Nokia returns with 3 Android smartphones to challenge Apple, Samsung

Nokia returns with 3 Android smartphones to challenge Apple, Samsung
HMD Global President Florian Seiche poses for a photograph with the Nokia 6 in London, Britain February 24, 2017. Picture taken February 24, 2017.
PHOTO: Reuters

Three new Nokia-branded Android smartphone were launched on Sunday by license-holders HMD Global, with the Finnish start-up aiming to take on the likes of Apple and a Samsung to bring the brand back among the world's top device players.

Last year, HMD Global, which is made of ex-Nokia execs, acquired the intellectual property required to make phones from Nokia. This included branding and technology. It has partnered with Foxconn to manufacture the devices.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona HMD Global took the wraps off the Nokia 6, Nokia 5 and Nokia 3.

HMD also used MWC to launch a revamped version of the classic Nokia 3310.

 

Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer of Nokia-HMD, holds up a Nokia 6 device during a presentation ceremony at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2017.Photo: Reuters

Nokia 6 specs:

  • 5.5 inch full high-definition display
  • 8 megapixel wide angle front selfie camera and 16 megapixel main shooter
  • Average global retail price of 229 euros (S$341)
  • Comes in 4 colour variants
  • Comes in a "Arte Black Limited Edition" version with glossy black finish as bigger internal memory

 

Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer of Nokia-HMD, speaks during a presentation ceremony of the Nokia 5 device at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2017. Photo: Reuters

Nokia 5 specs:

  • 5.2 inch high-definition display
  • 13 megapixel main camera and 8 megapixel selfie camera
  • Average global retail price of 189 euros

 

Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer of Nokia-HMD, speaks during a presentation ceremony of the Nokia 3 device at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2017.Photo: Reuters

Nokia 3 specs:

  • 5 inch display
  • 8 megapixel main camera
  • Smaller processor than other models
  • Average global retail price of 139 euros

 

All of the phones will be running the latest version of Google's Android mobile operating system, meaning the devices will get monthly security updates and come equipped with Google Assistant - the search giant'a voice assistant.

The smartphones will launch in the second quarter and HMD is aiming for a global launch; the company said it had over 500 different retail and carrier partners in 120 countries.

Nokia is aiming to challenge Huawei, Apple and Samsung in the premium end of the market and its flagship device is priced significantly lower than competitors.

Read also: New Nokia 3310 will have a colour display, so 'Snake' will look super dope

"In the coming years we believe we are going to be one of the top players in the smartphone market globally," Arto Nummela, CEO of HMD Global, told CNBC in an interview ahead of the launch.

Despite the smartphone market maturing, it is still growing. Around 1.89 billion mobile phones will ship this year, according to Gartner.

But the Android market is fiercely competitive with Chinese players such as Oppo and Vivo aggressively expanding and offering low-cost devices and a Huawei growing at a rapid pace. Nummela said Nokia's strong brand will help it win.

"I think because Nokia as a brand is known absolutely everywhere and that gives us opportunity to go global immediately and that's what we are going to do. Awareness is huge and everybody knows Nokia globally, there's no question about it," Nummela said.

"There hasn't been Nokia smartphone in the market for a while, still it's one of the top preferences. And now when we combine Android, finally in Nokia, there is going to be an explosion in demand."

Analysts said Nokia would need to find the right way to stand out but having Foxconn on board, which is also an Apple supplier, should help it stay competitive.

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"Having Foxconn as one of its backers gives HMD Global an advantage of some rivals. As the biggest contract phone manufacturer in the world it can offer scale advantages and access to the latest technology which should help HMD Global to offer strong devices in the fiercely competitive Android smartphone market," Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, told CNBC by email.

Many Android smartphone makers are also trying to differentiate their devices with additional software in a bid to move away from reliance on just Google services. But Nummela said HMD is purely focused on hardware.

"We are absolutely laser focused on partnership with Google. We are driving the elements bothering consumer like security and software updates. And they hate clutter and that's why we took this approach," Nummela told CNBC.

Read also: Samsung takes a swipe at Apple iPads with a Windows tablet that comes with keyboard and stylus

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