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Swedish smart phone developer Neonode may have begun shipping its credit card-sized N1 handset, reports on the Web suggest.

Neonode N1 smart phoneThe highly-anticipated N1 was launched way back in December 2002. The company originally said its phone would ship in May 2004. However, come that date and Neonode was forced to admit that the handset was not "still is in its final phase of development" and consequently not yet available to buyers.

At the time, Neonode said it would not give an updated release date, but promised to provide one "in the coming weeks".

Just over a month later, and there's still no published date. But a report on the Swedish-language site Mobil.se claims the company has begun shipping units to pre-order customers. However, it appears that the handsets may not be final versions but pre-release units for testing. Neonode will send them a second handset - or possible just a software update - when the N1 is finally released.

The N1 is based on Microsoft Windows Mobile for Smartphones, but offers its own user interface, zForce, all running on a 100MHz ARM processor. The GPRS-enabled handset ships with a 64MB SD card, 16MB of which is used for system memory. It's not clear whether the machine uses the card instead of built-in RAM, but that's certainly what the company's web site implies.

Generating most interest, however, is the handset's size. At 8.8 x 5.2 x 2.1cm, this one of the smallest smart phones on the market - or, rather, it will be when it ships.

Its nearest rival, Orange's SPV C500, comes in at 10.8 x 4.6 x 1.6cm and weighs 100g. The N1 weighs 88g and sports a 176 x 200 16-bit colour display. ®

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