Microsoft this morning unveiled a new cell phone called the Nokia 216, with a 2.4-inch screen, front- and rear-facing cameras, an FM Radio, up to 18 hours of talk time and up to 47 hours of music playback.
But the features aren’t as interesting as the fact that Microsoft is unveiling a new cell phone at all. The company announced an agreement in May to sell its entry-level phone business for $350 million.
The buyers are FIH Mobile Ltd., a subsidiary of Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Group, and a new company called HMD Global, led by former Nokia and Microsoft mobile executives. HMD has secured an exclusive license to use the Nokia brand on mobile phones and tablets, which will run on Android.
So why did Microsoft unveil a new phone now? Because the deal is still pending, the company explains to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. “Until the closing of the transaction, Microsoft continues to run the feature phone business,” a Microsoft representative says in a statement.
The Verge reports that the new Nokia 216 will be available in India next month for around $37.
Microsoft pending sale of its feature phone business is the company’s latest move in a broader retreat from the mobile phone and smartphone hardware business, which the company acquired from Nokia for more than $7 billion in 2014.