Panasonic has launched its first smartphone based on the Symbian operating system at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes. The device uses the Nokia Series 60 user interface platform, based on Symbian.

The X700 smart phone, designed for use on GSM networks, is an upgrade of the company's X70 handset and uses Symbian to replace a proprietary operating system developed by Panasonic Mobile. It will hit Europe in the third quarter of 2004, probably July.

The handset is aimed at business users, with pre-loaded office applications to view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, as well as an integrated VGA digital camera, a TFT display and video capability, and PDA functions such as e-mail, text and picture messaging. It can take a miniSD card for more memory.

It will be the smallest Symbian-based handset on the market when it launches, said Bob Morioka, MD of Panasonic's overseas mobile terminal division, in Tokyo earlier this month.

Panasonic is not worried that the launch of the X700 comes just weeks after Nokia became the majority shareholder in Symbian, having agreed to buy Psion's stake in the OS developer.

"I'm not concerned," said Morioka. Of the possibility that a competitor will control Symbian he added: "We can't control Microsoft or Linux either." Panasonic is taking part in an effort by Japanese service provider NTT DoCoMo to produce Symbian and Linux smartphones for the Japanese market.

Panasonic retains its minority share of Symbian (under its Matsushita brand name), alongside Samsung, Siemens, SonyEricsson and Ericsson.