Microsoft’s latest internet-enabled feature phone, the Nokia 230, isn’t its cheapest but comes with an all-new design and is the first with a decent selfie camera.
A few of Microsoft’s recent Nokia-branded feature phones come with a two-megapixel main camera, but the headline feature of its new $55 Nokia 230 is that it has “not one but two” of them, on the front and back, each supported by an LED flash.
Microsoft has also gone back to the drawing board for the design of the new Nokia 230. Gone are the loud green, red and blue colour options of earlier feature phones, with the Nokia 230 available only in black or white. It’s also introduced a consistent grey, sand-blasted aluminium back cover common to both colours.
The aluminium cover is wedged between two bars at the top and bottom that match the main colour option. The end result is a slicker finish than its predecessor feature phones and one that could even be more visually appealing than its flagship Lumia 950 and 950 XL.
Specs-wise, the latest Series 30+ devices don’t come close to the new Lumia duo, featuring a 2.8-inch display — the largest in the current Nokia line-up — 16MB RAM, and a 1,200mAh battery that has a maximum standby time of 27 days.
Other entertainment features include the FM radio and MP3 player, which can make use of a memory slot supporting up to 32GB storage.
The Nokia 230 is also an internet phone and can run a number of apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook, and games from the Opera Store, or be used to search the web using the Opera Mini browser it comes with.
However, the Nokia 230 arrives as the prices of smartphones nudge up against the Nokia 230’s $55 tag. That price isn’t too far from its cheapest Windows handsets, such as the $70 Lumia 430, which can upgrade to Windows 10.
If Google is right, it should be about two years before the price of smartphones comes down to the $50 mark, the price point it believes will be a turning point for smartphone adoption in emerging markets, which no doubt Microsoft also wants to be a part of.
Presumably until that time comes, Microsoft will keep a hand in the feature-phone business.
The Nokia 230 and a dual SIM variant go on sale in December in India, Asia and the Middle East, with other markets to follow in 2016.