Connect with us

Gadget of the Week

Innovation at the entry-level, for Africa

The new entry-level phone from Nokia will fit the tiniest budget, but can make a massive impact on the continent, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

What is it?

One of my all-time favourite phones is not a smartphone. It’s the Nokia 105, first launched in 2013, when it was a surprise sensation at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Amid all the cutting edge smartphones of the time, it charmed even the most hardened technology journalists at the event.

Since then, the 105 has been through four editions, each one increasing the appeal of the device, and in the process selling several hundred million units. Through every iteration, it has been seen as an ideal handset for use across the African continent, in settings where power supply may be scarce and where it is used in dusty or wet conditions. 

For this reason, the model refuses to go away, instead coming back better with every sequel. And now, with the 5th generation, its impact on this continent is formally recognised in its naming: Nokia 105 Africa Edition.

It has six features that ensure it will be another winner:

  • The long-lasting battery life one expects from a Nokia device remains a key feature: the 105 promises 12 to 15 hours talk time, and 18 days on standby. It has an 800 mAh removable battery life, and uses Micro-USB charging.
  • While it once again has FM Radio built in, it has finally moved on from reliance on earphones for both listening and as an antennae: the cellphone acts as an FM wireless radio without the need for earphones, so an entire household can listen together, for example. But it still has that earphone jack if you want to listen privately!
  • It is splash and dust resistant, making it suitable for use while working outdoors. Nokia also claims it has a scratch-and-bump-resistant exterior, but that still needs to be put to the test of time.
  • It once again includes a built-in flashlight, so it can be used as a torch in the dark. 
  • Its 1.77-inch screen features is one of the best yet on a basic handset, using QQVGA and promising a 64,000 colour, meaning it displays basic colours fairly well.
  • It comes with 4 MB RAM and 4 MB internal storage storage, enough to save up to 2,000 contacts, and store up to 500 SMS messages.

Less significantly but adding to the appeal, it offers a selection of 10 games, including the classic Snake. A built-in calendar and alarm clock, security codes to prevent unwanted access, vibrating alerts, and calculators add up to make this a powerhouse in one’s pocket.

Finally, it looks and feels good, with body colours either in charcoal or blue, and a compact shape moulded to feel comfortable in the hand. 

What does it cost?

Recommended retail price is R279.

Why should you care?

At this price, it makes a superb handset for use in inhospitable conditions, as well as for backup purposes if a smartphone is unlikely to last the length of a trip beyond power sources. Most importantly, it addresses the ongoing need among millions of consumers for a low-cost device with functionality that goes beyond calls and messages.

In the same way that smartphones have replaced the likes of cameras, GPS devices, sound systems, and the like, the Nokia 105 fills in for a watch, alarm clock, calculator, torch, and radio, among others.

“When it comes to feature phones, consumers are looking for longevity, reliability, and affordability,” says Shaun Durandt, general manager of HMD, South Africa. “Our Nokia 105 feature phone line has brought essential connectivity to many people around the world, with hundreds of millions of devices sold worldwide.”

Finally, the 105 proves that innovation is possible at the very entry level.

What are the biggest negatives?

  • No Internet connectivity, but then that is hardly expected in this model.

What are the biggest positives?

  • Incredible standby battery life.
  • Acts as a stand-alone FM radio.
  • Superb value for money, with an excellent range of functionality.

* Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee. 

Subscribe to our free newsletter
To Top