Nokia (NYSE: NOK), the world's biggest handset maker, left its fans spoiled with choices earlier this week, when it unveiled four new smartphones that boast huge touchscreens and the latest Symbian software -- the E7 Communicator, the C7, the C6, and the much-awaited top-of-the-range N8 -- at its annual Nokia World event in London.

N8: The pick of the litter, the N8, left the audience and the shutterbugs drooling. Among its features are a 12-megapixel camera, a secondary VGA camera for video calls, and a 3.5-inch capacitive multitouch AMOLED display with 640-by-360 resolution. It also features HD-quality video recording and playback capabilities, an on-screen full QWERTY virtual keyboard, an Adobe Flash Lite-enabled HTM Web browser, and an FM radio. The device has 16 GB of internal memory with a microSD card slot (hot-swappable up to 32 GB) and sports high-speed USB 2.0.Description: http:/ Its HDMI port, combined with Dolby Digital Plus Surround, allows it to be a home-entertainment system. An on-demand "WebTV" feature, a photo and video editor, and integrated social-networking features make it what Nokia calls the "ultimate entertainment smartphone."

The company says it has received the highest-ever demand for online pre-orders for the N8, which will be priced at 370 euros.

E7: The E7 Communicator, the enterprise version of the N8, comes with a 4-inch AMOLED multitouch display with 640-by-360 resolution, 16GB of internal storage, an 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, HD-quality video capture, a front-facing VGA camera for video calling, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and enhanced security features similar to the ones on BlackBerry devices. The business-focused device comes with several installed business applications that allow the editing of Microsoft documents. It's priced at 495 euros.

C7 and C6: These devices are targeted at the mid-tier segment of the smartphone market. Both come with an 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, AMOLED touchscreens, and a MicroSD card slot. The C7 will retail at 335 euros. The C6 has a slightly smaller touchscreen and a little less memory and will go for 260 euros.

"Today our fight back to smartphone leadership shifts into high gear," said Niklas Savander, Nokia's executive vice president for markets.

Savander said the new smartphones feature the latest Symbian 3 OS, which is "faster, easier to use, more efficient, and more developer-friendly." The company said the latest Symbian OS modernizes the long-serving mobile OS with multitouch, multiple home screens with widgets and unified contacts that support simultaneous updating of social networks. An updated WebKit browser, an easier-to-use Ovi Store, and simplified settings help improve the user interface.

"We have made it much simpler, removed obstacles, and made it more lucrative for people to build apps for our phones," said Purnima Kochikar, Nokia's vice president for software-developer relations.

"Despite new competition, Symbian remains the most widely used smartphone platform in the world," Savander said. "In the last quarter people bought more Nokia smartphones than Apple and Android combined." The company said it sells 260,000 smartphones every day.

All four phones feature ClearBlack Display technology to aid with outdoor viewing, and they will be shipped during the key Christmas period. The company also said it will launch a slew of smartphones in the coming year "to meet different needs, tastes and budgets."

Nokia did not announce any developments to Meego, the open-sourced mobile OS the company has spent the past six months collaborating on with Intel (Nasdaq: INTC).

Nonetheless, the market welcomed Nokia's announcement. Analysts said the new smartphones and Symbian software should help turn around Nokia's fortunes.

Although Nokia is the world's biggest maker of mobile handsets, it has struggled to keep pace with rivals in the high-end, high-margin smartphone market. It has been slow in launching premium devices to battle high-end rivals such as Apple's iPhone and new Android-based phones such as Samsung's Galaxy S and HTC's Evo 4G. Nokia's last popular smartphone was the N95, which came out in 2006 -- the year before the iPhone was launched. Ever since the launch of the iPhone, Nokia's share price has fallen by almost two-thirds, and its sales and market share in the smartphone segment have also declined. According to IDC, its share in the second quarter dipped to 38.1%, down from 40.3% in the year-ago period, while Apple, HTC, and Samsung saw their shares rise.

Nokia's Symbian software, though the best-selling mobile OS to date, is also under threat. Gartner has warned that Symbian's market share will decline to 30.2% in 2014, while Android's market share will surge to 29.6%.

However, Gartner analyst Carolina Milanelsi said, the new phones "are a clear improvement" over previous offerings, and the recent change in management "might give investors more confidence that things are really changing."

Last week, Nokia said Stephen Elop, who heads Microsoft's business division, will replace embattled chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo and renew the company's drive to compete with Apple.

International Business Times, The Global Business News Leader

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