Nokia's Windows Phone bet: The first smartphones unveiled

The former king of mobile bets on Microsoft-powered Lumia line to regain its glory, while also targeting developing countries with new cellphones

Nokia has revealed the smartphones that it hopes will lead to the company's resurrection as the world's leading mobile vendor. Last February, under the leadership of a new CEO who hailed from Microsoft, Nokia gave up its losing strategy of creating its own mobile operating system to compete with Apple's iOS and Google's Android and said it would instead adopt Windows Phone 7, Microsoft's late entry into the mobile market. The decision was controversial, as the Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system garnered poor reviews when it debuted in fall 2010 and has not gained more than a few percentage points of market share since.

Today, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop -- the Canadian who became the Finnish company's first foreign CEO -- revealed the first products under that strategy at a company conference in London. In the spring, Nokia said it would take advantage of Microsoft's revamped Windows Phone, the version 7.5 code-named "Mango," and bring its own innovation to the smartphone-only platform. "Mango" became available this month as an upgrade to existing Windows Phone 7 smartphones, and new devices from HTC and others designed specifically for "Mango" are expected to ship as early as next week.

[ InfoWorld pits Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" against Google's Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" -- see who wins. | Retrace Nokia's fall from mobile grace. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights via Twitter and with the Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]

Nokia plans to ship two Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" devices:

  • Lumia 800: With a sleek, thin design reminiscent of the N9 device -- Nokia's first and last MeeGo-based smartphone -- Nokia's Lumia 800 is what Elop called "the world's first real Windows Phone." But Nokia's focus was on its physical design and hardware specs, such as the flash-equipped 5-megapixel camera, unibody polycarbonate construction, 3.7-inch AMOLED display, 1.4GHz ARM processor and graphics acceleration, and 16GB of internal storage. The Lumia 800 runs the stock Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" operating system and associated apps from Microsoft, plus Nokia's own Nokia Drive voice-guided navigation app, the Nokia Music app that has a streaming-radio feature with several hundred free song mixes as well as a music store, and the Nokia-only ESPN Sport Hub app that integrates news, scores, team and player stats, and schedules. The estimated price is €420 (about $588) before carrier subsidies.
  • Lumia 710: A thicker, heavier, cheaper smartphone with a 3.7-inch LCD and the same processing capability as the Lumia 800 and the same apps. The estimated price is €270 (about $378) before carrier subsidies.

The Lumia smartphones will be available in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom in early November; in Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore, and Taiwan in December; and in the United States, China, and other countries in early 2012. LTE and CDMA versions will be available in some markets, and GSM versions in most markets.

Nokia also introduced the Nokia Pulse app, which lets users send private geo-tagged updates and photos, and Nokia Live View, which turns the smartphone's camera viewfinder so the device can be pointed to a building or street and have the names of the places superimposed on them. Both are in beta, with no estimated ship date.

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