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After missing the holiday season, Nokia announced today that it has finally started shipping its E7 smartphone to “select markets” this week.

The company delayed the E7 in December, following the launch of its N8 smartphone, which also faced delays of its own.

So now Nokia finally has two flagship smartphones on the market — although at this point, I think the company probably isn’t expecting much from the E7. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is set to unveil his grand new strategy for the company on February 11, and if I were a betting man I would say that Symbian — which basically ruined the N8 for me — won’t play a huge role in the future.

Hardware-wise, the E7 features a slide-out keyboard, as well as some key differences from the touchscreen-only N8. Unlike the N8’s powerful 12 megapixel camera, the E7 only has an 8 megapixel shooter. But the E7 also sports a larger 4-inch screen, so that camera resolution loss may be worth it in the end.

Elop is expected to boot several executives from the company during his strategy unveiling later this week — something that makes me think we’ll see a newly rejuvenated Nokia this year. The company desperately needs some sort of good news soon, especially since its X7 phone for AT&T was just cancelled.

I got to fondle an E7 during the Consumer Electronics Show last month, and it’s certainly a handsome piece of machinery. But once I started using it, I was reminded of just how archaic Symbian seems compared to modern operating systems like the iPhone OS or Android. The E7’s biggest selling point at the moment is its keyboard, which is one of the best I’ve ever handled. If only Nokia could deliver the software its hardware deserves.

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