Nokia is getting serious about inexpensive smartphones. On Wednesday, the Finnish company, whose handset business is being acquired by Microsoft, unveiled the Lumia 630 and Lumia 635, which will sell for $159 and $189, respectively.
The phones will be the first to ship with Windows 8.1, featuring Cortana. Microsoft revealed its voice-controlled digital assistant, a rival to Apple’s Siri, earlier in the day at the company’s Build conference in San Francisco.
The candy-colored phones — available in five different, swappable shells — will undoubtedly garner comparisons to the Apple iPhone 5c.
Granted, with 3G connectivity, the Lumia 630 does not provide blazing fast Internet access. Where Nokia trumps Apple, however, is price.
While the iPhone 5c, Apple’s cheaper alternative to the iPhone 5s, retails for $549, the Lumia 630 will sell for only $159. (This is the initial price as it goes on sale in Asia in May; it could change when the phone hits the U.S. market, which could happen as soon as July).
“They deliver an entry point into the Windows Phone experience,” Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO who is now head of Microsoft’s devices team, told the Build audience.
A dual-SIM version of the Lumia 630 ($169) will let users divide their contacts into two different call and messaging streams — separating, for example, work and personal contacts. The dual-SIM Lumia 635 will offer faster 4G connectivity for $189. Each phone will also be a fitness device, with a SensorCore chip sending information to a Bing fitness app.
Elop said that the Lumia 630 and 635 were attracting more interest from carriers than any other Nokia phone.
“We expect to sell a lot of these devices,” he said.