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Nokia is launching a slimmed-down version of its flagship Communicator. The Nokia 9300 will go on sale worldwide sometime in early 2005, priced at between $785 and $845.

It weighs in at less than six ounces (170 grams), compared with 8.6 ounces for the most recent Communicator, the 9500. The 9300 lacks the 9500's digital camera and Wi-Fi chipset - lending to the machine's smaller battery - but it is also noticeably slimmer than its predecessor. Like all previous Communicators, the 9300 has a traditional "candy bar" shape and can be opened along its side to reveal a larger LCD screen and QWERTY keyboard.

The new handset is the latest in the phone maker's eight-year-old line of Communicator smart phones, devices that come with an array of advanced features allowing them to double as mini-laptops.

The 9300 comes with advanced personal organiser features, as well as support for RIM's (Blackberry) wireless email software. Other features include in-built office applications supporting documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and a PDF viewer. The handset works on most global mobile standards, has an MP3 and multimedia player, and supports Java for new application and games downloads. The 9300 also has an 80MB storage capacity, which is expandable to 2GB.

Still more attributes of the Symbian-based GSM/GPRS phone include an assortment of e-security protocols - including anti-virus software - support for HTML/XHTML web browsing and Bluetooth, infrared and USB connectivity.

According to pundits the 9300, is an attempt by the firm to broaden the appeal of the Communicator, which has a loyal following among a small group of technophiles. Like early Motorola mobiles from the late 1980s and early 1990s, current versions of the Communicator have been dubbed "the brick" by those turned off by the devices' size.

Niklas Savander, senior vice president of Nokia's business device unit, said: "The Nokia 9300 will appeal to a wide range of professionals who want powerful functionality from a data-enabled device without compromising the look, comfort, simplicity and usability of a standard mobile phone. We believe the Nokia 9300 strikes that balance in one stylish smartphone, without sacrificing the combined functionality that many people require but until now could only get from carrying multiple products."

Nokia is facing mounting pressure from rivals which have recently moved deeper into smart phone territory. Motorola, Microsoft, PalmOne, Sony Ericsson and others have all hitched their carts to the smart phone market, which as yet remains unproven, despite claims of 170 million unit shipments annually by 2009. Nokia is the top vendor in the sector, shipping some two million smart phones in the second quarter of 2004 and taking 33.2 per cent of the market, according to research firm Canalys.

Copyright © 2004, ENN

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