Nokia Launches Its Cheapest Phone Yet for Emerging Markets

Nokia has unveiled the 1280, a mobile phone for emerging markets that is 20 percent cheaper than its predecessor, the 1202.

The unsubsidized cost of the 1280 is €20 (US$30), which makes it Nokia's cheapest mobile phone yet, according to a Nokia blog post. But the prize squeeze won't end there: The concept of a €5 mobile phone doesn't seem so far fetched, the blog post said.

The difference between mobile phone markets is the Western world and developing countries is stark. In the U.S. the average monthly revenue per user was approximately US$51 last year, compared to about US$6.40 in India, according to data from IE Market Research and Research and Markets. That doesn't leave much room for local Indian operators to subsidize expensive smartphones. Instead users have to pay for the phone themselves, and in a country where the average annual per capita income is about US$805 that isn't much. So phones like the 1280 are needed.

The 1280 offers a talk time of up to 8.5 hours -- 30 minutes less than the 1202, according to Nokia -- and a flashlight. Both are important features when you live in a part of the world where power isn't readily available, Nokia said.

The 1280 may have a shorter battery life than the 1202, but the phone can store more contacts, 500 versus 200 entries, and it adds an FM-radio with a standard 3.5 millimeter stereo headphone jack. It also has five separate phone books, which should make it simpler for people to share the device.

Besides the 1280 Nokia, has unveiled four other phones for emerging markets: the 1616, the 1800, the 2220 slide and the 2690. The 1616 adds a color display and €4 to the price of the 1280. The 2220 slide adds support for mobile e-mail using Nokia's own Ovi Mail and costs €45.

Support for Nokia Life Tools is something all phones have in common. Life Tools is a set of services that lets consumers in small towns and rural areas to subscribe to agriculture, education and entertainment related information and content. It's already available in India, and will be available across Indonesia from early December, Nokia said.

The 2220 will be the first of the new phones to ship, before the end of this year, with the 1280 shipping in the first quarter next year, Nokia said.

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