Nokia hopes new Lumia 520 and 720 smartphones will boost sales

The company highlights camera and design as it hopes to become more competitive in the midrange of the smartphone market

Nokia has expanded its Lumia portfolio with the 520 and 720. The Lumia 520 is the company's cheapest Windows phone to date at ¬139 (US$184), and comes as the company is under pressure to increase sales volumes.

The struggling phone vendor's switch to Windows Phone, announced just over two years ago, hasn't always been easy, CEO Stephen Elop said at the new phones' launch at Mobile World Congress on Monday.

During the fourth quarter last year Nokia sold 4.4 million units. The company's goal is to increase volumes further by bringing some of the technologies from more expensive products to lower-priced phones, according to Elop.

"We are reinventing the battle for affordable smartphones," he said.

For ¬139 before taxes and subsidies, users get an HSPA smartphone running Windows Phone 8 on a dual-core 1GHz processor. It has a 4-inch, 800-by-480 pixel screen and a 5-megapixel camera, which has inherited many of the same camera features available on the high-end Lumia 920.

There is also 8GB of storage, which can be expanded using the microSD card slot. The phone weighs 134 grams and is 9.9 millimeters thick.

The phone will go on sale in Hong Kong and Vietnam in the first quarter, then in the second quarter in Europe, China, India, Latin America and Africa. The Nokia Lumia 520 will also go on sale in the U.S. through T-Mobile.

CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood said sales will still have to grow significantly. The arrival of the Lumia 520 is a critical and logical next step for the evolution of the Lumia family, because Nokia has to drive down the price, he said.

"Nokia has made some progress in mature markets where there is more disposable income available, but to ramp any kind of volume it has to do this. There is urgency, as well, given the phenomenal price erosion we have seen on Android over the last twelve months," he said.

For users that have a bit more money to spend, the 3G Lumia 720 costs ¬249. It is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor and has a 4.3-inch, 800-by-480 pixel display.

Its camera has a 6.7-megapixel sensor, which Nokia promises can take good pictures in low light conditions. The phone weighs 128 grams and is 9 millimeters thick. It has the same battery as the Lumia 920 and can be charged wirelessly using a snap-on cover. Nokia also announced a wireless charging dock for cars.

Like the Lumia 520, the 720 has 8GB of storage, which can be expanded using the microSD card slot. Both phones also have 512MB of RAM.

The Lumia 720 will go on sale in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore during the first quarter. During the second it will also go on sale in China, Europe, Asia, Africa and India.

There was speculation before Mobile World Congress that Nokia would launch a new high-end device, but the Lumia 920's replacement was a no-show. The Lumia 920 is still a competitive phone, but the company will have to have something else ready by summer, according to Wood.

Elop said Nokia must continue to innovate rapidly in the high-end. "There is so much ahead in 2013," he said.

Nokia also expanded the low end of its phone portfolio on Monday with the 105 and the 301. Just like its Lumia products they come in several colors.

The 105 is Nokia's cheapest phone, at ¬15, and will start shipping during the first quarter. The phone has a color screen, an FM radio, a torch, and a splashproof, dustproof keyboard.

It needs to be charged about once a month, according to Nokia. That is important because electricity is not always widely available in the countries where it will go on sale during the first quarter.

The 301 is a 3G phone with HD voice costing ¬65 that can hold one or two SIM cards. Its camera can take panorama images, or a series of shots from which the user can choose the best one. There is also a portrait mode that uses voice guidance to tell the user how to move his or her face to get a good picture.

On the software side, the company has integrated applications such as Facebook and WhatsApp. The 301 also has Nokia's Xpress browser, which compresses data to lower traffic volumes, and is also used on the Asha family of more advanced feature phones.

The phone will go on sale during the second quarter.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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