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Phones

Nokia launches next generation N series

Highlights include 2 megapixel cameras, swivelling bodies and a model with iPod-like music storage.

Nokia N70, Nokia N90 and Nokia N91

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Highlights include 2-megapixel cameras, swivelling bodies and a model with iPod-like music storage.

Nokia on Wednesday formally launched it latest phone series, with the running theme of "The next generation". Star Trek fans would likely have been disappointed, however, but fans of phone innovation might well have been impressed with the new phones, which form the basis of what Nokia's calling its N Series.

The baby of the N series line is the Nokia N70, an extremely small and lightweight 3G-capable phone that sports a 2-megapixel camera behind a sliding shutter on the rear of the phone; that shutter's been a feature of quite a few camera phones recently, including Nokia models, but the leap to 2-megapixel camera quality is a real boost to anyone wanting photographs that are actually worth printing.

Nokia's N90 takes the 2-megapixel capability of the N70 and runs with it, matching that capability to a quality Carl Zeiss lens. It also features a dual rotating camera body. The mobile screen can be twisted and flipped to enable different shooting perspectives, as can the separate camera lens, which sits on the back of the phone as a distinct unit -- as opposed to the normal arrangement whereby the camera lens is actually within the back of the phone. Videographers may also be pleased with the N90's VHS-quality video capture. Twisting either the lens or the screen of the N90 will automatically switch the phone into camera mode from anywhere in the OS.

Top of the heap in the N series is the Nokia N91, which isn't so much a phone with music capabilities as it is an MP3 player that also happens to be a phone. Like its N series siblings, it features a 2-megapixel camera, but the real selling point of the N91 will be its integrated 4GB of memory and dedicated music playback buttons on the front of the phone. A slide-down panel reveals the regular phone buttons, and a dedicated switching button on the front of the phone automatically switches it to music playback mode.

The first of the N series phones likely to be available will be the N90, which is expected to be available sometime in the second quarter of the year, with the N70 available third quarter and N91 further towards the end of the year. Those are Asia-Pacific projections, however -- a Nokia Australia representative told CNET.com.au that it was likely that all three phones could be available in the Australian market within the next six months, with the N91 possibly not available until early next year. Firm pricing for the N series phones has not yet been announced, but with the given feature set they're likely to attract premium prices.

Nokia also announced several partnerships at the event, confirming details of its recent agreement with Yahoo, as well as the agreement with Carl Zeiss to use their optics in upcoming camera phones. Nokia also revealed details of a partnership with Discovery Channel Asia that will see the mobile phone maker sponsoring a documentary film-making competition using mobile phone cameras as the video shooting equipment.

Model
Availability
Device specs
Q3 of 2005
2-megapixel camera with dedicated shutter; LED flash; video calling; Triband; 3G; Bluetooth; Web browsing; Visual Radio support; 64MB MMC.
Q2 of 2005
Carl Zeiss lens; 2-megapixel camera; camera flash; video call; MP3/AAC audio player; Triband; 3G; Bluetooth; 31MB internal memory; 64MB RS-MMC.
Q4 of 2005
4GB memory; multiformat music player; 3.5mm stereo headset with remote control; Triband; 3G; Bluetooth; WLAN.

Alex Kidman travelled to Malaysia as a guest of Nokia.