An entry-level handset built to 'Astound' first time smartphone users

While handset manufacturers are trying to wow the crowds with high-powered, super-spec'ed smartphones at CTIA Wireless, Nokia is tapping into the first-time smartphone buyer market with a low-cost device called the Nokia Astound.

The Symbian 3-powered device (which is essentially an updated version of the Nokia C7) might seem a bit dated to consumers who want the latest smartphone complete with a dual-core processor, 4G connectivity and an operating system that's not on its way out, however, for most first-time buyers the Astound offers some solid features at an affordable price.

The Nokia Astound comes with an 8MP camera with dual-LED flash, 720p HD video capture, a 620 megahertz processor, free turn-by-turn navigation, access to Nokia's Ovi Store, and a price tag of $79.99.

"As millions more consumers make the switch to smartphones, Nokia is proud to offer an alternative that is not only easy and fun to use, but is also very sexy and sleek, unlike anything in its price point," said Mark Slater, vice president of sales, Nokia.

While most of the news in the smartphone world is focused around the latest and greatest handsets - which can often cost upwards of $200 on a two-year contract - smartphone manufacturers are also attempting to capture money-conscious consumers with less powerful handsets.

Companies such as LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson are starting to offer a range of low-priced (mostly Android-powered smartphones) while others, such as Apple, are significantly reducing the cost of last year's devices.

The Nokia Astound will be on show at the Nokia Lounge at the CTIA Wireless in Orlando, FL, USA from March 22 to 26.

Consumers in the US can purchase the device for $79.99 after a $50 rebate on a two-year contract from April 6.

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