Nokia unveils bigger phones, first tablet at Abu Dhabi event

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Nokia today unveiled five new phones and its debut tablet in the first product launch since the struggling firm agreed to sell its handset unit to Microsoft for $7.2 billion.

The new products were announced at the Nokia World event in Abu Dhabi, which was expected to attract 1000 people.

The six new products mark “the next generation of Nokia innovation”, said Stephen Elop, who currently runs Nokia's devices business.

New products include the Lumia 2520 tablet, which runs on Microsoft’s Windows platform and is expected to retail at $499 when it goes on sale later this year.

Infographic: Nokia: From mobile phone to smart phone
Infographic: Nokia: From mobile phone to smart phone

The tablet has a 10.1-inch high-definition display and optional $149 keyboard that doubles as a cover and additional power source.

News of Nokia’s first tablet comes on the same day that rival Apple is expected to announce a new range of iPads.

Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer for the UAE electronics retailer Jacky’s, said the keyboard-cover differentiates Nokia’s tablet from the iPad.

“This doesn't only mark Nokia’s entry into the tablet market but also into the laptop-replacement market, as it finally offers a lot of the functionality executives require,” he told Al Arabiya.

Nokia's marketing chief Tuula Rytila told Al Arabiya that, although the tablet supports a SIM card, there were “no plans” for a dedicated Nokia phone app. She declined to comment on possible future additions to the tablet range, such as those will smaller screens.

Nokia also announced two Lumia smartphones with large six-inch screens: the Lumia 1520, which is expected to retail at $749, and the Lumia 1320 at $339. It also unveiled three mobile phones in the budget Asha range, retailing at between $69 and $99.

Panjabi said the pricing of the Lumia 1320 was “extremely aggressive”, but considers the Lumia 1520 to be less competitive. “The Lumia 1520 will be slightly cheaper than the Galaxy Note 3 and may target the core Windows user but will be a more difficult market to crack,” he told Al Arabiya.

Applications including Instagram, WhatsApp and Vine are also set to launch on Nokia phones, it was announced today.

WhatsApp founder Jan Koum said that the smartphone-messaging service now has 350 million active monthly users. Launching on Nokia’s cheaper handsets will give WhatsApp more exposure in markets such as the Middle East, he added.

“Asha allows us to reach the emerging markets,” he said. “Every day, we register 250,000 people across all Nokia devices.”

Today’s announcements will be closely watched by analysts ahead of the planned completion of Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia early next year.

The Finnish company has struggled to regain its momentum having lost its once-dominant position in the market as it failed to keep pace with rivals Apple and Samsung.

Despite having failed to compete in the smartphone category, Nokia is still strong in the lower-priced mobile category.

In the UAE, Nokia has a 56.4 percent share of the mobile market, according to figures released in August by the local Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

However, Nokia lags behind in the UAE smartphone category, which is led by Samsung and Apple.