Friday, 18 August 2017

Nokia bolsters budget Windows Phone line-up

By Nick Wood , Total Telecom in Barcelona
Monday 25 February 13

Lumia 520, 720 are two of four new devices pitched at the mid-to-low-end market by chief executive Stephen Elop; vendor also launches €15 phone.

Nokia's strategy of bringing Windows Phone to consumers on a budget gathered further momentum on Monday, with the launch of two new Lumia devices, including its cheapest one to date. When the Lumia 520 hits the shelves in Hong Kong and Vietnam in March – followed by the rest of the world from Q2 – it will come with a €139 price tag. "Today we're taking innovations like the ones seen in our [flagship] Lumia 920 and bringing those capabilities down to lower price points…

Nokia's strategy of bringing Windows Phone to consumers on a budget gathered further momentum on Monday, with the launch of two new Lumia devices, including its cheapest one to date.

When the Lumia 520 hits the shelves in Hong Kong and Vietnam in March – followed by the rest of the world from Q2 – it will come with a €139 price tag.

"Today we're taking innovations like the ones seen in our [flagship] Lumia 920 and bringing those capabilities down to lower price points," was the mantra repeated by chief executive Stephen Elop at Nokia's press conference during Mobile World Congress here in Barcelona.

For consumers with slightly more money to spend, Nokia pitched the €249 Lumia 720, which comes with a few more bells and whistles, such as NFC, a wireless charging option, and a higher end camera. This one will go on sale first in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore in March, and then China, India, and other markets in Asia, Europe, and Africa from the second quarter.

It is a strategy that puts Nokia more directly in competition with the likes of Huawei and ZTE, which are using Google's Android OS to hit as many smartphone price points as they can.

Both the Lumia 520 and 720 will also come in versions that support China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network.

"It represents a bold step forward in our relationship with China Mobile," said Elop, who announced the company's first TD-SCDMA-compatible Lumia, the 920T, in December.

His presentation on Monday was similar to the one he made at last year's Mobile World Congress, when he trumpeted Windows Phone's arrival into the mid-tier smartphone market with the unveiling of the Lumia 610.

In 2012, Nokia surprised with the introduction of its PureView imaging technology, announcing the PureView 808, a phone that sported a 41-megapixel camera.

This year, the Finnish handset maker's party piece was an ultra low-cost device, the Nokia 105.

"2.7 billion people in the world are still without a mobile phone," noted Marko Ahtisaari, EVP of design at Nokia. "This [Nokia 105] is a great phone for them at just €15."

Unsurprisingly, the 2G-only Nokia 105 has a very basic user interface, is constructed from cheap materials, and does little more than calling and texting, but it does come with a built-in radio and a flashlight. In addition, like the feature phones of old it has a very long battery life.

"You can charge it once a month and still rely on it," said Ahtisaari.

Finally, the Nokia 301 completed the new line-up.

Priced at €65 and coming in single-SIM and dual-SIM versions, it is a feature phone designed to offer some of the experiences that smartphone owners take for granted, such as email, Web browsing on 3G, and storage that is expandable to 32GB. Like the 105 though, its battery has a standby life that exceeds one month.

Like Elop before him, Ahtisaari repeated the company line when describing the 301.

"We're taking the innovations you see on expensive phones and bringing them to a broader range of price points," he said.

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