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Nokia ships 2G/3G 6650 handset

Roam from GSM to WCDMA and back again

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Nokia has begun shipping its 6650 handset into Europe, Asia and Japan, tempting users with the phone's ability to switch between GSM and WCDMA networks seamlessly.

In other words, it will hop between second-generation networks and 3G networks. Nokia claims this is a market first.

The advantage, the handset maker says, is the ability to gain the full coverage of 900MHz and 1800MHz GSM networks and the 384Kbps high data throughput of packet-switched WCDMA networks (where they're available). Indeed, the company boasts, "the commercial availability of the Nokia 6650 will open the road for the commercial 3G service experience".

Maybe, but Nokia is still dependent on network operators' plans to roll out 3G services. This many take some time, given the current economic climate in the sector - witness mmO2's decision to write-down its 3G investment.

Nokia expects around 20 operators around the world to introduce WCDMA services during the second half of the year. Some will offer 3G alongside existing 2/2.5G services, others will offer 3G as their prime service. The first 6650s go to network operators J-Phone and Mobilkom Austria this month. Shipments to other operators will depend on their 3G roll-outs.

The release of the 6650 follows the completion of a 20,000-unit pilot programme launched by Nokia earlier this year. The handset features a built-in 640x480 digicam capable of taking 128x96 video footage (what else is 3G for?) at "more than ten frames per second". It has 7MB of memory to hold up to 15 seconds of video, and can interface with PCs and other devices via Bluetooth, USB and infra-red. The 6650's Lithium Ion battery supports up to 14 days standby time and up to two hours 40 minutes GSM talk time (two hours 20 minutes WCDMA). ®

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