nokia windows phone 7 conceptSince February’s announcement that Nokia would partner with Microsoft on Windows Phone 7 smartphones, the mobile community has been eager for more details. Jo Harlow, Nokia’s Executive Vice President of Smart Devices, dished a few more tidbits to Forbes Tuesday, including the targeted release window, some design particulars, and the possibility of a China-only phone.

Predictably, Harlow wouldn’t confirm that a WP7 handset would be out by the end of the year but she seemed optimistic. “I’m quite pleased with our progress,” Harlow said. “Our target is absolutely still this year…and the target looks good.”

When it comes to design, it appears Nokia is looking to move outside the contours of its Symbian devices. Since Microsoft has mandated such specs as a capacitive touch screen and seven dedicated hardware buttons, consumers already have an inkling of what’s to come. “One of the differentiations we intend to bring to the Windows Phone platform is hardware innovation,” Harlow said. “You will see that in our first devices and our future devices.”

The interview also indicated a China-specific device may be in the works. Harlow said Nokia is doing a lot of testing in Beijing and is looking heavily at Chinese carriers. The booming Chinese market, with nearly 900 million cell phone owners, is clearly not a bad place to invest.

The potential for Chinese carriers and consumers to embrace Nokia’s next smartphones also could push the company to finally release a CDMA-capable phone. Harlow said CDMA was an “important opportunity for Nokia to exploit.”

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