​Microsoft unveils $37 internet-connected Nokia 222 with two-megapixel camera

As Microsoft cuts jobs in its mobile divisions, the company has released two new internet-connected Series 30 phones aimed at first-time buyers.

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The Nokia 222 single and dual SIM. Image: Microsoft
Microsoft has released two internet-connected feature phones that could be some of the last Nokia-branded phones to come from the company.

The two devices, Nokia 222 single and dual-SIM variants, will run Series 30+. While on the surface they don't look very different to earlier phones in the series, Microsoft has thrown in a significantly better main camera: the 222 comes with a two-megapixel snapper compared with the 0.3- megapixel camera found on both the Nokia 108 and Nokia 215.

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Other features include a 2.4-inch QVGA display, and an 1100 mAh battery that Microsoft says will offer up to 20 hours of talk time. Standby times for the Nokia 222 single SIM and dual SIM are 29 days and 21 days respectively.

The devices are also capable of recording video at QVGA resolution, feature an FM radio, and support MicroSD cards up to 32GB. The phones can also double as flashlights.

Like earlier internet-enabled feature phones, the two devices come with a bundle of apps including the Opera Mini browser, Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, and GroupMe by Skype. Internet connectivity for the two relies on a 2.5G connection.

Thanks to the improved specs, the Nokia 222 pair come with a slightly higher price tag than their predecessors in the range. The Nokia 215 launched at just $29, while the Nokia 222 will be priced at $37 before local taxes and subsidies.

The two devices will be rolling out globally in some markets in September and will be available in black and white with a colour-matching keyboard, according to Microsoft.

Looking at the bigger picture, even before the $7.6bn writedown of its phone hardware division, Microsoft had been planning to phase out much of its feature phone business, including the Asha and Series 40 devices. However, it has continued to release ultra-cheap Series 30+ feature phones since acquiring Nokia's devices and services division in 2014.

But with the recent shift in strategy those could soon go too as Microsoft works towards a more "focused portfolio" that centres on Windows 10. According to CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft's strategy will focus on three areas: "management, security, and productivity" for business customers, "communications services" for value phone buyers, and "flagship devices" for Windows fans.

Figures from analyst firm Gartner last week show that Microsoft is still the third largest vendor of all mobile devices, with 27.7 million smartphones and features phones shipped in the second quarter, behind Apple's 48 million and Samsung's 88.7 million. On smartphones alone, however, Microsoft saw its share of the market decline 0.3 percentage points year on year to 2.5 percent, after selling 8.1 million units.

The new feature phones come as Microsoft presses ahead with its plan to reduce headcount for its Finnish business by 2,300. The company last week wrapped up its consultation with workers and is looking to close its operations in the town of Salo, where it's previously manufactured some of its high-end phones. It still has operations in the cities of Tampere and Oulu.

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