The Nokia 515 makes a good case for keeping the feature phone alive

Global smartphones sales may have eclipsed feature phone sales, but that means billions of people are still using feature phones. And let’s face it, feature phone design hasn’t changed all that much over the last ten years. Compared to sleek new smartphones like the Apple(s aapl) iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S 4, feature phones can look, well, drab. Luckily, Nokia on Wednesday took to its blog to announce the Nokia(s nok) 515, an absolutely gorgeous new feature phone with a high-quality aluminum body and a curved Gorilla Glass 2(s glw)-protected display. It’s what all feature phones should aspire to.
Let’s start with a rundown of the 515’s design. The frame of the phone has been constructed from a single piece of anodized, sandblasted aluminum in white or black. Judging from the press photos, it actually looks a lot like a feature phone version of the Sony(s sne) Xperia Z. The phone’s slightly curved display is protected by a sheet of Gorilla Glass 2 and has been polarized for better visibility in the sun. The keypad is also slightly curved and made from a specially created hardened polycarbonate resin. Simply put: You don’t often see feature phones with this much attention to style and physical detail.
Nokia 515 closeup
The phone measures 4.48 by 1.88 by 0.43 inches and weighs just 3.56 ounces. The only part that doesn’t feel particularly high-end is the 320×240, 2.4-inch screen, which features a serviceable 166 pixels per inch. More exciting is the 5-megapixel rear camera, which boasts features such as voice-guided self-portraits and 100-degree panoramas. The phone also has advanced email and browser apps, as well as preloaded Facebook(s fb) and Twitter apps.
The 515 will be available in single and dual-SIM variants, and hooks into 3G networks with the ability to use the phone as a mobile hotspot. It even supports HD Voice where available. And here’s something that no smartphone can match: The single-SIM version is capable of up to 38 days of standby time.
Nokia is planning to ship the phone at some point this quarter. U.S. availability has not been mentioned, but the phone will be priced at 115 EUR (or $153 USD) without a contract.
This is a step in the right direction for feature phones, which have featured drab, uninspired designs for far too long. Just because someone doesn’t need a smartphone doesn’t mean they don’t want an attractive device, with features like a higher quality camera and the ability to share photos and other updates online. Nokia is pushing just enough here in terms of design to keep feature phones relevant, without attempting to simply clone a smartphone.
Nokia 515