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November 11, 2009

Emerging markets devices – poll results

Nokia-1280GLOBAL – Last week five new handsets for emerging markets launched, packed with genuinely useful and practical features. Starting with the €20 Nokia 1280, these low-cost devices have been designed around the needs and realities of developing communities in rural areas, where advanced smartphone features like Wi-Fi are all but irrelevant. But we wanted to see what you thought, so we asked you to single out what you think is the most important feature an ultra-affordable phone needs to have.

With a whopping 12 options to choose from, the votes were widely spread, but one choice stood head and shoulders above the others, gaining nearly half the votes: battery life. In communities where power is often temperamental, or non-existent, the value of extended battery life is obvious: without a battery to power them, a phone’s other features are irrelevant. Fortunately, the 1280 has that base covered, lasting up to 22 days on standby or 8.5 hours of talk time.

Many rural communities rely on radio for electronic communication, so it’s no surprise that you chose FM radio as second most important, with 12 per cent of the total. Sharing third place, with seven per cent of the votes, you chose a flashlight and dust resistance to be the next most important. The practical benefit of a flashlight is obvious, but it’s easy to underestimate the value of dust resistance until you consider the physical conditions these phones are often exposed to.

As commenter Hary points out:

“Generally people who buy cheap phones canít afford extra costs associated with phone and also most of the peopleís lifestyle is that they would like a strong durable phone, which does not break/die due to drop/dust and also which lasts longer on a single charge.”

Email support (6 per cent) was the only other feature that cleared five per cent of the vote, a figure that is surely only going to increase with time. Somewhat surprisingly, just three per cent voted for anti-scratch cover and multiple phone books. However, as Alex Whiteside pointed out in his comment, this sort of feature would rank a strong second for a lot of people:

“If I could vote twice, the second would be for anti-scratch covers. My 1100 is still going strong but the screen’s getting a bit impressionistic these days. If you buy a device like that, it’s quite possible you’ll still be using it long after any repair or replacement service for the cover is available, assuming one existed in the first place.”

The other options we listed gained just a fraction of the vote, though five per cent of you did answer ‘other’ – let us know what you think below.