Nokia unveils new Asha models and information application

The two new devices are 2G enabled and one model supports a dual SIM

Nokia unveiled Tuesday two new models in its Asha Touch family which it claimed as its most affordable capacitive touchscreen devices.

The company also debuted Nokia Life+, a free Web application, which provides content on education, health, information, and entertainment topics on both Asha 308 and 309 and other Nokia phones.

Later this year, local versions of the service will be available in India, China, and Indonesia. Currently the information services are available in English in 18 countries including the U.S., U.K., Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Vietnam.

The Nokia Asha 308 and Nokia Asha 309 comes with a new version of Nokia Xpress Browser, which Nokia claims enables up to 90 percent more efficient mobile browsing and faster access to rich web applications compared to conventional browsers.

Nokia estimates the retail price for the Nokia Asha 308 and Nokia Asha 309 to be about US$99, excluding taxes and subsidies, with shipping expected to start in the fourth quarter of this year.

The company's feature phone volumes showed healthy, single-digit annual growth in the second quarter, bolstered by Nokia's expanding portfolio of dual-SIM and Asha models for emerging markets, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

The Asha 308 and 309 are 2G-enabled devices featuring a 3.0-inch Wide QVGA capacitive display, multiple home screens, stereo radio, loud speakers and up to 32GB microSD card support, Nokia said. While the Asha 309 is the single SIM (subscriber identity module) variant with Wi-Fi, the Nokia Asha 308 is a dual-SIM device that features the company's Easy Swap technology for switching between SIM cards.

Dual-SIM phones have proved to be popular in emerging markets where users like to take advantage of offers from various operators.

Nokia Life+ is a follow on to an earlier service called Life which didn't require a data connection. Life+ is accessible as a download from a Nokia Store or from the Xpress Browser. Nokia has tied up with various global and local content providers including Reader's Digest and Sina.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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