HMD Global at MWC 2018: Here is what to expect from the house of Nokia

The Nokia 9 flagship smartphone and 4G variant of the Nokia 3310 could be the top announcements from HMD Global at MWC 2018 next month.

  • Published: January 19, 2018 1:52 PM IST
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HMD Global, the Finnish startup which holds the license to sell Nokia-branded smartphones and feature phones globally, has confirmed that it will be present at Mobile World Congress next month. Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer at HMD Global, confirmed on Twitter that the company has key announcements lined up for the event.

The launch of new products at MWC next month is particularly significant for HMD Global since the company made its first strong product showcase at the same event last year. HMD Global, which acquired the Nokia brand license from Microsoft in 2016 announced the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6, three mid-range Android smartphones for the global market at MWC 2017. The products were accompanied by a resurrected version of Nokia 3310, which remains one of the most loved feature phones even today.

Since the launch of its smartphones at MWC last year, HMD Global has gained significant traction even among consumers. According to Counterpoint Research, it is the leading mobile phone brand in the Middle East and ranked number three in UK and Indonesia. The research also shows that HMD Global is the fifth largest phone brand in India but the most of the interest in its products remains in the feature phone segment.

We all have used a Nokia phone at some point in time, and most smartphone users had their hopes pinned on a Nokia Android phone before Microsoft acquired the company. The first successful year of HMD Global can be primarily owed to the nostalgia surrounding the brand and its focus on differentiating with the hardware and software experience. Heading into the second year, the company needs to differentiate itself from peers by also offering features that stand out, while retaining the distinct Nokia flavor.

So here is what we expect to see at MWC 2018 from HMD Global:

Nokia 9: The true flagship

Nokia 9 has been one of the most widely rumored smartphones in the past few months. There have been rumors circulating about its launch since October last year and most recent reports predicted that it will launch alongside Nokia 6 (2018) this month, However that didn’t happen and it seems HMD Global is keeping its big reveal for Mobile World Congress 2018.

HMD Global already has a flagship in the form of Nokia 8, but the Nokia 9 will be its true flagship with a modern design. The leaked renders suggest that the Finnish company will trim the top and bottom bezels on the smartphone and will look similar to Nokia 8 in terms of overall design. The smartphone is expected to stick with metal unibody design and not switch to the metal and glass sandwich seen on company’s Nokia 7 smartphone.

Nokia 9 has received 3C certification in China and has also been spotted passing through US FCC certification. The listings suggest it will feature a 5.5-inch LG-made OLED display and will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset. The device is expected to launch with 6GB RAM as standard and offer up to 128GB storage.

The Nokia 9 will also feature a dual-camera setup at the rear with Zeiss optics similar to Nokia 8. The smartphone’s certification in China reveals a combination of 12-megapixel and 13-megapixel image sensors where one of the sensors could acts as a telephoto lens. A recent Nokia camera app update seeded to Nokia beta labs revealed HMD Global’s plan to add support for 2x optical zoom and wide-angle mode to its camera. The leaked renders suggest it will also have a dual-camera setup at the front with the FCC listing indicating one of the sensors would of 5-megapixel resolution.

The Nokia 9 will most likely run Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box and is expected to pack a 3,250mAh battery. There is also mention of fast charging support via included 18W adapter. If HMD Global manages to price it well then it might be a strong competitor for the OnePlus 5T and Honor View10.

Nokia 6 (2018) for global markets

Early this month, HMD Global launched the Nokia 6 (2018) for the Chinese market as the successor to the Nokia 6 launched last year. The smartphone brings minor improvements in terms of design but the major focus has been updating the internals.

The Nokia 6 (2018) features the same all-metal unibody aluminum design as its predecessor but the fingerprint sensor has been moved to the back. While HMD Global is not yet ready to trim the bezels like other smartphone makers, the smartphone has negligible bezels surrounding the sides of the display.

In terms of features, there is a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS LCD display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. It comes with 4GB RAM and option for either 32GB or 64GB internal storage. The biggest improvement comes in the form of Snapdragon 630 chipset, which is a major upgrade over Snapdragon 430 found on its predecessor.

The camera setup is similar with a 16-megapixel rear camera with phase detection autofocus and dual-tone flash. It also sports an 8-megapixel front camera for selfies with autofocus and support for 1080p video recording. It runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat but has started receiving Android 8.0 Oreo update. It comes in Black and Silver color and is backed by a 3,000mAh battery.

Nokia 1 Android Oreo (Go edition)

HMD Global’s current smartphone lineup includes Nokia 2, Nokia 3, Nokia 5, Nokia 6, Nokia 7 and Nokia 8. With Nokia 9 likely being the flagship, Nokia 1 is expected to be an entry-level smartphone running Android Oreo (Go edition).

With Android Oreo (Go edition), Google has tweaked its core mobile operating system to work efficiently on devices with limited memory capacity. At the Google For India event in December, Google detailed that Oreo (Go edition) will be ideal for smartphones with 512MB or 1GB RAM and around 8GB internal storage. It also mentioned that the operating system will include optimized apps like Google Go, Files Go and YouTube Go.

The Nokia 1 is expected to sport a design similar to that of Nokia 2 and will have 1GB RAM, a Qualcomm or a MediaTek chipset and is expected to be priced under Rs 6,000 when it becomes available later this year. Google sees phones running Android Oreo (Go edition) as a way to connect with next billion mobile users and HMD Global wants to be one of the initial partners.

Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 successors

It still remains unclear whether Nokia 3 and Nokia 5 will see 2018 editions at MWC this year. There is a high likelihood of the company not launching a successor at Mobile World Congress, and might keep these for the second half of the year.

Nokia 3310 4G variant: Another one more thing moment

At MWC last year, HMD Global followed on Apple’s mantra with its own ‘one more thing’ in the form of Nokia 3310. The resurrected version is promising and has even been ideal for all those moms and dads out there that are not willing to upgrade to a smartphone. But it had one caveat: a lack of 4G support.

At MWC 2018, HMD Global is highly anticipated to launch the 4G variant of the Nokia 3310 that could also run a forked version of Android in the Chinese market. The feature phone with model number TA-1077 was recently spotted on TENAA supporting 4G connectivity and a modern operating system.

The listing revealed it runs YunOS, a forked version fo Android from Chinese internet giant Alibaba. The switch from Symbian 30 system to YunOS would mean that the next generation of Nokia 3310 will be a smart feature phone. The addition of 4G connectivity will mean that it will even support Reliance Jio’s 4G-only network.

While HMD Global showcased its first set of smartphones at MWC last year, the devices went on sale only in June 2017. With the new phones, the immediate goal should be to make these devices available immediately so that the company has wider window in terms of retail availability.

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  • Published Date: January 19, 2018 1:52 PM IST