Microsoft unveils Lumia 535 without Nokia name, pushes $137 phone for emerging markets

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) released its first Lumia-branded smartphone without the Nokia name on it, the Lumia 535, and is clearly pushing the entry-level phone toward emerging markets. The Lumia 535, which will debut for $137 (€110) before taxes and subsidies, is not the cheapest Lumia phone Microsoft has introduced but it is among them. It also boasts improved specifications compared with similarly priced Windows Phones.

Whether Microsoft and its partners can continue to push down Windows Phone prices will be crucial to determining whether Windows Phone can expand its market share, especially in emerging markets like China, India and countries in Africa and Latin America.

Microsoft has been partnering with dozens of OEMs and ODMs to lower the cost of Windows Phones, most noticeably by dropping licensing fees for Windows Phone software, and the Lumia 535 is Microsoft's way of leading by example. That push is especially important because of Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android One initiative, which is aimed at bringing phones that cost a little more than $100 to market with brand-new Android software and Google services.

The Lumia 535 will be available in single-SIM and dual-SIM variants, and will be initially available initially in Asian markets starting later this month, and then in Russia and the Middle East in the coming months, according to The Verge. According to Re/code, the phone will move from Asia to Africa and the Middle East and then to Latin America in January.

The device runs Windows Phone 8.1, sports a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon processor, a 5-inch qHD screen, 5-megapixel front- and rear-facing cameras, 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage with the option to add a microSD card of up to 128 GB.

microsoft lumia 535
Microsoft Lumia 535

Microsoft is also emphasizing that the phone has 15 GB of free OneDrive cloud storage, built-in Skype integration and Cortana, Microsoft's personal digital assistant. However, as The Verge notes, those features are now standard across Windows Phone devices.

That Microsoft is focusing on the entry-level market is not surprising. Nokia's best-selling Windows Phone device in 2013 was the low-end Lumia 520. The 535 is slightly more expensive than the $106 Lumia 530, which debuted during the summer, but the 535 also has a larger screen and double the amount of RAM and internal storage than the 530.

Microsoft confirmed late last month that in the coming weeks and months, Microsoft will transition from the Nokia Lumia brand to the Microsoft Lumia brand for its smartphone branding. When Microsoft officially acquired Nokia's devices business this spring, Microsoft was only licensed to use the Nokia name on Lumia smartphones for 18 months after the deal's closing. Microsoft can use the Nokia brand name on feature phones for 10 years. However, Microsoft is keeping the Lumia brand and the numbering scheme Nokia introduced (lower numbers are assigned to lower-end phones and higher numbers to more expensive models).

"We believe that there's a lot of equity in people's knowledge and understanding at the basic level of our numbering scheme," Neil Broadley, director of phone product marketing at Microsoft, told The Verge. "Lumia is very much our smartphone brand," he said, adding that the Surface brand will remain focused on "iconic tablet experiences."

For more:
- see this release
- see this Microsoft post
- see this The Verge article
- see this Re/code article
- see this Reuters article

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