iPhone killer: Nokia N97

I am up for an upgrade and while I am happy with my N95 8GB I need something new. I had a look at the Sony XPERIA, but don’t like the fact that it runs Windows Mobile. So I was excited to see that Nokia is coming out with the N97 and even though it has impressive specifications, like a total of 48 gigabytes of potential storage and a 5-megapixel camera and video recorder, the phone seems more like an evolution of Nokia’s N-95 or N-96 smartphones rather than a ground-breaking new touch-screen device that could potentially be the next iPhone killer.

Design-wise the phone looks more like Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X1. It has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a tilted screen. In this way, it’s an improvement over the N95 or the N96, which offer tons of features and functionality, but lack full QWERTY keyboards. That said, there are a few key features that the N97 offers that the iPhone doesn’t.

For example, the Nokia Web browser on the N97 supports Flash and Flash video, something that Apple’s Safari browser doesn’t support. And of course, heavy texters and e-mail enthusiasts, will like the full QWERTY keypad. I’ve had several iPhone owners tell me that they still carry around a BlackBerry for sending e-mails on the go, because they don’t like the iPhone’s virtual keyboard for typing longer messages.

The phone, which Nokia’s marketing team calls a “mobile computer” also offers a whopping 32GB of storage on the device with the option of adding up to another 16GB of storage through a microSD card. And then there is the 5-megapixel camera, which also records DVD-quality video.

The N97 packs a 3.5-inch, 640 x 360 pixel (that’s a 16:9 aspect ratio) resistive touchscreen display with tactile feedback and QWERTY keyboard into this sliding communicator with an “always open” window to favorite internet or social networking sites. Nokia calls it the “world’s most advanced mobile computer.” To back up the claim they’ve dropped in HSDPA, WiFi, and Bluetooth radios, A-GPS, a 3.5-mm headjack, 32GB of onboard memory with microSD expansion (for up to 48GB total capacity), and a battery capable of up to 1.5 days of continuous audio playback or 4.5-hours video. 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss glass and “DVD quality” video capture at 30fps, too. The specs are certainly impressive, let’s see if the S60 5th Edition OS can support it.

No word yet when this phone will launch, but Nokia needs to release it within Q1 2009 to be competitive – can’t wait…