With an eye on the growing smartphone market in emerging markets such as India, Nokia has launched Andorid-based devices priced between 89 euros and 109 euros. This is the first time Nokia is launching Android phones and comes at a time when Microsoft has acquired the Finnish handset maker.

Stephen Ellop, CEO of Nokia, said the move was aimed at creating a segment of affordable smartphones priced lower than its Windows-based Lumia range.

The new Android devices will however have customised services from the Microsoft suite such as Skype and cloud storage. “We want to introduce Microsoft to millions of new users in growth markets,” Ellop said.

The devices, called Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL will be launched in the growth markets first.

The Nokia X family features a tile-based user interface inspired by the Lumia family. All devices come with Fastlane, a screen which lets people switch between their favourite apps more smoothly. People can access curated, quality-tested apps from Nokia Store, more than a dozen third-party app stores and by side-loading. Out of the box, they can enjoy signature Nokia experiences, including HERE Maps, with true offline maps and integrated turn-by-turn navigation, and Nokia MixRadio music streaming and downloadable playlists. All devices come pre-loaded with a variety of third-party apps and games.

The Nokia X family is also an affordable introduction to popular Microsoft services, including cloud storage using OneDrive. With the purchase of any Nokia X family smartphone in select markets, people will get one month of Skype's Unlimited World Subscription for a limited time, ideal to make international calls to landlines in more than 60 countries and to mobile phones in eight countries.

The first device, the Nokia X, comes with a 4" IPS capacitive display and 3MP camera.

The Nokia X+ is optimised for multimedia enthusiasts, who can enjoy even more games, music, photos and video thanks to more memory and storage. Both the Nokia X and Nokia X+ will be available in bright green, bright red, cyan, yellow, black and white**.

The third family member, the Nokia XL, boasts a 5" display with 2MP front-facing camera — ideal for Skype video calls — and a 5MP rear-facing, autofocus camera with flash. The Nokia XL will be available in bright green, orange, cyan, yellow, black and white. The entire Nokia X family is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon(TM) dual core processor and supports dual SIM, letting people switch SIM cards to get better tariffs.

The Nokia X will go on sale immediately, starting at EUR 89 and rolling out in the Asia-Pacific, Europe, India, Latin America, West Asia and Africa. The Nokia X+ and Nokia XL are expected to roll out in these markets starting early second quarter, priced at EUR 99 and EUR 109, respectively.

“Our deliberate approach is to offer four tiers of products, including our affordable entry-level devices such as the new Nokia 220; our entry-level Asha touch phones like the new Nokia Asha 230; our new Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL smartphones primarily for growth economies; and our Lumia portfolio, which is where we introduce the greatest innovation and provide full compatibility with the Microsoft experience,” Ellop said.

Nokia also unveiled two further handsets designed for people experiencing the Internet for the first time.

Adding to the popular Asha range of devices, the Nokia Asha 230 is the ideal introduction to full-touch mobile phones. The Nokia Asha 230 includes all the benefits of the Nokia Asha Software Platform, including Fastlane and access to popular social apps such as Line, WeChat and WhatsApp. One swipe up from the lockscreen activates the Nokia Asha 230’s camera, and one touch enables people to share images to their favourite social network. With a forthcoming software update, the Nokia Asha 230 will introduce 7GB of free cloud storage on Microsoft OneDrive, and the option to automatically back up photos to the cloud.

Priced at EUR 45, the Nokia Asha 230 is the most affordable Asha touch device ever. Available in the single and dual SIM variants, it will start rolling out immediately across the Asia-Pacific, Europe, India, Latin America, West Asia and Africa.

Nokia also introduced its lowest-priced, data-enabled phone: the Nokia 220, which makes mobile Internet accessible to more people around the world. With its 2.4" colour screen, dust- and splash-proof keypad, the Nokia 220 is a well-crafted choice for people experiencing mobility and the Internet for the first time, with Facebook and Twitter pre-loaded and Bing as the default search engine in the pre-loaded Nokia Xpress browser. Retail prices for the Nokia 220 start at EUR 29. It will be available for sale immediately in single and Dual SIM variants and rolling-out in Asia-Pacific, Europe, India, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

(The writer is in Barcelona at the invitation of Nokia)

(This article was published on February 24, 2014)
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