Nokia Extends Its Reach With Four New Budget and Mid-Range Phones

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Nokia unveiled four new phones at its press conference at the 2013 Mobile World Congress, including two additions to the Lumia family. Rather than pushing the envelope and increasing the specs on their high-end devices, Nokia is broadening their reach by bringing innovation to more price points. The Lumia 520 is an entry-level Windows 8 device while the Lumia 720 is a bit more premium while still resting comfortably under the Lumia 920. Outside the Lumia branding is the Nokia 105 and Nokia 301, which run on Nokia's Asha platform. Nokia is working to bring premium features to all their consumers, attempting to snatch some of the growing Android marketshare around the world.

The Nokia 105 and Nokia 301 are the least expensive entrants, starting at just $20 for the Nokia 105 and $65 for the Nokia 301. Marco Ahtisaari, Nokia's head of design, called the Nokia 105 an "ideal and beautiful first phone" which could also serve as an ideal backup device. This phone promises impressive battery life, with Nokia claiming that it only needs to be charged around once a month and demoing a device that supposedly hadn't been charged for two weeks and still have three out of five battery bars left. The Nokia 301 is available in both single and dual SIM versions and comes in five different colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, white and black. The 301 takes features from more premium devices, such as panoramic and sequential shot picture modes and even has a voice controlled self portait assistant that worked quite well in the demo.

Much as Ahtisaari touted the Nokia 105 as a great entrance to Nokia, he called the Lumia 520 a "fun and affordable way to upgrade to Windows Phone 8." He described this model as having a pillow-y design with a very human and organic feel. The 520 has interchangeable outer shells, supporting multiple colors on a single device much like the Lumia 820. The 520 has a 4-inch display, a 1 GHz dual-core processor and 8GB of internal storage, which can be expanded with 64GB more via microSD.

The Lumia 720 is also going for a broader audience than the Lumia 820 and 920 and was engineered without LTE support. The 720 is slightly larger than the 520 with a shape closer resembling the Lumia 920. The 720 includes a Carl Zeiss lens and a f/1.9 aperture for low light photography. Nokia says that the front facing camera on the 720 is their best to date, incorporating a wide angle lens, allowing four people to comfortably fit together in a picture, and capturing 1.2 megapixels. There's no wireless charging built-in to the Lumia 720, but that feature can be added with a snap-on case.

The Nokia 105 and 301 will be available in Q1 and Q2 respectively, but won't be hitting the US market, instead focusing on global markets such as China, Indonesia and India. The Lumia 720 is also less likely to hit US shores, instead focusing on markets where LTE-coverage is less available, such as countries in Asia and Europe.

The Lumia 520, however, will be available globally and will be available in the United States through T-Mobile. The 520 is estimated to cost around 139 euros, which is about $184. This phone will come to Asia this quarter, specifically Hong Kong and Vietnam, then have global availability, including the US, in the second quarter of this year.

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