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Nokia banks on social integration to help boost mobile phone sales

The Asha 210 feature phone has a physical key for access to WhatsApp messaging

Nokia's latest advanced feature phone, the Asha 210, comes with a physical key to access WhatsApp messaging, as well as software clients for Twitter and Facebook.

The launch of the new member of the Asha family follows Nokia's announcement last week that sales of its mobile phones in the first quarter had dropped by 21 percent year on year, to 55.8 million units. As smartphone sales slowed, sales of more basic mobile phones had helped keep Nokia afloat.

To turn around its fortunes the company is working on upgrading its line-up, and the Asha 210 is latest phone to arrive. It has a 2.4-inch screen, a 2-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi and a QWERTY keyboard. There are physical keys for both the camera and the Wi-Fi connection.

But it is the integration with social networks that Nokia hopes will help set the phone apart in a segment of the market that is getting increasingly competitive. Just below the Asha 210's screen is a dedicated WhatsApp button that users can click on to start chatting with other users of the cross-platform mobile messaging app. WhatsApp is also integrated with the phonebook.

This isn't the first time Nokia has added a physical button to provide better integration with a social network. At the end of last year Nokia launched the Asha 205, which has a dedicated Facebook button.

In addition to WhatsApp, the Asha 210 also has support for Facebook, Twitter and email services such as Gmail.

The Nokia Asha 210 is available in yellow, cyan, black, magenta, and white. The estimated retail price for the Asha 210 will be US$72 and the phone is expected to start shipping before the end of this quarter.

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