Nokia launches cheaper Windows smartphone

February 25, 2013 - 5:29 AM

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Nokia unveiled a cheaper model in its Lumia smartphone range, powered by Microsoft's Windows phone software, as it tries to regain dominance in emerging markets like China.

The Finnish cellphone maker, which until recently was the world's largest maker of phones, said Monday the new Lumia 520 will start at €139, or about $183, before phone-company subsidies.

That compares favorably with Apple's two-year-old iPhone 4, which costs $450 before subsidies. However, low-end smartphones running Google's Android software are available for less than $100.

Nokia said it will start selling the phone soon in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa, and that T-Mobile USA intends to sell it at some unspecified date.

"The Lumia 520, we believe, delivers the best performance of any smartphone at this price point," Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said at an event in Barcelona at the start of the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest cellphone trade show.

Elop made a bold bet two years ago to switch Nokia to Windows software for its high-end smartphones, a decision that has been helped by financial support from Microsoft. Windows Phone 8 provides a distinct look, but so far it hasn't convinced many consumers to switch from iPhones or Android phones.

Nokia was the world's third-largest maker of smartphones last year, according to research firm IDC, but most of its sales consist of older, simpler non-Windows smartphones, a dwindling market.

"It hasn't always been easy," Elop told reporters and analysts Monday. "In fact, I can say at times it's been very exciting."

Elop also revealed the Lumia 720, a higher-priced smartphone for countries like China that lack advanced wireless data networks. He said China Mobile, the world's largest cellphone company, will sell both models.