Now here's an article I didn't think I would be writing in 2013. A new feature phone that's set to come out next month from Nokia, the Nokia 515, has actually caught my attention among articles and speculation of all the new smartphones we're supposed to see within the next month or two. But even though the Nokia 515 is a feature phone, without anything special or the ability to download those key applications I'm always talking about, it has a lot to offer in terms of still being more than "just" a feature phone.
We start off with the way Nokia designed the body of the device. Already notorious for their well-designed hardware, the 515 looks to be no exception with its candy bar-style device that has "premium sand-blasted aluminium for a classy matte finish". It also has a curved display and uses Corning's Gorilla Glass for extra protection on the front, and claims to have great outdoor readability. For a feature phone, or really any phone, this device looks pretty darn classy.
And then we get to the internals of the device. Unlike smartphones, there's not much to say about the specs of this phone, mostly because it doesn't need anything fancy to run the nearly 15-year-old Series 40 OS. There's really not much to say about certain specs like RAM or processing power, but the phone does have a surprising element that you don't usually see in feature phones, and that's a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash. For such a thin and small device, it's very cool that Nokia was able to fit such a nice camera in there. It might not be the 41-megapixel monster that we see in the Lumia 1020, but for a feature phone it's a pretty big deal.
Although the 5-megapixel camera is initially one of the things that caught my attention on this beautiful device, there's an added bonus that only a feature phone could offer in this day and age - a battery that lasts for a whopping 33 days on stand-by. Even though you're probably not going to have your phone on standby all the time for an entire month, you can bet that you'll get a lot more usage out of the device than you would with any smartphone on the market today.
The Nokia 515 may not have an app market, but it doesn't leave you completely in the stone age of cell phones as it does still come with some applications - some of the most important ones for staying connected to social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, and also e-mail. The Nokia 515 also has what seems to be a nice built-in photo app, so you can do more with that 5-megapixel camera that the device features. I see the device as a sort of in-between smartphone and feature phone. It doesn't allow you to go crazy with applications, but it does keep you connected across several networks.
As expected, the Nokia 515 still acts as a feature phone in many ways. It can only ever use up to 3.5G speeds, and when it comes to texting or typing you'll have to get used to using T9 again. The internal memory is pitiful at 64MB, but it does have a microSD card slot that allows up to 32GB of additional storage in the phone, which is good for storing all of those 5-megapixel camera photos or for using it as a designated music player.
A major downside is the fact that this phone is said to cost $150, to which many people nowadays would raise an eyebrow to. Why would anybody want to pay $150 when they can, at this point, purchase a Nexus 4 which does all that and a whole lot more for just $50 extra? It's a good question to ask, and if you're looking for a cheap, mid-range smartphone a Nexus 4 is a great option, but it's also the odd-one out in a world full of smartphones that generally cost anywhere from $399-$799 full price. $150 for a feature phone that has such a nice camera and phenomenal battery life doesn't seem that far-fetched. If you walk into any mobile phone retail store and look at the full prices of some of the latest feature phones, you'll find that without signing up for a two-year contract, phones similar to this one share similar pricing.
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the Nokia 515 will be hitting shelves in the U.S. anytime soon, but if it was I would probably be picking up one for myself. I see this as a great in-between device. If any of you recall, I had a floozy of an experiment earlier this year where I thought I would rather give up my smartphone in favor of a basic flip phone, at least for 30 days. I didn't even make it a week before I had to pick up the phone and kindly beg Sprint to take me back to the future, as I realized I'm a pitiful slave to technology. But this feature phone seems to add just enough "smart" to make it worth using on a daily basis for connectivity, but still giving you the benefits of a feature phone (small and long battery life).
What are your thoughts, readers? Would you be willing to go back to feature phones for an enhanced feature phone like the Nokia 515, or would you rather not look back at all and stick with all of the features and technology we have on our smartphones? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!