The launch of Windows Phone 8 ushered in a new wave of handsets from Nokia's mighty Lumia 920 to the entry-level Windows Phone 8S by HTC. But many developing markets haven't yet seen devices sporting Microsoft's new mobile OS at an affordable price point, with the cheapest handsets - such as the Lumia 510 and Alcatel's One Touch With Windows Phone - launching with the previous-generation WP7.8 OS.
Huawei recently joined the ranks of Windows Phone manufacturers with the launch of its Ascend W1, the cheapest WP8 handset so far, and today Microsoft joined Huawei in announcing a variant of that device designed specifically for Africa. The Huawei 4Afrika has been created to bring an affordable smartphone option to students, businesses and developers across the continent.
The device has a solid set of specs: a 4-inch WVGA (800x480px) display, front- and rear-facing cameras, a dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor and 4GB of storage in a 10mm-thick body. Huawei quotes an impressive 420 hours of standby time from the battery; to put this into context, Nokia's cheapest Windows Phone 8 handset, the recently-launched Lumia 620, offers just 330 hours on standby.
Microsoft has also worked with African developers to pre-load custom, localised apps on the device, which also features a regional store within the main Windows Phone Store, which will showcase apps and content of local relevance.
The launch of the new handset marks the beginning of broader efforts by Microsoft to boost smartphone adoption in Africa. The company's 4Afrika Initiative is intended to offer "affordable access to best-in-class technology to enable [users] to connect, collaborate, and access markets and opportunities online". At present, smartphones make up just 10% of the total number of phones across the entire continent, representing a massive opportunity for growth in mobile device sales.
The Huawei 4Afrika isn't the first Windows Phone 8 handset to launch on the continent, but it is the first to be customised for the region. It won't be the last either, as Microsoft is working with all of its hardware partners as part of the initiative, and promises that the new handset is "the first in a series of smart devices" being developed for Africa.
The phone will launch later this month in seven markets - Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa - and will be offered in blue, red, black and white versions.
Source and image: Windows Phone Blog