Nokia Updates (Barely) Its Best-Selling Phone

Tickers in this article: MSFT NOK

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Nokia  announced a new version of the world's best-selling Windows Phone. Not much has changed for the new Lumia 525 except that we may never see it here in the United States.

The current Lumia 520 series of smartphones have been global bestsellers basically because they are high-functioning and great looking, and especially because they come with a low retail price -- usually much less than $99 with the usual two-year contract.

Nokia knows not to mess too much with a good thing. The Lumia 525's spec sheet looks like a carbon-copy of its predecessors except for one feature -- memory. The new phone has the same 4-inch (800 by 480 pixels) touchscreen, dual-core 1.0 GHz Qualcomm  S4 processor, 5 megapixel camera (without flash) on the back and no camera up front plus 8 GB of storage.

The difference is RAM or operational memory. The new phone has 1 GB. Older versions came with a paltry 512 MB. It was part of Microsoft's plan to lower the overall memory requirements of the Windows Phone operating system to help manufacturers make more competitive, less expensive smartphones. Users found that some apps needed more juice to run properly. Doubling the memory should help.

Past that one change, the Lumia 525 will still boast colorful, swappable back covers in "radiant" yellow, "dazzling" orange and "luminous" white and will come loaded with Windows Phone OS 8.0. Nokia hasn't announced whether the 525 will be upgradeable to the next version of the operating system (8.1) due early in 2014.

But it's not meant for us here in the U.S. Nokia said it has no intention (at least for now) of selling the phone in the United States or the U.K. but will sell it in markets like Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Two Chinese service providers have reportedly announced they're on board.

The 525 was in the planning stages when Microsoft announced it was purchasing Nokia's cell phone business back in September. It will be interesting to see what new ideas the combined Nokia/Microsoft team will come up with to advance their best-selling phone.

Nokia shares were advancing 1.51% to $8.05, and Microsoft shares were advancing 0.64% to $37.59 in early New York trading.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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