UK online retailer Play.com have begun to accept pre-orders for the Nokia N97, suggesting a release date for the touchscreen smartphone of March 31st 2009. The handset, which is supplied SIM-free and unlocked, is priced at £479.99 ($704); only the white version is currently listed. Nokia themselves have not yet confirmed an official release date, only that the N97 will launch in the first half of 2009, nor have they priced the device.
As well as a touchscreen and the latest version of the S60 OS, the N97 has a 5-megapixel camera with autofocus and a dual-LED flash, a full QWERTY keyboard, GPS and WiFi. Since Play.com is a UK site, this particular N97 has Euro-spec 3G, using the 900/1900/2100MHz bands, rather than the North America-specific 850/1900/2100MHz bands.
It's not unusual for retailers to put up unconfirmed release dates based either on tenuous supplier information or mere guesstimates, however, so we'd take this information with a pinch of salt. The N97 is available for pre-order elsewhere, such as Expansys, but Play is one of the first retailers to suggest both pricing and availability.