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Nokia Launches Symbian Update, Handsets

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Nokia announces a Symbian OS update and two high-end devices, even as it prepares to retire the platform

Nokia on Tuesday introduced an update to its Symbian smartphone platform and two new Symbian-based devices, even as it prepares to dump the platform in favour of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.

In February Stephen Elop, Nokia’s new chief executive, announced the company would aim to switch to Windows Phone 7 by the end of the year, as the company struggles to compete against Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android on smart devices. Elop is a former Microsoft executive.

The new Symbian update, called Anna, will add a faster web browser, improvements to Ovi Maps, a split-screen view, new icons and new security features, Nokia said.

New devices

The two new devices, the consumer-oriented touchscreen X7 and the business-oriented E6, are to launch later in the second quarter of 2011 for €340 (£300) and €380 respectively.

The X7 has a 4-inch touchscreen and is made of stainless steel and glass, with an 8-megapixel camera and 720p playback, as well as the ability to record and edit video.

It comes with games such as Asphalt 5 and Galaxy On Fire pre-installed, Nokia said.

The E6 has a 2.46-inch touchscreen as well as a qwerty keyboard, and features business software such as Mail for Exchange, access to Microsoft Sharepoint via a web browser, business-level security and Quick Office, which has the ability to read and edit Powerpoint, Word and Excel documents.

With Nokia moving to Windows Phone as its primary smartphone platform, Symbian will become a “franchise platform” said the release, moving to lower end devices. Nokia still expects to sell another 150 million more Symbian devices in the coming years, before finally retiring it.

Symbian retired

The writing is on the wall for Symbian – although Gartner says it still leads the market in smartphones. Gartner vice president Nick Jones likened it to the Titanic last year, saying it was doomed. Other analysts say Symbian has already been overtaken by Android and iPhone.

MeeGo, the joint Intel-Nokia open source OS, which was once Nokia’s future flagship, will still exist, but more as an experimental open-source, mobile operating system project. “Nokia still plans to ship a MeeGo-related product later this year,” said the release, but it will have “an emphasis on longer-term market exploration of next-generation devices, platforms and user experiences.”

MeeGo was delayed till late this year, but has been sighted on tablets and other devices.