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Nokia To Ship 2 Top-End Unlocked Phones

Las Vegas — Nokia will brings its first 8-megapixel camera phone and its new flagship N-series phone to the U.S. market this year as unlocked devices, the company told TWICE during the CTIA convention here.

The Nokia devices will be available direct to consumers through Nokia’s Web site and flagship stores as well

as to retailers through such distributors as Brightpoint and Ingram Micro.

The flagship N97 is the company’s first N-series device equipped with both a touchscreen and hard QWERTY keyboard. It will be available here shortly after its June launch elsewhere in the world. The 8-megapixel N86 is due in the second half in the U.S.

The only other 3G camera phone available in the U.S. with 8 megapixels is Samsung’s Memoir touch-screen phone, available through T-Mobile. SonyEricsson, however, plans U.S. availability of an 8.1-megapixel HSDPA model at the end of the second quarter and announced global second-half availability of a 12.1-megapixel model whose U.S. availability hasn’t been announced.

Both Nokia models are 3G W-CDMA/HSDPA phones shown at the GSM World Congress earlier this year.

The N97, priced in Europe at an estimated 550 Euros ($729) before taxes and subsidies, features 3.5-inch 16:9 touchscreen with virtual dialing keypad. With the phone in landscape orientation, users slide the display up at an angle to reveal a hard QWERTY keyboard. The screen’s 35-degree viewing angle makes it easier to view and reduces glare, the company said. With the screen at an angle, the device resembles the company’s Communicator phone of the 1990s, though that device was a clamshell that opened up to reveal a QWERTY keyboard and screen.

The N97 features 32GB embedded memory, 16GB MicroSD card slot, 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, video capture in 16:9 DVD quality, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, Microsoft Exchange support, and customizable home screen with preloaded and downloadable widgets that can be dragged and dropped to different positions. Select widgets display frequently updated information from Web services and social-networking sites.

Other N97 features include assisted GPS and electronic compass, Web browser, Flash video streaming, and compatibility with Nokia’s navigation service and Nokia’s N-Gage downloadable games.

In the N86, the company is offering the capabilities of the U.S.-available N85 but upgrading the camera to 8 megapixels from 5 and, for the first time, incorporating variable rather than fixed aperture and mechanical shutter. The mechanical shutter eliminates motion blur, a spokesman said. Like the N85, the N86 feaures Carl Zeiss optics, Symbian 60 OS, OLED display and triband (850/1900/2100MHz) HSDPA operation.

The N86 features slide-from-the-side horizontal QWERTY keyboard that doubles as a vertically oriented dialing keypad. Four media-control keys slide out from the other side.

Full specs weren’t available, but the European version features 3.6Mbps HSDPA, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, UpnP, assisted GPS, A/V storage and playback FM transmitter, FM tuner with RDS, display that rotates from portrait to landscape mode, HTML browser, video sharing over cellular, 16GB MicroSD slot, and compatibility with Nokia’s navigation service and Nokia’s N-Gage downloadable games.