All you need to know about the new Nokia Android phones
It’s official: New Nokia smartphones are on the way, and we've been given our introduction to the first of those handsets: the Nokia 6. Here’s all we know, including the remaining Nokia Android phones’ release date, specs, price, as well as all the latest news and rumours.
(Update: 12 January 2017): HMD says more smartphone announcements will be made at MWC 2017, which is the upcoming Barcelona-based tradeshow that takes place in February. Stay tuned for more.
In December, we heard official word that new Nokia handsets were in development, and that they would run on Google’s Android OS. This is a big deal, because it’s been quite a while since we saw authentic Nokia phones.
Nokia started making portable phones in 1987, and became the best-selling handset brand by 1998. But despite strong beginnings, it wasn’t long before Nokia slumped. In 2011, after a sales slump caused by competition from Android and the iPhone, Nokia signed its own death warrant by agreeing a pact with Microsoft to ship all its phones on the ailing Windows Phone OS. Nokia eventually stopped making phones in 2014, selling its mobile business to Microsoft and switching focus to mobile network equipment.
The Nokia 6
Microsoft sold phones under Nokia’s Lumia brand for a while, but that’s basically been killed off now – cue the new Surface Phone, expected 2017. Microsoft’s ownership of the Nokia brand license eventually expired last year, and Finnish firm HMD Global took over the rights.
Now, the company has launched its first Nokia handset in China, the Nokia 6. It's set to go on sale in the country in early 2017, but there's no word on whether we'll see the phone in other markets just yet. Nokia has confirmed more announcements to come at MWC 2017 in February, so we'll have to wait and see.
But there's more to come in terms of Nokia handsets from HMD Global. Unfortunately, it’s still early days, so many of the actual hardware details are a mystery. Here’s what we know so far.
Latest Nokia Android phones news
When are the Nokia Android phones coming out? Early 2017
What's new about the Nokia Android phones? Android OS, 'premium' design
How much will the new Nokia Android phones cost? 'Competitive' pricing, apparently
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1. The phones are coming in early 2017
The first major opportunity to launch a phone, CES 2017, has been and gone, and HMD didn't make any huge announcements at the tech conference. However, it did launch its Nokia 6 handset via a post on the company's website on the Sunday following CES, though the phone will only be launched in China – at least, initially.
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Ah, the 3310...
But there's at least one more handset to come, and the next big chance is Mobile World Congress, a similar tradeshow that’s focused on mobile technology. That kicks off in Barcelona on February 27, and is sure to be a hotbed of smartphone launches. There’s no reason why a new Nokia smartphone couldn’t debut at the show. HMD is said to be working on a number of handsets, so we could see a phone that won't be restricted to China launch in February.
Alternatively, the new Nokia phones could get their own dedicated launch event, bypassing trade shows altogether.
2. But the handsets aren’t being built by Nokia
It’s very important to note that Nokia isn’t actually building the handsets.
After Microsoft’s ownership of the Nokia brand license expired, new Finland-based company HMD Global Oy secured rights to the brand. HMD has exclusive rights for the next decade, which means no other company will be able to launch Nokia-branded handsets during that time.
On the software front, HMD has partnered up with Google so the new phones will run on Android. And although HMD will design the hardware, the actual handset will be built by FIH Mobile Limited, a subsidiary of Foxconn – one of the companies that builds the iPhone.
3. Nokia is still very much involved
Just because Nokia isn’t building the phones doesn’t mean it’s not involved. Nokia will have a representative on HMD’s board of members, and will set performance and brand requirements – as per the licensing agreement. Nokia will also receive royalty payments for the use of its patents, and will let HMD use its research and development properties.
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Microsoft's Lumia handsets are no more – long live Nokia?
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm shown around the world for the return of the Nokia brand to smartphones,” said Brad Rodrigues, Interim President of Nokia Technologies. “The HMD Global team has the ambition, talent and resources to bring a new generation of Nokia-branded phones to market, and we wish them every success. I’m sure our millions of Nokia fans will be excited to see their new products!”
But perhaps most importantly, HMD Global Oy is comprised almost entirely of former Nokia staffers. For instance, CEO Arto Nummela, Chief Product Officer Juho Sarvikas, and President of HMD Global Florian Seiche all previously held senior positions at Nokia. So while Nokia isn’t technically building the new phones, it still sort of is.
4. We have one name…but there are some codenames for the rest
What will the new phones be called? Well, we already know the first, China-only handset is the Nokia 6. But online rumours so far seem to suggest there’ll be at least two devices. One is the mid-range Nokia 6, while the other – dubbed ‘P1’ – is expected to be a high-end flagship device. That's all we know at this point.
5. Features, specs and design? We’ve got some clues...
The newly-launched Nokia 6 comes with mid-range hardware, including 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage along with a microSD card slot, Snapdragon 430 CPU, a 16 megapixel main camera, and a 3,000 mAh battery.
Previously, HMD CEO Arto Nummela dropped some hints in a recent interview with the Economic Times of India, saying: “It will be premium quality [and a] design that people will immediately recognise as Nokia.”
Nummela added the phone would be “extremely competitive in terms of the specifications and price”, and that specs wouldn’t be a focus, saying: “We’re not going to be highlighting the megapixels or gigahertz.” That seems to be the case with the Nokia 6, though, again, there's no way to know what the higher-end phone will come with.
If we had to take a guess though, we’d expect a flagship smartphone launching in the first half of 2017 to be running Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 835 chipset. But that’s all we can guess at, for now.
6. Android guaranteed
As we mentioned earlier, HMD Global Oy has teamed up with Google to launch the new smartphones with Android. That’s a welcome change from the old Windows Phone-powered Nokia handsets of yore.
HMD's first phone, the Nokia 6, comes with Android 7.0 Nougat, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. It rolled out this autumn, and is likely to appear on many of the handsets launching in the first half of 2017 – the remaining Nokia phone(s) included.
It's extremely unlikely the higher-end phone will arrive with anything less than the Nokia 6, so expect to see Nougat on the next phone from HMD Global.
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What would you like to see from the new Nokia Android phones? Let us know in the comments.