Nokia World: "Nokia is back", claims handset maker with three new devices but MeeGo is M.I.A.

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With the company in-between CEOs, it was left to Niklas Savander, Executive Vice President, Markets, to deliver the opening keynote at today’s Nokia World in London. And strangely but perhaps appropriately, he was later joined by Anssi Vanjoki, EVP Mobile Solutions and effectively Nokia’s no. 2, who just yesterday handed in his notice.

Admirably, Savander did his best to rally the troops – all 3,000 attendees, apparently – telling the audience that the message is: “Nokia is back”, a direct reference to the Finnish handset maker’s loss of the high end smartphone crown, even if in terms of raw numbers it still dominates the market world wide, depending on how you define smartphone, of course. But we’ll save that debate for another day.

To put some meat on the bone, Vanjoki then took to the stage to unveil three new Nokia devices – the C6, C7 and E7 – all of which run Symbian^3. Yes, that’s right, MeeGo – the company’s next-generation mobile OS developed in partnership with Intel – was missing in action, leaving some attendees clearly disappointed. That said, I got some hands-on time with each of Nokia’s newly announced smartphones as well as the N8, which also runs Symbian^3 and came away fairly impressed. Here’s a quick run-down of those devices.

Probably the most interesting of the bunch, the Nokia E7 (pictured above) is said to be a successor to the company’s original “communicator” smartphone of yesteryear. That’s because it features a large 4inch touch screen and (very usable) 4-row physical landscape QWERTY. Like all of the devices announced today, it benefits from improvements to Symbian, including speed but most notably the UI, which now eliminates inconsistencies like the need to double tap in some parts of the OS while not in others, a previous kludge as Symbian moved from scroll and click to touch.

Naturally, being primarily a business device (although the lines are purposefully blurred), the E7 supports Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. The screen, which as Engadget notes, “really pops”, uses Nokia’s ClearBlack technology “for improved outdoor visibility” and on first impressions rivals the iPhone 4’s Retina Display. It has 16GB of built-in storage too. Price: €495 excluding taxes and carrier subsidies.

A sort of mass-market N8 (see below), the C7 is described as a “social networking smartphone” with the emphasis on updates from social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and email alerts pushed to the homescreen. It features a 3.5-inch AMOLED display with a build that combines “stainless steel, glass and soft edges”, and 8GB of built-in storage. It’ll be priced at around €335, excluding taxes and carrier subsidies.

To get an idea of how it feels in the hand, imagine an all touch screen version of the Nokia E71, minus the physical QWERTY keyboard. In fact, the C7 and all the devices announced today appear to have benefited from the fact that the E-Series and N-Series (and the company’s other smartphone ranges) reportedly no longer work as separate divisions, with design cues shared more broadly across the board.

The C6 is the more low-budget of the four Symbian^3 powered devices. It sports a 3.2-inch AMOLED touch screen and once again uses Nokia’s new ClearBlack technology. It’s being pitched as “the best of social networking and mobile entertainment” and will cost in the region of €260, excluding taxes and carrier subsidies.

Positioned as the “ultimate entertainment smartphone and world’s best cameraphone”, the N8’s flagship feature is its 12 megapixel camera, which is said to rival standalone digital cameras and is capable of shooting 720p HD video, as are all of today’s newly announced phones. The device also has 16GB of built-in storage and an HDMI out so that it can be plugged into a HD television and, unlike the iPhone, anything on the phone (not just video and photos) is mirrored on the TV.

  • Luca

    I tried Nokia N8 and it was really really surprising. It’s really fast, Symbian 3 rocks, and Ovi Maps is impressive.

  • http://9pt.de Oliver Mueller-Marc

    Definitely a nice looking phone.

    But does a customer, who knows the shifting shares in the Smartphone OS market to Apple and Android, still buys an Business Smartphone with Symbian OS?

    See also my comments here:
    http://9pt.de/lid

    Oliver Müller-Marc
    9pt Unternehmensberatung

  • http://www.kishoresoft.com Sai Bharadwaj

    It’s a tough competition out there with Google, Microsoft & the big Apple taking over the mobile market. In India, there are some unbranded mobiles providing some high quality features like Micromaxx doing a good business.

    It all depends on how they can cash into mass markets like India, where it was once #1 seller.

  • John

    Nokia has always made great phones, and I’m happy they are bringing their software to higher standards. The problem for the United States is they have to make inroads into business and more importantly carrier support.

  • Anil Pereira

    You have a major typo in your headline (“Thee” instead of “Three”!)

    • Steve O'Hear

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • Palerma

    Who would like to buy smartphone without decent software assortment?

    Maybe same guys, who bought Atari/Sinclair (you name it) @ 80´s….

  • http://www.deutschlern.net Joachim

    The hardware from Nokia always is great, but they fail on the software side, they never really moved Maemo/MeeGo and now with Android pushing strong it’s late and it doesn’t matter if they produce the best phones. A good smartphone is a fairly good phone + great software

  • http://www.farauctions.com Free Online Auctions

    nokia was my first love on gadgets and very impressed with thier technologies. go NOKIA.

  • Puranjay

    Why is it that in all pics I see, the Nokia OS looks TOO cluttered and busy.

    I want something simple, clean and elegant. I hate to say this, but Windows 7 mobile is the closest (after iOS) to have a clean interface. Its a tiny screen damnit..I don’t want a thousand things floating around on it

    • Steve O'Hear

      It’s a fair point, although all the pics show the widget-ized multiple homescreen. You can remove all that stuff if you choose.

    • David

      If you look at some leaked photos of the MeeGo-powered N9 floating around cybersauce, you’ll notice it much, much cleaner and less cluttered than its Symbian kin.

  • Pankaj Uppal

    Nokia is lagging behind on the software front. Symbian does not look attractive any more with the likes of android hogging the limelight. WP7 is all set to return with a bang.

    So, where does Symbian stand in the market now with its market share declining? I really feel that Nokia needs to come up with a great OS which can beat android and WP7 hands down. Only then can they survive in this competitive market and expect to increase their market position.

    • http://www.techie.com.ph A.

      Swallow your pride, and get on the Android train, Nokia!

      • David

        Android’s fugly UI makes me want to kick puppies. Even Windows Mobile 7 looks better than it.

      • Iceberg

        Though it seems that Symbian is officially dead I find Symbian OS at least the latest version fast enough.

        Yes Android would be the way to go in the future but currently this release of Nokia is not bad at all.

  • AT33

    Why start your article with something that was not released today? Just makes your whole article sound stupid and as if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Focus on that what was released, and as an iPhone 4 user I was very impressed. All those 4 phones that were released today rival anything whats available in the market today, including iPhone 4. You can dislike Symbian for being complicated but Symbian offers more than any other OS out there.

    I got the feeling today that Nokia will be alrigth, it will not lose its dominance in the market and will increase that 260’000 smartphone/day number and they’re not even done yet. Soon they will release a whole other animal, the MeeGo based N9. That will be a mini laptop and it will literally close the gap between phone and computer.

    • Steve O'Hear

      Err, I think know a lot about Nokia. But thanks for your “constructive” criticism anyway.

    • McBeese

      “You can dislike Symbian for being complicated but Symbian offers more than any other OS out there.”

      You really, really don’t get it. User interface effectiveness on mobile devices is critical, not nice-to-have. Would you like a mobile device running UNIX? That would also ‘offer more than any other OS out there’.

      • Steve O'Hear

        Why stop at the command line. Provide the code and a compiler.

      • Eric

        And apparently Android which is still even able to use GPU to draw the UI would be the answer? :D
        And even Google thinks the UI in Android sucks.

        Get a clue instead of talking about “user interface effectiveness”.

      • Eric

        And *not* should probably be there somewhere…

      • McBeese

        Who suggested that the Android UI was good? Not me. The Android UI is the weakest part of the o/s. I believe it’s improving with each release, but it isn’t there yet.

  • McBeese

    The logic of the theme ‘Nokia is Back’ is flawed.

    If they’re back, where were they, i.e., they must have had a problem? And if they’re now back, what has addressed the problem? Announcement of new phones and new o/s versions (spin) doesn’t solve problems, adoption of those things does.

    Nokia is drinking too much of their own kool-aid. They’re not back. In fact, Nokia’s market share is going to erode even more when Phone 7 is released.

    • Eric

      Are you talking about the Nokia smartphone market share which has been growing for the last 4 quarters? Now it is 41%. And Nokia did that without any high-end smartphones and sold only dated Symbian^1 devices which really were not the best possible phones…

      If N8 gets over 200 000 orders per week during presale, what do you think C6, C7, E7 and N8 combined are going to do with Nokia’s smartphone market share?

      Expect Nokia to have almost 50% of the smartphone market share by the end of Q1/11.

  • http://blog.sleytr.net Esat Ozkan

    Smartphones are the future of the personal computing. We should be able to install any software (apps/OSes) to OUR devices. Last years famous geek phone n900 is the closest thing to this utopia (debian/android/meego). nokia was late to catch the “mobile” revoltution, but we should still support the most open and free (as in freedom) hardware brand for our own good. Because I dont want to buy a new model just for software upgrades.

  • shon

    nokia is back.and i love all 4 phones.down iphone down its better Symbian,MeeGo,Android,MICROSOFT OS .N8 camera is better than iphones 4

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