Nokia Talks Up New N97, A Really Smart Smartphone

Brian Kraemer
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The N97 features a tilting 3.5-inch touch screen while still maintaining a full QWERTY keyboard, along with A-GPS and standalone GPS, 3G capabilities, Wi-Fi and a 5-megapixel camera.

Nokia is hoping to fire a shot across the bow of Apple's iPhone and, to a certain extent, Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm by combining all the elements users have come to expect from mobile devices that double as portable computers.

The feature Nokia appears to be most excited about is the N97's built-in social location capabilities, brought to fruition through an enhanced Symbian OS, the S60 v5. Similar to the Nokia 5800, the N97 will have a quick contacts bar and customizable widgets, which users can add or subtract to depending on their browsing habits and preferences. The location networking capabilities come from an integrated A-GPS sensor and an electronic compass. The aim, according to Nokia, is to allow customers to interact with their favorite social networks in realtime and with accurate, up-to-the-minute location-sharing abilities.

In addition, the smartphone comes with the built-in capability to stream Flash videos—something the Apple iPhone still lacks—and play video games, two segments that are rapidly growing as more users switch to smartphones and expect the same functionalities they get at home on their laptop or desktop.

Similar to the BlackBerry Storm, the N97 also is built with virtual touch technology for users who aren't quite comfortable with pure touch-screen typing. The full QWERTY keyboard is for those stalwarts who aren't ready to make the move to an entirely touch-screen interface.

The N97 has pretty impressive specs for a smartphone, with up to 48 GB of storage, with 32 GB of on-board memory, expandable with a 16-GB microSD card for music and other forms of media.

Like most Nokia releases, the N97 is initially aimed at the European and Asian markets before the Finnish company adapts the technology and brings it to the U.S.

An unsubsidized version of the Nokia N97 will cost approximately $695 for those European and Asian customers who can't wait to get their hands on one. The N97 is expected to be released in the first half of 2009.

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