At a keynote on February 25 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Nokia showed off phones which show their intent to go after the lower-end of the market and therefore, rapidly gain market share.
Two of the phones are Lumia Windows Phones, which is what this post will focus on. The other two are feature phones which have been priced extremely low (Nokia 105 is priced at €15, and Nokia 301 at €65) but providing a lot of value for first-time phone buyers and customers in regions where smartphones are not yet the de facto choice.
The Lumia 520 is clearly an entry-level smartphone, much like the Lumia 620. However, the Lumia 520 is priced even lower than the Lumia 620, at €139. Even though it is low-priced, the phone comes with a bunch of features that are borrowed or straight away replicated from the higher end Lumias like the Lumia 920. Some of these features include “Lenses” for the camera like Cinemagraph, Smart Shoot and Panorama. The phone comes with 8GB of on-board storage (twice the norm for entry-level devices) and support for up to 64GB of expandable storage via micro SD card.
Also included in the phone is the super sensitive touch display which allows precise touch gestures including with gloves on. This feature was limited to the high-end phones until now. Of course, like all other Lumias, the phone comes with Nokia Music, and the suite of location-based apps like HERE Maps, HERE Transit and HERE Drive. All this on top of a dual-core processor at 1GHz, and a 4″ IPS LCD screen.
The Lumia 720 is a midrange device but it boasts of solid specs to make it a no-brainer choice for many. The most attractive feature on this phone may be the camera, which has a great aperture of f/1.9 which is even better than the current flagship Lumia 920. It has a great, wide-angled front-facing camera to make video calling experience much better than other phones. It has a 4.3″ ClearBlack Gorilla Glass screen along with 8GB on-board storage with micro SD support for expanding the storage. Like other Lumias, it also comes with the standard Nokia apps. At €249, this phone is also priced extremely competitively for markets which don’t necessarily always jump to the highest-end phone.
These announcements may seem lukewarm in markets where 5″ phones at 1080p resolution and 32GB on-board storage is expected, but after kicking off the migration to Windows Phone 2 years ago, Nokia has clearly set itself up for aggressively gaining market share. In many countries and regions, Windows Phone has started breaking the double digit market share, and with the most growth expected out of first-time smartphone buyers, the Lumia 520, 620 and 720 make a lot of sense. Customers get to experience Windows Phone 8 with all its goodness (and presumably, upgradability), along with many really useful apps and services from Nokia. There is some momentum in favor of Nokia and Windows Phone and the best way at this time for Nokia to take advantage of this momentum is to get in early where customers care about price first, brands next.
Some may say there are too many Lumia models in the market, but I do think they have differentiated the range very clearly with their pricing (and therefore, feature set). What I don’t know is why would Nokia continue pushing out their Windows Phone 7.8 devices like the Lumia 505, 510 and 610. Maybe with the Lumia 520, 620 and 720 in the market, they may decide to slowly move all their customers (i.e., carriers) over to Windows Phone 8. Let’s hope so, for the sake of developers who now will have a real hard choice to make — support their app on both Windows Phone 7.8 and Windows Phone 8, or not.
I was disappointed a little with the announcements because I am one of those who would have loved to see some high-end devices also announced, but at the same time I am really excited with the announcement of these devices because it will help grow the user base which will help maintain and increase the momentum. I am a Windows Phone user and the last thing I want to see is being cast off into irrelevance as a platform.
What did you think of the phones? Let me know in the comments! Meanwhile, official videos for the two phones: