iOS and WP7. The keyboard is also hugely important to me. Over the years I've become pretty fast typing on virtual keyboards. iOS and WP7 can keep up with me, Android (even ICS on my GNex) was constantly dropping keystrokes and lagging.