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Nokia targets entry-level smartphone market

Phone giant drops features to lower handset cost

Nokia's Symbian-based 5250 phone is its cheapest touchscreen smartphone yet at €115 (£95) -- but to get the price that low, Nokia has had to ditch some of the features of its predecessor.

The 5230, introduced around a year ago, has a 3.2in display and support for A-GPS (Assisted GPS) and HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) mobile broadband at 3.6Mbps (bits per second). At launch, the phone cost €149 before operator subsidies and taxes.

The 5250 is €34 cheaper, but users will have to live without a 3G connection and find their way without the assistance of A-GPS. The phone's touchscreen is also smaller than that of its predecessor, at 2.8 inches.

However, the new phone comes with an FM radio, a free copy of Guitar Hero 5 Mobile and a music player on the home screen, according to Nokia. From the home screen users can also access email, Facebook and other social networks, it said.

Nokia is working hard to get the cost of entry-level smartphones down, in an effort to get its devices and software services, including the Ovi application store and music service, into the hands of more users, according to Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight. However, to get to €115 Nokia has had to make some decisions to lower the bill of materials, he said.

The low-cost smartphone isn't there to compete with high-end smartphones, but with mid-tier products based on proprietary operating systems from the likes of LG and Samsung in the prepaid segment and in emerging markets, according to Blaber. At the same time, Nokia is starting to feel pressure from the Chinese phone vendors, which are pushing down the cost of smartphones based on Android, Blaber said.

Nokia expects to start shipping the 5250 in the fourth quarter.


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