The Finnish mobile phone giant has dubbed its new N97 handset the “world’s most advanced mobile computer”, and promises it will bring users closer to the internet on the move.
The device combines a large 3.5in touch-screen, similar to that found on the Apple iPhone, with a slide-out Qwerty keyboard reminiscent of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 and the T-Mobile G1. Unlike the Apple iPhone, the N97 will be able to play the Flash videos used on many websites, including our own Telegraph news pages. It also supports instant-messaging and email on the go, boasts a five-megapixel camera, and a huge 48GB of memory, capable of storing thousands more songs than the Apple iPhone and many other leading devices.
“From the desktop to the laptop and now to your pocket, the Nokia N97 is the most powerful, multi-sensory mobile computer in existence,” said Jonas Geust, a vice president at Nokia. “The Nokia N97 mobile computer adjusts to the world around us, helping stay connected to the people and things that matter most.”
Nokia has put high-speed web access at the heart of its new device, along with one-button, ‘always-on’ access to social-networking sites such as Facebook. The phone also uses its built-in GPS technology to provide location-specific information. Nokia, which calls the service ‘social location’, said that it will enable N97 users to update their social-networking profiles with precise details about their location and find nearby friends.
“Today, we are at the threshold of another profound change in the way we connect and interact with each other and with our world,” said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, chief executive of Nokia. “This is a world where you will have the power to tailor and personalise your internet how and when you like, to make your day-to-day life easier and more fulfilling.”
The new N97 will tie in closely with Nokia’s Ovi platform of software and services, which include music downloads, photo-sharing services and mapping software. A new-look Nokia Maps program on the N97 will allow users to pre-plan a journey on their computer and then synchronise the route across to their mobile phone.
Nokia has also promised that it will follow the lead of Apple, Google and Research in Motion, makers of the BlackBerry, by making it easier for third-party developers to write additonal software and programs for Nokia handsets. Owners of the N97, which runs the Symbian operating system, can already download thousands of applications to their phone, and Nokia said it is creating “new opportunities” for third parties to develop innovative widgets and internet service applications for Nokia devices.
The Nokia N97 is expected to go on sale in the first half of 2009, and will cost around £470 without a contract, although many network operators are expected to heavily subsidise the cost of the handset, or even offer it for free on some tariffs.
Nokia, which has more than a billion customers worldwide, faces stiff competition from newcomers to the mobile phone market, such as Apple, with its hugely popular iPhone, and even Google, which has helped to develop the open-source Android operating system that will be running on several phones next year, and which promises to bring the desktop computing experience to mobile devices.
Although some technology commentators and analysts are sceptical whether the Nokia N97 has the potential to be an ‘iPhone killer’, others are more upbeat about its prospects.
“With the N97, Nokia has produced the first phone that will truly challenge, and even transcend, Apple’s best,” said Robin Landy, of mobile phone review website Omio.com. “Nokia has brought together a lot of common smartphone features, such as GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G internet, in one gorgeous device. Crucially though, they’ve combined the standard stuff with features that really matter to users, but are often missing from rival handsets.
“A proper Qwerty keyboard will make a huge difference to the everyday user experience, and the huge amount of memory means that even people with large music collections can leave their iPods at home.
“The N97 lacks the in-your-face dazzle of the iPhone, but it does strike a balance between understated good looks and functional practicality.”