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Nokia Launches Touchscreen Smartphone

Nokia announced a first-half 2009 overseas launch of what it called its most powerful 3G cellphone to date, the N97 multimedia computer with touchscreen, hard QWERTY keyboard and 32GB of embedded memory,

North American shipments of a U.S.-banded version of the new flagship “will follow the global launch closely,” promised Bill Plummer, Nokia North America VP. Decisions on partnering with a specific U.S. carrier or selling the phone here unlocked haven’t been made, he said.

The Symbian S60 OS device, priced at 550 euros ($697) before carrier subsidies, is the company’s second touchscreen-equipped cellphone, but it’s the company’s first cellphone to combine touchscreen and hard QWERTY keyboard, a spokesman said. It’s also Nokia’s first cellphone with the ability to customize the home screen with multiple widgets, including live widgets that display Internet-supplied data. The widgets can be dragged and dropped by touch.

Nokia’s first touchscreen phone is the music-optimized 5800 ExpressMusic 3G phone, not yet available in the U.S.

Another feature new to Nokia is a sliding tilt display that, when turned to landscape mode, tilts up at a 35 degree angle to expose the QWERTY keyboard. The phone also offers more embedded memory than other Nokia models at 32GB, and memory can be expanded with a MicroSD card up to 16GB.

For overseas markets, the device operates on three bands in W-CDMA HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) mode and quadband GSM/EDGE mode.

As with the 5800 ExpressMusic phone, the N97’s touchscreen is a resistive type with haptic feedback. Other N97 features include assisted GPS, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi with universal plug-and-play support, A/V playback, HTML Web browser, included stylus, handwriting recognition and built-in FM transmitter to transmit music to any radio.

The phone is also compatible with Nokia’s N-Gage game-download service, navigation service and Nokia Music Store music-download service. The former two services are available to U.S. consumers who buy unlocked N-series phones. The navigation service has been upgraded to include topographical maps, satellite views and 3-D landmark views in more than 200 cities worldwide, the company also announced.

Other phone features include a 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens, flash video, 30 fps video playback, stereo Bluetooth, integrated electronic compass and DVD-quality video output to a TV. It has a 3.5-inch, 640 by 360 16:9 screen.