Nokia unveils first Windows phones

Nokia unveiled on Wednesday four new phones intended for developing markets as well as the company’s first two smartphones running the Windows Phone operating system.

The Asha series, which runs the Symbian S40 operating system, is equipped with features often seen on smartphones but not on lower-end ones, such as Qwerty keyboards and touchscreen capabilities. The four devices will range in price from €60 (US$83) to €115.

Nokia also launched the Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800, premium devices intended to compete with Apple’s iPhone and devices running Google’s Android operating system. Nokia’s Kevin Shields, senior vice president of program and product management, took a jab at the two competing operating systems, saying that Windows Phone doesn’t just have a “lame group of icons that just sit there doing nothing.” 

The Lumia 800, which will retail for €420 without taxes or subsidies, will be available in some European countries next month, said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop. The Lumia 710 will cost €270.

Nokia is keen to show that the product is close to arriving in stores. The first units are already shipping, according to Elop. A video link from its factory in Salo, Finland showed a Nokia employee packing up a unit.

The Lumia devices represent Nokia’s first big effort with the Windows Phone operating system after the company announced a partnership with Microsoft in February. Both of the smartphones runs Windows Phone 7.5, known as Mango.

“Lumia means light,” Elop said. “It’s a new dawn for Nokia.”

The Lumia 800 has a 3.7-inch screen, 16GB of internal memory and 512MB of RAM. It has a 1.4GHz single-core processor with hardware acceleration and a graphics processor. It will come in cyan, magenta and black. Its camera has optics from Carl Zeiss with a resolution of 8 megapixels.

The 800 will be available in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K. in November from 31 operators and retailers. Before the end of the year, it will be available in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan and other markets by early 2012.

The Lumia 710 has the same 1.4 GHz single-core processor as the Lumia 800 and has the same hardware acceleration feature and graphics processor. It has 8GB of internal storage and 512MB of RAM. The 710 has a 5-megapixel camera. The 710 will come in black and white as the base color, but users will also be able to switch back covers in colors such as black, white, cyan, fuchsia and yellow.

The 710 will be first available in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan toward the end of the year and elsewhere next year. Elop did not mention whether either the 710 or 800 will be sold in the U.S., but said Nokia will have a “portfolio of products” for that market early next year.

Both of the Lumia smartphones are equipped with Nokia Drive, a navigation application that vocalizes directions. The company has also partnered with the network ESPN for a “Hub” application centered around sports.

The Asha series are designed for “aspirational” users in developing countries. The devices are priced much lower than the Lumia line but incorporate elements present in smartphones. Elop said the products blur the line between smartphones and other mobile devices.

The Asha 200, for example, is a dual-SIM phone, which allows users in developing countries to switch between two different networks to lower costs and expand coverage. It has a feature called “Easy Swap,” which lets people change the second SIM card without turning off the phone. The Asha 201 device is close to the 200 but doesn’t have the dual SIM option.

The Asha 200 has a Qwerty keyboard and can be equipped with a 32GB memory card. Nokia said the device can play music for 52 hours. 

The higher-priced models in the Asha series, the 300 and the 303, are both touchscreen devices capable of 3G connections. Both have a Web browser that Nokia said compresses data up to 90 percent before transmitting it to the phone. Nokia said that provides higher download speeds and more affordable Internet access.

The Asha 300 will be priced at €85 and the 303 at €115. Both the 200 and the 201 — which will be available next year — will retail for €60.

(Mikael Ricknas contributed to this report.)

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