Vodafone today launched its first "Vodafone-only branded
ultra-low cost consumer handsets"; the Vodafone 125 and Vodafone 225.

Aimed at consumers in emerging and developing markets, Vodafone hope these cheap mobiles will provide millions of people in the opportunity to access to the benefits of mobile technology for the very first time.

Vodafones report that in markets such as India or Tanzania the cost of buying a mobile handset can be so expensive as to be prohibitive so their low-cost phones will help drive mobile penetration, particularly in rural areas and will provide access to mobile services for people in emerging markets that are already taken for granted in Western Europe.

The handsets are likely to retail at around $25-$45 US dollars (19-35 euros) depending on the specific model and the local market conditions.

The Vodafone 125 and Vodafone 225 are the first handsets manufactured for Vodafone by China's ZTE Corporation, following a procurement agreement signed between the two companies in December 2006.

The handsets are almost identical except the Vodafone 125 has a black and white screen and the Vodafone 225 has a colour screen.

Vodafone Egypt, Vodafone Romania and Vodacom (South Africa) will be the first countries to launch the Vodafone 125 and 225 handsets in the next few weeks.