Nokia has been both praised and criticised for its first Windows Phone 8 (WP 8) smartphones, the Nokia Lumia 820 and Lumia 920, which were unveiled recently at IFA 2012. It is now rumoured that the company may be looking to send dissenters packing with the launch of a couple of low-end phones. News of a WP8-powered, mid-range Nokia “Zeal” came out earlier this week and now we have The Verge reporting that the Finnish company might be planning a 4-inch, low-end WP8 device called ‘Flame’.

The Verge cites sources as saying that the Flame would have low-end specifications and may be targeted at low-cost markets and offered at price points similar to the existing Lumia 610 and 710. The Flame is supposed to be powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor and would have 512MB of RAM, a 5-megapixel camera and4 GB of storage space. It would also have a microSD slot for increasing the storage space. Although no concrete details of when it’ll be launched are cited, The Verge states that a Q1 2013 launch can be expected.

The Zeal sports specs slightly higher than that of the Nokia Flame. Rumoured to be equipped with a 4.3-inch display, 1.0GHz dual core processor, and 8GB of storage, the Zeal is also said to be launched around the same time as the Flame; around Q1 of 2013.

The (job)hunt begins...

The (job)hunt begins

Other phone launch rumours doing the rounds include a mysterious ‘Lumia 822’ by Nokia and an HTC device with a 5-inch display. Engadget reported recently that it had received images of Verizon’s device management system detailing a couple of new devices, a Nokia Lumia 822 said to be in Gray and White, and the HTC 6435.

Nokia’s Lumia 820 and 920 have, in addition to receiving positive reviews, been described as ‘disappointing’. They drew a quick thumbs-down from investors looking for transformational handsets to rescue the struggling Finnish company, sending the firm's shares tumbling 13 percent. Microsoft and Nokia hope the device – sporting bright colors from red to yellow, a bigger screen, and technology that reduces blur and shakiness in pictures and video – will become a potent weapon in an escalating global war to dominate the mobile industry. But investors said it lacked “wow” and some analysts said Nokia's reticence about dates, prices or carrier partners also did not help.

Many of the industry analysts who saw the phone up close in New York deemed it a solid device with a few differentiating features. But it did not push the envelope as Nokia CEO Stephen Elop had promised. “The challenge is that the world is working on the 4th, 5th and 6th editions of their devices, while Nokia is still trying to move from chapter 1. It still has quite a bit to catch up,” said RBC analyst Mark Sue. “People were looking for something that would dazzle. Most investors will view it as evolutionary, not revolutionary. Nokia has made some good progress, but investors were looking for quantum leaps. We didn't get that.”

The Lumia runs on the latest Windows Phone operating system, which Microsoft – the world's largest software maker – hopes will rival Apple's iOS and Google's Android to become a third mobile platform. For Microsoft, successful Lumia sales could convince more handset makers and carriers to support Windows Phone 8, which promises faster performance and a customisable start screen. Samsung last week became the first to announce a smartphone running that software, which it said it would begin selling as early as next month. If the new phones do not appeal to consumers, it could spell the end for money-losing Nokia and deal a serious blow to Microsoft in its attempts to regain its footing in the market.

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