New Nokia 610 NFC will be first to bring near-field communication technology to Windows Phone

Nokia Lumia 610 NFCThe little Nokia 610 is already a desirable phone, thanks to its classy design and solid feature list, especially for its low price. Now, Nokia has announced a new edition of the device due for release later this year that’s even better value for money, as it adds NFC to the feature list.

Announced at the dedicated NFC trade event known as WIMA in Monaco last week, the 610 NFC is the latest in a line of Nokia phones to use near-field communication, and it links in with increased interest in the technology and the company’s recent NFC accessory releases, including the Play 360 speaker.

This new version of the Lumia 610 doesn’t seem to have changed in any other way, which means buyers will be getting a 3.7-inch touchscreen, 5-megapixel camera with 720p video recording, 8GB of internal memory and an 800Mhz processor.

The Lumia 610 runs a modified version of Windows Phone 7.5, which has been developed to deal with just 256MB of memory and a processor with a lower clock speed than other Windows Phones, enabling Nokia to break into the all-important entry-level smartphone market to take on Android.

A Windows Phone first

It’s the first time NFC will be featured on a Windows Phone handset, with the technology not expected to become commonplace on the platform until the introduction of Windows Phone 8/Apollo.

You may be wondering how Nokia has managed to add NFC to the 610 if the existing software doesn’t support it. According to Ilari Nurmi, Nokia’s product marketing head, who unveiled the device at WIMA, Nokia’s own NFC software stack has been added to the Windows Phone platform along with the requisite hardware.

Any concerns the 610 NFC will be unable to support the next version of Windows Phone when it’s released were put to rest by a Nokia spokesperson, who told there won’t be any compatibility problems when the time comes. A price of around 200 Euros — approximately $260 — for the handset was also given, which is only marginally more than the standard Lumia 610.

Besides connecting with compatible accessories, and using NFC tags to switch between settings, the Lumia 610 NFC has been approved for use with both Visa’s payWave and MasterCard’s PayPass wireless payment systems.

Initially available through the Orange network in the UK this summer, it’s unknown whether the budget phone will make it to other networks in other countries, but given the continued interest and increasing adoption of NFC, Nokia is unlikely to miss the opportunity.