The Nokia 105 may not have the power to bring entire nations to their knees but its durability, lost to the West, is a feature that sets it apart from more fragile competitors currently popular in underdeveloped markets.
"That is a key part of our approach to competition, particularly in a country like China," said Chief Executive Stephen Elop at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
"There's a very large number of inexpensive and largely undifferentiated devices. We believe we have to offer differentiation at each price point."
Nokia hopes to provide a recognizable brand as an alternative to other cheap devices manufactured in China that may be lower quality or prone to malfunction.
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"The pressure is now on the Chinese vendors. Why will any consumer in the world buy a cheap Chinese phone when they can have the same price with better quality from a well-known brand?" Francisco Jeronimo, International Data Corporation research director told Reuters.
Nokia also caters to the need for information in developing markets by providing text message updates on news and topics including agriculture, healthcare and entertainment to users without data plans.
Nokia Life Tools, already available in India, China, Nigeria, Indonesia, and soon in Kenya, enables users without a mobile data connection to receive timely updates on the topics they're subscribed to, allowing them to share messages with groups.
Real-time updates on agricultural markets could help farmers get the best value for their crops at market, letting them stay abreast of shifting prices.
Nokia's product development is guided partly by ethnographic research that examines "market structures, livelihood activities, cultural practices, and how they operate in concert—and where a new thing like the mobile phone fits into that," Jenna Burrell, an assistant professor at the school of information at the University of California, Berkeley, told the MIT Technology Review.
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While the Nokia 105s have yet to be introduced into developing markets, Nokia Life Tools already enjoys a large amount of popularity with rural populations in developing countries.
Martin Chirotarrab, president of Nokia Indonesia, said the mobile phone maker's strategy was always on providing locally relevant solutions with the aid of local developers.
"We are working with more than 12,000 Nokia developers in Indonesia," Chirotarrab told the Jakarta Post.
Along with brand recognition, Nokia is hoping that its service features will help the company stay competitive in developing markets inundated with cheap alternatives. Nokia also hopes that a push in the developing world can pull the company out of a period of stagnation as Android and iOS devices swallow up most of the mobile device market.