Nokia's latest Asha goes social: WhatsApp key for some, Facebook for others

After its Asha segment took a knock recently, Nokia is hoping to get back in the game with a Qwerty-packing sub-$80 device.

Nokia's new Asha 210
Image: Nokia

Nokia has launched the entry-level Asha 210, a socially-minded device that will begin shipping in the second quarter.

The QWERTY keyboard device runs Nokia's Series 40 operating system and includes a physical WhatsApp shortcut key or, depending on the country, potentially either a Facebook or Weibo key instead, according to CNET.

A quick check of the specifications for different countries shows a seemingly arbitrary selection for which service is included with the device. For example, the dual-SIM Asha 210 in Vietnam and the Netherlands carry a Facebook shortcut key, while the dual-SIM variant in Sierra Leone carries the WhatsApp key. On the other hand, the single SIM Asha 210 in the Netherlands includes a WhatsApp key, while in Belgium, it's Facebook. 

Details for China and India have not been published yet, however presumably Weibo would be the key of choice for the former. (ZDNet has asked Nokia for details about these markets and will update the story when it receives one.)

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The Asha 210 will go on sale for around $72 in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and parts of Asia Pacific, but won't be made available in the US.

The device is designed to operate on GSM networks, and includes wi-fi support, USB 2.0, Bluetooth, a MicroSD expandable card slot up to 32GB, two-megapixel camera, and FM radio.

The 210 is available either as single or dual SIM: single SIM has an estimated battery life of 46 days while the dual-SIM offers 24 days. The handset will be available in cyan, black, magenta and white, Nokia said.

The Asha 210 comes as Nokia's mobile phone business faces stiffer competition from whitebox makers selling cheaper Androids smartphones in addition to aggressive pricing at the low-end from some its larger rivals, such as Samsung.

The 210 is not one of Nokia's Asha full touch smartphones like the Asha 310 released in February. In the fourth quarter, Nokia sold 9.4 million Asha full touch devices , however, the following quarter saw shipments down 46 percent to five million units. Nokia shipped 55.8 million mobile phones in total in the quarter, representing a quarter on quarter decrease of 30 percent.