T-Mobile USA to launch entry-level Nokia Astound for $80

ORLANDO, Fla.--Nokia (NYSE:NOK), as expected, partnered with T-Mobile USA to deliver its Symbian-based Astound smartphone. The news represents a strong U.S. carrier win for Nokia, even though the company has decided to move away from Symbian as its primary smartphone platform in favor of Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 7.

The device, which was released globally in October as the C7, was widely rumored to be headed toward T-Mobile. Nokia used an event here ahead of the start of the CTIA Wireless 2011 trade show to showcase the phone, which represents Nokia's attempt to maintain a toehold in the U.S. smartphone market ahead of its Windows Phone releases.

T-Mobile will launch the Astound April 6 for $79.99 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate. Nokia said the device will be aimed at first-time smartphone buyers looking to move up from a feature phone, and emphasized the device's ease of use as a key selling point.

The Astound features an 8-megapixel camera with dual-LED flash and 720p HD video capture, a 3.5-inch capacitive touch AMOLED display, free turn-by-turn navigation from Nokia and access to Nokia's Ovi Store.

Nokia CFO Timo Ihamuotila reiterated at an investor conference earlier this month that even as Nokia transitions to Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 7 as its primary smartphone platform, it is committed to "the long-tail of Symbian as long as it gives us profitable margin." Nokia has said it intends to sell 150 million more Symbian phones during the next few years of its transition to Windows Phone. Nokia has an installed user base of around 200 million Symbian phones worldwide. The company plans to update Symbian's user interface this year.

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