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Microsoft Announces Three New Phones

Microsoft may be in a distant third place in the smartphone war, but now it seems to have a plan to become a bigger competitor. Yesterday the company announced three new Windows 8 phones, all of which are significantly cheaper than new iPhones or Android models when purchased without a contract.

This is a big deal because much of the world doesn’t have carrier subsidies that let people buy practically any new phone for $200 out of pocket. The line of thinking goes, in some countries, people with limited income will be more likely to buy a Windows phone over a competitor that costs twice as much. Specifically, the new phones range in price between $259 and $390 — which sounds like a lot until you compare it to the iPhone 5S, which retails for $649 without a contract.

‘‘We want to drive scale through affordable phones,’’ Chris Weber, corporate vice president of mobile device sales, said in an interview with The New York Times. ‘‘We’ve created a product for someone who doesn’t want to pay a premium from our competitors.’’

Speaking of competitors, Apple is set to unveil its next iPhone on September 9. Even though Microsoft is aiming to compete at a lower price, it still faces stiff competition from Apple and Samsung.