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Nokia plotting smartphone return, but it won’t be building handsets

Nokia-branded handsets will return to the mobile phone market, once the terms of its agreement with Microsoft expire in late 2016, the firm’s CEO has revealed.

In an interview with Manager Magazin in Germany (via Reuters), Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri revealed the firm will indeed be returning to its most illustrious roots.

However, Nokia has no plans to manufacture handsets itself, once restrictions are lifted in Q4 2016, according to Suri.

Instead the firm will design devices and then license the Nokia brand name out to hardware partners.

Suri said: “We will look for suitable partners. Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license.

The strategy would mirror that, which saw the Android-powered N1 tablet come to market in 2015, manufactured by Chinese giant Foxconn.

It appears to be a somewhat strange decision given the hallmark of most
popular Nokia devices down the years was the superior build quality
compared to its rivals.

Related: Best smartphones 2015

The timing of Suri’s revelation is interesting given Microsoft this week appeared to cast aside ex-Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who presided over the Finnish company’s fall from the top of the mobile phone market to lowly status as a bit-part player.

Microsoft forked over $7.2 billion for Nokia’s devices division in April 2014 but has so far failed to conjure an upturn in fortunes for handsets running the Windows Phone software.

The future of Microsoft-built smartphones remains in question, despite the prospect of Windows 10 universal apps offering a more complete and productive ecosystem.

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