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Nokia unveils touchscreen, Qwerty N97

The social-networking-oriented N97 is Nokia's second-ever touchscreen handset, and the first to combine such a screen with a full Qwerty keyboard, GPS and a built-in compass

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Topic: Networking
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1 of 3 David Meyer/ZDNet

Nokia on Tuesday launched the N97, the manufacturer's first smartphone to feature both a touchscreen and a slide-out full Qwerty keyboard. After the Nokia 5800, the N97 is the company's second-ever touchscreen mobile phone.

The device, with its 16:9 ratio, tilting widescreen and heavy social-networking slant, is clearly targeted at the high-end consumer market. However, the N97's employment of Symbian Series 60 v.5, along with the physical keyboard and the fact corporate clients such as Mail for Exchange can work on it, should also make it usable in a business context.

With its full keyboard and appearance, the N97 could be seen to be an unofficial, consumerised entry into Nokia's more business-oriented Communicator series — the last iteration of which came out in 2007 in the form of the E90.

As with very recent handsets such as the T-Mobile G1 Android phone, the N97 includes both assisted GPS (A-GPS) and a built-in compass, enabling what Nokia calls "social location". This effectively means social networks can tell where their N97-toting users are and in which direction they are heading. Widgets for social networks such as Facebook and MySpace are built into the handset.

"From the desktop to the laptop and now to your pocket, the Nokia N97 is the most powerful, multi-sensory mobile computer in existence," Jonas Geust, Nokia's vice president for N-series handsets, said in a statement on Tuesday.

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2 of 3 David Meyer/ZDNet

The Nokia N97 is slightly larger and heavier than Apple's iPhone — one of its main rivals. Its 3.5-inch screen is the same size as that of the iPhone, but at 640x360 pixels, its resolution outstrips that of the 480x320-pixel iPhone screen. The N97 can also handle Flash video in its browser — something the iPhone cannot do.

The N97 has 32GB of inbuilt flash storage and can take microSD cards of up to 16GB in capacity. The Finnish manufacturer claims the device's 1500mAh battery can handle one-and-a-half days of continuous music playback.

Connectivity options include Bluetooth 2.0, HSDPA, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and a Micro-USB port. The handset can also take standard 3.5mm headphone jacks, and a 5-megapixel camera with flash is included.

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3 of 3 David Meyer/ZDNet

According to Nokia, the N97 will be made available in Europe in the first half of 2009. The estimated retail price, before taxes or operator subsidies, will be €550 (£469).

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