Nokia has started shipping the C7, its second smartphone based on the Symbian 3 operating system.

At about €335 (£292) before taxes and subsidies, the C7 will be slightly cheaper than its big brother, the N8. In Nokia's Finnish web store the difference between the two smartphones is €90 (£78).

The C7 may be cheaper, but it still has the N8 beaten in some respects. For example, it is thinner and lighter. Both smartphones have 3.5in displays with a 640x360 pixel resolution.

However, the N8 comes with more built-in storage - 16GB versus 8GB - and a 12Mp camera. Buyers of the C7 will have to make do with an 8Mp camera.

The C7's better looks could give it an edge over the N8, according to Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight.

Still, the C7 is fairly expensive phone and like the N8 will face heavy competition from the iPhone 4 and a growing number of Android-based smartphones, according to Blaber. The similarities between the C7 and N8 will also inevitably lead to some 'cannibalisation' of one another's sales, he said.

It took Nokia longer that it expected to develop its first phone based on Symbian 3. The C7, however, has started shipping well before the end-of-year deadline Nokia set when the smartphone was announced in September.

The fact that Nokia now has ironed out a lot the bugs in Symbian 3 has helped the company pick up the roll-out pace, according to Blaber. Its current strategy of launching fewer phones should make it easier to get phones out the door, he said.

Nokia still has two more Symbian 3-based smartphones to start shipping before the end of the year, the enterprise-centric E7 and the C6-01, which will be the cheapest of the four smartphones at €260 (£227).

See also: Nokia launches C6 and C7 AMOLED smartphones