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3G Glitches Zap Nokia's N5800 Smartphone

Apple's iPhone, the Blackberry Bold and Nokia's N5800 smartphone now have something in common that's unlikely to make their manufacturers proud: They've all come under scrutiny for problems with 3G high-speed wireless connectivity.

The latest to falter is Nokia's six-month-old N5800, sales of which have been halted in the New York market due to problems with its 3G connectivity. The unit went on sale in the U.S. just last week.

The news comes as Nokia aims to push into the lucrative U.S. smartphone market dominated by Research in Motion's BlackBerry portfolio, with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) growing rapidly.

The N5800, also known as the 5800 Xpress Music, boasts a touchscreen and close ties to Nokia's music download service. Unlike most phones sold in the U.S., it's also not tied to an exclusive carrier. The unit's launch in fall marked the first major offensive by Nokia to challenge Apple and its popular iPhone.

Now, however, the world's largest phone maker will have to cope with a setback in that plan.

The N5800 "is unavailable as we had problems with 3G connectivity and network problems," a customer service rep at Nokia's New York flagship store told InternetNews.com this morning. "There is no timeframe at this point when we'll be selling it again."

Nokia's media relations team did not return requests by press time.

Still, Nokia's not the only purveyor of high-speed smartphones to have hit a hurdle in migrating to 3G.

Users of the iPhone 3G reported network glitches shortly after it debuted last June on AT&T's network. Meanwhile, industry observers claimed that similar network problems with AT&T had delayed the BlackBerry Bold coming to market.

The news also marks the latest hurdle smartphone makers are facing in their efforts to push out the latest feature-rich handsets.

Just last week, Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) pulled the Bold off shelves in Japan due to overheating problems.

The device had been on the market for less than two weeks before users began complaining about unusually hot temperatures during charging, according to Research in Motion (RIM) and NTT DoCoMo, the exclusive carrier for the Bold in Japan. RIM said early an investigation has ruled out battery problems and that the problem does not appear to be affecting devices sold in other markets.

Like the Nokia N5800, the BlackBerry Bold had been positioned as a way to stymie Apple's growing share of the smartphone market. The device is RIM's first handset with 3G, and like the iPhone, it features integrated 802.11 Wi-Fi connectivity as well.