While sales of premium smartphones like the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy have been soaring, low-end phones still make up more than half of the market, meaning hundreds of millions of “basic handsets” are sold each quarter. These phones have always been Nokia’s bread-and-butter, and the Helsinki-based company is hoping its new Nokia 105, which sells for just $20, will help regain the ground it has lost in recent years.
The Nokia 105 doesn’t have Wi-Fi, can't connect to social networks or stream video, but it can place calls and text messages for a price 97 percent less than the latest iPhone. The Nokia 105 comes loaded with games, a color screen, radio, clock and flashlight, meaning it has most of the functionality of phones from a decade ago. Most impressive is its battery with 35 days of life (that’s right, 35 days) and a keyboard resistant to water and dust. Bloomberg reports that the phone also has text-based programs that can teach English and provide some health care advice.
Nokia used to dominate the low-end phone market, but has posted five consecutive annual losses. In the first quarter, Nokia’s sale of basic handsets fell 21 percent to 55.8 million units. This is especially troubling for a company that relies on these phones for 31 percent of its revenue.
Nokia’s goal with the Nokia 105 is to establish brand affinity in growing markets like India and China. Nokia says that while other companies can produce a $20 phone, it will lack the features and quality of the 105. When users are ready for a more expensive smartphone, their positive experience with the 105 will lead them to stick with the Nokia brand.
Many reviews of the phone have been positive. PC Mag called it the “world’s most attractive $20 phone,” noting that it feels consistent with the rest of Nokia’s line of phones.
The phone is available in India and Indonesia, and will soon release in Europe. It is unclear if it will come stateside, but in case it does, we’ve thought of some ways you can make use of a $20 phone.
Irresponsible Phone Owners
You know who you are. Whether you love partying, you easily forget things or are you're just plain clumsy, you’ve never once made it to the free upgrade. If your phone doesn’t get left at a restaurant, it will probably get dropped in a toilet sooner than later. Think of all the money you could save with a $20 Nokia 105. Not only is it at least $400 cheaper than your cracked-glass smartphone, but you can say goodbye to expensive cases and insurance plans.
You won’t be able to check-in on Foursquare and share a video on Facebook that proves you got front row spots for Phoenix, but with 35 days of battery life, you’ll spend more time seeing music while your friends hunt down a charging station. With a dust and water-resistant screen, the Nokia 105 can make the perfect device for a three-day music festival while your smartphone stays safely at home.
Those Engaged In Illegal Activities
Anyone who has seen "Breaking Bad" knows the importance of having a second phone, and one that you don’t think twice to destroy in a moment’s notice. So if whether you’re worried about DEA tracking your calls, or hiding activity from a significant other, the Nokia 105 could be perfect. If you’re getting the heat, just destroy and get another. Just don’t blow your cover if you’re about to go under anesthesia.
Similar to the festival-goer, the Nokia 105 could be great for an extended outdoor adventure. The dust and water-resistant screen and durable body will keep the Nokia 105 safe if you are backpacking through the Rockies or sailing down the Pacific. The 35-day battery life will give you a lifeline in case of emergency, although service can’t be guaranteed.
It gives peace of mind to know your child can call you at any time in case of emergency, but do they really need smartphones? There are privacy concerns with children, and you don't want to access inappropriate content via your phone, or simply break it. The $20 Nokia 105 can keep kids safe without breaking the bank.
Some people just don’t want all the bells and whistles of a smartphone. For older users that don’t need or want to surf online or use social media, the Nokia 105 could be a good match. It’s more functional than many phones marketing towards elderly users, but still easy to use. Your grandma may even get into texting you.
Originally from Northern California, Ryan W. Neal came to New York to earn his master's in journalism from Columbia University. He joined IB Times April 2013, and is a writer...