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Nokia Corporation (NOK - Analyst Report) has strengthened its low-end smartphone range by unveiling the new dual SIM Asha 310, which supports Wi-Fi – the first such combination from the company’s stable. Good performance from the Asha series in the recently concluded quarter is increasing Nokia’s dependence on its low-end smartphone version.

The Finnish handset manufacturer has introduced its Easy Swap Dual SIM technology, which allows the customers to use the external card slot to insert a secondary SIM, in addition to the original one placed behind the battery. Significantly the latest technology allows users to store profiles for up to five SIM cards and they can easily switch between the carriers of their choice.

The budget phones have features like – 3 inch screen, a 2 mega pixel camera, a 4GB internal memory card, which is expandable upto 32 GB and is pre loaded with Nokia Xpress browser.

Nokia faced a lackluster 2012, as the company lost its title as the world’s largest cell phone manufacturer to Samsung Electronics. Amid stiff competition from Google Inc.’s Android and Apple Inc.’s (AAPL - Analyst Report) iOS-based phones, the company also lost its smartphone leadership.

However, the company’s decision to join hands with Microsoft Corporation (MSFT - Analyst Report) is finally paying dividends. The latest Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 have performed better than its predecessors. Nokia sold 4.4 million Lumia and 9.3 million Asha smartphones, marking a sequential increase of 43% and 52% respectively.

Although Lumia is taking the lion’s share of the credit for the improved show from the Finnish handset manufacturer, we believe Asha’s encouraging sales figures act as a backup support for Nokia, while it continues to aggressively market Lumia. 

According to research firm IDC, low cost smartphones are expected to remain a key growth engine for handset manufacturers as prices fall further, based on ever declining chipset prices and increased competition.

Historically, China, India and Latin America have been strong markets for Nokia and of late the company has seen its Asha sales grow in those regions. Low per capita income and increased wireless Internet usage have mainly contributed to the inspiring show in those countries. Launching the phone in this market is a strategic move by the company to capture the growing middle class market, where customers still prefer low budget feature-rich phones.

Nokia currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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