After finally making it over to the Digital Life show at the Javits Center, the first booth I stopped at was Nokia's booth where I bumped into Joe Gallo who's a spokesperson for the company. In his hands was the latest model of Nokia's N95 smartphone. We captured it's predecessor on video just a few months back and so I asked Gallo to give us an update (on video) on the newer revision. In the video, Gallo also talks about and shows me a yet-to-be released prototype of the N81 that has 8GB memory and a bigger display than its predecessors. So far, Nokia isn't saying when that newer prototype will come onto the market, but rumor has it that it will be within the month.
The big change in the rev that just hit the market today, according to Gallo is support for AT&T's HSDPA network. This of course is one of the big nits against Apple's iPhone which, despite the availability of AT&T's high speed network, supported AT&T's slower network which in turn means slower page load times when browsing the Web. With the HSDPA support, Gallo says users can also expect faster upload times -- for example when they're uploading photos taken with the N95's built-in 5 megapixel camera to a photosharing service like Flicker.
Nokia has doubled the amount of RAM in the phone for running Symbian-based applications from 64MB to 128MB, they've added support for Assisted GPS (which runs faster now that it has access to the HSDPA network) and they've dropped the retail price from $749 to $699. The older (and slower) N95 will still be available, but at the lower price of $629.
One reason the N95 commands such a high price is its 5 megapixel camera -- a feature that's simply not found in smartphones. In some ways, you can say you're buying a camera with a phone built-in instead of a phone with a camera built-in. Gallo also says that the fact that the phone is unlocked (meaning it can be used on either AT&T or T-Mobile's network) justifies the higher price. Neither carrier sells the phone and so, unlike other phones sold by the carriers, there's no subsidization of the retail price. Even so, my sense is that the N95 will still face stiff competition from the much lower priced $399 iPhone and that Nokia will have to respond with a price drop of its own if it wants to stimulate demand.