HMD Announces a Family of New Nokia Smartphones

Posted on February 26, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware with 39 Comments

Nokia is back, baby. And the Finnish tech firm is picking up right where it left off, with a family of Android-based smartphone handsets.

OK, it’s a bit more nuanced than that, of course.

Without getting into the tragic history of Nokia’s smartphone business post-Microsoft, the short version goes like this: Microsoft sold off the feature phone business to Foxconn subsidiary FIH, and it sold off the rights to the Nokia brand—for smartphones and tablets—to HMD, which is based in Espoo, Finland, right next to Nokia’s old headquarters.

So this isn’t “Nokia,” really. As there’s a company with that name that makes networking solutions, and other things no one really cares about. But given its Finnish roots, and the fact that it employs many former Nokians, HMD and its smartphone efforts are by nature interesting. And even exciting.

This do-over is also an interesting chance to see how or even whether Nokia-branded handsets can compete in world in which the parent company is no longer bogged down by the weight and logistics of the former Nokia’s epic, worldwide production and distribution networks. That is, these new Nokia phones don’t have to be hugely successful to be a viable business. That was an issue for the old Nokia, and it was likewise an issue for Microsoft after it purchased all of those assets.

HMD teased the first of its Android-based Nokia models, the Nokia 6, back in January. But today at Mobile World Congress, HMD revealed its broader strategy for 2017, which involves making the Nokia 6 available outside of China and introducing two other models, the Nokia 5 and the Nokia 3.

Regardless of the particulars—which I will get to in a moment—the big selling point here is what HMD calls the quality and craftsmanship of Nokia. That is, these handsets all harken back to Nokia’s heyday, when the firm was known for building devices that were both beautiful and indestructible.

“Our design is inspired by Nokia’s outstanding history,” HMD’s Raun Forsyth says in a promotional video that perhaps echo’s Apple’s Jony Ive a bit too much. “We embrace the resilience of Scandinavian design and combine it with an emotive character. These forms, both bold and pure, yet natural and physically tactile, create a very human design.”

According to Forsyth, the new handsets all feature unique finishes that rich and expressive, natural materials, fewer parts, and the high quality that customers equate with the Nokia brand. Like other modern smartphones, the devices use a CNC manufacturing process, meaning that a single block of aluminum is milled to create a phone body, rather than an assortment of pieces that is attached together.

So they’re building on the reputation and the legend that was Nokia. Which … makes sense. So what are these new devices? There are three:

Nokia 6

The Nokia 6 is the flagship, featuring a 5.5-inch Full HD display, a 16 MP rear camera, and immersive Dolby Atmos sound. It will cost just $250, however.

Key features and specs:

  • Convenient fingerprint sensor
  • Bright full-HD sculpted Corning Gorilla Glass display with wide color reproduction
  • 16 MP camera on the back, 8 MP on the front Immersive sound with Dolby Atmos and dual speakers
  • Available as both single SIM and dual SIM variants
  • Clean and clutter-free Android Nougat with regular updates
  • The latest generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor designed for excellent battery life and improved graphics performance
  • 3 GB of RAM
  • The full set of Google services, including Google Photos and Google Play
  • Loads of space with 32 GB mass storage and MicroSD card support up to 128 GB
  • Color options include Arte Black (which actually has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage), Matte Black, Tempered Blue, Silver, and Copper

Nokia 5

A mid-level device, the Nokia 5 features a seamless aluminum unibody design, a 5.2-inch HD sculpted display, and a fingerprint sensor for extra convenience. It will cost just $200.

Key features and specs:

  • Seamless metal body that fits perfectly in your hand
  • Convenient fingerprint sensor
  • Bright fully-laminated and polarized 5.2-inch sculpted Corning Gorilla Glass HD display
  • 13 MP autofocus camera on the back, 8 MP camera on the front
  • Available as both single SIM and dual SIM variants
  • Clean and clutter-free Android Nougat with regular updates
  • Latest generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor designed for excellent battery life and improved graphics
  • NFC for easy sharing of your content
  • 16 GB storage for all your stuff
  • A MicroSD card slot with support up to 128 GB
  • Color choices: Tempered Blue, Silver, Matte Black, Copper

Nokia 3

The Nokia 3 is an entry-level offering with two 8 MP autofocus cameras (one on the back, one on the front), LTE 4G connectivity, and a 5-inch polarized display. It will cost just $147.

Key features and specs:

  • Beautiful polycarbonate body
  • A precision-machined aluminium frame See everything clearly with the polarized, sculpted 5-inch Corning Gorilla Glass display
  • 8 MP camera with autofocus both on the back and the front
  • Available as both single SIM and dual SIM variants
  • Clean and clutter-free Android Nougat with regular updates
  • Google Photos for easy photo storage and sharing
  • Plenty of sensors to give you a full experience, including accelerometer, gyroscope and NFC for sharing
  • Fast downloads and uninterrupted music and video streaming with LTE 4G connectivity
  • 16 GB storage for all your photos, plus a MicroSD card slot with support up to 128 GB
  • Color choices include Silver White, Matte Black, Tempered Blue, and Copper/White

While none of these devices really match the specs of full-feature flagship phones like the Apple iPhone 7 or Google Pixel, you gotta love the pricing. And if the quality level is as high as claimed, Nokia—sorry, HMD—could really be onto something here.

I have to admit. I’m very interested in these devices.

 

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Comments (39)

39 responses to “HMD Announces a Family of New Nokia Smartphones”

  1. Darmok N Jalad

    Well, there's still room for something like a Nokia 7, 8 or 9, and maybe those devices will pick up better internals. While metal is nice, I'd rather they fall back to the insanely durable polycarbonate designs of the Lumia days. My Lumias were the only smartphones I've owned where I felt comfortable not using a case.

  2. ben55124

    Looks like a Moto G5 competitor. These un-carrier phones deserve better popularity, but US customers can't fathom buying a phone without strings.

  3. chriswong13

    I'm very interested too. Might buy one to finally get an Android phone after still running the Lumia 950 XL...

  4. JudaZuk

    I'm sorry, but this does not look interesting at all. It is just some new general Android phones in the mid-range, with a Nokia logo on them. Has really nothing to do with Nokia.. and there are already so many Android phones out there, why get any of these?


    If it wan Windows 10 mobile it would at least be a bit different .. but now it is just "here you go , some more budget Android phones..." and then most people go buy a Samsung, and in the US if they want a mid-range devices they will buy a Motorola because they are "assembled in the US"

  5. vernonlvincent

    These phones look great - especially at the price points! $250 for a phone like the Nokia 6 is incredible.


    One thing I don't see - probably because it's not a US company - is the list of carriers that will support it. Hoping to see it compatible with Verizon.

  6. rameshthanikodi

    A little concerned about the performance of the Nokia 6 and Nokia 5 using the Snapdragon 430. Pure Android is sure to help the performance of the phone a little but we've seen from Moto's lineup that people demand more than just "pure Android". People demand good design, battery life, camera, and fingerprint sensors even on mid-range devices now.

    Nonetheless, especially the Nokia 5, it is tremendous value. USB-C is an odd omission but on phone USB-C isn't as big a loss as on other device types that actually need the versatility of the port.

    I was thinking of getting the new 3310 for my dad but sadly it's not compatible with 3g networks and all 2g networks are going to be shut down in my country next month :/

  7. Waethorn

    Snapdragon 430 across the board = another company that will rely on idiots from Kickstarter to keep them operating.

  8. SvenJ

    I see mapping on the ad video, but am surprised not a single spec list mentions GPS. Surely they support it.

  9. QuantumC0mputer

    Dang take a look at this http://www.hmdglobal.com/about


    Leadership is essentially old Nokia (then briefly MSFT) guard.... Could be interesting as Paul says to see what a bunch of smart passionate, experienced (and probably desiring some retribution) people with lower overhead can do to disrupt things.


    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to QuantumC0mputer:

      I don't know how much retribution they can get against MS, since that company's phone department has practically been nuked from orbit already.

      • rameshthanikodi

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        Retribution? Dude this is literally the dream for the ex-Nokians at HMD. This new business model is the gold standard in phone manufacturing right now. Partnering with Foxconn, rather than owning the factories outright like Nokia used to, this is the cost structure that will give them any chance at profitability and actual success. They must have always wanted this at Nokia but the company was stuck in it's old ways. Dumping it all on Microsoft is all the retribution they needed, and they got it.

        Not to mention just how much the Nokia shareholders won.

  10. scd147

    This could be interesting. If they got the old team NOKIA team together, then maybe we'll see Android phones with the build quality of the Lumias of yesteryear. There were a lot of people who would see things like the 920, 1020, etc and say they would gladly buy it if it came with Android. Well, maybe, just maybe, we're starting to see that. I'll be reading up on these phones as more info comes out. So far all I know is the Snapdragon 430 > Snapdragon for 410, and I have a Moto G 3rd Gen with the 410 in it, and its adequate. Not great, but adequate.

  11. rameshthanikodi

    HMD is no joke. HMD is literally Nokia Mobile reborn, but even better than that, they now can be a true modern hardware company. Untethered from the legacy cruft of the old Nokia and the demands of their shareholders.

  12. Jules Wombat

    Good for all those Nokia Engineers, dumped by Microsoft,  to return on their own terms with some great quality products.  These will sell well in Europe.

    And you may not be interested in 5G mobile networks infrastructure, but many of us are. The next generation of networks is  far more important than the latest premium iPhone.  This is where Nokia is leading the pack.

  13. nbplopes

    Nokia is an interesting company again (HMD). Still a strong brand world wide (shared memory) coupled with a small and more manageable high expertise teams in building mobile devices and nothing to loose in the market reflected on the estimated price.

    If they manage to stay close to Android and Chrome OS development, bypassing Carriers constraints on OS updates we might see a come back by becoming a premier Google centric "metal" brand. Overthrowing Samsung but it will nor be easy. Who knows.

  14. nbates66

    well good luck to them... however being a company making Android phones whose name doesn't begin with "Sam" means it'll be an uphill battle. The devices do look nice however all of them are enclosed devices which might irck a lot of usual Nokia fans, will want to see what the physical devices actually turn out to be rather than relying on the renders.

  15. johnh3

    Nice phones. I guess HMD Global will wait to they have acess to Snapdragon 835 before they launch a "flagship" device.

    The other option would have been to use the older Snapdragon 821.

    (and it would have been reported negative in most tech media)


    So I think they made the right decision to start with some low/middle range devices first.

  16. RM2016

    I bet I can make my Lumia 650 look as enticing.  Do you get that excited over the Lumia 650?  They seem very similar.    In fact all of the phones announced today seem very similar to all the other phones announced today.  They are just phones and the processing speed hasn't changed that much since last year.  I'll be spending my money on the Ryzen X1800.  Just think of what you can get for the price of one iPhone.

  17. euskalzabe

    After seeing the Motorola and Nokia announcements, the Nokia 3 and 5 seem like a way better deal than the G5. Just thinking about the Nokia 3, it has NFC and fingerprint sensor for $50 less than the cheapest G5. AND Nokia made a point of committing to monthly security patches, while we have not heard a peep from Motorola on this. 


    Just with that, I'm getting myself a Nokia 3. It's excellent value for what it offers, certainly better value than the G5.

    • gatisnolv

      In reply to euskalzabe:

      The phone is quite interesting indeed from perspectives like the pure Android with a commitment to updates and pricing.

      I don't think there is a fingerprint sensor on this device, even though as of now their own website mentions this in the specs. On the other two models the sensor is quite apparent.

      Also the NFC in this device might be limited. Their site explicitly says NFC "for sharing", where as the others don't have this note.

  18. davidblouin

    Interesting what a compagny can do with those finns, if it's not bogged down by the weight and logistics of Nokia’s worldwide production and distribution networks or Microsoft's Cloud-only mentality.

  19. prettyconfusd

    I'm a lot more interested in these than any other phone announced recently, and am excited at the prospect of a new Nokia flagship later in the year - I'll admit I am getting closer to truly considering moving to a pure Android device and I'd rather have a Nokia if the option is there.


    All three devices look great - it's a shame they're missing any bold colour choices such as cyan, magenta, and yellow - I'd probably pick up a Nokia 3 or 5 pretty much on release day if there was a cyan option.


    I think that's probably my only gripe - no bold colours and no removable cases (ala Lumia 735) to remedy that.


    The prices are excellent also - and a stark contrast to the HP Elite x3 (Carphone Warehouse in the UK started stocking it this week and it's ludicrously priced and comes with very little data or minutes for what you're paying - it's more expensive than an iPhone 7 or Galaxy S 7. The high pricing makes sense in a business context - but this is for consumers.) and other Windows phones available that tend to be priced far too high for what they are and what they offer in the consumer market.


    Definitely exciting times - and it's probably come at the right time for me too.

  20. ozaz

    I'd be interested in the Nokia 5 if it were possible to get it in a 32GB or ideally 64GB variant.

    I hate faffing around with SD cards.

  21. jjaegers

    Yeah... not too impressed... prices seem good but I am not sure, other than brand name, what these devices bring to differentiate themselves... Huawei has some pretty interesting offerings in these prices ranges too.  This is why Nokia originally went WP... they will just be an small/average player in the Android pool... maybe things would have been different if they went Android instead of WP from the beginning... I pulled out my Lumia 1020 the other day and man... still probably the best phone I have owned.

    • ponsaelius

      In reply to jjaegers:


      Being a smaller player in a big market for Nokia could be better than being a dominant player in 0.3% of the smartphone market. Ultimately if Nokia designed devices sell better with Android than they did with Windowsphone it might just say that Microsoft's OS was the problem.

  22. CaedenV

    Pricing isn't bad for what they are, but there are some features missing:

    1) Qi wireless charging. It is a necessity! The only portable device I own anymore that needs a power cord is my laptop, and even that will change in the next few years. I'm not going back!

    2) fingerprint reader. Seriously? the cheaper version of the phone has one, but not the big one? really? I'd happily pay $10 more for the feature.


    Outside of that... I really think I could live with either of the higher end versions of these phones. I would really like to see a 5.7-6" model with qhd display... but I can deal with the slower CPU/GPU and the rest of it. Really not bad for what they are.

  23. Sihaz

    Ah, maybe now Paul will pronounce Nokia like the Finns have all this time - just like the beginning of video 1 :-)

  24. ponsaelius

    Interesting that they had Google onstage with them. They emphasised that it would be a vanilla Android with no crapware. They then said that security updates would be monthly. They also said it would all run the latest version of Android.

    Given the pricing I wonder if this is all about taking the ground vacated by the Nexus 5/5X space. A clean Google experience at mid-price with frequent updates. Sounds very Nexus like to me.

    If you are in Europe then being able to buy a Nokia with Android is quite a selling point. Perhaps the interesting thing for Microsoft watchers is if this goes well how do we see Stephen Elop choosing Windowsphone in hindsight?

  25. George Rae

    Looking at the supported LTE bands, if true then US buyers won't flock to these.

  26. Dominic Afonso

    So, Nokia have a big re-launch without their rumoured 835 toting flagship, the Nokia 8. Why wouldn't they reveal all of these new devices at the same time, what could cause them to hold back the top end device. Well, isn't windows on arm coming to devices running the 835. I wonder, could Microsoft be partnering with Nokia once again for their big re-launch into the mobile arena? When is windows on arm expected to rtm?

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