Eighty countries, 70 million devices sold, 250,000 retailers… this is the sort of narrative we keep hearing from the top smartphone makers in the world, but not Nokia. The impressive figures above, however, come from HMD Global which now owns the Nokia brand, and has been trying to revive what was once the most popular name in personal technology. Don’t take the 70 million figure at face value, for it includes mostly the features phones the Finnish company is selling. But it is hard to ignore the fact that Nokia is on a comeback path and we will be hearing a lot more of their familiar ringtone in the coming months.
In fact, Nokia might just steal the thunder at the Mobile World Congress that starts in Barcelona on Monday with a handful of launches that will make HMD Global a full bouquet player in the true sense. After the launches, the company will have something for users all the way up to the $1000 mark. And that is no mean achievement, especially when the lineup will now include a $85 smartphone that could rake in the volumes in India and other such emerging markets.
For 2018, HMD Global CEO Florian Seiche has a three-prong strategy: Expand the Nokia portfolio, deepen presence in the markets it is already in and innovate. Towards the first goal, the MWC launches ranging from reviving the retro Nokia 8110 to the top-end Nokia 8 Sirocco could go a long way in offering something from every kind of consumers.
However, HMD Global’s success in markets like India, where it still has substantial goodwill and brand recollect, could be with the $85 Android Go powered Nokia 1. Offering a pure Android experience optimised for the device at these price points seems to be a good USP at the moment. No, we have not forgotten how badly the Android One devices did despite catering to the same magic sauce. But this time, given that the Nokia 1 is able to find a price point under Rs 5,000, the sweet spot might actually be achieved, given that the overall experience will be much better than what Google’s reference design could offer two years back.
With Android Oreo Go Edition and Google Assistant, the Nokia 1 will be a good option for those upgrading from feature phones, many of them Nokia devices. And this is not the only handshake Nokia devices will have with Google. The Nokia 6, already a very popular phone, will get a 2018 version with Android One.
While this means that Google seems to have accepted that the Android One experience needs better hardware, it also means there is going to be some serious competition for the Moto phones when it come to plain vanilla Android. While the phone has a €279 price tag, it will have a more affordable tag in India for sure. The all-new Nokia 7 Plus will play to other strengths especially with its camera and edge-to-edge display, but at a price point that will worry OnePlus and Huawei in most markets.
The Nokia 8 Sirocco, however, is not that easy to judge, given that despite its powerful innards, impressive camera and stylish looks, it does seem like a Samsung rip-off thanks to the curved glass edges. Would the aspiring flagship users be happy with a phone that looks a bit dated? We will need to wait on that one.
However, this does mean if you are a customer who loves the Nokia brand and what it stands for, you can pick a device according to your budget. And with what we have seen of the products, it might be time to find those Nokia obits from a few years back and put them in the shredder.