Nokia Asking $700 for N97 Smartphone

Can Nokia's pricey flagship smartphone, the N97, compete with Apple's iPhone 3G, now priced at $99, or the Palm Pre, which retails for $299?

Finnish handset maker Nokia comes crashing into the competitive North American smartphone marketplace this week with the N97, its flagship smartphone that the company announced in December. The phone is being sold without carrier backing, carries a $699 price tag and is available online and through Nokia stores in New York and Chicago.
The announcement comes on the heels of a price reduction on Apple's popular iPhone at the company's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which saw the price of the iPhone 3G reduced to $99 and the new iPhone 3GS retailing for $199. However, users bent on owning an N97 may find some relief at Amazon's online store, which has the unlocked device listed for $603.99, although the shipping date doesn't arrive for another two weeks.
Briefly available in the U.K. before shipping to 75 countries this June, the N97 offers a tilting 3.5-inch touch display, QWERTY keyboard and a customizable home screen. The handset will also have access to Nokia's Ovi Store, which provides applications, videos, productivity tools and Web and location-based services. The company said the lithium-ion battery is rated at up to 9.5 hours of GSM talk time (6 hours while on 3G networks).
The astronomical price, more than twice what a consumer would pay for a 32GB iPhone, may represent a large stumbling block for the smartphone's market penetration chances. While the N97's quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) capability gives users a range of HSDPA networks to choose from worldwide (including AT&T and T-Mobile), the phone faces competition from another less expensive competitor offering similar features-the touch-screen Palm Pre.
The Pre also offers a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, full Web browser and 8GB of storage. Customers buying a Pre from exclusive carrier Sprint pay $299 at the time of purchase, but receive $100 back through a mail-in rebate. Even without a contract, the Pre, then priced at $550, costs $150 less than the N97.
For $700, the N97 offers users a smartphone backed by features such as integrated Wi-Fi connectivity (802.11b/g) Bluetooth 2.0+EDR capabilities (including Bluetooth headphones) and 32GB of on-board storage, which is expandable via optional 16GB MicroSD memory cards. The 5 megapixel camera contains Carl Zeiss optics and has a video capture feature. The touch-screen includes haptic feedback so users know when they've pressed a key or onscreen men and includes an orientation sensor that switches from portrait to landscape viewing.
A-GPS functionality and a "Nokia Maps" application offers maps with satellite views and the ability to search and download information about destinations and points of interest. A built-in compass (recently introduced on Apple's 3GS keep the map adjusting to the direction you are walking in. The N97 also comes with a three-month Walk and Drive navigation license.
Nokia is focusing on keeping users connecting, offering the Mail for Exchange mobile e-mail client of Microsoft Exchange, which comes pre-loaded, although an Exchange e-mail account is required and the Exchange administrator must enable the account for synchronization. The device also supports VOIP application Skype, which allows users to make and receive free Skype-to-Skype voice calls.