April 27, 2010 / 11:28 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 3-Nokia unveils new flagship phone, analysts cautious

* N8 offers new Symbian 3 software, 12 megapixel camera

* To start selling from Q3

* N8 to retail for 370 euros excluding taxes, subsidies

* First review bashes the model

* Shares down 1.1 pct, underperforming Euro tech shares (Adds more analyst quotes, updates shares)

By Tarmo Virki, European technology correspondent

HELSINKI, April 27 (Reuters) - Nokia Oyj NOK1V.HE unveiled details of its first phone with new Symbian 3 software on Tuesday, designed to challenge the iPhone and Blackberry RIMM.O at the high-end of the market. Last week Nokia cut its profit outlook and delayed the sales launch of Symbian 3 phones until the third quarter, sending its shares sharply lower. [ID:nLDE63J2CV] [ID:nLDE63Q00T]

“Nokia is reacting to the fire alarm,” said Swedbank analyst Jari Honko.

Nokia, which has yet to show the phone to journalists or analysts, is counting on the new software to start clawing back market share lost to the company’s new rivals.

However, analysts said the new model and software upgrade at best put Nokia on par with features already available to consumers of Google’s (GOOG.O) Android software, or Sony Ericsson, which has sold a 12-megapixel camera phone since 2009.

“Symbian 3 is evolutionary not revolutionary, but N8, if reliable, is a first step in efforts to make Nokia’s high-end phones credible again,” said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.

The new N8 flagship model will have a 12 megapixel camera, 3.5-inch touch screen and retail for 370 euros ($493), excluding subsidies and taxes, Nokia said in a press release.

Analysts said it was unclear how much of an impact the phone will have on third-quarter results as it goes on sale only in selected markets during the quarter.

“I believe it will slightly calm the markets. It does not solve all of Nokia’s problems, but it is an important first step,” said Nordea analyst Sami Sarkamies.

Nokia lacks a top-range model to challenge Apple’s (AAPL.O) iPhone three years after its launch. Its last high-end hit phone was the N95, which was unveiled in 2006.

“Nokia is expected to catch up with rivals, but we will know more about this only when the first independent reviews are published. The first ones are quite mixed,” said Swedbank’s Honko.

The first review of the new phone, published by Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin — who has a strong track record of scooping unveiled Nokia phones — slammed the new model.

“It’s the same as it was before with the same sauce, but with small changes in functionality,” Murtazin wrote in www.mobile-review.com.

“We have the impression that ... rival producers have mixed with Nokia and are sabotaging and purposefully destroying the Nokia brand. This is the only explanation to what is happening,” he wrote.

Nokia shares were down 1.1 percent at 9.25 euros at 1154 GMT, underperforming softer European technology shares .SX8P. [ID:nLDE63Q017]

Like the iPhone, the new N8 comes with a fixed battery. So far Nokia phones have as a standard had removable and replaceable batteries. (Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Rupert Winchester) ($1=.7504 Euro)

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