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Nokia Adds More Unlocked N-Series Phones, Services

Nokia has expanded its selection of high-end unlocked N series phones and stepped up plans to offer services direct to users of select N series models, which the company calls handheld multimedia computers.

Nokia 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. Separately, the company unveiled an N series N81 in two versions: one with 8GB embedded memory and one with bundled microSD card and no embedded memory.

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, including the N81 and N95, and it’s extending its real-time turn-by-turn navigation service to the GPS-equipped N95 8GB. The service was previously available only on the GPS-equipped 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 worldphone operates in GSM/EDGE mode in the U.S. 850/1,900MHz bands, GSM/EDGE in foreign 900/1,800MHz bands, and in W-CDMA HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access mode) in the 2.1GHz band outside the United States. The original N95, in contrast, operates in GSM/EDGE mode in the 800, 900, 1800 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 Wi-Fi, 5-megapixel camera, Carl Zeiss lens, assisted GPS and media player. They also download U.S. maps over the air from Nokia’s site to deliver free real-time turn-by-turn routing instructions without voice prompts. With a Nokia-hosted subscription service, they also deliver real-time turn-by-turn driving instructions by voice and with automatic route recalculation

The two models are the only GPS-equipped Nokia models in the United States to access Nokia’s navigation service, but “you can expect to see more,” a spokesman said.

The N81 lacks GPS but, like the N95 8GB, operates in quadband GSM/EDGE mode in the United States and other countries and in the 2.1GHz HSDPA mode in other countries. It will be available in the fourth quarter through N95 channels at about $629 for the 8GB version and about $529 for the microSD version, which will be bundled with a microSD card whose capacity hasn’t been determined.

Though lacking GPS, the N81 slider is compatible with the free Nokia Maps application to deliver route guidance, but real-time visual- or voice-prompted turn-by-turn instructions are available only when the device is paired with a Bluetooth-equipped GPS module, Nokia said.

Both versions of the N95 and N81, 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.

Nokia hasn’t announced U.S. N-Gage pricing yet, but N-Gage titles will be priced higher than typical Java-game downloads and “will be better and able to take advantage of the power these multimedia computers.”

As for the N810 Internet tablet, it will be available in mid-November at the same retail channels at an estimated everyday $479. The Linux-based device continues to offer a touchscreen with virtual keyboard, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, media player, Wi-Fi access to the Rhapsody internet music service, 2GB embedded memory and miniSD and microSD slots. Upgrades include built-in maps, GPS, instant messaging, a faster 400MHz processor and optional Wayfinder’s voice-guided real-time turn-by-turn navigation subscription.