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The event in Abu Dhabi will mark the debut of the first phablet, or large-screened smartphone, from Nokia. Known as the Lumia 1520, the device will boast a 6-inch, full HD display. Some of its other specs include Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 2 GB of RAM. It will have a 20-megapixel PureView camera, a 3,400mAh battery, and will come in 16-GB and 32-GB varieties.
These features put the Lumia 1520 on an even playing field with today's leading Android smartphones. Microsoft announced an update to its Windows Phone platform just last week enabling its hardware partners to make devices such as the 1520. Before the update, Windows Phone devices couldn't offer full HD screens or quad-core processors. Windows Phone badly needs phablets in order to compete with Android.
[ Microsoft made the right call in supporting Windows Phone phablets. Read more at Why Windows Phone Needs Phablets. ]
In addition to the 1520, Nokia will debut a tablet with either Windows RT or Windows 8.1. Details about the tablet are scarce, but it will mark Nokia's re-entry into a category of device it partially helped to define. Nokia used to offer "Internet tablets" that ran its Linux-based Maemo operating system. Nokia will also reveal several Asha-branded devices, and possibly some mass market entry-level phones.
Sales of Nokia's Lumia devices are improving, albeit slowly. Analysts estimate Nokia's third-quarter sales at about 8 million units, an improvement over last quarter's 7.4 million and about double the sales from the year-ago period. Though the numbers are going up, they still pale in comparison to sales of Apple iPhones (39 million in the last quarter) and sales of Samsung's Galaxy S4 (est. 20-30 million last quarter). Nokia has sold between 70 and 80 million handsets during the last several quarters, but the bulk of those sales are entry-level feature phones for emerging markets.
The new devices coming this week and the improved handset sales underscore that Nokia is undergoing a massive transition. The company's handset business is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft. The deal, which likely won't close until next year, will see Microsoft gain all of Nokia's smartphone designing acumen. The acquisition will play heavily in Microsoft's future, which is itself undergoing a transition from a software company to a software/hardware company.
Nokia's future is looking less dim than it did a year ago, but it still has plenty of work to do. Microsoft cannot miss a step once the acquisition is complete. It can't allow products to become mired in red tape as the Nokia and Microsoft device management teams acclimate to one another. Competition from the Android camp is unending. Nokia and Microsoft finally look like they're able to meet it.