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The Nokia N9 is cool. But can it revive interest in Nokia?

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(Read caption) Nokia N9 runs the MeeGo OS. Plus, it looks pretty sleek. But is the N9 too late to save Nokia?

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The N9, the latest smartphone from Nokia, and the follow-up to the N8, arrives kitted out with a range of impressive hardware – a 8-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, a 1 GHz Arm Cortex processor, a 3.9-inch AMOLED screen, Dolby Headphone and Dolby Digital Plus support, and an NFC reader. Oh, and thanks to some new design work, the N9 also gets absolutely no home button. Instead, users will simply drag their fingers across the display.

"With the Nokia N9, we wanted to design a better way to use a phone," Marko Ahtisaari, Nokia's head of design, said in a statement. "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."

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Inside, meanwhile, the N9 will be running the MeeGo operating system – a piece of in-house software, soon to be replaced with Windows Phone 7.

No word yet on release date or pricing. But already, the N9 has ginned up some substantial buzz. "Look what Nokia went and did," Charlie Sorrel writes over at Wired. "With pretty much everybody writing the company off as already dead, the Finns have come up with the rather hot-looking N9. It might be the MeeGo operating system’s last gasp before its head is plunged into the water trough one last time by Windows 7, but it’s going out in style."

Earlier this year, of course, Nokia announced that Windows Phone 7 software will soon power all Nokia phones – a partnership which was interpreted by many as salvation for the once-dominant Nokia. In recent months, Nokia has watched its share of the global smartphone market slowly start to erode, thanks mostly to major gains from Android and Apple.