Nokia targets developing world… and cheapskates

Nokia is targeting what it is calling the “next billion” smartphone users with a couple of handsets that start from $45 without a contract. The specs on the phones won’t wow many buyers in major markets, but
the handsets do just about qualify as smartphones.

The phones are targeted mainly at locations such as India and the Far East that have huge populations that, while not as affluent as in some markets, are steadily becoming better off and ready to buy gadgets, though they might be an option for those on a tight budget.

The devices run Nokia’s own operating system and appear to be aimed as much at people on pre-paid plans who pay for data by usage as they are at the traditional smartphone market. All four handsets run a special Nokia mobile browser that supposedly pares down websites to use as little as 10 percent of the data of the full-blown version.

How much it cuts data use in practice remains to be seen and may depend on the type of content, but for those on a budget, it might make plans with particularly stingy data allowances viable.

The smartphone classification comes from the fact that the phones access Nokia’s own app store allowing users to download and install applications. Built-in apps and shortcuts include Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging. The handsets come with 40 free games including Tetris, Monopoly and Bejewelled.

Most of the rest of the hardware is more reminiscent of that found in what are usually called featurephones. The camera is VGA, the display is just 1.8 inches, and the main storage is via an SD card slot. There is a Bluetooth connection as well.

One particularly notable feature is a dual-SIM slot. That means you can use SIM cards from two different operators or plans and switch between them without having to open up the phone or restart the system. That could be particularly useful for people who want or need to have their data use on a separate tariff, those in areas with patchy signals, or those who go abroad a lot.

While one model is only available in Europe and Asia, the rest should be available worldwide.

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