updated 08:10 am EDT, Wed September 2, 2009
Nokia starts new phone line, shrinks flagship
Nokia adds the X3 and X6 to its new Xseries media phone line while producing a smaller version of its highest-end smartphone.
Nokia marked the formal start of its own Nokia World show by launching three more phones, two of which are meant to bolster the company's stance in touchscreen phones. The rumored and now confirmed N97 mini is a rare fix for an existing design and shrinks the touchscreen smartphone slightly; it uses a smaller 3.2-inch, 640x360 display (down from 3.5 inches) and drops the dedicated directional pad in favor of arrow keys tucked into the slide-out, tilting QWERTY keyboard. Software also gets an upgrade with support for much more intuitive flick scrolling, more home screen widgets and updated Ovi Maps, though these will reach the full-size N97 in October as a free patch.
The mini will still have most of the hardware features, ranging from the 5-megapixel camera to GPS to Wi-Fi. However, it shrinks the built-in storage from 32GB to 8GB and leaves the microSDHC slot to compensate. The combination of size and features should drop the launch price significantly, putting the N97 mini at 450 Euros ($640) before carrier discounts versus the 550 Euros ($781) the larger phone used to cost. It ships to at least Europe in October, but the phone is an extremely rare quad-band 3G phone and should support the 850MHz access needed for AT&T and Rogers in the US and Canada respectively.
The expo also marks the start of the Xseries, a new product line that effectively replaces the XpressMusic series and introduces a sharper, minimalist design. Heading up the line, the X6 has virtually the same 3.2-inch display as the N97 mini but a thinner, keyboard-free shape. Its specifications are closer to those of the full N97, though, with a 5-megapixel camera, 32GB of built-in storage, GPS and Wi-Fi all standard. It uses the same contact carousel and media shortcuts on the home screen as Nokia's more recent budget touchscreen phones.
Making the strategic changes keeps the price the same 450 Euros as the N97 mini. It has a less clear fall 2009 release window and won't support North American 3G bands in its stock form.
The X3 is the only non-smartphone launching today and is the first Symbian S40 device to have access to downloads from the Ovi Store. It adopts a conventional slider form factor and uses shortcut buttons for music playback. Features are strictly mid-range with a 3.2-megapixel camera, data limited to 2G (EDGE), and storage dependent mostly on the microSDHC slot. FM radio is the only other special feature on the phone, which ships in the fall for 115 Euros ($163) and supports North American GSM and EDGE.