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[February 14, 2013]
Samsung launches budget handsets from India
Feb 14, 2013 (Mint - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Korean giant's domination over Android is unquestionable, but they're not losing focus on the feature phone market either as they roll out four new handsets globally.
While smartphones get all the attention, low-end feature phones are still very relevant, particularly in developing markets like India. While the Lumia rage has met with a lukewarm reception, Nokia for one has benefited greatly from having a low cost model with their Asha range, which was one of their strongest sellers in 2012.
Samsung has also been selling entry level smartphones with their Champ line of phones, but on Thursday, the company rolled out a new line of feature phones called the REX series. Recognising the relevance of these phones in developing markets, Thursday's global launch took place in India and will roll out to the rest of the world.
The REX series, which has four phones, the REX 60, 70, 80 and 90 is aimed very firmly at the entry level, ranging from Rs.4280 to Rs.6490, which is very similar to Nokia's Asha range.
The cheapest variant, the REX 60, starts with a 2.8-inch resistive touchscreen, Dual-SIM support and a very average 1.3 megapixel camera. The other three models all use the more responsive capacitive touchscreens, and the top end model, the REX 90, which has a 3.5-inch screen, with WiFi support and a decent 3.2 megapixel camera, as well as built in support for services like Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and also loaded with 10 Gameloft games offers pretty good value.
However, Nokia's Asha line is able to deliver added value thanks to Nokia services such as maps and music, along with 40 preloaded Electronics Arts games, might still be the better bundle in terms of value.
Samsung's new devices are full-touch devices, and the bare bones operating system means that they deliver very acceptable performance with limited hardware. People who are looking to buy a new phone may not be satisfied with that anymore though, as budget Android devices are also getting better.
As recently as six months ago, the budget Android experience was still quite poor -- resistive screens and terrible cameras combined with hardware barely capable of running Android, far less providing a good user experience. However, some of the latest handsets released are starting to push the minimum price levels further down -- the Micromax A110 Canvas 2 for example is still an excellent Android handset and today you can buy it for under Rs.10,000.
So while the REX series does fill an important niche between the most basic phones which can only be used to call and text on the one hand and user friendly smartphones on the other, Samsung might not have as much success as Nokia only because of their timing.
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