Samsung, Nokia release mass-market smartphones ahead of possible Apple incursion

Both Samsung and Nokia (NYSE:NOK)--which trailed Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in smartphone shipments in the second quarter--released a new batch of mass-market smartphones weeks ahead of Apple potentially launching a cheaper iPhone model.

Click here for a slideshow of all of Samsung and Nokia's new phones, including pictures and specs.

Click here for a slideshow of all of Samsung and Nokia's new phones, including pictures and specs.

Samsung unveiled a new lineup of models under its flagship Galaxy brand, and also announced a new alphabetic method for categorizing it smartphone models. The company forecast that smartphone models costing below $200 would account for more than half the overall smartphone market by 2015 in terms of shipments, up from 16 percent in 2010.

In addition to releasing the new models, Samsung said that it will reconfigure its naming strategy for smartphones, a move apparently focused at sharpening its marketing:

--"S" (Super Smart) - high-end devices in Samsung's portfolio
--"R" (Royal / Refined) - premium category models that combine power and productivity 
--"W" (Wonder) - high quality, strategic models
--"M" (Magical) - high-performance models at an economic price-point.
--"Y" (Young) - entry-level or strategic models for emerging markets or a younger audience
--"Pro" - denotes a Qwerty keyboard; "Plus" means the phone is an upgrade and "LTE" means it supports LTE technology

As for its new phones, Samsung announced the Galaxy W, which sports a 1.4 GHz processor, 3.7-inch screen and HSDPA 14.4 Mbps connectivity; the Galaxy M Pro, with a Qwerty keyboard and enterprise functions aimed at business users; the social-networking focused Galaxy Y; and the Galaxy Y Pro with a Qwerty keyboard. Samsung did not announce pricing or availability.

Meanwhile, Nokia announced three new NFC-enabled Symbian smartphone models running the latest version of the platform, dubbed "Belle." Belle is the latest in a series of planned software updates to the Symbian platform, and the updates include single-tap NFC sharing and pairing capability, an increase in the number of home screens from three to six, new sizes for live widgets, pull-down menu and taskbar to access notifications and further enhancements to the browsing experience. Many of those features are hallmarks of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform.

Click here for a video of Nokia's Symbian Belle in action.

Click here for a video of Nokia's Symbian Belle in action.

As for Nokia's new phones, the Nokia 700 is Nokia's most compact smartphone in the Symbian range, and sports a 1 GHz processor, 3.2 inch AMOLED screen ClearBlack display, 2 GB of internal memory, HD video capture and 5-megapixel camera. Nokia claims its 701 model has the brightest mobile screen ever using a ClearBlack display, and said the phone, which is based on the popular Nokia C7 design, has a 1 GHz processor and 8-megapixel camera with dual LED flash and 2X digital zoom. Finally, the Nokia 600 has a 1 GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera and built-in FM radio antenna that allows users to listen to the radio without headphones and an FM transmitter that makes it possible to broadcast music from the phone to any FM radio. Nokia did not announce pricing or availability.

The new announcements come after Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources, that Apple is working with its suppliers to build a cheaper version of its iPhone 4 model with an 8 GB memory drive. The cheaper model is expected to be launched within weeks, the report said. 

For more:
- see this slideshow
- see this Samsung release
- see this Nokia release
- see this Reuters article
- see this separate Reuters article

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