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Nokia Lumia 920 and Asha devices give the company hope for the future

Nokia, which has been having a tough time of it in recent years as its Symbian-based devices lost ground to low-priced smartphones running Google's Android operating system, has some good news: its partnership with Microsoft is paying off, and its devices are selling once more.

When Nokia announced that it would be abandoning its traditional approach of developing its own mobile operating systems in-house in favour of partnering with Microsoft to produce Windows Phone handsets, many wondered if it was a risk too far for the company - which, it must be noted, is headed by a former Microsoft employee. Sales figures released by the company this week show that those concerns were false: Nokia is enjoying its best financial quarter for quite some time.

According to Nokia's official figures - which represent devices shipped to retailers, rather than actual sales to end-users - the Lumia family of Windows Phone handsets shipped 4.4 million devices in the last quarter of 2012, compared to just 2.2 million smartphone-class devices running Nokia's own Symbian operating system. By far the biggest winner, however, was Nokia's Asha family - low-cost devices powered by a cut-down version of Symbian known as Series 40. Barely classing as a smart phone, but with support for internet browsing over 3G and Exchange-compatible email, the low-cost Asha handsets - which can be purchased on pay-as-you-go deals for as little as £30 - sold 9.3 million units in the same quarter.

For Nokia, those solid sales have brought profitability - and relief from a tide of losses that left the industry wondering if the company could survive long-term with Google's Android, Apple's iOS and rival Windows Phone devices eating at its market share.

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