Nokia Releases Upmarket iPhone Competitor, The N97; Where's the music?

Nokia has launched yet another touchscreen smartphone, the N97, which targets the high-end of the market and comes with a full QWERTY keyboard reminiscent of the Nokia Communicator series.

This N-series handset, which was announced at an event held by the Finnish company in sunny Barcelona, integrates the best technology available at Nokia Labs; on the face of it, it resembles the Nokia XpressMusic 5800 with a silvery white finish but has a slide-out keyboard.

The N97 takes over the popular N96 and will be pitted against the likes of the Sony Ericsson's X1 (which has the same slide out keyboard), the BlackBerry Storm and the Samsung Omnia (ed: Plus the iPhone as well).

It also comes witha 3.5-inch 16:9 touchscreen "haptic-enabled" display capable of displaying 640x360 pixels but it doesn't support "pinching" like the iPhone.

At 150g, it is slightly heavier than the iPhone's 135g and it is also thicker than the Apple Phone. However, then it comes to specifications, the N97 nails the iPhone.

It packs a 5-megapixel camera with dual LED flash, 32GB onboard memory expandable to 48GB by throwing in a 16GB microSD card and the 1500mAH battery will provide enough juice for 400 hours of standby time, and up to 270 minutes of video playback.

There's also great expectations over its gaming capabilities as the N97 features the N-Gage Gaming Platform, although how it fares will depend greatly on the inbuilt accelerometer's performance.

Other features will include A-GPS, HSDPA, built-in WiFi, a 3.5mm Jack, a stylus and TV-Out. The N97 will still be using the Standard Symbian S60 platform but like the Xperia XS1, will use an improved User Interface.

The N97 will be available for 550 Euros before taxes and subsidies and will be on sale in the first half of 2009; pity though that it is yet another paper launch by Nokia. You still can't buy the Nokia XpressMusic 5800 in the UK, three months after its launch.

It will be interesting to find out whether the N97 will be sold as a "Comes With Music" phone as it is the case for the £400 N95.

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