Nokia releases flagship Symbian^3 smartphone, the N8

Nokia (NYSE: NOK) unveiled its first smartphone running its Symbian^3 software, the N8, a device that represents the handset vendor's latest salvo in the high-end smartphone battle it has been waging against Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) and a host of other handset makers.

Nokia N8Nokia touted the advancements of Symbian^3 and present in the N8, including support for multitouch gestures and multiple homescreens that can be loaded with apps and widgets. Nokia also trumpeted the software's graphics capabilities, which the company said take advantage of greater hardware acceleration to deliver a better user experience.

The N8 sports an 3.5-inch OLED screen, a 12-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and Xenon flash, support for HD video and WCDMA 850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz bands. The phone is expected to retail for around $493, excluding subsidies and taxes, and will be available in the third quarter. A Nokia spokesperson said the N8 "will debut in the U.S. shortly after global availability."

"We don't think the N8 surpasses the competitive bar, but shows reasonable progress in the feature set and usability," wrote UBS analyst Maynard Um in a research note. "However, we believe competition in this category has increased with the likes of Samsung Wave and several new Sony Ericsson and BlackBerry devices."

Last week, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said the company's Symbian^3 update had been delayed because the company wanted to get the release right before moving forward. "We will not ship the product before the quality meets the end user's needs and demands," he said. The Nokia chief said several smartphones running Symbian^3 will announced in the second quarter and shipped in the third quarter--with the N8 apparently the first of those. Kallasvuo said Nokia will not launch Symbian^4 this year because Symbian^3 will be doing the "heavy lifting."

For more:
- see this release with specs, photos and video of the N8
- see this Reuters article
- see this Boy Genius Report post

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