April 17, 2013 7:11 pm

Nokia plans ‘phablet’ in new handset range


Nokia aims to revitalise its crucial smartphone business with a number of flagship launches later this year, including a first move into the supersized tablet phone market.

The Finnish handset maker has lost ground to rivals such as Samsung and Apple in recent years in smartphones. It aims to turn around its business with a wide range of devices – in effect taking the opposite approach to Apple which focuses on just one phone every year.

Several high-end smartphones are planned this year to add momentum to the slow growth in sales of the Lumia smartphones that use Microsoft’s Windows software, which are still dwarfed by Apple and Samsung. The Lumia range is seen as key to the future of Nokia, which abandoned its own operating system for an exclusive partnership with Windows two years ago.

Those with knowledge of the company’s plans said that the most innovative will be a device that can work as a phone and a tablet – known as a “phablet” – similar in size but with more advanced specifications to Samsung’s popular Galaxy Note.

This will be the Finnish group’s first move with Lumia into the larger screened mobile smart devices market, where rivals such as Apple and Samsung have already established a dominant position.

Nokia will also launch the first Lumia smartphone to use its advanced Pureview imaging technology, according to those familiar with the plans, with a July launch being considered for a handset that has a 40 megapixel camera and a flash.

There are other launches being planned including a lighter and more advanced version of the existing flagship Lumia 920 that launched last year – which has been well reviewed even amid complaints about its weight – as well as another lower priced version in the autumn. Nokia declined to comment.

Nokia will on Thursday reveal its first-quarter results, which are expected to show that the company is only gradually growing smartphone sales. Analysts expect Nokia to ship about 5.5m Lumia smartphone units in the quarter, up from 4.4m in the last quarter of its financial year.

Sales of Windows phones have overall begun to build after a slow start two years ago, although there have been fears among some operators over the pace of momentum in certain markets after high profile phone launches last year.

Nokia is planning to work closely with mobile operators in order to encourage sales, with exclusive phone launches being lined up with different carriers around the world. The company will also aggressively build its feature phone business this year with innovative new devices, after coming under pressure from cheaper smartphone companies in Asia.

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