Mobile World Congress may not play host to the Samsung Galaxy S III, but that’s not to say it will be devoid of exciting new devices, particularly from LG and HTC if the rumors play out as we expect. However, Nokia will also be at the show, and the latest word is it could be bringing as many as six new devices along for the ride.
A European version of the Lumia 900 has been rumored ever since the US LTE phone launched at CES 2012, and the replacement to the Nokia N8 has also been setting tongues wagging recently. According to Pocket-Now.com, the final Symbian phone and successor to the N8 will be called the Nokia 808 PureView.
A gaggle of feature phones running S40 could also appear, all wearing the Asha branding introduced during Nokia World last year. There are three devices already named — the Asha 202, Asha 203 and Asha 302 (pictured on the right) — the latter of which has been revealed as having a QWERTY keyboard, a 2.6-inch screen and a 3.2-megapixel camera.
But it’s the sixth phone that is perhaps the most interesting, but it’s not some powerhouse with a crazy clock speed and monstrous price tag. In fact, the Nokia Lumia 610 could be quite the opposite.
Wondering why you should be excited about a budget phone? It’s because the Lumia 610 will be running Windows Phone and could potentially cost less than £100 in the UK on a Pay As You Go scheme.
A source has told TechRadar.com that the 610 will be “priced very aggressively” when it reaches stores, and as the Lumia 710 costs £199 on Pay As You Go, launching a phone that drops down into double-figures would secure a section of the market currently controlled by Android.
With fewer feature phones available and the huge interest in smartphones has seen many network operators, in both the UK and the USA, launch budget Android phones to tempt those who don’t want a top-of-the-range smartphone away from a basic device. Step forward the popular Orange San Francisco/ZTE Blade in the UK, and devices like the T-Mobile myTouch made by HTC in the USA.
Nokia needs Windows Phone to be a success in the same way Microsoft does, and success in the smartphone market today means a busy application store. While the Windows Marketplace is showing considerable growth, the more users there are, the more developers will build for it. Cheap phones means more buyers, in turn meaning more market share.
If the Nokia 610’s hardware can match the low-end retail cost of ZTE/Huawei’s budget Android offerings, while returning a decent screen resolution and size, sensible camera and a 1Ghz processor speed, the Windows Phone OS should easily tempt many away from Android.
Windows Phone Tango.
The launch of the Nokia 610 — or whatever the budget phone ends up being named — could coincide with Microsoft’s introduction of Windows Phone 7.5.1, or Tango as it has also been known. It’s expected that the Tango update will be suited to devices with low internal memory, and likely therefore, to be for low-cost phones only.
While this would introduce a degree of “fragmentation” like that experienced by Android, it wouldn’t be all that different to the approach taken by Apple with the iPhone 3G, which could run no higher than iOS 4.2.1.
The word “cheap” rarely means “good” in the world of consumer electronics, but in the case of a device such as the Lumia 610, it could be very good for Nokia, Microsoft and for once, consumers too.
Mobile World Congress begins on the 27th February.