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Could The Nokia N9 Have Been A Decent iPhone 5 Rival?

Nokia could have turned the N9 Meego-based smartphone into a genuine iPhone 5 contender if it had managed to get its act together and polish the N9's hardware.

The phone comes with some seriously impressive innovations; it is the first phone to come with 64GB onboard storage, it has no front facing buttons (which helps maximise the screen size), sports a curved glass display which, Nokia says, brings the screen nearer to the surface and reduces glare, and Nokia even introduced Dolby Headphone and Dolby Digital Plus, a first on any mobile phone.

In addition, we reckon that it is the first smartphone to sport a one-piece, unibody polycarbonate plastic design which allows it to achieve superior antenna performance compared to other rivals that have been affected in the past.

If that wasn't enough, it has the fastest "start to capture" camera performance of any smartphone on the market, better by almost a fifth compared to the iPhone 4. The 28mm wide angle lens was pioneered by the Nokia N86 and comes with Carl Zeiss optics, probably the best lenses in the world of camera phones.

It does however adopt one feature that was hitherto unique to the iPhone 4, the microSIM, and like the latter it doesn't come with a microSD card slot. As for potential improvements; well, its webcam is located at the bottom of the phone (when held in portrait mode), and you could always improve the battery life or the device's speed, but overall, hardware-wise, the N9 is a breathtaking piece of technology.

Its fundamental flaw though is the fact that it is a one-off, a show piece and a proof of concept of what a Meego phone might have been. Nokia has already committed to Windows Phone 7 and without a proper App store and guaranteed long term support, there's just no future for the N9.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.