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Nokia Intros Linux-Based N900 Phone

It is still committed to open-source Symbian, Nokia says, but Maemo could be a complementary platform.

Nokia's Linux-Based N900 Phone
(click image for larger view)
Nokia's Linux-Based N900 Phone

Nokia has introduced its first high-end smartphone with Linux in order to better compete against devices like Apple's iPhone 3GS.

Described as a mobile computing device, the N900 has a large 3.5-inch resistive touch screen and a slide-out full QWERTY keyboard. The device will be powered by the Linux-based Maemo 5 software, which Nokia said enables users to multitask with dozens of application windows open at the same time.

Nokia said it is still committed to the open-source Symbian, but Maemo could be a complementary platform.

"The Nokia N900 shows where we are going with Maemo and we'll continue to work with the community to push the software forward," said Anssi Vanjoki, executive VP of market for Nokia, in a statement. "What we have with Maemo is something that is fusing the power of the computer, the Internet and the mobile phone, and it is great to see that it is evolving in exciting ways."

The N900 has some strong hardware, as it packs an ARM Cortex-A8 processor, up to 1 GB of RAM, and the OpenGL ES 2.0 support means it will be able to play games with 3D graphics. The handset will also come with 32 GB of storage, and users can add up to 48 GB more via the microSD slot. Users can connect the device with Wi-Fi, 3G, EDGE, or Bluetooth.

The device will have a Mozilla-based browser that is capable of playing online videos thanks to the full Adobe Flash 9.4 support. It is unclear how similar this browser will be to Fennec, which is the mobile browser Mozilla is bringing to Symbian and Windows Mobile.

The N900 will be able to receive push e-mail from a variety of sources, and it comes with a 5-megapixel camera. The pictures can be geo-tagged with the GPS chip, and users can edit the photos on the handset with on-board software. Nokia said the handset will be available in select markets starting in October for about $712 before taxes and subsidies.

Nokia's decision to create the Symbian Foundation and open up the OS should have major ramifications throughout the smartphone market. InformationWeek evaluated the impact of this move, and the report can be downloaded here (registration required).

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