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Back to the future: These old-school Qualcomm cellphones are getting modern-day upgrades

Retired phone maker Nokia got a revival in February when a company that licensed the brand name reintroduced its turn-of-the-century dumbphone, the Nokia 3310. Retro-revival appears to be a trend, as Qualcomm today introduced a new chip, the 205, for so-called feature phones to be sold in developing regions such as India and Southeast Asia. Unlike the Nokia rehash, limited to vanishing 2G data networks, Qualcomm-based models will support up to 4G data connections and other modern features like HD video, GPS, and mobile payments.
“Do we believe that these consumers are going to stay with a feature phone for eternity? No,” says Qualcomm Technologies VP Kedar Kondap. He calls the upcoming models, priced under $50, an interim step for people who can’t afford a smartphone to access modern mobile tech. 

The 205 has a dual-core processor up to 1.1GHz and supports 720p video and a 3MP camera. It has Wi-Fi, GPS for location-based apps, and a secure element to encrypt online transactions like mobile phone-based payments. Key for regions without reliable electricity, the phones promise battery life of over 40 days standby and over 20 hours talk time. Try that with an iPhone!

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