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Nokia launches Meego-powered N9 smartphone

Nokia has announced its N9, a finely-crafted phone that runs the MeeGo operating system.

Clinging by its fingernails to the title of world's biggest mobile phone firm, Nokia has high hopes for the N9. The handset is certainly pretty and Nokia is promoting what it calls an 'innovative' design feature it calls a 'swipe', whereby a finger run across the screen automatically takes you back to the home screen. Innovative often means annoying until you adapt.

Like other smartphone makers Nokia thinks its important to be able to quickly access social networking sites from the phone. We may be too old to pass judgement on that. We happen to be a Nokia fan largely because smartphones turn us off; Nokia handsets are easy to use and we have a cupboard full of Nokia chargers.

The world's moved on and left us behind, however - rather like Nokia itself. So the Finnish outfit it now babbling on about apps and 'beautiful curved glass'. Here it's playing catch-up before its, um, finished.

Marko Ahtisaari, Nokia's head of design said that with the Nokia N9, Nokia "wanted to design a better way to use a phone. To do this we innovated in the design of the hardware and software together. We reinvented the home key with a simple gesture: a swipe from the edge of the screen. The experience sets a new bar for how natural technology can feel."

He added: "The details that make the Nokia N9 unique - the industrial design, the all-screen user experience, and the expressive Qt framework for developers - will evolve in future Nokia products."

Indeed, Nokia needs all the future it can get. Whether the Meego OS will be part of that future remains to be seen. Much will rest on the company's upcoming Windows-powered phones.

In the meantime the N9 is a good stop-gap and evidence - if such is needed - that Nokia does still know how o make a handset.

It sports a 3.9-inch AMOLED screen made from scratch-resistant "curved glass". The obligatory camera has an 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss autofocus sensor, wide-angle lens enabled with HD-quality video capture. It's got speech-powered navigation, Near Field Communication enabling users to share files by bumping phones. Bluetooth's still there for those that use it, enabling it to beam music to nearby speakers, for example.

Optionally, you can get yours in one of three colors, and with either 16GB and 64GB of storage.

The firm remains vague on when the phone will actually go on sale however. monitors all leading technology stories and rounds them up to help you save time hunting them down.