Nokia continued its strategy of offering a mix of low- and high-end devices with the Nov. 26 introduction of the Nokia Asha 205 and the Nokia 206, two feature phones that will sell, without carrier subsidy, for about $62.
Both phones are available with single or dual SIM cards and an EasySwap technology that makes it possible to change SIM cards without turning off the phone. They also usher in Slam, a new Nokia service for sharing content with other Bluetooth-enabled devices in a method said to be quicker than Bluetooth alone and in a way that that doesn't consume Internet data—a cost-saving feature for cost-conscious users. (For the time being, neither iOS nor, interestingly, Windows Phone devices are compatible with the Slam app.)
As another cost-conscious measure, both phones also run Nokia's Xpress Internet platform, which crunches data in the cloud, reducing users' consumption by up to 90 percent, according to Nokia.
Nokia is touting the Asha 205 as the developing market's "ultimate social phone," as it features a dedicated button for email as well as for delivering users to their Facebook accounts. It also has an eBuddy Chat app, supports Twitter and popular email services, supports an entertainment package that includes 40 free games from Electronic Arts that users can download and Nokia Life+ applications, including Life Skills and Live Healthy.
The 205 pairs a 2.4-inch QVGA (or quarter VGA) display with a dedicated QWERTY keypad, supports a 32GB microSD card, has a VGA camera and a battery that can last through 11 hours of talk time or 37 days in standby.
Arriving during the fourth quarter, the two-tone phone (the way the colors come together is actually rather unique and attractive) will come in pink-magenta, orange-white and black-cyan.
The more straight-up Nokia 206 features a classic feature-phone keypad, a 2.4-inch display, a 1.3-megapixel camera and can last 47 days in standby mode. It will come in cyan, magenta and an impossible-to-miss shade of yellow.
"The latest Nokia devices give super-social consumers new ways to express their personalities through design, color and innovative new features like Slam," Timo Toikkanen, Nokia executive vice president of mobile phones, said in a statement. "Both devices are built with the trust and quality people have come to expect from Nokia, and offer smarter Internet experiences that help save money today and tomorrow."
Nokia's Asha phones have been a comfort to its nonetheless-ailing bottom line, as the company waited out the months until the late-October release of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 and so its new high-end Lumia phones, the 920 and 820. Introducing Windows Phone 8 in June, Microsoft announced that the initial batch of Lumia smartphones running versions of Windows Phone 7 wouldn't be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8—news that surely hurt Nokia's summer sales.
According to reports, the Lumia 920, to Nokia's relief, is finding a strong fan base. In Germany, the device is said to have sold out, and U.K. site Phones Limited reported Nov. 26 that, according to Yahoo China, Nokia has sold more than 2.5 million Lumia 920 smartphones in the few weeks since its release.
The plight of those early Lumia adopters, who in June were promised an update to a version 7.8, which would extend Windows Phone 8's Start screen, amid a few other perks, received some attention Nov. 24, when tech writer Paul Thurrott called out Microsoft on failing to offer an update on 7.8's whereabouts.
"When Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7.8 in June, I knew it was too good to be true. At the time, it seemed like Microsoft was throwing a bone to disappointed early adopters who would not be able to upgrade their existing handsets to Windows Phone 8. Today, it just seems like a slap in the face," Thurrott wrote.
He called on Microsoft to show early adopters that it cares by offering them information.
"Tell us when, and why it's taking so long," he wrote. "Something. Anything."