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GLOBAL – The debate’s been raging in recent weeks over which is better – touch screen or buttons? The latest Nokia X3 sidesteps that neatly by offering both a touch screen and a traditional 12-button keypad. It’s the first phone from Nokia to offer such a combination. All the details and more after the break.

Mary McDowell, who’s in charge of Nokia’s mobile phones, said the company recognises that many people still want buttons for rapid texting: “Our research tells us consumers who have invested years in becoming fast one-handed, one-thumb texters want to maintain their speedy edge for SMS, chat and instant messaging – yet enjoy the benefits of touch as well.”

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Despite two sets of controls, though, the X3 Touch and Type is one of Nokia’s thinnest devices: it’s 9.6mm deep, 106mm tall, 48mm wide and weighs just 78g. The brushed aluminium finish and choice of five colours are also likely to appeal to fashion-conscious mobilists.

Even though it has a svelte profile, the X3 Touch and Type is full of features. It comes with four bands for voice, 3G, HSPA and WiFi for data, a music player and an FM radio. Mobile photographers get a 5-megapixel camera, with 4X digital zoom, which takes both still images and videos. The Communities app will keep you up-to-date with Twitter and Facebook.

The X3 Touch and Type has also got dedicated music and messaging keys for quick access to the music player and email. All the regular webmail and chat services are catered for by the included applications. Apps downloaded from the Ovi Store can be used through the 2.4-inch touch screen, so users don’t miss out on any of the latest games or productivity apps. They can also use the keys, of course, if they prefer, or adopt a hybrid approach.

In selected markets, the X3 Touch and Type will be offered with Ovi Music Unlimited, allowing access to a library of over 11 million tracks. For extra storage – up to 16GB – there’s a MicroSD memory card slot.

Battery life is rated at five hours talk time or 17 days on standby.

The X3 Touch and Type is expected to be on sale this quarter and will retail for approximately €125, excluding taxes and subsidies. It will initially be offered in China, Ireland & UK, Russia, Australia & New Zealand, Singapore, Germany, Spain & Portugal, France, Mexico and Saudi & Yemen. Other markets will follow later.

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