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Nokia N8 Packs Symbian^3, 12 Megapixel Camera

Finland’s Nokia has formally announced its next flagship smartphone, the Nokia N8. The N8 aims to take on the iPhone and high-end Android-based devices on their own turf, offering a 3.5-inch OLED capactive touchscreen display, a bevy of digital media capabilities (including Web-based TV), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI output, 16 GB of internal memory, and a 12 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics that’s also capable of shooting high-definition video. The whole thing will be running The Symbian^3 operating system and will have a retail price of €370 before subsidies and taxes—that’s just under $500 USD at today’s exchange rates. The downside? The N8 won’t be shipping until the third quarter of 2010…and by then new Android and (likely) new iPhones will be hitting the streets.

In terms of raw specs, the N8 is impressive. The unit will weigh about 135g (about 4.75 ounces) and pack an enormous number of features into a case just under 13mm thick. The N8 will offer a 3.5-inch 640 by 360-pixel OLED touchscreen display, 16 GB of internal memory (with a microSD slot offering up to 32 GB more storage), 802.11g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 wireless networking, an FM receiver (this is Nokia, after all), an FM transmitter for pushing audio to in-vehicle audio systems, GSM/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900) and WCDMA (850/900/1700/1900/2100) connectivity with automatic switching between bands, and an assisted GPS receiver. All that is coupled with a whopping 12-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss wide-angle optics capable of shooting high-definition video; the camera is assisted by a Xenon flash with face detection, red-eye reduction, and what Nokia is promising will be a much faster autofocus.

The N8 will likely be the first mobile device to run the Symbian^3 operating system. In addition to all the smartphone capabilities mobile power users know and rely upon (full HTML Web browsing, integration with social media services like Twitter and Facebook, support for a dizzying variety of audio, video, and image formats, etc.), Symbian^3 also aims to be a gaming platform, offering a responsive touch-based UI (the phone has an accelerometer, proximity sensor, and an ambient light sensor…plus a compass) with support for OpenGL 2.0 3D graphics and support for Java-based games. All this will be supported by the Ovi Store, which will offer Symbian^3 applications in addition to Ovi Maps and other Nokia Ovi services, contact and calendar management, email, and more. Nokia is touting media-centric features like Web TV services and programming (which can be pushed out to a big screen) as well as on-board HD video editing. Users will have to get by with a virtual keyboard, but all that high-definition video and media can be pushed to a big screen via an integrated HDMI output. One thing the N8 has picked up from the iPhone: the battery will not be user-serviceable.

Nokia has only said it plans to introduce the N8 in “selected markets,” portions of Europe are almost a certain bet, but Nokia has been taking a go-it-alone attitude in the United States, selling many of its high-end devices at full price without any carrier support…which has undoubtedly hindered their adoption. However, there are some indications Nokia may partner with T-Mobile to bring the device to the United States. In any case, nobody will know until it goes on sale in the third quarter of 2010…and in the mobile universe, that’s still a long way off.