Johannesburg – Nokia announced on Wednesday that the new devices it is bringing to South Africa demonstrated the company’s commitment to expanding its smartphone market share in the country.
Nokia announced the launch of the Lumia 625, 925 and 1020 smartphones in Johannesburg and the company said that the portfolio demonstrated that it was expanding the features of its top-end devices to lower-spec devices.
“It’s the best example of bringing some of the 920 capabilities to a lower price point,” Ifi Majid, Nokia head of Global Sell-in and Customer Engagement, Product Marketing, Smart Devices, told News24 about the Lumia 625.
The company would not comment on the announcement that Microsoft had bought the mobile device business for $5bn, but insisted that it was determined to showcase its smart device offerings.
A Gartner survey revealed that the Windows Phone 8 operating system passed BlackBerry for third place globally, and Nokia is betting that SA will soon mirror this international trend.
The Windows Phone OS which powers Lumia devices had captured 3.3% of the market, up from 2.6% over the same three months in 2012. BlackBerry's global share fell to 2.7% from 5.2% over the same period.
BlackBerry devices dominate the South African smartphone market, despite hype around premium device offerings from HTC, Sony, Samsung, Apple and Nokia.
The 625 device supports higher speed LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks and Majid highlighted the device’s display size.
“It’s also got the biggest screen we have on any of our devices in the Lumia portfolio – 4.7 inches [12cm] display on this one and of course, it’s LTE as well,” he said.
Though several manufacturers are rolling out LTE devices, access remains limited as a lack of spectrum allocation to the mobile operators continues to hamstring the high-speed services.
Nokia, though, said that the lower-priced Lumia 625 would jump start people using more data on the smartphone.
“We see a big opportunity to get consumers on to data and to get them excited about Lumia,” said Majid.
One of the challenges with smartphones is the battery life and users often have to keep charging cables close by to ensure a full day’s use from smart devices.
Nokia conceded that battery life is a key issue and said that the Lumia is designed to deliver an acceptable experience.
“Battery life is important as well and with big screen like that and really making sure that we’re optimising the size, we’ve got a 2 000mA battery in it as well,” Majid said.
The Lumia 925 is designed around the camera technology from the 920, and Nokia said that that consumers could expect that camera features of the higher end 1020 would make their way to lower spec devices.
The 925 also features a metal case which is expected to convey a more premium feel, although Nokia has a healthy reputation for build quality.
“When we bring metal into it, we don’t just want to bring it in from a form perspective; we also want to bring it in from a function perspective,” said Majid.
“We have a metal ring around the device that increases antenna performance so when you do hold the device, you don’t have any dropped calls or anything like that,” he added, hinting at the problems that affected some Apple iPhones, dubbed the “grip of death”.
Despite the metal case of the Lumia 925, Nokia said that it kept the weight (139g) down on the device and the touch screen can be used with gloves.
“From a consumer perspective, we’re actually going to ship with 925, a cover and a wireless charging plate included,” said Majid.
The Lumia 625 has a recommended retail price of R3 499, the 925 is at R8 999 and Nokia said that the 1020 pricing will be set when it launches in SA before 25 December.
“It [the Lumia 1020] will be coming well before Christmas; I can’t give you an exact date yet. We’re working with the operators as we speak today to make sure we’re ready and are going to be able to launch well before Christmas,” said Gerard Brandjes, vice president of Nokia South and East Africa.
- Follow Duncan on Twitter