Nokia launches N97 as leaked pix show new iPhone features


Nokia has begun shipping its N97 “flagship” phone, aimed at clawing back market share and reputation from Apple’s iPhone.

The device, with a 3.5-inch customizable home screen features direct access to Nokia’s music store and the newly-opened Ovi app store.

The home screen can be personalized with Facebook and other widgets for shopping and news services, Nokia said. The device will retail at around $776, New York Times reported.

The Nokia launch is apparently timed to preempt Palm, which will start shipping its highly-anticipated Pre smartphone.

Meanwhile, leaked photos of an apparent prototype of the iPhone 3.0 suggest the handset will feature video and voice recording for the first time.

The photos, which were published on a Chinese-language website and then translated  on the Macrumors forum, suggest the device will ship with a compass and an upgraded 3.2 megapixel camera, which will include an autofocus feature.

Chinese retail website China Ontrade has also released  pictures and prices for what are reportedly parts of the new handset, indicating it will be about the same size and shape as the previous model, but with a black, not silver, trim.

While the pictures have not been confirmed, they have not been proven to be fakes, CNN's Fortune blog said and at least one Apple expert has said the pictures look “very real”.

More rumors indicate  that the new handset will feature direct iTunes and TV download support, with Apple reportedly training customer support agents about the new function.