Nokia launches low-end Lumia 620; brings Windows Phone to China Mobile

The Windows Phone OS has less than a 2 percent share of China's smartphone market, say research firms

Nokia said its new Lumia 620 handset is its most affordable Windows Phone 8 smartphone yet, priced US$249 when bought without a contract.

In addition to the Lumia 620, Nokia also announced its first Windows Phone handset for China's largest carrier, China Mobile, in a move that could help popularize the Windows Phone OS in a country where its adoption is still low.

The Lumia 620 is the company's third Windows Phone 8 handset, and features a 3.8-inch touch screen with a resolution of 800 by 480 pixels, a 1GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 512MB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory. It also has a Micro SD card slot for up to 64GB of additional storage. The handset has a rear-facing 5 megapixel camera and a front-facing camera. It will arrive in the first quarter next year.

In China, Nokia also unveiled a version of its Lumia 920 flagship phone specifically built for China Mobile's 3G network. The Lumia 920T, which also runs Windows Phone 8, will arrive in the Chinese market at the end of the year. China Mobile uses a network standard called TD-SCDMA, which is incompatible with the 3G mobile networks used by most other operators.

By launching the phone with China Mobile, Nokia can potentially tap the carrier's more than 700 million customers. In March, Nokia launched its first Windows Phone 7.5 handsets in the country with rival carrier China Telecom, which only has 155 million mobile subscribers.

Nokia was once the top smartphone vendor in China, but the company's presence in that market has diminished with the growing popularity of Android handsets and Apple's iPhone. Nokia has tried to revive its smartphone sales by building phones using Microsoft's Windows Phone OS. But the operating system had less than 2 percent of China's smartphone market for the first nine month's of this year, said Teck Zhung Wong, an analyst with research firm IDC.

"Partnering with China Mobile is definitely a plus for Nokia and the vendor went straight for the jugular this time round by offering its flagship Windows Phone 8 model," he said. "I think this will turn up the buzz around Windows Phone 8 handsets, but it remains to be seen if it will translate into actual sales."

The Lumia 920T will be priced at 4599 yuan (US$739) when bought without a contract, and analysts also noted the handset will arrive just as Apple's iPhone 5 officially comes to China on Dec. 14, ensuring it will face heated competition.

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