HMD Global has introduced Nokia 7.1, a phone that the company hopes will help it cash in on Europe’s growing demand for premium mid-end smartphones. The Nokia 7.1 announced in London on Thursday has a premium metal-glass design, an HDR10-ready display, and a Zeiss-branded dual camera setup on the back.
“Globally, we are creating [this] affordable premium category ($300-$450)…I think that’s a real sweet spot as a brand,” Pranav Shroff, Director, Global Portfolio Strategy & Planning, HMD Global explains to indianexpress.com. “In a lot of markets, including the Middle East and North African Market (MENA), this category is expected to grow 50-52 per cent. A similar movement can be seen in China as well, where consumers are moving away from the absolute low-end and absolute high-end and all the volume is connecting between the 2500 RMB and 4000 RMB. That is a category we feel we can literally own and we have started doing that,” he said.
According to Shroff, Nokia 7.1 has been designed with inputs from network operators such as Vodafone, T-Mobile, and Deutsche Telekom. “The €300-350 segment is super important in carrier-driven markets,” Shroff said, adding that “this phone is made for such markets”. Nokia 7.1 is also coming to the US market, where it will cost $349.
Nokia 7.1 represents HMD Global’s fresh attempt to gain market share in Europe, which has become a battleground among Chinese players. Players like Xiaomi, Oppo, and Huawei have long confined to their home market for the growth but now the trend is changing. The aggressive expansion into Western Europe – mainly France, Spain, and Italy – of Chinese players comes at a time when the demand for smartphones has slowed down in China.
“HMD has done a respectable job of raising the Nokia name up from the ashes and building some solid products with clean Android builds,” Bryan Ma, Vice-President of Client devices research at IDC, told indianexpress.com. “In many ways, it is a reincarnation of the product design strengths of the former Nokia phone team, all while leveraging the supply chain abilities of Foxconn.”
However, Ma is of the opinion that HMD Global has a challenging time ahead, especially going up against established players like Apple and Samsung. The threat is also growing from Huawei and other Chinese players like OPPO. “This is such a mature market right now that one can’t rely on product design alone; part of the battle is determined by who can beat the drum the loudest and secure the attention of distribution channels,” he said.
Asked whether HMD Global is threatened by the massive expansion of Chinese players in western Europe, Shroff said: “We are inherently a European brand. We really know what consumers and our partners want from us.”
According to IDC, HMD Global was ranked seventh in the Western European smartphone market in the second-quarter of 2018. That’s behind Huawei and Xiaomi, which held a market share of 25 per cent and 4 per cent market, respectively.
HMD Global was formed by former Nokia employees with the sole aim of bringing the iconic brand to the mobile phone market. In the Q2 2018, the Finnish company managed to capture 1 per cent of the smartphone market and secured a place among the top 10 smartphone players in terms of total shipments for the first time, according to research firm Counterpoint.
Nokia 7.1 isn’t coming to India, at least not in the immediate future.