Vodafone has launched what it says is the world's cheapest phone, which it plans to sell in developing markets for under $15 (€12).
The operator has debuted two low-cost handsets, the sub-$15 Vodafone 150 and the sub-$20 Vodafone 250. Both handsets will retail for these prices unsubsidised.
The phones have initially been launched in India, Turkey and eight African markets - the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Qatar, South Africa and Tanzania – Vodafone said.
The handsets, which were launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, support voice calls, SMS and mobile payment services. The Vodafone 250 adds a colour screen and an FM radio.
The phones have been manufactured by TCL using a custom-built feature set and packaging design.
“The cost of mobile handsets can be one of the most significant barriers for people in accessing and benefiting from the growing number of socially valuable mobile services,” Vodafone group director of terminals Patrick Chomet said.
But Frontline SMS founder Ken Banks told the BBC that the phones aren't much cheaper than those already available in Africa, stating that he bought a HTC phone in Uganda two years ago for the equivalent of $20.
He added that handset designers should be concentrating on improving the functionality of low-cost phones, rather than merely reducing the cost of basic models.