Nokia N97 announced; QWERTY keyboard and touch on a Nseries device

Nokia World 2008 is taking place this week in Barcelona, Spain and the event kicked off with the keynote announcing the Nokia N97 multimedia computer. The Nokia N97 brings a QWERTY keyboard and touch screen to the Nseries or you could say it brings a phone and S60 to the Nokia Internet Tablet. The Nokia promotional materials state, “Desktop.Laptop.Pocket” as they bring you a device with a 3.5 inch touch screen display (640×360 pixels resolution) that slides up and at an angle (similar to the AT&T Tilt) to reveal a full 3-row QWERTY keyboard and directional pad. I was expecting to see S60 touch launch on a Nseries rather than the Nokia 5800 we saw last month.

Nokia N97 announced; QWERTY keyboard and touch on a Nseries device

The Nokia N97 packs it all in with the following specifications:

  • 3.5 inch 16:9 640×360 pixels resolution display
  • Integrated 3G wireless radio
  • Integrated 802.11 b/g WiFi
  • Integrated Bluetooth 2.0
  • Integrated GPS receiver with A-GPS support
  • 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics
  • 32GB onboard flash memory with microSD for adding 16GB more
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • microUSB port used for both syncing and charging
  • Haptic feedback
  • 1500 mAh battery

The N97 also introduces the concept of social location (so-lo). Using the GPS receiver and integrated compass the N97 has the capability to always know where it is located and with social networking integration it can broadcast that position to authorized friends and family. The home screen has been completely revamped to allow you to manage widgets (much like the Nseries Internet Tablets) for social networks, news, and more.

N97 in hand

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to buy this device for Christmas this year and will have to wait until the first half of 2009 to get your hands on one. It is expected to retail for EUR550 before taxes or subsidies.

N97 5 megapixel camera

Does this device appeal to you? Robert Scoble said something about this week having to be big for Nokia or else and I think he is taking it a bit too much to the extreme. Nokia is the leader in smartphones across the world and while I see that their marketshare is moving downwards while others (RIM and Apple in particular) are moving up, they won’t ever go away (and may never give up the majority) because they have a vision for the future that your personal PC will live in your pocket/phone and I think they are on the right track. I don’t think the Nokia N97 is a revolution in the smartphone world that should make everyone else drop what they are doing, but it is a very good device that gives the user more flexibility than they have with the iPhone or a BlackBerry. Nokia makes some fantastic devices and I have always found their RF reception and phone quality to be outstanding and in the end it seems that consumers want a good solid phone that lets them send and receive calls, no matter how much else the device can do.

I’ll be saving up for this device next year since I am a huge QWERTY keyboard fan and appreciate the quality and incredible 3rd party application support in the S60 community.

Nokia also has some incredible services and if they can integrate them and promote them successfully people will find that Nokia has an excellent solution available for everyone.

Some of the sites that had a chance to get some hands-on time with the new Nokia N97 include:

All About Symbian
Atmaspheric Endeavors
PhoneScoop
Symbian Guru
TechCraver

VIA:

Nokia today announced the launch of the Nokia N97. It is the first touch-enabled Nseries device and has a horizontal tilt-slide form factor. It transforms from a touch slate to a landscape QWERTY device. The device, which has an Internet and entertainment focus, runs on S60 5th Edition, has a customisable, widget-based, home screen and full support for Ovi services.

It features a 3.5 inch (360 x 640 resolution) touchscreen with haptic feedback, 5 megapixel camera (with Carl Zeiss optics and dual LED flash), A-GPS and compass sensors, comprehensive connectivity options (WiFi, tri-band HSDPA, Bluetooth and USB), and 32GB of internal flash memory. Read on for more.

The N97 is the most feature packed Nseries device to date and, by adding touch, it moves Nokia’s high end Nseries into direct competition with touch devices such as the Samsung Omnia, LG Renoir, Apple iPhone and G1 Android Phone.

Here are first few hand-ons impressions: In the hand the N97 feels pleasingly solid, with an extremely impressive slide mechanism – it is obvious a lot of testing has gone into the hinge mechanism. In slide closed mode it is equally solid, with no give. The keyboard, while limited by design constraints, feels good, though as ever it’s difficult to come to any final conclusions with prototypes. Subjectively, the ‘feel’ and the design of the handset screams high end with materials that can not be fully appreciated in pictures (it has that caress-ability x-factor).

Nokia N97

It is a relatively large device, especially length-wise, but that’s inevitable given the size of the screen and the inclusion of a QWERTY keyboard. There’s the usual plethora of hardware features, including sensors (accelerometer, compass sensors and proximity sensors), integrated A-GPS, and connectivity options (tri-band 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth and USB). The large screen is a definite highlight – its widescreen 16:9 resolution is ideal for watching videos, but also works well for browsing the Internet. The touch screen is very sensitive, and there have been further refinements to the home screen to enable easier finger touch usage (the larger physical screen also helps with this). The UI can also be driven from the keypad using the D-pad on the left hand side of the keyboard, together with the on-screen softkeys and home key.

S60 5th Edition has been updated to Nseries specifications for the N97. Extras include UPnP, Internet Radio and Nokia Photos applications and we can expect to see a lot more in this area before the phone is released.

We’ll report in greater detail in due course.

Key features of the phone:

Software:

  • Runs S60 5th Edition. You can read more about S60 5th Edition in our Nokia 5800 preview. However, the N97 will have the Nseries version of S60, which means there will be a number of extra applications including Internet Radio, FM transmitter, Home media (UPnP) and Photos.
  • The home screen can be personalised with Internet-aware widgets (based on WRT technology). Examples included in the press photos include weather forecasts, social networking (Facebook, Friendster, My Space) status summaries, and media collections. There are also indicators for time, profiles, email, application shortcuts and so on.
  • Text input is via on screen keyboard (full screen QWERTY, pop-up QWERTY and alphanumeric), as is standard on S60 5th Edition, or handwriting recognition or via the QWERTY keyboard.
  • Fully compatible with Ovi services including Maps, Music, Share and Games. Nokia Music store can be accessed from the device (touch optimised version) or from Nokia Music for the PC (an iTunes -Windows application). Nokia Maps now supports high resolution satellite imagery, 3D buildings (selected buildings) and richer map meta data. Pedestrian route finding and turn by turn, voice guided car navigation, are available as premium services.
  • Internet focus with WebKit based browser, comprehensive RSS feed support and runtime technologies including Flash, WRT (widget).
  • Introduces the social location (So-Lo) concept; the N97 has software that allows you to automatically update and share your location with friends and popular social networks.
  • ‘N-Gage compatible’ device, which indicates that the N-Gage platform will be touch enabled by the release date of the N97.

The devices being demoed at Nokia World are running an early version of the software. In the six months leading up to the release date it is likely to evolve considerably.

N97 touch deviceHardware:

  • Physical dimensions: 117.2 x 55.3 x 15.9 mm (18.25 mm at camera area), and weighs approximately 150g.
  • Tilt form factor with horizontal slide to reveal full QWERTY keyboard. The upper half of the device slides away from the bottom half and moves upwards in a diagonal direction. The slide is impressively smooth and when closed feels very solid in the hand (so much so its not immediately apparent it is a horizontal slide device).
  • There are three keys on the front of the device: send and end keys and a home/menu key. On the left side of the device there is a slider lock and a microUSB port, on the top of the device is the power and 3.5mm audio jack and on the right hand side are the volume keys and the camera capture key.
  • 3.5 inch, 360 x 640 (nHD) resolution resistive touch TFT screen with 16 million colours. The device can be driven using finger touch or stylus, or from the QWERTY keyboard.
  • Haptic feedback for screen touches. This is provided via general vibra feedback, as on the Nokia 5800.
  • 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual LED flash. The camera is covered by a sliding lens cover similar to that found on the N85 and N79.

    The camera is also used to record videos at VGA at 30 frames per seconds, but I’ve seen a demo of it recording and playing video back in a 16:9 resolution mode (also as on the 5800). The usual Share online application is present for uploading images and video to online services such as Flickr and Share on Ovi (available services likely to be expanded before launch).

  • Integrated A-GPS and compass sensor (magnetometer) means that the N97 ‘intuitively knows where it is’ and this is used by Nokia Maps, and for social location; also embeds location information into images and video.
  • 3.5 mm audio jack (also used for TV-Out) and built in stereo speakers. Music playback time of one and half days (36 hours). There’s also an FM radio and FM transmitter.
  • microUSB jack (USB 2.0 HiSpeed) and supports charging over USB
  • 32GB of internal flash memory
  • microSD card slot with support for SDHC cards upto 16GB in size (giving total potential memory of 48 GB)
  • WiFi, 3.5G (tri-band HSDPA – 900, 1900 and 2100 Mhz), quad-band GSM and Bluetooth connectivity (various profiles including HID, SAP, A2DP and AVRCP).
  • 1500 mAh battery (BP-4L – the same monster as that used in the E71, E90, 6650 and N800).
  • There is no stylus built into the phone, but one will be included in the box.
  • The Nokia N97 is expected to ship in the first half of 2009 (presumably in June) with an estimated price of 550 Euro before taxes and subsidies.

Comparison

The N97 (117.2 x 55.3 x 15.9 mm) is larger than the 5800 (111 x 51.7 x 15.5 mm). Compared to the iPhone (112 x 56.9 x 12.5 mm) is a little taller, but slightly mm narrower. Quite impressive given the incluion of a QWERTY keyboard. N78 also shown.

Press release extract:

Nokia today unveiled the Nokia N97, the world’s most advanced mobile computer, which will transform the way people connect to the Internet and to each other. Designed for the needs of Internet-savvy consumers, the Nokia N97 combines a large 3.5” touch display with a full QWERTY keyboard, providing an ‘always open’ window to favorite social networking sites and Internet destinations. Nokia’s flagship Nseries device introduces leading technology – including multiple sensors, memory, processing power and connection speeds – for people to create a personal Internet and share their ‘social location.’

“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, Vice President, heading Nokia Nseries. “Together with the Ovi services announced today, the Nokia N97 mobile computer adjusts to the world around us, helping stay connected to the people and things that matter most. With the Nokia N97, Nseries leads the charge in helping to transform the Internet into your Internet”.

N97 with keyboard

VIA:

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