ST-Ericsson gets deal with Nokia to supply chipsets, breaks Qualcomm's hold on Windows Phone

Although Qualcomm is sitting comfortably with Microsoft and Windows Phone, it looks like their monopoly on the OS has finally given in. Today, ST-Ericsson has announced a deal with Nokia to supply low-end chipsets for upcoming Windows Phones. The deal both confirms and contradicts and earlier report about Microsoft's plans, though it does reinforce earlier rumors of a Nokia-ST Ericsson alliance.

So far, Qualcomm's chipsets, while diverse and flexible in design, have only been used in "high end" phones. Microsoft and especially Nokia though have been keen on cracking the low end market found in developing/emerging countries and ST-Ericsson will reportedly help in that area. STMicro's shares were up 4% and Ericsson's was up by 2% as of the news. From ST-Ericsson:

"We are pleased to have been selected by Nokia as a key partner for Windows smartphones, in line with our goal to be present in all segments and major operating systems," said Gilles Delfassy, president and CEO of ST-Ericsson. "Our NovaThor platforms continue to gain traction as they enable customers to bring great smartphones to the market."

This is an early breaking story so we expect more details soon. The current Lumia devices (710 and 800) both use Qualcomm chipsets and that's expected to stay the same.

Source: Reuters; Finanz Nachrichten; Specs of the U8500 chipset after the break

One downside of the Novathor system is currently it does not support LTE 4G, which knocks it out of the "high end" for US markets for now. We should also caution that just because a chipset can do something, doesn't mean it will used.



  • Full HD 1080p camcorder, multiple codecs supported
  • (H264 HP, VC-1, MPEG-4)
  • High-resolution, touchscreen display support up to WXGA
  • Simultaneous dual display support up to dual XGA
  • High performance 3D graphics
  • Dual camera support with Integrated ISP 20 Mpixel and 5 Mpixel
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and FM enabled platform
  • Built-in USB 2.0, HDMI out
  • Support for multiple operating systems
  • Optional support for mobile TV standards


  • Highly efficient, low-power ARM dual Cortex™- A9 processor
  • Dual multimedia DSP for low-power, flexible media processing
  • High-bandwidth LP-DDR2 interface
  • ARM® Mali™ 400 GPU and NEON®CPU extensions
  • State-of-the-art HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) Release 7 modem
  • Unique audio architecture with a wide range of audio codecs supported
  • Advanced power saving architecture enabling class-leading audio and video playback times
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • This doesn't surprise me. MS/Nokia really seem to be focused on getting WPs in developing markets. I honestly think the U.S. has become MS's lowest priority now.
  • I have been kinda feeling that vibe lately, too. I am not sure they are not just looking at the global economy and see a huge growth potetial in so many other markets in the next few years that competing In the US with the high dollars in marketing it takes to do so makes less sense. I am sure Nokia will show up here, but I just think MS/Nokia have targeted other areas for world wide growth.Hope HTC and Samsung keep up with WP otpions here....
  • That's ironic because all the people in Europe complain that features like Local Scout, Zune Pass, Maps, and voice search are limited or non-existent in their countries, and that the US gets first-priority treatment by Microsoft.Here in the US, I feel like all the decisions being made for Windows Phone now are targeted at Nokia's desire to put low-end devices in the hands of people in Europe, Asia, and some third-world countries. IMO, that's what feature phones are for. But regardless, I guess it's just a case of "the grass is always greener..."
  • Getting ready to Tango, eh?
  • I see what you did there ;-)
  • I hope (and suspect) you are right. On the other hand, if it turns out that this is a second hardware platform for WP8 (besides Qualcom Krait), then we are currently witnessing the beginning of hardware fragmentation on windows phone.
  • This allows means Nokia can bring back its penta band radio!
  • Indeed it does! Very refreshing to see this incorporated on Nokia's WP.
  • Come on NOKIA.....start announcing some high end phones!!!
  • How can they do that? WP doesnt support dual core yet, or NFC etc, be realistic
  • nothing about this deal says low end, what makes you think it means it does?.U8500 is not a low end soc and pisses on Dual-core Snapdragons
  • Seriously!! I was thinking the same.. Looks more of like Apollo to me than Tango.
  • I amnot familier at all with NovaThor. Other than the really, really great name!! :-DHow are their real world performances?