If you didn’t hear, Nokia announced their first ever Android smartphone yesterday, dubbed the Nokia 6. Well, sort of – the Finnish firm wasn’t the one that did the announcement – it was HMD Global that did the announcement for the device, which is the company that has the rights to use the Nokia name on phones. After their disastrous love affair with the Windows Phone ecosystem, the Finnish brand name is finally on an Android phone – something that many people have been waiting for, for a long time.
But there’s a problem here: Nokia isn’t making the phones anymore. The Finnish company has essentially given up its mobile arm after former CEO Stephen Elop ran it to the ground, which forced Nokia to sell it to Microsoft (where Elop became head of the Microsoft Devices Group). Wary of putting up enormous amounts of capital to return to the consumer phone business, Nokia has gone the branding route, giving HMD the rights to use their name in devices that they produce. That means that many of the people, personalities and R&D facilities that was used to make the Nokia magic is now gone. There’s a distinct possibility that the design team behind the new phone is completely divorced from the same people (and company culture) that made Nokia the powerhouse that it once was.
Just taking a look at the Nokia 6, it’s not really anything special. Sure, the aluminum body is a nice throwback to the Lumia series of phones, but the rest of the specs aren’t impressing us. It has the equivalent specs of ASUS’ 5.5-inch Zenfone 3 Max, for example. Really, the only thing that sets it apart is Android Nougat and the solid industrial design – at least, from what we can see. For Nokia to flourish in the hyper-competitive landscape of consumer mobile phones, they need to offer consumers something more than a trip down memory lane.
Maybe handing over the design and manufacturing duties to another company is a good thing, maybe it’s not but since Nokia’s ugly fall from grace, many other companies have stepped up to fill the void. The mobile landscape of today is very different compared to the time where the Finnish brand reigned supreme. While a part of us are glad to see an old friend back to the fight, another part of us feels that they have no place in a world dominated by brands like Huawei, Samsung, Apple and OPPO.
We’ll have to see in the next few months.