It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of fastest, shiniest and most advanced which spins out of the PR machines at Mobile World Congress. However, the USD 15 handset announced by Vodafone – aimed at emerging markets and with support for mobile payments – is likely to have just as significant an impact in its target market as the latest top-end smartphones.
The concept behind the VF150, which has a black and white screen, is to connect the large swathes of rural India and Africa which remain off-grid to wireless communication. In supporting payments, the handset will also play a role in extending mobile financial services to customers outside the traditional banking system.
Vodafone will also be backing the launch with a big logistics push to build distribution in areas previously outside mobile coverage.
The handset was created by Chinese OEM TCL.
It is joined the VF250, which adds a colour screen and FM radio – it will sell for USD 20.
These pricepoints are unprecedented in mobile, where even 5 years ago the idea of a USD 25 handset seemed a distant goal, and will enable even more of the world’s population to get connected.