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Nokia N Series Gets Upgrades, Services

White Plains, N.Y. — Nokia is stepping up the feature selection of select N series devices and stepping up plans to offer services directly to users of select N series models.

The company launched a new version of its unlocked N95 multimedia phone, dubbed the N95 8GB because it adds 8GB of embedded memory in lieu of a bundled 1GB microSD card. The company also upgraded its pocket-size Wi-Fi-equipped Internet tablet, now called the N810, by adding slide-out keyboard, GPS, map software and other enhancements.

In services, Nokia plans to launch its N-Gage game-download service later this year for U.S. users of select unlocked N series phones, and it’s extending its turn-by-turn navigation service to the N95 8GB. The service was previously available only on the N95.

The Nokia N95 8GB will be available through Nokia’s flagship stores and independent retailers during the fourth quarter at an expected retail of $799. The five-band world phone operates in GSM/EDGE mode in the U.S. 850/1,900MHz bands, GSM/EDGE in foreign 900/1800MHz bands, and in W-CDMA HSDPA (high speed downlink packet access mode) in the 2.1GHz band outside the United States. The N95, in contrast, operates in GSM/EDGE mode in the 800, 900, 1,800 and 1,900MHz bands and in HSDPA mode in the U.S. 800/1,900MHz bands at $699.

Both N95 variants are dual sliders with a dialing keypad that slides down when the device is held vertically and a media-player control pad that slides out to the left when the device is held horizontally. Each features Wi-Fi, a 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens, assisted GPS and media player. They also download U.S. maps over the air from Nokia’s site to deliver free turn-by-turn driving instructions without voice prompts. For $139 per year, or with the purchase of a day pass or week pass, the devices deliver driving instructions by voice.

Both phones, as well as other select unlocked N series phones, are compatible with the N-Gage game-download service that will go live for U.S. consumers by year’s end. The other N-Gage-compatible phones are the N73, N81, N81 8GB, N9 and N93i. The only announced U.S. phones with driving instructions are the N95 and N95 8GB, but “you can expect to see more,” a spokesman said.

Nokia also plans later this year to launch an over-the-air music-download service but doesn’t have an estimated U.S., availability date, the spokesman added.

As for the N-Gage service, Nokia hasn’t announced U.S. pricing yet, but N-Gage titles will be priced higher than typical Java-game downloads and have sold for 6 to 10 euros in Europe. N-Gage games, Nokia said, “will be better and able to take advantage of the power these multimedia computers. Plus, we’ve signed up more top-tier publishers and encouraged developers to be more innovative by using GPS, camera and vibrate features, just to name a few.”

It’s not certain whether N-Gage games will be offered through carrier-marketed phones in the United States, a spokesman added.

As for the N810 Internet tablet, it will be available in mid-November at the same retail channels as other N series models at an estimated everyday $479. The Linux-based device continues to offer a touch screen with virtual keyboard, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, Skype Internet calling, integrated VGA Web camera, Bluetooth for accessing the Web via cellphone, music and video player, wireless access to the Rhapsondy Internet music service, 2GB embedded memory and slots for miniSD and microSD cards, including SDHC cards up to 8GB. Upgrades include built-in maps, GPS, instant messaging and a faster 400MHz processor.

For greater Wi-Fi connectivity, Nokia also teamed up with hot spot providers Boingo, Earthlink and the Cloud to enable Wi-Fi connectivity across thousands of different locations globally.