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Nokia Series 40 phones: 1.5 billion sold, and counting

Mobile company says the 1.5 billionth device was sold in Brazil. It's a Nokia Asha 303, featuring a touch screen and QWERTY keyboard.

The Nokia Asha 303.
Nokia's Asha 303

Nokia's Series 40 line of mobile phones has reached an important milestone.

The mobile company today announced that it sold the 1.5 billionth Nokia Series 40 phone in San Paulo, Brazil. The device, an Asha 303, was sold to 21-year-old Mayara Rodrigues, who wants to use the phone to keep "in touch with friends and family through social networks," Nokia said. The Asha 303 boasts a touch screen and QWERTY keyboard and comes preinstalled with Angry Birds Lite.

That handset is a far cry from the first Series 40 phone Nokia launched in 1999. Dubbed the Nokia 7110, the device had a spring-loaded cover over a standard numeric keypad. "Send" and "End" buttons above the keypad were just below two input buttons to interact with the device's software. Speaking of the software, it came with a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) browser and messaging features.

Nokia is expected to release its quarterly earnings tomorrow, and this announcement might be designed to offer a glimmer of hope to shareholders who watch, with envy, as Apple post huge financials. Just yesterday, Apple announced that it sold a record-breaking 37.04 million iPhones worldwide during the fourth quarter.

Even with 1.5 billion Series 40 phones sold, there's no denying Nokia is losing its grip on the mobile market. In 2010, Nokia sold 450 million handsets worldwide. But after announcing a steep shipment decline last year, the company said it would no longer provide sales forecasts. Nokia's earnings call tomorrow, however, is expected to shed more light on how many phones it shipped last year.

Even so, if the company can't turn things around, it might become the second-place handset seller this year--behind Samsung. Earlier this month, Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung said he believes his company's sales will outpace Nokia's in 2012, reaching 374 million units.

Nokia, meanwhile, is hoping that its transition to Windows Phone 7 will help jump-start its ailing business. Bloomberg yesterday reported that 1.3 million Nokia Lumia handsets with Windows Phone had shipped through the end of last year.

But as Nokia's sale in San Paulo shows, the company has a strong presence globally. The company said today that each day, 1.3 billion people worldwide use a Nokia device.