Nokia announced the addition of another handheld to its low-end mobile portfolio. The Asha 210 features a WhatsApp hard key for customers in Asia and Africa, while Europe and Latin America get the Facebook button.
Both versions of the phone return to a more tactile feel and are part of the Series 40 platform. They also feature Nokia's signature bright colors — yellow, blue and magenta — along with a dual-SIM option.
"We are very excited about our partnership with Nokia Asha complementing our strategy of giving people around the world an easy experience when keeping in touch with their friends," WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton said in a statement, according to GigaOm.
The QWERTY keyboard reverts to an older design from previous Nokia phones. The company last year released new additions to the Asha Touch line of phones with Asha 308 and 309. Those phones were for the first-time smartphone buyer and priced at an affordable $99 without a contract.
The Asha 210 for Asia and Africa is priced at $72 and comes with a WhatsApp hard key. The company says Asha 210 customers will get free access to the messaging service for the lifetime of the phone. The messaging service normally costs $0.99 per year and boasts more than 200 million users. The hard key addition could be very successful for WhatsApp, as some of its biggest rivals, including Tencent's WeChat, perform strongly in developing markets.
The Asha 210 for the European and Latin American markets is priced at $40. Including a Facebook button for those markets is a good way for the company to keep its foot in the social media craze. The mobile maker has put the button on its other phones before, notably the Asha 205 last year. The phone started a trend of adding a dedicated button for social media for awhile but the hoopla seems to have died down in 2013.
The Asha 210 comes preloaded with YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. It also features a 2.4-inch LCD screen of QVGA resolution (320 x 240 pixels), 64MB internal memory and a microSD card that can bring memory up to 32GB. The phone can support only 2G networks, has a 2-megapixel camera and comes with Wi-Fi connectvity, microUSB support and Bluetooth, according to TechCrunch.
"On a market by market basis we will have either WhatsApp or Facebook. Both of our partners are hugely successful around the world and as we go on a market by market basis, some of our market teams would like to have the WhatsApp variant, some would like to have the Facebook variant. And of course we already have the Nokia Asha 205 on a global basis with the Facebook hard key there as well," said Neil Broadley, marketing director for Nokia's mobile phones division, to TechCrunch.