Microsoft to release lowest-priced Lumia smartphone yet

Earlier this year, Microsoft launched two other affordable Lumia phones targeting emerging markets

The new Lumia 430.

The new Lumia 430.

Building on the launch earlier this year of two low-cost Lumia phones, Microsoft has taken the price down even further for its latest smartphone.

Also targeted at emerging markets, the Lumia 430 will be priced at US$70 before taxes, when bought without carrier subsidies, and represents Microsoft's most affordable Lumia smartphone yet.

In January, the U.S. tech giant unveiled the Lumia 435 and the Lumia 532 that are priced just a notch higher.

Although limited in specs, the three phones strengthen Microsoft's product offerings for a market segment in which low-cost Android handsets are dominant. Globally, Microsoft's Windows Phone OS only had a 2.8 percent market share in last year's fourth quarter, according to research firm IDC.

The latest offering, the Lumia 430, has room for two SIM cards, a feature consumers in Asia often look for when buying phones. The 3.5G handset runs Windows Phone 8.1, has a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, and a 4-inch screen at a 800 by 480 pixel resolution. It can be upgraded to Windows 10 once the new operating system is available.

The device has only 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage, but the phone has a slot for a microSD card, which can go up to 128GB.

To take snaps, the phone features a rear-facing 2 megapixel camera and a front-facing 0.3 megapixel camera. Microsoft claims the device can offer 6.5 hours of video playback with its 1500 mAh battery.

The Lumia 430 will arrive starting next month in select markets within the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Eurasia where consumers are generally more budget-conscious.

In India, where the phone will also launch, the new Microsoft phone will "draw some eyeballs" with its low price, said Vishal Tripathi, an analyst with research firm Gartner. But the price alone won't be enough to sway customers away from Android.

“While we’re excited about the addition of the Lumia 430 to the family of affordable Lumia devices, the Lumia 430 will not be coming to Australia,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

"We evaluate each product for its local suitability against the local network conditions. The 3G cellular frequencies in the Lumia 430 are not ideally suited to the Australian market unlike the recently announced Lumia 435 which fits very well.

"The Lumia 435 is the most affordable Lumia in Australia, delivering affordable access to Windows Phone innovation, signature Microsoft services including Office, Skype, Bing and OneDrive, as well all the popular third-party apps people need.”

To truly satisfy users, Microsoft needs more mobile apps for Windows Phone, an area in which the company has struggled, at a time when third-party developers have gravitated towards Android and Apple's iOS.

Android has more than 90 percent of India's smartphone market so to unseat it won't be easy, Tripathi added.

Google last year announced its Android One initiative, in a move to bring higher quality but cheap smartphones to emerging markets including India.

"It's very aggressive pricing [from Microsoft], but there are Android phones which are available in the same price range," Tripathi said. "It's a good attempt, but Microsoft also needs to develop the whole Windows Phone eco-system."

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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