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Nokia goes slider crazy

Seven new handsets, revamps aging UI

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Nokia used its primary annual Asian media event today to fend off increasingly stylish competition from local manufacturers. The company launched four new slider handsets, including its most advanced CDMA phone yet, and a dual-camera 3G device.

All four slide models use a buffed-up version of the aging Series 40 user interface, version 3. This adds eye candy and a new "Active Standby" home screen, and also supports applications written to Macromedia Flash Lite.

Nokia also unveiled three more budget handsets, adding to the two basic models for emerging markets announced over the past fortnight.

Nokia 6270 slide phone

The 6280 is a WCDMA/EDGE handset with a 2 megapixel camera and a VGA front camera for video calls, a removable mini-SD card, and a radio. A 2.5G cousin, the 6270, sports similar specifications, including the same 320 x 240 pixel screen, and a built-in FM radio. It's the smartest of the four new models. Similar in size, but with a megapixel camera and 128 x 160 screen, is the 6111. The fourth slider is aimed at CDMA 1x network operators. The Nokia 6265 is a 800/1900 Mhz CDMA phone with the 2 megapixel camera, same screen, removable storage and wireless options as the 6280.

All four are planned for introduction in the final quarter of 2005.

While Nokia popularized the idea of slide designs, thanks to product placement of the 7710 in the original Matrix movie, it has failed to capitalize on its lead. The US version of the "Matrix phone" arrived late and incomplete in the United States, and the popular 7650 never reached the States at all. In the meantime Siemens, with its SL-55, and Samsung have brought them to the mass market, with the Korean giant making the design its signature.

Nokia launched a stainless steel designer slide phone, the 8800, recently, but the new models won't hit the market until later in the year.

Nokia's Series 40 has long been due a revamp, being outshone by slicker user interfaces from Sony Ericsson and other rivals. Nokia's offering looks rough by comparison: the icon bitmaps look rough and don't scale smoothly, and it doesn't do justice to the 262k color screens. Nokia executives stressed that backward compatibility was a factor for the company - although the default setting resembles Sony Ericsson's UI (and one handed UIQ v3) much more than the classic Navikey interface.

At the low end, Nokia launched a basic 64k color clamshell, the 6060, which will be available in GSM 900/1800 or 850/1900 for the Americas, a 2255 clamshell and a basic 2125 model. All three will be available in Q3. ®

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