Nokia hopes Asha can help turn the tide - TechCentral

Nokia hopes Asha can help turn the tide

Finnish handset manufacturer Nokia on Thursday released its Asha range of handsets in the SA market at fairly aggressive price points.

The feature phones — which arguably could be described as entry-level smartphones — could help Nokia regain some of the market share it has lost to entry-level Android and BlackBerry devices in recent years.

Yet Nokia’s share price continued tanking this week after issuing a fresh profit warning on Wednesday. It touched a multi-year low of US$4,01/share on Thursday after issuing an earnings update the day before. In the past 12 months, Nokia’s shares have taken a battering, falling by almost 55%.

Aimed squarely at the youth market, the Asha range in SA includes three models — the 201, 302 and 303, all of which include Qwerty keyboards. Though technically feature phones, the Asha range is intended as a budget option for those looking for smartphone functionality without the accompanying price tag.

Nokia is not officially launching the dual-Sim Asha 200 in SA, presumably because the operators don’t want it.

Each handset includes an Internet browser, integrated social networking functionality and the ability to use applications downloaded from the Nokia Store. All Asha handsets make use of Nokia’s proprietary browser that promises data compression to reduce users’ expenditure.

“Consumers are calling out for the right mix of style and substance,” says Colin Baumgart, GM of Nokia SA. “We want to deliver phones that look great, but also give the richest possible experience in calling, texting or browsing the Web.”

The top of the range Asha 303 includes a 2,6-inch capacitive-touch screen in addition to a full Qwerty keyboard. Like the other handsets in the Asha range, the 303 supports both 3G and Wi-Fi. The Asha 303’s recommended retail price is R1 799.

The midrange Asha 302 is Nokia’s first S40 phone to support Mail for Exchange. It lacks the touch screen of the 303, but includes a 3,2-megapixel camera, stereo FM radio and support for microSD cards up to 32GB. The recommended retail price for the Nokia Asha 302 is R1 399.

The entry-level Asha 201 is priced at R999 and includes a stereo FM radio, support for microSD cards up to 32GB and claims up to 52 hours of music playback on a single charge. The Nokia Asha 201 also supports push e-mail.  — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media

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