Rumours in China suggest that Nokia is testing its new Lumia smartphone range as it prepares to introduce the Windows Mobile 7 based devices to the world’s most populated country next summer.

According to a report from DoNews, cited by Penn Olson, the Finnish handset maker is trying out the localised Chinese version of the Lumia 800 to ensure that the pre-bundled services will work in the country. Nokia and Microsoft have put a lot of emphasis on the device’s features, which include maps, navigation, its sky drive cloud storage and more.

Apple recently introduced support for local currency payments in China, and Nokia is likely to also be firming up the application side of things, particularly given the growth of apps in the country. A report from Distimo this week, echoed findings from Flurry which showed that iOS app downloads have increase massively in China this year. While device shipments to China passed those to the US in November, making the country the world’s biggest smartphone market.

Microsoft recently took its first step towards bringing Lumia to China after it was rumoured to have inked a deal with retailer Suning last month, although the Redmond based giant neither confirmed nor commented on the speculation. Speaking at the AsiaD event recently, Andy Lees, who heads up Microsoft’s Windows Phone division, did confirm that a launch was scheduled some time in 2012.

At this stage, there is no mention of the Lumia 710 device but, given the growth in low- and mid-range smartphones in China and Asia generally, we can assume that it will accompany its bigger brother at some point. Given that both phones are incredibly similar, it is likely that there is no need to test both handsets.

Despite shrinking market share across much of the west, Nokia is still a significant player in China, in both the feature phone and smartphone markets. The company will be hoping that its new devices — which have impressed many, including our own Matthew Panzarino — will help it compete with Apple, whose iPhone was recently found to have replaced the Finnish firm as the most desirable device in China.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft and will update this article with any comment from the company.