Nokia readies premium handset

This new phone--to be priced at about US$967 in the European market--comes with ring tones composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Nokia has unveiled a high-end camera phone inspired, the company says, by modern watchmaking techniques.

Among the phone's features: It will come with exclusive ring tones composed by Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto.

The handset, announced Thursday, will be marketed as the Nokia 8801 in the United States and as the 8800 in the rest of the world. It will hit stores in Europe, and selected countries in Asia-Pacific in the second quarter, and U.S. shipping will begin in the third quarter.

Nokia said its designers drew on modern watchmaking and jewelry-making techniques. For example, the phone's front display features a specially reinforced glass that Nokia said is common in luxury watches. Additionally, the Nokia mark is chemically etched on the back plate using a process typically employed by watchmakers, the company said.

The phone has a stainless steel body that slides up to reveal the keypad. The pop-up mechanism of the handset is supported by a bistable spring mechanism and stainless steel ball bearings, like those used in high-end cars, Nokia said.

Asia-Pacific pricing was not released. The European version's estimated retail price, before subsidies and taxes, is expected to be 750 euros, or about US$963.

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