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Nokia Unveils Two New Mid-Range Cellphones

A Nokia Lumia 610 smartphone
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Image
A Nokia Lumia 610 smartphone

Troubled cellphone maker Nokia unveiled two new affordable touch-screen cellphone models in a bid to bolster its presence in the mass market and regain customer loyalty.

Nokia said on Tuesday it expects the Nokia Asha 308 and the Nokia Asha 309 to retail for about $99, excluding taxes and subsidies, with deliveries to start in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Analysts have said offering phones around or under $100 is crucial for the company if it wants to compete with cheaper smartphones using Google'sAndroid software.

"Winning over or keeping a first-time smartphone user in an emerging market offers Nokia a loyal customer for years to come. This is how Nokia dominated the market years ago," said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.

Nokiastill sells almost 1 million basic phones a day, but it has reported operating losses of 3 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in the last 18 months, all while closing sites and cutting tens of thousands of jobs.

"The new Asha devices are essential to defend Nokia from a raft of low-cost Android alternatives," CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber said. "The continued strength of the mobile phone business is testament to Nokia's scale and distribution advantages. Defending that business is critical if Nokia's smartphone business is to weather the storm."

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, Nokia said it would cut 725 jobs at its South Korean factory as part of its global cost savings program unveiled in June.

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