Nokia upgrades hardware platform with Nokia 600, 700 & 701; 1 GHz processor, 512 MB RAM

Nokia has just launched three new all-touch smartphone models — the 3.2 inch Nokia 600 & Nokia 700 and the 3.5 inch Nokia 701.

The phones are not earth-shattering in terms of innovation. In fact, these are phones that would have helped the company hold on to its smart-phone market-share two years ago.

But as they say, better late than never.

From the indications, the three phones are likely to be priced in the Rs 16,000-20,000 price range initially, though prices are likely to fall enough for them to considered ‘mid range’ in about six months after launch.

The phones are notable primarily because they indicate a hardware upgrade for Nokia’s smart phones.

For example, even its top smartphone in the Indian market — the E7 which costs around Rs 25,000 ($555) — runs on a 680 MHz processor and has just 256 MB of application memory. In comparison, most high-end smart-phones in India have three to four times the RAM and processing power.

As a result, it’s high-selling E7 can feel slow or sluggish if you upgrade it to the latest Symbian Anna platform (and you forget to regularly delete old SMS messages.) Even its latest release, the X7 gaming smartphone, runs on a 680 MHz chip with 256 MB of RAM.

Nokia is perhaps the only major brand not to shift its smart-phones onto the 1 GHz processors, with its competitors Samsung and LG having done so a year ago and now churning out dual core 1 GHz phones.

As an example, the Android LG Optimus P500, which sells for around Rs 10,000 ($222) in the Indian market, has 512 MB (half a GB) of RAM (system memory), a basic requirement to run today’s operating systems without hanging.

The three new devices, therefore, is Nokia playing catch-up with its Korean competitors, rather than making any great advance in technology.

The new phones will be the first devices to come with upgraded internals to India. All three of them have 1 GHz processors, discrete graphics processors, half a GB of RAM and standard HD recording (720 pixels at 30 frames per second).

The disappointments are: none of them have physical keypads, their displays are tiny (3.2 inch for two and 3.5 inch for Nokia 701) and they still carry the dying Symbian operating system.

Despite this, the phones are good news for die-hard Nokia fans, though fairly unimportant for the others.

For example, a similarly priced model like the LG Optimus, (Rs 20,000) has a 4 inch display with 67% higher resolution and comes with the Android platform — a thriving operating system with thousands of applications to choose from. Nearly all other features are the same as the Nokia 600, 700 & 701 — including RAM, processor speed, camera etc..

In fact, the Sony Ericsson Xperia ST15i, released last week for around Rs 13,200, manages to offer almost the same features at a much lower price. The only point of difference is that the Sony Xperia ST15i has a 3 inch screen, while the Nokia 600 & Nokia 700 come with 3.2 inches and the Nokia 701 comes with a 3.5 inch display.

However, the price and the fact that the Xperia ST15i comes with Android 2.3 makes up for the slight disadvantage. Another competitor that the new Nokia phones will face is the Samsung Wave 2 (Wave II). Not only is it better speced that the Nokia models — in terms of a 3.7 inch, higher resolution high-contrast display, it costs only around Rs 16,000.

What has been keeping the Samsung Wave II back has been that it does not run Android, but Samsung’s own operating system, the Bada. However, given that Symbian itself is rushing up a blind alley, that should not be of concern to prospective buyers. (See chart below to compare the different models.)

However, looking at the new Nokia 600, Nokia 700 and Nokia 701 purely from the perspective of Nokia itself, they are a big step forward in trying to bridge the ‘power barrier’ with other brands.

One of the minor attractions is that the phones are the first to come with the next edition of Symbian, the Symbian Belle and also have near field communication (NFC) technology within them. NFC is something between bluetooth and RFID and is expected to become popular as a way to communication between two devices that are close to each other, including in making payments at the super market etc..

Their price in India or the exact date of their India launch has not been announced, but is expected to be within the next two months.


The Nokia N9 – for those who value beauty & class over brains & brawn

Will Nokia C2-03 help the firm recapture the mid-range market?

Motorola roars back to the Indian mid-range market with impressive EX-119, 109 & 212

Sony Ericsson ‘little wonder’ Xperia Mini Pro launched in India at price of Rs 15,399