Nokia - just the mention of the name in enough to bring to mind an era before cellular data, a time not too far ago when travelling to a new city meant you had to ask locals for directions or buy a map at the railway station, an era when you had to make the time and effort to find a computer with an internet connection if you wanted to Google something. Despite been completely wiped off neighbourhood phone-shop shelves, and being the butt of ‘hard as a brick’ memes and videos for almost a decade now, Nokia still manages to retain a popular image of sturdiness, longevity and value for money.
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After many failed attempts to take the smartphone market by storm - including the notorious failed partnership with Microsoft - Nokia is at it again. This time it looks like they are coming back with vengeance. In May last year, Nokia announced a 10 year deal with the Finnish company HMD to manufacture Android devices under the Nokia brand name. HMD is reported to have a lot of ex-Nokia staffers onboard and if the industry grapevine is to be believed, the folks at Nokia have learned from their Lumia and other smartphone fiascos and now have a very clear picture of what they want. Like all popular smartphone brands, HMD will design in-house and manufacture in China. Also earlier this year, as if to underline the fact that they are going back to the basics, and perhaps to remind us of their glory days, Nokia surprised everyone with a new line of feature phones. A few months later, last week, the news arrived that HMD’s new series of Nokia Android phones will be coming out next year to be sold alongside their current line of feature phones.
The announcement has created an unexpected buzz. Smartphone and Android blogs are filled with reports leaks, speculative feature lists and all the other usual hype-driven unverified information. However, if popular rumours are true, Nokia will be launching around six distinct smartphone models under two major series - a mid-range series called D1C and a premier flagship series called P1. The first of these phones is expected to launch at the Mobile World Congress early in 2017. All the hype and Weibo leaks aside, it remains to be seen if the Android Nokia smartphones that HMD releases next year will live up to the hype. It’s quite surprising that a brand has been able to survive years of failure and still manage to come back to huge expectations.
While the new smartphones are one thing, Nokia as a company is indulging in 5G demonstrations and Internet Of Things projects apart from other cutting-edge tech, while at the same time the Finnish corporation has also filed cases against Apple over vital smartphone patents. Will the patent battle become as huge as the Apple vs Samsung patent war? Will Nokia bring innovation into a saturated “more is better” smartphone market? Will there finally be an indestructible smartphone that makes cases obsolete? We will have to wait and watch.