Nokia's N97 Smartphone Ships In USA: $699

After what feels like forever, Nokia's latest shot at breaking ground in the American smartphone market has arrived. The highly sophisticated N97 smartphone, which has been available overseas for a small while now, is finally shipping to US customers. By and large, Nokia is still struggling to have its smartphones taken seriously in the US market. The company has managed to land its lower-end units on various carriers, but in most cases (the N97 included), its smartphones have been sold without carrier support.

In other words, those looking to secure an N97 will have to buy it off-contract, which obviously has its pros and cons. On the plus side, you don't have to sign any lengthy contracts with a cellphone operator. But that freedom comes at a cost -- a steep, steep cost. The N97 is a GSM handset, sold unlocked for use on T-Mobile USA or AT&T (sorry, Verizon Wireless/Sprint users!). It has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a tilting 3.5" touch panel, a customizable home screen, access to Nokia's Ovi Store (applications and such) and Qik built-in.

According to Jonas Geust, Vice President and head of Nokia Nseries, the N97 is an "important step towards our vision of delivering a highly personalized Internet experience." Ever since Apple's iPhone hit the scene, other companies have been working day and night to bring a better Web experience to their smartphone(s). Needless to say, Nokia is no different. The phone is also a multi-media powerhouse, packing 32GB of memory as well as a microSD expansion slot. Remember that "steep price" bit we mentioned earlier? Yeah -- the N97 is being sold for $699.99, so it's certainly not for the non-diehard.