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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