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'Zune-like' smartphone in Nokia's future?

Finnish handset maker plans to release a 4.3-inch Windows Phone 8 device that has design cues reminiscent of Microsoft's ill-fated digital device, sources tell The Verge.

Nokia is reportedly working on a midrange smartphone with design cues reminiscent of partner Microsoft's Zune.

The Finnish handset maker plans to release next year a 4.3-inch Zune-like smartphone that will run Windows Phone 8, sources tell The Verge. The "Zeal" will appear in the middle of Nokia's new Lumia lineup and reportedly feature a 1.0GHz dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and a microSD slot.

Besides a unibody design, it's unknown what else may hark back to Microsoft's ill-fated digital device.

CNET has contacted Nokia for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

Microsoft introduced the original Zune in 2006 at a time when competitor Apple was already on its fifth-generation iPod. Despite offering a handful of advantages over the iPod at the time -- such as an FM radio and a much larger screen that detailed album art -- Microsoft was unable to put a sizable dent in Apple's already dominant music player market share and quietly announced its retirement last October.

The Zeal, which is tentatively scheduled for release in early 2013, reportedly is unlikely to be part of a special Nokia Windows 8 event tomorrow. The handset maker is expected to unveil a pair of Windows Phone 8 devices -- the Lumia 820 and 920 -- that will feature wireless charging.