Nokia Launches Touchscreen Music-Phone

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London – Nokia unveiled its first mass-market touchscreen-equipped phone, a music-playing 3G model that will deliver free one-year access to Nokia’s soon-to-launch Comes With Music service.

The new music service allows one year of free unlimited downloading of music tracks.

The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic phone is due in the fourth quarter in Europe, but a North American edition isn’t planned for U.S. availability until sometime next year, a spokesman said, and it’s not certain whether the Nokia music service will be available here at that time. The company also hasn’t said whether the GSM/W-CDMA HSDPA (high speed downlink packet access) phone will be sold in the U.S. through carriers or, as an unlocked phone, direct to retailers or consumers.

In Europe, the 4.31x2.04x0.61-inch, 3.85-ounce phone will sell for around 279 euros, or $368 based on an exchange rate of $1.38 per euro.

For the U.S., the phone will operate in 3G HSDPA mode in the 850/1900MHz bands and quad-band GSM/EDGE is the U.S. and overseas. It lacks dialing buttons and hard QWERTY keyboard, so dialing and text entry must be accomplished through a virtual keypad and keyboard appearing on the 3.2-inch widescreen display. The front panel features only three hard buttons: talk, end, and menu control.

It comes with included 8GB microSD card, ability to support a 16GB card, 3.2megapixel camera/camcorder with 30fps VGA playback, built-in stereo speakers, stereo Bluetooth, WiFi, 3.5mm headphone jack, Flash support for viewing Web video, and Symbian Series 60 (5th edition) operating system and interface.

Unlike other touchscreen phones that have come to market, it eschews a capacitive touchscreen in favor of a resistive touchscreen, enabling the use of a finger, stylus or plectrum (guitar-pick like tool) to navigate the phone. Capacitive touchscreens allow only for fingertip control. The resistive touchscreen meets the needs “of users across a diverse range of culturally-different regions,” Strategy Analystics said.

The 5800 will be only one of a handful of phones, that will access the Comes With Music service, which features millions of song from independent labels as well as from the big four labels. The other phones are the N95 8GB and 5310 XpressMusic.

The service, which launches first in the U.K. on Oct. 16, works like this: Consumers download songs over the air to their phone, or to their PC for sideloading to the phone, all the songs they want for a year. When the year is up, consumers get to keep the songs.

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