Nokia, the world's largest cellphone maker by volume, reported better-than-expected quarterly core earnings, although they fell 73 percent as its new Windows Phones failed to compensate for diving sales of its legacy smartphones.

Nokia's fourth-quarter core earnings per share of 0.06 euros compared to market expectation for 0.04 euros, it said on Thursday.

Fourth-quarter smartphone sales fell 31 percent from a year earlier to 19.6 million handsets, roughly in line with forecasts.

Nokia unveiled a high-profile strategy shift to Microsoft software on its smartphones last February in a bid to rival to Apple and Google's Android.

(Reporting by Helsinki newsroom)