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Nokia announces its first Windows Phone with NFC

Nokia is keeping the arrival date and pricing under wraps for now

Nokia has announced an NFC-enabled version of the recently launched Lumia 610 smartphone. Orange will be the first network operator to sell it, Nokia said in a blog post on Wednesday.

Nokia has added an NFC (Near-Field Communications) software stack on top of the Windows Phone OS, which doesn't yet have integrated support for the short-range communication technology.

Orange offers commercial NFC services in France and the U.K., but isn't revealing when the Lumia 610 NFC will go on sale or what it will cost, an Orange spokesman said.

The standard version of the Lumia 610 will cost €189 (US$248) without subsidies, and will begin shipping during the second quarter, according to Nokia.

Payment is the NFC application that is getting the most attention, but other ways of using he technology are expected to drive usage in the beginning.

The availability of more phones will help drive NFC applications, first non-payment and simple apps including marketing, advertising, coupons, then payment, Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner, said earlier this year.

The Lumia 610 NFC can pair with accessories and read tags with a single tap. The latter allows users to check in on Foursquare, follow someone on Twitter, like someone on Facebook or tap a tag to start a download. Users will also be able to create their own tap with the Nokia Tag Writer app, according to a video Nokia posted.

The video also demos how a user can tap the phone against a speaker to start streaming music to it.

To ensure that future owners of the phone can use it in as many places as possible, it has been certified for contactless payments with MasterCard and Visa, Nokia said.

The Lumia 610 was announced at Mobile World Congress earlier this year. The phone has a 3.7-inch display with a 800-by-480 pixel resolution and a 5-megapixel camera.

It has only 256MB of RAM, compared to 512MB in Nokia's other Lumia phones, something developers have to keep in mind if they want their applications to run on the Lumia 610.

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