Microsoft has unveiled the Nokia-branded 216, a compact handset for emerging markets with a 24-day battery life to prove its presence in the feature phone market.
The phone’s design is typical Nokia. It’s formed from a plastic shell, available in black, light blue or white, and has an alphanumeric keypad below the display. Around the back, a small Nokia logo and the camera and speaker are the only notable features. The minimalist appearance does have some similarities to Nokia’s Lumia devices of old, bringing the company’s crafted design down to budget handsets accessible to all.
The Nokia 216’s headline features are a 2.4-inch QVGA screen, storage space for up to 2,000 contacts and front and rear cameras. Each are accompanied by an LED flash. As feature phones go, the 216 is well-equipped, including an FM radio, relatively large battery and expandable storage.
As with other Nokia feature phones before it, the 216 comes with inclusions aimed specifically at emerging markets. The presence of an FM radio and LED flash is deliberate. In the regions the 216 targets, power cuts and unreliable networks are commonplace. The flash can act as a torch when the lights go out and important information can be delivered using the radio.
Similarly, the 1,020mAh battery is impressively large for a phone of this class. Microsoft says it will last up to 24 days on standby and provide a talk time of up to 18 hours. Again, the phone has been designed to endure situations in which recharging the battery may not be possible. In many ways, it’s far more practical than a modern smartphone.
Microsoft’s feature phones have become popular in markets that don’t have access to smartphones. Over the past couple of years, it has launched a steady stream of new handsets, offering robust features for a low cost. By cutting out the bloat associated with smartphones, Microsoft can up the battery life and focus on the things that really matter in these markets.
Despite primarily targeting disconnected regions such as India, the handsets have also achieved success worldwide. The $20 Nokia 105 is believed to have shipped 80 million units since its launch in 2014, showing the mass appeal of the simple devices.
The 216 is the next evolution of the winning formula. Microsoft says it combines “great entertainment features and modern online experiences,” providing users with an entry point to the Internet and digital communication. The 216 will come preinstalled with popular apps including Facebook and the Opera Mini web browser. Additional apps can be downloaded from the Java-based Opera Web Store. Customers will receive one free Game loft game every month for a year.
Smartphones have now dominated America and Europe for over half a decade. In undeveloped regions of Asia and Africa, they have yet to make an impact though, restricted by high pricing that ordinary consumers cannot afford. The 216 caters for this kind of audience, as well as people who can’t afford or don’t want a high-end device in regions across the world.