Nokia bows out of phone market with tablet launch to take on iPad

Former Finnish technology darling is catching up with rivals

Nokia has unveiled a range of devices, including the long-awaited addition of a tablet and supersized “phablet” smartphones.

The former Finnish technology darling has created a host of improved features, applications and accessories for its swansong Nokia World event in Abu Dhabi, before the sale of its business to Microsoft.

A larger smartphone marks Nokia’s long-awaited entry into the “phablet” category.

However, it is Nokia’s first tablet, a premium-priced Lumia device with a 4G connection that will gain the most attention, even if the excitement could be shortlived. The launch later on Tuesday of Apple’s latest iPad is likely to snatch the headlines from its Finnish rival once again.

Most analysts are likely to be impressed by Nokia’s first tablet, even if it is similar to the devices marketed by Microsoft under its Surface brand, using the same wide screen version of the Windows “tiled” operating system.

Nokia hopes that it has made a difference by adding greater connectivity and “companionship” with its smartphones. The tablet will link with its Lumia smartphones, for example through near field communication technology that will allow pictures to be swapped.

The new products also exploit Nokia’s access to Microsoft’s Office suite of applications, such as Excel and Word, with a keyboard offered as part of the wrap around screen cover. The tablet will also offer software to edit video and use Nokia’s bespoke mapping services, alongside other new applications.

A Nokia spokesman said that most people use tablets such as iPads for entertainment or as a web browser, whereas the Lumia would be designed as much as a device for work to replace a laptop. There will be four colours available for the tablet, which will be priced at about $499.

The launch of these devices into already crowded segments of the market highlights how much slower Nokia has been to move on key products than its rivals, exacerbating its steep decline from being the world’s leading handset maker.

Alongside the tablet computer, Nokia will begin to exit the industry with typical device promiscuity, with five other handsets and a host of accessories lined up for launch before the end of the year covering a range of forms, functions and prices.

The €5.4bn acquisition of Nokia’s devices business by the US technology group still needs shareholder approval, with the sale expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year.

This means that today’s Nokia World event – a fixture in the technology calendar for many years – will probably be the last for the group.

It also marks the last hurrah for Stephen Elop at Nokia World, with the erstwhile chief executive banging the drum for the company a last time at the show before he rejoins Microsoft after the sale of the business to the US software group.

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