Nokia debuts 3 new Symbian phones, the beginning of the end

Nokia announced today that it would soon roll out three new handsets, the 600, 700, and 701, all powered by the Symbian Belle OS.

Nokia is rolling out three new phones powered by the Symbian Belle operating system. Here, the Nokia offices in Helsinki, Finland.

Nokia on Wednesday took the wraps off three new smartphones, all of them running the Belle operating system, the latest upgrade to Nokia's sturdy Symbian software. The Nokia 600, 700, and 701 will likely ship sometime in Q3 of this year, and serve as a stopgap of sorts, until Nokia, which recently partnered with Microsoft, can start rolling out handsets powered by Windows Phone 7.

The Symbian Belle phones vary in processing power and size: The 600 gets a 3.2-inch display and a 5-megapixel camera, and sells for 180 euros, or about $260; the super-compact 700 gets an AMOLED display and a price tag of 270 euros, or $390; and the 701, priced at 290 euros, or $420, is kitted out with an 8-megapixel camera and a dual-LED flash, along with a 3.5 LCD display.

"Symbian Belle and the three new handsets we are launching today show our commitment to continue delivering Symbian products," Ilari Nurmi, a Nokia vice president, told the Associated Press. "These will not be last products or updates we will deliver on Symbian." But plenty of critics aren't impressed. Over at Forbes, for instance, Tero Kuittinen wonders why Nokia is still clinging to the doomed Symbian OS, which has seen its market share shrink in recent months.

"Nokia’s new 600 model could well do business as a low-end smartphone – 180 euros for a model with a 5 MP camera and a 1 GHz processor may be compelling enough as a back-to-school entry," Kuittinen writes. "But pricing the 700 and 701 at 270 and 290 euros seems weirdly defiant considering they feature a rapidly dying operating system and follow spring Symbian launches that flopped soundly."

Back in August, of course, Nokia President Chris Weber said his company would slowly start to phase out Symbian phones in the Canada and the US, in preparation for the arrival of the first Windows Phone 7 handsets. "When we launch Windows Phones we will essentially be out of the Symbian business, the S40 business, etc.," Weber told Ina Fried of All Things D. "It will be Windows Phone and the accessories around that."

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