updated 07:25 am EST, Tue December 2, 2008
Nokia today used its own Nokia World expo to establish a touchscreen phone as its new leading device and its best chance against the iPhone. The N97 has a full 3.5-inch touch LCD that shares the same Symbian S60 5th Edition platform as the 5800 XpressMusic but also hides a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that locks into a more natural typing angle like the AT&T Tilt. Accordingly, the phone is pitched as a social networking hub and includes a new home screen that optionally shows status update widgets from Facebook, MySpace and Nokia's own Ovi service among others.
The handset is also reportedly Nokia's most media-friendly device. Apart from a 16:9 ratio display suited to videos, the phone is one of the first to carry 32GB of storage built-in and still has room for a microSDHC card slot to add an extra 16GB. A native 3.5mm headphone jack and a large battery that supplies up to 37 hours of music (or six hours of 3G calling) also render it a true media player.
The N97 shares many of the higher-end features of other Nseries phones, including both its HSPA-based 3G, a five-megapixel camera with a dual-LED flash, data-assisted GPS and Wi-Fi. Nokia also touts a "real" web browser with embedded Adobe Flash video and a new version of Nokia Maps that supports 3D landmarks, satellite terrain data and a newer pedestrian guidance mode that can create a straight line through parks and other areas.
As with most of the company's phone launches, the N97 is given a broad shipping window and is scheduled to ship sometime during the first half of 2009 in either black or white colors. Nokia is also pricing the phone as its new top end and plans to sell the phone for 550 Euros ($694) before carrier discounts. The device as-is supports GSM and EDGE on North America's 850MHz band but lacks similar support for HSPA in the region.