Today is the start of Nokia World 2011, the event where Nokia would unveil its first Windows Phone 7 device(s). And so they did. The Finnish mobile giant unveiled two Windows Phone 7 smartphones, as well as four new Series 40 phones for emerging markets. The most interesting thing? Pricing. Pretty aggressive. Update: Anybody want a kidney?
Let’s start with the Series 40 phones. They may not appeal to many of us – they are targeted at young people in emerging markets, and OSNews’ audience is comprised mostly of westerners, sadly – but they’re still pretty awesome, in my book. The phones are all called Asha, which is Hindi for ‘Hope’.
I’m not going to list all the specifications of these devices – I want to focus on what they stand for. I’m very happy that Nokia still knows where its roots lie: bringing mobile phone technology to as many people as possible – and not just rich people in the west. Other mobile phone companies couldn’t care less about Africa, India, or South America – but Nokia still does, and the Asha product line of affordable, but still full-featured almost-smartphones is proof of that.
Nokia is taking a different approach – other mobile phone makers are trying to make smartphones as affordable as feature phones, while Nokia is trying to make feature phones as full-featured as smartphones. The idea that thanks to Nokia’s work more and more people outside of the traditional western regions get access to the web on their phones must be very gratifying for the people of Keilaniemi. It may not be as sexy or frontpage-worthy as Siri or facial unlock, but it sure as heck will be more important in the grand scheme of things.
Moving on to the Windows Phone 7 devices – everything which could’ve possibly leaked about the first Nokia WP7 device was already leaked. Well, except for the name: Nokia Lumia 800. It comes with Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, and, of course, Nokia Maps, the comprehensive navigation solution. As far as looks go, the Lumia 800 is virtually identical to the Nokia N9.
Inside, we’re seeing a faster processor (1.4Ghz) with a graphics processor (Nokia doesn’t say which one). The display is the same 3.7″ AMOLED ClearBlack (Super AMOLED+, basically) as on the Nokia N9. And this being Nokia, it’s Europe that gets this device first for once (as opposed to the US always getting everything first). It will be rolled out in November in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain, with pre-orders open starting today. Later this year, Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore, and Taiwan will be added to the list; China and the US will follow in the first half of next year.
Pricing? A relatively mere â‚¬420 (excl. taxes and carrier subsidies). Excluding taxes, an iPhone 4S 16GB is â‚¬503 in The Netherlands. A Samsung Galaxy SII sets you back â‚¬436 without taxes, so about the same price – but the Galaxy SII was launched in April of this year. In other words, this is a pretty competitive price.
Nokia also had a little surprise in store for us by unveiling another Windows Phone 7 device – the Lumia 710. This one has the same internals as the 800, but comes with a ClearBlack LCD instead of AMOLED, and lacks the beautoful casing of the 800, opting for a more standard shell. The back covers of the 710 can be replaced, and are available in the default Windows Phone 7 colours.
The 710 will hit Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan by the end of the year; the rest of the world will follow early next year. This thing is even cheaper than the 800, coming in at a mere â‚¬270 (excl. taxes and carrier subsidies). That’s a very, very aggressive price point.
All in all, as nice as these Windows Phone 7 devices may be, it will all depend on just how much weight the Nokia name really carries. Windows Phone 7’s uptake hasn’t exactly been stellar so far, and it remains to be seen just how Nokia’s brand name is going to change that – if at all.