updated 05:45 am EST, Mon February 11, 2008
Nokia N96 and N78
Nokia this morning made an aggressive start to its launch at Mobile World Congress through two key Nseries smartphones. The N96 (pictured) is Nokia's long-anticipated sequel to the N95 8GB and doubles its built-in storage to 16GB; with a microSDHC slot and an 8GB card (including a new card of Nokia's own), the device can hold up to 24GB data by itself. Several design changes also improve its handling of media playback: in addition to a built-in kickstand for long video playback, the N96 adds a native 3.5mm headphone jack, simulated 3D sound speakers, and a DVB-H tuner for receiving over-the-air digital TV in Europe. An electronic programming guide allows the handset to record up to 40 hours of video.
Like the N95, the updated phone sports a 5-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, and GPS with a data assist mode; however, a new button layout and a new look (borrowed from the N81) prep the device for eventual support for the N-Gage gaming service. Nokia plans to ship the phone during the summer for 550 Euros ($799). Regional launches have not been announced, though the device supports North American GSM and EDGE and should be available in the US as an unlocked device. 3G access (over HSDPA) is only supported in Europe for the initial N96 version.
A second phone, the N78, is designed as a budget alternative to the N82: also resembling the N81, the new phone uses a lower-resolution 3.2-megapixel camera and strips most built-in storage in favor of microSDHC cards. It nonetheless uses assisted GPS, Wi-Fi, and a native 3.5mm headphone jack; in a unique twist, it also sports an FM transmitter for broadcasting its music to other devices. Nokia bundles the N78 with a 2GB microSD card and ships the phone during the spring for 350 Euros ($508).