Microsoft isn't giving up on basic phones, upgrades the Nokia 105

Microsoft has launched an upgraded version of the Nokia 105 phone, but a growing interest in smartphones will make it difficult for the company to repeat the success of the original version.

The US$20 Nokia 105 is aimed at first-time mobile phone buyers and people looking for a long-lasting backup device for their smartphone, according to Microsoft, which decided to keep the Nokia brand for its most basic phones.

The new model has a bigger phonebook, better voice quality and longer talk time. Users can choose between models that have one or two SIM slots. It still has a 1.45-inch screen and an FM radio.

The original model was introduced in 2013, and has sold more than 80 million units to date. Repeating that will be hard for Microsoft, since consumers all over the world are increasingly choosing smartphones. Microsoft’s overall phone sales dropped by about 30 percent during the first quarter year-on-year, even though Windows smartphone sales increased slightly, according to Gartner. At the same time smartphones represented 73 percent of total phone sales, up from about 63 percent.

So there is still a market for phones that aren’t smart, but it’s a shrinking one, thanks mainly to a growing number of increasingly competent and affordable Android smartphones.

For people that want a basic phone from Microsoft, the $30 Nokia 215 feature phone is a better alternative. It’s the company’s most affordable “Internet-ready entry-level phone” with Facebook and Twitter integration. The phone also has Bing Search and an Opera Mini Browser, all of which the 105 lacks. Microsoft’s cheapest Windows smartphone, the Lumia 430, costs about $70.

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