Nokia has teased a new QWERTY device, using the company's current primary-color scheme, though the phone seems unlikely to be the much-anticipated keyboard-equipped Lumia Windows Phone. Only a tiny glimpse of the handset - which will be officially revealed on Wednesday - has been shown so far, but Nokia has said that Mobile Phones technology marketing director Neil Broadley will be manning the Q&A session, implying that we're looking at a new Asha device, not a true smartphone.
The physical similarities in design between Asha and Lumia have been increasing with Nokia's more recent iterations, as the company plays on its distinctive color schemes. Asha phones are generally targeted at developing markets, but also the sort of low-cost prepay and SIM-free audiences who might currently be opting for a budget BlackBerry 7 handset.
That's despite a history of well-esteemed QWERTY Nokia phones, with handsets like the E6 and the E7 finding favor for their tactile thumb-boards. Both ran Symbian, however, and came before Nokia's transition to Windows Phone, an OS which has been poorly served by hardware keyboard devices.
Unfortunately, hopes that Nokia would deliver such a phone were all but dashed back at Mobile World Congress, when smartphone chief Jo Harlow told SlashGear that would-be users shouldn't hold their breath for it. Though there remains a vocal group still asking for a physical keyboard, Harlow conceded, the actual size of that audience continues to shrink as touchscreen text-input improves.
For Nokia, that means the cost of developing a QWERTY Lumia is unlikely to see a return on actual device sales. Existing users of physical keyboard devices don't necessarily upgrade to another phone with QWERTY, Harlow pointed out, and "we really don’t want to be on the wrong side of that movement."
Nokia's announcement of the new phone will be at 7am GMT (2am Eastern) on Wednesday, April 24.