This morning in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nokia announced two new smartphones which run on their tried-and-true Symbian operating system. And not even the most sophisticated version of the software - but the one they call Series 40. It's a basic version of the decades-old OS they use in very basic "feature phones." Those models are sold, primarily, in emerging markets.
But, the big deal here is that these new basic handsets are now bestowed with smartphone touchscreen features.
Nokia's new Asha Touch 308 and Asha Touch 309 are good-looking and cheap. The two models are basically the same phone except the 308 is able to use two SIMs (a very popular feature overseas) while the 309 accepts one SIM card and offers Wi-fi connectivity.These budget handsets have the same tiny, 3-inch screens, single-core, 800 MHz processors and 2G connectivity. Each has 2 MP camera on the back, only 20 MB of built-in storage (although there is a 2 GB microSD card in the box), an improved Web browser and a 1100 mAh rechargeable battery. The best feature seems to be the software used to power the touchscreen. It's the same as the software used on Nokia's ill-fated N9 smartphone. That's the phone which became a victim of the Nokia-Microsoft deal just as the handset was about to be released worldwide. It's nice to see even a small part of the innovative N9 design making a re-appearance. That was a terrific device. Nokia says the estimated retail price for either the 308 or 309 will be "about $99 USD excluding taxes and subsidies". The Finnish handset giant expects to ship the phones in the fourth quarter. Earlier this month Nokia unveiled its first phones running Microsoft Windows Phone 8, the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820, although investors and analysts were largely underwhelmed by the announcement. Shares of Nokia, which faces stiff competition from Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and the slew of Google (GOOG) Android devices, were flat at $2.74 during Tuesday's trading. --Written by Gary Krakow in New York. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.