Nokia's smartphone tribulations largely overshadow the quiet success of the company's Asha brand, which continues to extend the definition of “feature phone” ever further into smartphone territory in developing markets.
It's a formula for success that's not gone unnoticed at Samsung, and today the Korean response has come in the shape of four new Samsung handsets that aim to beat Nokia at its own game. Asha, meet Rex.
Samsung's fourplay aren't the most imaginatively named – they're titled the Rex 60, Rex 70, Rex 80 and Rex 90 – but they cover a fair bit of ground, all tied together with Samsung's Java-based homebrew OS overlaid with the familiar TouchWiz interface.
That gives the quartet a decidedly familiar look and feel to Samsung's Galaxy smartphones – well, some of the more basic models at least. The point is, and it's what has worked so well for the numerous Nokia Asha releases, they're feature phones that don't scream out the fact, and don't leave you shy of the basic end user features and services you expect from a smartphone either.
All four Rex models are full touchscreen devices with a physical home button flanked by call/hang-up buttons.
To quickly run through their basic spec highlights: the Rex 60 has a 2.8in resistive QVGA TFT, dual-SIM abilities and a 1.3MP camera; the Rex 70 ups that to a capacitive 3in screen and 2MP camera; the Rex 80 comes with a similar display and 3.2MP camera, while the Rex 90 comes with a 3.5in HVGA display and a 3.2MP camera. We'll add the specs to our database in the next few days, but for now the Samsung press release has the full details.
All of the models have Facebook, Opera and the Samsung ChatOn app pre-installed, plus a host of other Samsung basics. All but the entry-level Rex 60 also dish Yahoo Messenger, Gtalk, Facebook Chat and Twitter, while the entire range features Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, EDGE and USB 2.0 connectivity.
Prices? Availability? Well, all we know so far is they're launching in India, with SIM-free prices ranging from the local equivalent of £50 up to £77. They'll follow to other markets in due course, naturally, though whether they'll arrive in the UK at all remains to be seen.
Still, it looks like Nokia's Ashas have some serious competition on their hands.