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New smartphones: Nokia ushers in the Windows Phone era

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(Read caption) The Nokia Lumia 800. Nokia is hoping that the Lumia line, which runs the Windows Phone, will catapult the company back into contention with Android and Apple.

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The market for new smartphoneas was essentially a two-horse race, with Android holding just over 40 percent of the overall consumer base, and Apple holding just shy of 30. Neither Apple nor Google are likely to budge anytime soon. But hey, a mobile phone maker can dream. Hence the hype surrounding the unveiling, this week, of the Lumia 800 and the Lumia 710, two new smartphones from Nokia.

Both devices will launch in the US and Europe in November, and more importantly, both phones are powered by the Windows Phone OS. Yes, the Lumia is the fruit of the much-ballyhooed Nokia and Microsoft partnership, which was penned earlier this year. Before Nokia and Microsoft joined forced, Nokia ran an OS called Symbian; in the US, at least, Symbian will now be phased out, and replaced with the spiffy Windows Phone OS.

So will the Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800 be enough to help Nokia catch Android and Apple? Well, maybe. "Nokia really needed this to happen today, and this is a new start for the company," Pete Cunningham, an analyst with the research firm Canalys, told The New York Times today. "This helps stop the bleeding and will help Nokia get back in the game."

Certainly, the early hands-on reviews of the Lumia phones are promising. Over at CNET, Nicole Lee, who tried out the Lumia 800 at Nokia HQ in California, highlights the "gorgeous" 3.7-inch AMOLED screen, and the "remarkable responsiveness during navigation."

"[T]he overall shape and form factor of the phone reminds us somewhat of a stick of gum, and not in a bad way," Lee writes. "The unibody design results in a streamlined look from head to toe, with flat tops and bottoms and rounded sides. The 4.59 inches (116.5mm) by 2.4 inches (61.2mm) by 0.47 inch (12.1mm) polycarbonite body feels grippy and solid in the hand."

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