Nokia's long-awaited N8 smartphone will finally see its official launch on Oct. 1, and for Nokia, it's the most important smartphone release in ages.
While Nokia retains the crown as the world leader in mobile phone market share, the company has found itself losing ground to rivals, thanks to surging international interest in Apple's iPhone and phones running on Google's Android OS.
In other words, Nokia needs an N8 hit. But unless Nokia has a few extra tricks up its sleeve, picky and fickle U.S. subscribers -- not exactly Nokia's bread and butter business to begin with -- might just do for N8 what they often seem to do with Nokia smartphone releases: pass it on by.
First announced in April, the N8 is based on Nokia's Symbian 3 operating system, and includes 12-megapixel Carl Zeiss optics camera. Nokia in mid-August began accepting pre-orders for the U.S. version of the N8, which is priced at $549, and according to Nokia's web store will be available "end of September."
It sports a 3.5-inch, 640x360 AMOLED display and along with the 12-megapixel monster camera, can support 720p video capture. It includes Nokia's satellite navigation platform in Ovi Maps, and the N8 can also access web TV and play music as well as offer an HDMI interface to connecting to a TV.
Whether the N8 appeals to U.S. consumers, it may prove a boon to hit-starved Nokia regardless, and it's certainly created optimism within the analyst community. Both Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch said Tuesday they expect the N8 to sell well and help prop up Nokia's slumping average selling prices.
"Although Nokia still has plenty to improve and macro concerns have resurfaced, our recent checks indicate Nokia's next flagship product, the N8, is off to a good start," wrote Morgan Stanley analyst Patrick Standaert in a Tuesday note.
More Nokia smartphone gems may be on the way. According to Reuters, Nokia is also expected to unveil its N9 handset -- the first to run its newer MeeGo mobile OS -- at the Nokia World Summit next week in London.