Barcelona (Spain) – Nokia needed a high-end phone to limit Apple’s raid of market share in the smartphone. That device was announced today and while there was very little information on the specifications of this new phone, called N97, it is clear that it will take the iPhone’s goal to be a great Internet and communications device as well as the term “smartphone” to a higher level.
It has taken Nokia some time to figure out how to deploy its resources to answer the success of Apple’s iPhone. Apple improved existing smartphones by extending the use of a traditional form and created the very first device to enable a convenient Internet browsing experience in an attractive shell. Nokia uses that very same approach and tries to eliminate obvious iPhone weaknesses.
Nokia’s advantage is that it has vastly more experience, reach and resources in this market than Apple.
The 5800 Xpress Music was the first take on the iPhone, which is scheduled to appear in the U.S. soon, likely with a similar or lower price tag than the iPhone. The N97 is expected to cost at least $700, excluding carrier subsidies, and take on the iPhone from the high-end. Scheduled for a H1 2009 release, Nokia now has two effective competitors for the iPhone.
Nokia said that the 3G N97 combines a 16:9 3.5″ touch display with a full QWERTY slide-out keyboard in brushed aluminum design. As part of the N-series, the device will come with multiple sensors, memory, processing power and connection speeds. Besides the motion sensing accelerator unit, there will be A-GPS sensors and an electronic compass, to help the device interpret the position of itself and its user.
Up to 48 GB of storage will be supported, including 32 GB of on-board memory, which is expandable with a 16 GB microSD card. There is also a 5 megapixel camera and battery capacity that will support continuous playback time for up to 1.5 days.
Most interestingly, the N97 is Nokia’s first phone that is not described primarily as a phone anymore, but as a “true mobile computer”. In fact, this may be a conclusive move, because this new generation devices are much more general communication devices that happen to include phone capability.
Apple is expected to respond to the wave of new smartphones, which include the SonyEricsson Xperia X1, the Blackberry Storm, T-Mobile G1 and Nokia’s phones at its Macworld Conference in early January.