The Nokia that exists now is essentially what was left after Microsoft acquired the company’s mobile device business. That slice of Nokia was consumed by Microsoft, which then proceeded to bungle its smartphone ambitions. Several rounds of layoffs later, Microsoft has scaled back its mobile device business. One has to wonder what would have happened if Nokia had gone with Android instead of becoming a Windows Phone partner. The company is sort of getting a do-over now.
The first device from Nokia and HMD is the Nokia 6 (above), which is only for China. Nokia says on its official Facebook page that fans can look forward to “more announcements” on February 26th. But what could that be? HMD Global is a Finnish company founded with the express purpose of designing the hardware for Nokia-branded phones. So, we can expect hardware unique to Nokia — not a white-label Chinese devices that just has Nokia’s name slapped on it, which has been the case for some past devices.
The Nokia 6 could provide some fuel for speculation. That phone is powered by a Snapdragon 430 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The hardware is midrange — the ARM chip is from 2015, for example. It’s not a flagship phone, or even a budget flagship a la the OnePlus 3T. It wouldn’t make sense to announce the Nokia 6 as a China-only device, then announce the same device for everyone else a month later. The only difference would be LTE bands and a Google-supported build of Android. Thus, I think Nokia’s announcement will feature more up-scale hardware for Europe and possibly North America. I would not, however, expect anything intended to compete with the Galaxy S7 or Google Pixel.
The February 26th date lines up with the start of Mobile World Congress, one of the biggest mobile tech shows of the year. It’s a good chance for Nokia to get attention for a phone it intends to sell more widely. It remains to be seen if Nokia and HMD can recreate the old Nokia’s lightning in a bottle.