Nokia Lumia 525 Arrives, Following World's Most Popular Windows Phone

The Nokia Lumia 525, a variant of the 520, costs $199, has swappable, candy-colored shells and may be the Moto G's challenger in emerging markets. 

Nokia has quietly launched the Lumia 525, a low-cost, feature-rich Windows Phone 8 smartphone that may be the Motorola Moto G's closest competition.

The 525 is a variant—not a replacement, says Nokia—of the Lumia 520, the best-selling Windows Phone smartphone in the world, according to a Nov. 27 report from AdDuplex. It features a 4-inch super-sensitive touch screen (meaning it responds to fingernail taps and can be used with gloves on), a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and a 5-megapixel rear camera. Like the 520, it doesn't have flash but can shoot HD video at 720p.

There's 1GB of RAM on board, 8GB of mass memory, Nokia's suite of HERE Maps, including for transit and driving, and a microSD card slot to support up to 64GB of memory. Further enhancing the memory situation, Microsoft is including 7GB of free SkyDrive cloud storage.

The phone, which has a swappable, candy-colored polycarbonate shell, comes in orange, yellow, white and black, and measures 4.7 by 2.5 by 0.39 inches.

Again like the 520, the 525 has access to apps including Instagram and Vine.

Nokia released the 525 out of Singapore priced, unlocked, at U.S. $199—same as the Lumia 520. Details about when and how quickly it will reach the rest of the world are still to come. (Nokia says it has a deal to sell the 525 to China Unicom and a 526 to China Mobile.)

The Windows Phone Market

Google's Android controlled 82 percent of the global smartphone OS market share as of the third quarter of 2013, up from 73 percent a year earlier, Gartner announced Nov. 14. But Windows Phone still managed to also grow its numbers, from a 2.3 percent share to 3.6 percent—a growth of 123 percent, earning Microsoft the title of "winner of this quarter," said Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta.

He added that Microsoft's purchase of Nokia's devices and services business is expected to "unify the effort and help drive appeal of the Windows ecosystem."

AdDuplex, which created its report around a sampling of 2,000-plus Windows Phone apps, found the Lumia 520 to account for nearly 27 percent of all active Windows Phone handsets. The Lumia 920 accounts for 8.8 percent and the Lumia 620 for 8.6 percent.

Nokia is, by far, the largest backer of Windows Phone handsets, selling 90 percent of the devices running the OS. HTC, in second place, has just a 7 percent share, followed by Samsung and Huawei, with less than 2 percent each.

In the United States, the leading Windows Phone smartphone is the Lumia 521; combined with the Lumia 520, they have a 30 percent share.

A Lumia 525 in the U.S. could be very good news for Nokia, which during the third quarter sold 63 million phones, thanks to its Lumia and Asha lines, proving its arrow is once again pointing in the right direction.

Low-Cost Phones for the Holidays

Beating the Lumia 525 to the U.S. market, Motorola announced Nov. 26 that the Moto G (or at least the GSM version) has come to town, weeks ahead of its promised early-January delivery.

A lower-cost follow-up to the Moto X, the Moto G has a 4.5-inch display with more pixels per inch than the Apple iPhone 5S; a processor that enables it to perform some tasks faster than the Samsung Galaxy S 4; a battery that can outlast any popular competitor (24 hours, says Motorola); and a price tag (it starts at $179) that's one-third, if not less, of the iPhone or GS4.

"It's not fair that these people have to buy an old or underpowered phone," Motorola CEO Dennis Woodwide said during his Nov. 13 introduction of the Moto G, speaking of the 500 million people expected to buy a sub-$200 device in 2014. "With Moto G, we're giving people around the world a better choice."