Nokia signOne of the world's largest communication firms, Nokia, has issued a profits warning amid increased competition in the smartphone sector from the likes of Apple and Samsung.

Nokia, which employs more than 130,000 people worldwide, said it expects its handset arm to make a loss in the first and second quarter of this year as sales in India, the Middle East and Africa and China suffer, triggering a 14% slide in its share price.

But the Finnish company said it hopes to pose a challenge in the market with the launch of new Windows-based Lumia smartphones in Europe, the US and China.

Nokia last year lost its crown as the world's largest manufacturer of smartphones to its buoyant rival Apple, which makes the iPhone.

Chief executive Stephen Elop said the company's devices and services business continues to be "in the midst of transition".

He said: "Within our smart devices business unit, we have established early momentum with Lumia, and we are increasing our investments in Lumia to achieve market success."

Nokia unveiled a new version of the recently launched Nokia Lumia 610 on Wednesday which will give customers near field communication technology, or NFC, which allows users with similar technology to exchange data on their handsets and make payments.

The update follows a warning that its new Lumia 900 model had been hit by a software bug. The company is depending on the Lumia 900 to challenge Apple and other competitors such as Samsung.

Nokia dominated the mobile phone market in the late 1990s after it overtook Motorola but has since lost its way. It is being squeezed in the low end market by Asian manufacturers like ZTE and in the high end by the makers of smartphones such as the iPhone and Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices.

Its shares, listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange, have nearly halved in value in the last year.