Ina Fried

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With New Windows Phone Models, Nokia Aims to Better Compete on Price

Although Nokia has gotten plaudits for the hardware and design of its Windows Phones, the company has also been too pricey to fully compete with low-end Android.

Marko Nokia MWC 2013-feature

With the launch of the Lumia 520 and Lumia 720 in Barcelona, the Finnish phone maker is hoping to change that.

“We are bringing elements of our high-end flagship Lumia devices to more prices and therefore to more people,” CEO Stephen Elop said during a press conference at its Mobile World Congress booth.

Expanding Windows Phone is especially important considering the company scrapped its Meltemi effort for low-end Linux and has introduced its last Symbian phones, leaving Windows Phone as the company’s only true smartphone platform.

But with a price of 139 Euros ($183), the Lumia 520 won’t bring Nokia into the bottom reaches of the Android market, which stretches into the sub-$100 range. There Nokia is counting on its Asha line, which it has been pitching as more entry-level smartphone than feature phone.

Nokia is also bringing improved camera and voice quality along with support for corporate email to a new basic phone, the Nokia 301. The phone also has built-in support for popular messaging program WhatsApp.

One interesting camera feature talks users through getting a good self-portrait with voice interaction. Taking a cue from Bump, Nokia is introducing “Slam,” a new means of sharing photos between nearby devices.

An even lower-end phone, the Nokia 105, shares design cues from the Lumia and Asha lines but at a 15 Euro price point aimed at the 2.7 billion people who don’t have a phone. Even at that price, it includes a flashlight, FM radio and weeks worth of battery life.

“You can charge this phone once a month and still rely on it,” said Nokia design head Marko Ahtisaari.

Beyond the new phones, Nokia noted that it plans to bring its Here location services to non-Nokia Windows Phones in some markets; it is also licensing its location technology to Mozilla for use with Firefox OS.

“By gaining scale we can increase the quantity and quality of the data we receive,” Elop said.

The company is also opening up more of its technologies on the imaging, music and location fronts to developers and announced a deal with DreamWorks Animation to create Nokia-exclusive entertainment software.

Nokia, Elop insisted, is getting bolder, a word he used frequently during Monday’s event.

“It hasn’t always been easy,” Elop said. “But without question we have remained focused on our strategy.”

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus