Many electrons are being slayed today to tell readers about Microsoft's new $29 feature phone, but I'm less impressed than most. While the $29 Nokia 215 is a very pretty phone and is supposedly created for the developing world, I'm not sure that it will be cheap enough to draw attention - not when there are even cheaper options readily available.
The Verge reports:
It costs just $29 pre-tax and is aimed at emerging markets, offering customers 29 days of battery life on standby, a dual-SIM option, a built-in torch, and FM Radio. There's also a 2.4-inch, 320 x 240 display, a 0.3-megapixel camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. Crucially, however, Microsoft say the 215 is their "most affordable Internet-ready entry-level phone yet," offering the Opera Mini mobile browser and a limited array of pre-installed apps including Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, and Bing Search.
I had initially planned to cover this as a possible cheap ereading device, but as I got to thinking about it I realized that this wasn't a very cheap phone.
It's not just that Nokia/Microsoft also has a $19 model which is much less capable, but also that I know that I can buy a feature phone for only $9.99 right now. It's the Samsung S150G from Tracfone, and while it is far less capable than the new Nokia 215 it is also a lot cheaper. (What's more, that is the US price; the price in the developing world could be even lower.)
"Cheap phones for the developing world" is a hot topic right now. Everyone is writing about them, and most of the major tech companies are talking about making them.
But they're really not all that cheap - not unless you're judging the price by first world standards.
The last time I wrote about cheap phones, it was the Android One reference design in June. That phone was supposed to be amazingly cheap at $100, but one commenter pointed out that in reality it was no cheaper than smartphones which were already on the market (thanks, jjj!).
And the same is true today.