Vodafone unveils handsets for developing world

Tie-in with Chinese manufacturer results in low-cost mobile phones designed to 'enfranchise' millions

Vodafone has unveiled a pair of low-cost handsets for the developing world, which it hopes will help millions access mobile technology for the first time.

The Vodafone 125 and 225 models — identical except for the fact that the former has a black-and-white screen while the latter sports colour — have been manufactured by ZTE, a Chinese company, and will go on sale in Egypt, Romania and South Africa in the next few weeks. They will be priced between $25-$45 (£13-£23), depending on the model and local market conditions.

"The Vodafone 125 and Vodafone 225 are the first of a range of ultra-low-cost handsets which will be manufactured exclusively for Vodafone and its affiliates by ZTE Corporation," said Jens Schulte-Bockum, Vodafone's global director of terminals, on Monday. He went on to claim that the handsets would "help enfranchise millions more people across the world, giving them good-quality, attractive handsets, with popular features and functionality, at a reasonable price". ZTE's general manager of handsets, He Shiyou, described the handsets as "a big breakthrough in the market".

Vodafone has already introduced mobile payment services in countries such as Kenya and Egypt, where it claims that mobile technology has been shown to be able to provide "secure and socially beneficial services" to communities without access to banks.

Vodafone 125 ultra-low cost handset

The Vodafone 125 handset is designed to help those in the developing world access mobile technology