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Nokia takes aim at Apple with touch-screen phone

The 5800 Xpress Music is due for release by the end of the year

By Jeremy Kirk
October 2, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - LONDON -- Finnish phone maker Nokia Corp. launched its first touch-screen phone today, intending to one-up Apple's iPhone on features and a competitive price.

Nokia has clearly taken a cue from Apple Inc. in its design of the 5800 Xpress Music, formerly known as Tube. The device, due for release by year's end, looks similar to Apple's iPhone, which has a single panel of smooth glass on the front.

The similarities end there. The 5800 runs Symbian's Series 60 operating system, which Nokia said it has modified to make the software more user-friendly. The handset maker plans to release a software development kit soon for the platform.

The Nokia 5800 Xpress Music phone
The Nokia 5800 Xpress Music phone shares some similarities with the iPhone. (Photo courtesy of Nokia Corp.)

"We wanted to turn the user interface into a human interface," said Jo Harlow, senior vice president of marketing, during a launch event in London.

On the software side, the 5800 has a "contacts bar" that shows images of frequently contacted friends. Those friends can be sent text messages directly from the home screen. Also, feeds can be assigned to those friends that will alert the device's user to new content on social networking sites. It also has a drop-down media bar that gives one-touch access to music, photos, video or the Internet.

The 5800 will support Adobe Flash multimedia technology, which is not supported by the iPhone. While many Web sites have created mobile versions of their sites to support the iPhone's capabilities, the 5800 could potentially work with many more Web sites without modification.

"I know some people thought Flash wasn't important on a mobile device," Harlow said, in a clear reference to Apple.

Like the iPhone, the 5800 has a software keyboard rather than a tactile one. Apple's software keyboard can at times be difficult to manipulate since it requires a person's fingertip to touch the screen. Harlow said the 5800's soft keyboard will work with a fingernail or even a guitar pick in addition to a finger.

When tilted on its side, the 5800 has a full-screen QWERTY keyboard plus a mini-QWERTY one. The 5800 is also equipped with handwriting recognition. It also recognizes 60 languages, which covers about 90% of the world's mobile phone users, Harlow said.

Nokia said the 5800 has built-in surround-sound speakers, which are louder than any other mobile device on the market. Nokia let those attending the launch try out the 5800's speakers in a soundproof booth. The 5800 has a 3.2-megapixel camera with a dual flash and a Carl Zeiss lens. The 5800's screen supports 16 million colors, which Harlow claimed is the best in the industry.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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